Welcome to BUDDHIST TANTRA, the mystical transformative aspect of Buddhism. All beings possess the potential to become enlightened, to be buddhas.
As you are a superior being you must keep your tantra practice secret; you will benefit many beings.


The identification with the SUFFERING of others and the desire to help others to LIBERATION.
ENJOYING OUR LIVES by sending one's happiness to others and taking on their suffering.


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Dear Friends in the Dharma:

These reference documents about INTRODUCTION TO PHOWA are here for you to read.

If you can translate these documents into SPANISH or VIETNAMESE languages, please do so and email them to me (lyvanlai@yahoo.com); I will post them in SPANISH and VIETNAMESE sections to help other people who are reading SPANISH and VIETNAMESE languages.  Thank you very much for your helps.

Special thanks to Angela Barrera who translated the "Definition of Buddha" into Spanish as posted in the SPANISH section, Definiciůn de Buddha.

May all beings benefit!

May precious Bodhicitta arise within those where it has not arisen.
Where it has arisen, may it not decline, but ever grow and flourish.

SHAKYAMUNI BUDDHA: "Suffering I teach - and the way out of suffering."

May all sentient beings be free from SUFFERING and attain perfect, complete ENLIGHTENMENT.

The ENLIGHTENMENT (bodhi) came to Gautama and he became a Buddha: SHAKYAMUNI BUDDHA.


(translated into English language: MERITORIOUS KING OF THE TRIPLE GEM)
These 2 pictures taken on December 24, 2006 (Sunday) at the CHICAGO KARMA THEGSUM CHOLING - TIBETAN BUDDHIST MEDITATION CENTER, located at 2100 S. Central Avenue, Cicero, Illinois 60804, USA.





These reference documents about INTRODUCTION TO PHOWA are here for you to read.

2. Phowa--The Practice of Conscious Dying

An Introduction to pho-wa : Transference of Consciousness
4. Essential Phowa Practice
5. A Critical Essay on The Assured Realization of Pho-Wa
6. Phowa
Ayang Rinpoche

8. About Phowa
9. What is Phowa
10. What is Conscious Dying - Phowa ?
11. Teachings on Phowa
12. Images from Phowa 2000






   According to the Tibetan custom, in the event of someone dying, a
member of the family of the dying person would request a Lama to
perform the "phowa" ceremony (i.e. Transference of consciousness at
the time of death.
   The Lama performing the ceremony would have himself mastered the
art of phowa
(transferring the consciousness at the time of death)
after having previously been initiated into the practice and
given only to Tulkus (Incarnates), and retreated to the
hills to carry out the practice which he would continue night and day
until the signs he was told to watch for (at the time his initiation)

   He would then leave his retreat equipped now to instruct monks,
nuns and lay people
in the practice. He would however, continue to
perform the practice at least once a month. When he becomes aware of
the signs of his approaching death (signs he was taught to recognize
during his retreat period), he would meet the eventuality with a great
calmness and equanimity.
   All the Tibetans are familiar with this practice. During the summer
months at the end of every twelfth year when the plains were richly
verdant after the white of winter, one could see the trek of Tibetan
pilgrims walk to the small temple at Bhum Ngu Sumdo in which phowa had
been given for the first time to the people of Drigung .

   They would pitch huge white tents, a stark contrast to the yellow
and maroon robes
of the monks and nuns and the colorful chubas (the
traditional dress)
of the women and children and summer flowers, in
preparation for three weeks stay for the performance of "PHOWA" by the
head Tulku of Drigung Lamas.

   This teaching of "PHOWA" is with the Venerable K.C. Ayang Rinpoche
who continues this uninterrupted succession of the Drigung line of
Phowa Lamas
from the Supreme Guru Dorje Chang to Tilopa, Naropa,
Marpa, Milarepa and Gampopa
up to the present time. He now resides at
the Tibetan Mahayana Buddhist Kagyudpa Monastery: "THUBTEN SHEDRUB
JANGCHUBLING" in the Tibetan settlement, Bylakuppe in Karnataka State

   When taking the initiation of Phowa, it is important to receive the
initiation from a Tulku (i.e. Incarnate Lama) who continues the line
of succession of the Phowa lineage of Gurus.
The blessings of such an
initiation will render the practice safe as the blessings of the
lineage will flow unhampered to meet the disciple and bring with them
quick results.
   Should the Phowa be attempted without this very vital precaution
the results will not be the same and the practitioner will be faced
with many dangers.

   Faith in the Lama Tulku is of primary importance. If the faith is
very strong, coupled with devotion, then the results will be very
powerful and immediate. If the faith is not of the highest strength
then the results will be medium and so on . . and where there is
little faith, no good results can be expected, however much you may
In the root Tantra, "GYUD" it is written:
   Even if a man is so sinful that he kills a holy man every day and
has committed the five Heavy Sins, if he goes on this path of Phowa
the veils of sin will not remain. For the men of many sins and for all
beings, this is the Path of liberation which is direct and secret.
   Urgyan Rinpoche said, "By meditation all can attain Enlightenment.
My meditation is that which is called "MA GOM PI" (i.e. spontaneous
without meditation effort) . . . "
   Naropa says, 'There are nine Gates which are of the world but there
is only one which is the gate of Mahamundra (Nirvana). If you shut the
nine Gates then you will get the Path of liberation without any
doubt ...."
   Marpa Lotsawa said, "From now, if you study Phowa, purify, purify
time and time again. Then, at that time, when death is approaching you
will know no despair. If, beforehand, you have become accustomed to
this Path of Phowa then at the time of death you will be full of
cheerful confidence .... "

   Over and above the Nine ordinary apertures of the body called
"buga", there is a 'Crest' aperture, and the virtue of doing this
practice of Phowa is to be able to think of this crest aperture at the
time of death and to direct the consciousness through this gate into
the pure land of the Buddha, the Buddhafield (DEWA CHEN).

   The profound Path of Phowa is the Holy Way of the Buddhas which is
Dharma rapidly realized spontaneously without meditation effort.

(Account of the Great Drikung Phowa)

   It is very difficult to attain the precious human body and having
attained it one must utilize it to reach Buddhahood through the proper
hearing, contemplation and meditation of the precious teachings.  Even
if one has attained human birth, it can suddenly end without warning.
Because of the overwhelming power of laziness in the postponement of
our practice, one's life ends without one even realizing it, because
life is so short and the galloping mara of death is so quick. When
death comes we have no escape, we have to accept it and go on to the
next life. At this time neither your accumulated wealth nor your dear
ones nor your cherished body -- nothing can help except the precious

   In the precious teachings, Lord Shakyamuni Buddha taught the Dharma
to suit the different levels of understanding and to different
dispositions of all beings through Shravakayana, Pratyekayana and
Mahayana practices.

   The Mahayana consists of Hetuyana (cause) and Phalayana (fruit).
The Hetuyana or the Sutrayana consists of all the practices without
the tantric initiations. In the Phalayana or the Vajrayana there are
many means (paths) to attain enlightenment through the Arising and
Completion processes but one must diligently practice over a period of
time before one can realize one's Buddhahood .
   In the Vajrayana, the Phowa practice is the most direct and the
quickest path for one to achieve enlightenment.
It is said that even
the heaviest of sinners has a chance for enlightenment through the
practice of the Phowa. "There are teachings for one to become
enlightened, but I have a teaching (Phowa) that offers enlightenment
without meditation",
said Marpa, the great translator and the father
of the Kagyu Lineage.
   The Phowa "Jaktshukma" (the standing grass blade) Linage is one of
the precious phowa practices. In the eighth century, the Dharma king
of Tibet, Thri-song Deu-Tsen invited the great Indian tantric master,
Guru Padmasambhava, to Tibet and they built the Samye monastery. Guru
Padmasambhava was residing in Ch'im-phu cave in the vicinity of Samye
when an important minister of the king, Nyima, had a tragedy. Nyima,
who had two palaces and was in the process of moving from one to the
other, was packing some belongings by the light of a lantern when a
small spark caused a fire which instantly burned down the whole palace
tragically killing thirteen people including his parents. All his
horses, mules, cattle and other animals also perished in the fire.
Minister Nyima, thinking of the love and respect that others show
their parents felt that he had committed the heaviest of sins by
causing the death of his parents and others.
   The king desiring to end the suffering of his minister went to
Ch'im-phu cave to request the help of Padmasambhava. Padamasambhava by
miraculous power went to the Pure Land to see Amitabha Buddha.
He told
Buddha Amitabha about the suffering of Minister Nyima and of all
sentient beings and asked Amitabha to give a special teaching to free
them from suffering.
  Buddha Amitabha gave this Phowa teaching to
who gave it to Minister Nyima who then gave up all
worldly activities to practice the Phowa which he eventually
Through the path of Phowa, Minister Nyima's consciousness
attained the Pure Land when death came
and many different signs
appeared like
rainbows and relics from his body.

   This text was hidden in the Black Mandala Lake which is at the
backside of Dhaglhagampo Hill. The Naga king, Tsurana-Ratna, asked to
be the guardian of this text and was told by Padmasambhava that the
future incarnation of Minister Nyima would be Nyida Sang-gye and that
he must give the text to him.
   Padmasambhava then left to go to the land of the Rakshas. After
more than 350 years
the incarnation of Minister Nyima was born as the
son of a shepherd.
When Nyida Sang-gye was growing up he felt great
and wept tears of sorrow when the animals would die.
   In order to alleviate his great suffering, Buddha Amitabha appeared
to him and gave him this Phowa teaching for the benefit of all
sentient beings.  Nyida Sang-gye then gave Phowa to all the dying
and often many different signs appeared.

   The Naga-king then came to Nyida Sang-gye and told him of the
Hidden Text (Ter-ma)
and Nyida Sang-gye took the Ter from the Black
Mandala Lake and gave the teaching to the Sagas. Through this teaching
many of the Nagas were reborn into a higher life.
   After this Nyida Sang-gye gave many teachings to human beings
through which many reached liberation.
   This transmission of the teaching is held by the Drikung Kagyudpa.
The devoted practitioner who has no doubt in the qualified Lama and
can experience the sign of Phowa merely through receiving
the Lung (Blessing Transmission).
This has been experienced by many
practitioners around the world.
   The Drikung Kagyu Linage is one of the lineages of Tibetan
Buddhism.  The founder, Kyobpa Jigten Sumgon (1143-1217) - thought of
as the second Buddha was the Vajra-regent of Phagmo Drupa who was the
chief lineage holder of Gampopa (1079-1153).
   The Drikung Kagyu order of Tibetan Buddhism holds the precious
teachings of all the yanks which Shakyamuni Buddha taught for the
benefit of all sentient beings.
This lineage also possesses the
complete transmission of the meditative practices of the Five-Profound
Paths of the Mahamudra
and the Six Yogas of Naropa. The Drikung order
is famous for its ability to successfully transfer the power of the
Phowa meditation to initiated and devoted practitioners who practice
Thus, the Phowa transmission given by the Drikung Lamas came to be
known as the 'Drikung Phowa Chen-mo' - the Great Drikung Phowa. The
Drikung Phowa became so powerful that it became a tradition in Tibet
to have a Drikung Phowa Ch'en-mo ceremony every twelve years at
Dro-ngor Sum-dho at Drikung in central Tibet. The fame of this Phowa
continued to spread as thousands of participants would experience the
signs of the Phowa during the 'Lung' (Blessing Transmission) given by
a head Lama of Drikung Kagyu.
Due to the accumulated energy of the
and the blessing of the teaching itself, the qualified Lama is
able to directly transfer the blessings of this practice to the pure
and devoted disciples
who can experience the signs very quickly.

When one has received any of the signs of the Phowa meditation, then one is
considered to be prepared to enter into the Buddha-field of Amitabha
Buddha (Dewa-chen) at the time of death.
It is taught that one does
not return to the samsaric realms after having entered Dewa-chen
that one can quickly achieve Enlightenment. 

Because of all this, the Drikung Phowa is becoming particularly relevant in these times simply
because in today's society we do not have the time nor the
circumstances to walk the spiritual path of the Dharma as did our
predecessors in the past.
We desperately need a spiritual path that is
simple, relevant, and direct, enabling us to transform the stresses
and pace of modern life into a vital force that cuts through
materialism and attachment to worldly phenomenal, and awakens in us
the realization of our Buddha-natures.
   The Drikung Phowa meditations is simple and yet powerful. We have
the same opportunity as did the thousands of people in Tibet to master
the Phowa practice,
enabling us to transform the experience of death,
which is a certainty, into a passage to the realization of Dewa-ch'en
(Blissful, Pure Land).
Today, we have His Holiness the Drikung
Kyabgon, the Vaira-regent of Lord Jigten Sumgon who is the incarnation
of Chenrezig, imparting this teaching as well as other Drikung Lamas
like the Venerable K.C. Ayang Rinpoche who is traveling the world to
impart these precious teachings
to fortunate human being.


Phowa--The Practice of Conscious Dying


One of Lama Ole Nydahl's areas of expertise is teaching Phowa, the Practice of Conscious Dying. It is the last of the Six Yogas (energy teachings) of Naropa, and one of the most profound teachings in Tibetan Buddhism. The goal of the Phowa practice is to learn to transfer the consciousness at the moment of death to a state of highest bliss.

The practice of Phowa is a very direct method involving visualization and mantra. This intensive instruction usually takes about five days in a retreat setting, and brings about physical and mental changes by opening the central energy channel in our bodies. This transformative meditation brings about compelling results. Phowa is not only of great benefit at the time of death, but also provides inner confidence in daily life. Many people report that the fear of death dissolves and fears in life diminish.

During the retreat, methods are also taught which enable one to help family and friends at their time of death. This valuable tool is a gift to loved ones.

Lama Ole is one of the few Kagyu Lamas empowered to teach the Phowa practice. Since 1987, he has taught Phowa to over 50,000 people at more than 150 retreat centers around the world.

Check Lama Ole's Travel Plan for upcoming Phowa retreats around the world.

Click here to learn about Other Retreats with Lama Ole.

Back to Ngondro Next to Traveling Teachers





An Introduction to pho-wa: Transference of Consciousness




LYWA Monthly e-letter Archive
No. 23: February 2005

< Back to Newsletter Archive

Dear Friends,

Thank you for reading another LYWA e-letter. Iím writing this in Singapore, where Iím on my way to Melbourne to visit my 91-year-old mother. Sheís fading, as one does, but Iím happy that she had a chance to meet Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche back at Kopan at the Fourth Meditation Course in 1973 (members can read the transcript in our members' area), after which she became their student and a Buddhist. The Lamas used to stay with her the first few times they went to Melbourne in the 70s, and sheís still in the same house, so going home always brings back those fond memories.

OK, well, enough of that!

Everybody seems to like our Lama Yeshe DVDs so weíre in the process of preparing several more programs from the relatively few rare archival videos of Lama that we have. Watch out for two different talks, both entitled ďAnxiety in the Nuclear AgeĒ from California, 1983 (and not that irrelevant these days, given the noise coming out of Washington); an introduction to transference of consciousness (pho-wa) from London, 1982, the text of which we offer you below; Lamaís 1983 commentary to the Heruka Vajrasattva tsog he wrote (published in the Wisdom book Becoming Vajrasattva); and his last teaching in the WestóGeneva, 1983, a weekend course on life, death and after death.

In addition to the Fourth Kopan Course posted in our members' area, we've also posted the complete transcript of the Seventh Kopan Course publically for all our visitors to read. We have also added more audio teachings on our Web site. The companion audio to our book Virtue and Reality has been completed, and we will soon post the audio from Rinpoche's recent Mahamudra Retreat in Adelaide, Australia.

Thank you so much to all who have responded so far to our appeal for funds to complete the editing of Lama Zopa Rinpoche's Vajrayogini teachings. Still, we could do with more contributions to reach our goal of $6,000, so please help us out if you can. Thank you.

Once more, thank you for your kind interest in and support of the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive. Please let us know if we can do anything for you.

Much love,

Nick Ribush


An Introduction to pho-wa: Transference of Consciousness

The teachings on transference of consciousness (Tib: pho-wa) come from Shakyamuni Buddha. They werenít made up by Tibetan monks. These teachings passed down from the Buddha through the Indian oral transmission lineage and eventually reached Tibet. Thatís how come the Tibetan tradition contains the practice of pho-wa.

Who does this practice and what are its benefits?

First of all, from the Buddhist point of view, human life and death are equally important events. Thereís no reason to think that life is important and death is bad, unimportant. Both are important.

Now, in the same way that we want to have happy, joyful lives, Himalayan yogis want to have happy, joyful deaths. They certainly donít want unhappy, confused, disaster deaths.

Of course, those who attain enlightenment in their lifetime donít need transference of consciousness. Itís a practice for those who donít reach enlightenment in this life and need another in which to do so.

At the time of death, everybodyís consciousness has to leave the body, but sometimes the conditions at that time are disastrous: overwhelming disease, grasping, attachment, wrong thinking and so forth. Therefore, yogis like to have at their disposal a method that will allow them to die perfectly, before such disadvantageous conditions arise. The practice of pho-wa is one such method.

At present, it seems that weíre completely stuck in this body of sense-gravitation attachment, with no way out. Call it karma, life-force or whatever, but yogis who are fully trained in pho-wa are able to transfer their consciousness out of their sense-gravitation body and are therefore free from dying a disastrous death. Whenever they feel like it, theyíre free to employ the meditation techniques theyíve accomplished and transfer their consciousness out of their body.

Iím not just talking philosophy here. Many Tibetan monks and meditators have really been able to use these methods at the appropriate time.

For example, I heard that in 1959, when China overran Tibet, many ordinary monks employed the techniques of pho-wa because they felt that under occupation they would no longer be able to exercise their religious faith. So they were glad to have a method whereby they could happily leave this life.

Why is it helpful to know about this kind of thing in the West? It seems to me that the modern world has become so preoccupied with material things that it has neglected the potential of the human mind. Therefore, I feel itís a good thing to make known the fact that people have the power to eliminate the fears of life, death and sense-gravitation attachment and disastrous situations. In fact, everybody does have the potential to eliminate such fears because all beingsí minds have buddha-nature. It really exists.

So you should not feel stuck and incapable of doing anything. We have the capacity to free ourselves from all suffering and confusion. However, the important thing to realize is that the actual source of all happiness, misery and confusion is the mind, not the body. Thus, by investigating and coming to know the nature of our own consciousness, we can free ourselves from all fear.

When should we choose to transfer our consciousness? Weíre not allowed to do it at just any time. The time has to be chosen carefully; otherwise weíre in danger of simply killing ourselves. We choose the right time by scientifically checking the signs that warn us that the time of death is approaching. These signs can be internal or externalÖthere are detailed explanations.

However, the appearance of these signs doesnít necessarily mean that death is imminent. There are things we can do to postpone it, such as reactivating the energy in our nervous system. Because this is just an introduction, Iím not going to go into more detail here.

Since death is definite and at that time our consciousness will transfer naturally, why should we practice pho-wa? Because usually we die from some kind of disease, and at the end we are totally ravaged by it and unable to do anything. So, before weíre reduced to a situation with which we canít cope, the methods of transference of consciousness allow us to leave our body with control, before that final devastation. Thatís the right time to use it. But, to reiterate, before doing pho-wa we need to be able to recognize the signs of death and know clean clear when weíve reached the right point to transfer our consciousness.

What do we do in the practice of pho-wa? Basically, through concentration we put our energy into the right channel and stop it from going the wrong way. Again, the technical details are in the commentaries and Iím not going to describe them here.

For example, at the time of death the consciousness can leave the body from one of its many orifices, such as the nose, mouth, navel and lower orifices, and the one from which it leaves indicates the realm of rebirth. However, the best point from which the consciousness can leave the body is the crown of the head and thatís what we try to ensure by practicing pho-wa. If we consciously, mindfully separate our consciousness from our body through the crown we give ourselves the ability to select our next rebirth in the best way and thus put ourselves on the path that leads from happiness to happiness. Thatís the main point.

The thing is, in this life you can be a good, kind, loving person but still be unable to cope and get angry at the time of death. If that happens youíve basically ruined any positive energy you might have generated during your lifetime.

Why do we sometimes call transference of consciousness a super method? Because even incredibly negative people like Hitlerówho killed millions of human beings and created unbelievably bad karmaócan kiss all their negativity goodbye if theyíre able to practice pho-wa perfectly at the time of death and die with a clean clear mind. We also say that death is a kind of final destination in the sense that itís a chance to make a clean break with the past and make the next life perfect.

Before Himalayan practitioners transfer their consciousness they prepareóthey practice the special techniques, of course, but they also eliminate every last atom of attachment; they make sure they do not have a single object to grasp at. This is the most important thing.

What interferes with a peaceful death, what causes fear, is the grasping mind. Grasping attachment to any object at the time of death is the source of confusion and a bad rebirth.

I donít know if you like to hear about rebirth or not; you may not believe in the existence of future lives; still, I think that most people feel somethingís going to happen after death. If you feel from your heart or intellectually that something continues, thatís good enough.

The way Tibetans prepare for death is by giving away all their possessions. Seeing old monks die perfectly not owning a single object when I was a young, inexperienced monk was very helpful and gave me a lot of confidence. Of course, anybody can understand this intellectually, but to see it actually happen makes you feel that itís something you can do yourself. Thatís very important.

Usually we talk about transferring our consciousness to the pure land but what is that? From the Buddhist point of view, itís not like thereís some pure place out there waiting for you. ďPureĒ means itís a reflection of your own pure thought, your own pure, clean mind. Actually, we say that any good or bad environment is a manifestation of the mind rather than really existing externally out there.

Normally we like to project good things but without control, bad projections appear. However, itís important to know how good, positive, happy projections arise.

When I talk about good projections, I donít mean good in our usual over-estimated, or exaggerated, way. Itís possible for good projections on other people to be realistic.

The thing is that people appear the way you want them to. If you want to see others as negative, once your mind has made that decision, thatís how theyíll appear to you. In other words, your view of good or bad comes more from you than from the object youíre looking at.

So we do have a choice in how things appear to usÖin our views and concepts. And we also have the capacity to amplify such views, both positively and negatively. Since we have a choice, we should choose the good.

As I mentioned before, at the time of death energy leaves the body through different orifices. In order to prevent that from happening and to increase the energy of our life force, there are meditation techniques that help us keep this energy inside and thus extend our life, because life depends on the breath.

How many breaths are there in a twenty-four hour period? Buddhism does have a number, as Iím sure the West does, too. Anyway, in terms of signs of impending death, changes in the pattern of respiration are very important and can be detected, if you know what to look for. Sometimes exhalation gets stronger from the right nostril, sometimes from the leftóthis is the kind of thing we look for. We examine our breath and if we detect any of the signs of approaching death we can avert it through the special meditation techniques given for this purpose.

Also, when we practice transference of consciousness, itís not only a matter of concentration. In training we also use the physical energy force that moves the breath. In addition, we meditate on the chakras as well, and this brings different experiences and realizations.

In other words, Tibetan Buddhist practice involves not only the mind but also the physical elements of our existence. Iíve heard that medical science has recently described pain and pleasure centers and chemicals in the brain. Buddhist tantra has always done so. Furthermore, tantra teaches us how to concentrate on our pleasure center on order to activate it, releasing peace and bliss. Therefore, when we practice pho-wa, we do focus on the chakra energy centers.

What are some of the signs of success in this practice? There are many, but one is the generation of inner heat, which is indicated by improved digestion of food. Also, you get the feeling that you are no longer stuck in the mire of sense-gravitation; you feel that you have somehow gone beyond mundane experience.

We should develop our life; we should enjoy it. But if we feel somehow bound and stuck yet at the same time realize that we have the ability to transcend such feelings, we should definitely utilize the skills we have to do so.

Many people are scared of death. First, they feel that itís disastrous and that theyíre going to experience difficulty and suffering. Second, some of them are also afraid of what comes after; they assume something terrible awaits them.

In order to avert such worries, even if you canít practice transference of consciousness, you can decrease your self-cherishing mind and attachment to body and possessions and generate loving kindness for others. Thatís absolutely good enough to eradicate fear of death and what comes after. The dedicated attitude kind of guarantees a good rebirth and itself makes you peaceful. So, if you canít do pho-wa, cultivating the mind that cherishes others is a good way of ensuring a good death and eliminating fear of a bad rebirth.

Besides learning to transfer your consciousness [to a pure land] you can also send it into another body. Concentration and meditation are really that powerful. You can even move or heat objects with your mind. Iím sure youíve heard of that.

Through power of mind you can also eliminate your disturbing emotions, your attachment and confusion. Thatís actually the main point of practicing Dharma. In other words, you can change your mind from misery to happiness.

The question, however, is whether you really want to or not; are you truly seeking liberation or not? If you are, you should know intuitively that you can really do something. Thatís the power of the human consciousness. Donít place limited judgments on yourself.

All of us do have good thoughts and a positive mind that has the potential for limitless development. Thatís the beauty of the human consciousness. For example, we all possess a certain degree of loving kindnessóthat can be developed limitlessly. The nature of loving kindness is such that it brings peace and happiness; the nature of the self-cherishing thought and attachment is such that it brings misery and confusion.

Therefore, to have an easy-going, happy life, you have to be willing to correct yourself, to change your attitude. By exerting right effort you can definitely do it, so encourage yourself. Allowing your weak mind to take over eliminates your human potential.

The reason we feel trapped is because weíre so attached to our body. We identify with it so strongly: ďThis is me.Ē The true fact, however, is that your body is not you. The real essence of the human being is the consciousness, which has neither shape nor color.

The materialistic attitude makes you think, ďIím my body; Iím my body.Ē Thatís the fundamental wrong thinking: ďIím my body.Ē Then what follows is, ďMy body is nice, so Iím nice,Ē ďMy body is awful, so Iím awful,Ē ďMy body is happy, so Iím happy.Ē Itís totally the wrong attitude. Your body can be cut to pieces while your mind remains tranquilly peaceful and blissful. Itís possible. Thatís the point. Your body can be sick but your mind can be completely radiant and blissful. Therefore, you should abandon all concepts of ďI am this body.Ē

My point is that Western people canít understand the difference between the physical body and the mind. You must understand the distinction otherwise youíll continue finding it difficult to conceive of life after death. Believing that your body is you, youíll think that when your body breaks or burns out, where can you be?

The thing is, however, that Buddhism doesnít hold that youíre permanently existent or that you go to the next life as the you that you are now. When we talk about rebirth weíre talking about the consciousness taking another body, a different shape.

Anyway, youíre always grasping at something, arenít you? So when your relationship with this body finishes, youíre going to grasp at something else. And at that point your consciousness takes another form, another life. Thatís what Buddhism calls rebirth. Itís not that you go into the next life with this body.

It sometimes seems that even in this one life we take many different bodies, different manifestations. Check out the details of your lifeís experiences in this body; youíll see.

Anyway, the basic thing to understand is that after you die your mind continues and carries your life experiences with you. If you understand it in this way your mind will relax. Otherwise youíll have the underlying thought, ďTwentieth century life offers so much. I have to do it all.Ē This keeps you so busy. I mean, check out how many things on this Earth there are to do. You canít do them all in one life. However, thereís no need to rush.

If you understand the power of your mind, youíll find a way to satisfy yourself. I think itís very important that you find a way to make your life content. Otherwise youíll just feel that your life is empty and worthless. You should feel that your life is more precious than the entire wealth of the world.

Knowing the characteristic nature of your own mind is the way to bring peace to both yourself and the whole world. Peace is an inner, personal experience, not something external. The beauty of peace is that itís something to be experienced, and with it comes great satisfaction. First you generate this within yourself and then you share it with others. Thatís the way to truly bring peace to others and the world.

The opposite of peace is grasping; the grasping mind is the opposite of peace. You can see this within yourself and in the external world as well. Everything destructive comes from grasping.

Lama Yeshe gave this teaching at St. Johnís Church, London, on 18 September 1982. It was edited from the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive by Nicholas Ribush.



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Essential Phowa Practice



By Christine Longaker


Introduction to the Essential Phowa Practice


Essential Phowa practice
Phowa practice
Practicing for others
Print this entire article

In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, Phowa is considered the most valuable and effective practice for death. The word phowa means the transference or ejection of consciousness into the state of truth. Its success relies on invoking the presence of a buddha (a fully enlightened being), combined with our receptivity and devotion, and the familiarity which comes from having done the practice repeatedly throughout our life.

Sogyal Rinpoche has taught an Essential Phowa practice which is not just for the moment of death. It also helps to purify our regrets, harm and negativity, and it can be used to assist in emotional or physical healing. The Essential Phowa is a practice for our whole life as well as for the time of dying, and it is the principal practice we rely on to offer spiritual support to others at the moment of death, and afterward.

If we practice the Essential Phowa again and again, our compassionate motivation and our confident devotion will grow even deeper, increasingly becoming part of our "flesh and bones." As we begin to embody the practice, our heart and mind are opened, made more free and limitless. If we prepare for our own death with this depth of familiarity, devotion and trust, we'll reap other rewards. For instance, our fear of death will diminish. And, even if we should be in a sudden accident, facing death without warning, we'll know how to let go in the best way, because this profound practice has become like a reflex.

Also, by practicing the Essential Phowa regularly and as strongly as possible, we'll find that when a loved one is in great distress or is dying, we can respond with all our love and compassion and offer this rich spiritual practice for him or her. When we hear of a great tragedy or natural disaster we will realize that we can counter our feelings of helplessness by offering a practice to spiritually benefit those who are suffering.


A powerful practice for the moment of death

If the dying person is interested, you can share the Essential Phowa practice with them, finding ways to adapt it to their own spiritual beliefs. Even though you can do the Essential Phowa throughout life, its special power becomes apparent when you practice it just at the moment of death. You may want to practice the Essential Phowa each time you visit the dying person. The most important time to practice is right at the moment of death, or as soon as you are informed of the person's death. If you cannot be physically present when your loved one dies, then visualize yourself practicing by their side at the place of their death.

As people come very near death, I have observed that their mind and heart becomes less contained by their body and more atmospheric; it feels as if their mind is filling the entire room. Thus any strong thoughts or emotions we bring into the space surrounding a dying person have a powerful effect on their state of mind, for better or worse. Thus, it is clear that if we have inspired ourselves with meditation before entering a dying person's room, or if we have strongly invoked the presence of a buddha or Divine Being to whom we continue to pray, this can have a tremendously positive influence on the dying person's state of mind.

When I first learned the Essential Phowa, I questioned whether a beginner could effectively do the practice for a dying person. How could I possibly offer spiritual support for another person? What if I did it wrong? Sogyal Rinpoche responded to my doubts with these valuable insights:

First, just at the moment of death, after the consciousness of the dying person "faints into darkness," he or she will awaken into the luminous expanse of the truth. Thus our practice of Essential Phowa for the dying person is simply a skillful guidance to help them unite with the true nature of mind which will be dawning in their awareness at that time.

Second, in doing the phowa, we are invoking and relying on the limitless enlightened qualities of a buddha, a fully awakened being, which include an unbiased, boundless compassion and love, and the unlimited power to benefit and help all beings by responding to their needs, especially in the direst of circumstances. As soon as we invoke the presence of God, Christ, the Buddha, Padmasambhava, or another saint or Divine Being, their blessings and presence are spontaneously there. They will be present with the dying person in his or her hour of need, and they will know what to do!


Nothing we do is ever lost

If done repeatedly, with strong compassion and devotion, the Essential Phowa practice can help the dying on their journey toward liberation. Any practice or prayers we do for the dying will help, at the very least, to purify their negative karma or release them from the suffering and turmoil of their death and enable them to die peacefully.

Even if you are not an advanced practitioner, your practicing the Essential Phowa cannot in any way harm an ill or dying person. On a spiritual level, it will help them, even if you can't see or measure the benefit tangibly. I encourage those of you who are professional caregivers to do the Essential Phowa when your patients are dying, and observe the results for yourself. Sometimes after doing the practice, I have had a sense or a sign that the phowa has truly benefited the dying person, and I allow this to inspire my confidence that the practice does bring spiritual support, even on occasions when I don't perceive an immediate result. Remember, nothing we do is ever lost.




The Practice of Essential Phowa


First sit quietly and settle yourself, bringing all the energies of your mind and body back home. As far as possible, relax into the deep presence and spacious awareness of your being. Before you begin, arouse a strong compassionate aspiration such as that described in The Tibetan Book of the Dead: "By means of this death, I will adopt only the attitude of the enlightened state of mind, loving kindness, and compassion, and attain perfect enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings who are as limitless as space."



With all your heart, invoke in the sky before you the presence of a buddha or a Divine Being for whom you feel a devotion. See the form of this Presence, not as flesh and blood, but as radiant light. Recognize that this being's qualities of perfect wisdom, boundless compassion, and limitless power to benefit beings are no different from the qualities of your own wisdom nature.

Consider this Divine Presence you have invoked is actually present--alive, breathing, and gazing toward you with kindness and love. If you cannot clearly visualize a buddha or Divine Being, then simply imagine that a brilliant and loving Presence, who is the embodiment of truth, is in the sky in front of you, in the form of light. Allow yourself to relax deeply and establish a personal connection with this Presence you have invoked.


Calling out

Open yourself now, and acknowledge the aspects of your being that need purification, forgiveness, and blessing. Acknowledge any regrets, harm, negativity, or destructive emotions that you want to release and purify. Become aware of any places in your body where there is disease, weakness, or even a fear of illness. And recognize any doubts, fears, or old wounds in your heart that need healing and love. Then call out sincerely to the Divine Presence in front of you and ask for help.


Receiving the blessing

Immediately this buddha or Divine Presence responds, sending love and compassion from his or her heart in a stream of tremendous rays of light directly into your being. Allow these powerful rays to penetrate you and purify you--filling you with forgiveness, healing energy, confidence and unconditional love. Consider that these brilliant light rays of compassion and love dissolve all of your fears and defenses, so that you are totally immersed in light. To make yourself more receptive, you may want to recite a short prayer or mantra during this part of the practice.

Visualize that this profound blessing streaming towards you purifies and transforms every aspect of your body and mind--even your painful memories, part harm and regrets. Then, after some time, consider that the purification has been completely effected, so much so that your whole being--body and mind--is entirely transformed into light. Now your being in the form of light rises up and dissolves into the heart of this Divine Presence--completely mixing with it, like light mixing with light.

Remain in this peaceful state as long as you can. This nondual, natural simplicity and inspired openness is your being. If thoughts rise, or a "sense of self" begins to form, simply allow them to dissolve back into emptiness. Letting go, naturally remain.

At the conclusion, consider that your awareness is once again centered within your body. Resolve to continue the presence of pure, clear awareness as you enter into daily activities. And when you notice that you have lost it, gently bring your mind home to its true nature, again and again.


Dedicate your practice

Dedicate your practice as you conclude, sharing the merit of blessings and wisdom with all beings, praying that, in whatever ways you can, you may be able to relieve their suffering, bring them happiness, and, ultimately, help them to realize the abiding peace of their deathless, true nature of mind.




Essential Phowa for others


You can do the Essential Phowa for someone who is ill or dying, in exactly the same way as for yourself, except that you visualize a buddha or Divine Presence above the head of the other person. Call out on behalf of your friend, and visualize the Presence pouring down rays of light onto him or her, purifying and transforming their whole being. Then visualize that the other person, now fully purified, dissolves into light and merges indistinguishably with the enlightened Presence.


Essential Phowa in a sudden death

When someone has just died suddenly and you do not have much time, such as at the scene of an accident, then you can do an abbreviated form of the Essential Phowa. As you stay by his or her side, invoke strongly the radiant presence of a buddha or Divine Being. Visualize the compassionate radiance emanating from this Presence filling the space surrounding both of you with protection and blessings.

Consider that the consciousness of the newly deceased person takes the form of a small sphere of light, and visualize it quickly flying out from his or her body, like a shooting star, and dissolving into the heart of the Divine Presence. In dedicating the practice, pray that the person may be free from any of the sufferings or turmoil of their death, and released into the luminosity and all-pervading space of the true nature of their mind, in order to benefit all beings, especially those he or she is leaving behind. Afterward, you can do the complete Essential Phowa practice again for the person over the following days and weeks.





A Critical Essay on The Assured Realization of Pho-Wa



Translated from Chinese work of the same author,
the Buddhist Yogi C. M. Chen


This article is to be found on page 25 of my Chinese work Chu Kun Cha Van Che[Qi Gong Zhai Wen Ji in Pinyin]. The topic of the essay is a serious one, but the parables used are interesting and amusing. I use both serious and humorous styles to describe the assured realization of Pho-Wa.

When I was a teenager I went with my father to see a Chinese drama in which a dead body was examined by the police. No wound could be found on the body. The examining official went home to his wife and discussed the case with her. His wife said: "Tomorrow, when you examine the body again, look under the victim's hair and you might find a nail stuck in his head." So the next day they found out that there was a needle. Then the judge asked the official: "How did you know it?" and the official said: "It was an advice from my wife." And actually his wife used the same method to kill her first husband. The judge thus uncovered two crimes and caught the killers. (This was the story.)

If the head was opened by a long nail, should we say that this man was accomplished in Pho-Wa or not? The Pho-Wa belongs to the Yoga of Six Doctrines, which in turn belong to the Anuttara Yoga. The consequence of accomplishing these Six Yogas is Buddhahood. This is quite different from the type of rebirth as taught by the exoteric Pure Land School. Once upon a time there was a sage in Tibet who already accomplished realization of the Pho-Wa. Two shepherds went to the door of his house. One of them said to the other: "Please lie down and pretend that you are a corpse. I will tell the sage that you died and ask him to do Pho-Wa for you." The sage read the boys' minds as they tried to cheat him. He did not tell them that he knew that they had lied and he performed for the boy who pretended to be dead. As the result of the performed Pho-Wa, the boy died. The boy's head actually showed an opening on the top and some of his hair fell off from that place. The boy who remained alive was very surprised and scared. He repented and asked the sage to transfer the dead boy's consciousness back to his body. The sage did so and the body returned to life saying: "I enjoyed beautiful Sukhavati. Why did you call me back?" Many Pho-Wa instances have been reported. Could those who teach Pho-Wa do the same as the sage in the above story?

In another story, there was also a sage in Tibet. Once, when he was going to India on a pilgrimage, he passed a lake. A ghost came out from the red water of the lake and complained that the sage received his offerings for performing Pho-Wa. The Pho-Wa was not effective and the ghost blamed the sage for falling into the lake. The sage remembered this matter and respond with the promise that once he arrives in Bodhgaya, he will dedicate the merits for the ghost to get a good rebirth. The ghost then disappeared.

Our guru Milarepa once said: "Unless you have reached the level of the Bodhisattva's first Bhumi, you cannot successfully transfer consciousness of a dying person." Nowadays many people say that it is enough to open the skull on the top of the head through Pho-Wa practice in which a grass can be then inserted in order to bring out consciousness regardless of whether a person has the first Bhumi or not. If this is not the case then how can we be certain of getting realization of Pho-Wa?

I myself have learned seven kinds of Pho-Wa from different schools. The types of Pho-Wa learned were different, but similarities were present. They all said that the signs were swelling of the skin on the top of the head, that the grass can be inserted in the opening in the skull, and that a few drops of blood come out from the swollen area. Evans-Wentz says the same on page 267 of his book, Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines. I have carefully studied the Pho-Wa and its philosophy and I also practiced it. From my studies and practical experiences I do not agree that only the three above-mentioned signs are sufficient to indicate successful practice or accomplishment in the Pho-Wa.

Four conditions must be present in order to be successful in Pho-Wa:

  1. Tingle, or the essence of life, which is subject to transfer.
  2. The median nerve should be open through which the transfer of consciousness is made.
  3. Wisdom breathing must be practiced.
  4. Our goal must be Amitabha Buddha, or any other Buddha, to whose Pure Land we transfer consciousness.

If all the above four conditions are not present, the Pho-Wa cannot be accomplished.

The fourth condition concerns the Yidam visualized on the top of the head. The yoga of Yidam should be accomplished, that is, the Yidam should be very clearly and vividly visualized with all details, all details of the Yidam should be identified with the Sunyata, and the Yidam should be confirmed, which means that its presence must be durable throughout the whole life. A person who does not fulfill this condition cannot be a guru in the Pho-Wa.

The first condition involves gathering of all one's consciousness, life force, wisdom, five elements and every essential aspect of the body into a central point. This should all be intensively felt. It is my experience--and this was so far not written in any book--that this feeling and the practice must be identified. If one sees only a little light in the size of a pea in his heart, such kind of a central point cannot be the object of transference in the Pho-Wa.

A sage once said that by practicing the Pho-Wa too much we may shorten our lives. In real Pho-Wa practice we feel like dying. On one occasion I experienced such a feeling, I extended my essential energies toward my fingers and toes to save my life. When a person has a real experience of dying, this means that he has practiced too much. Usually the practitioner cannot concentrate all his sensitivity and energies on one point and will not have such a feeling, but then how can he practice the Pho-Wa? The visualized central point is the root of the person in which one visualizes himself as a person. If this essential or central point consists of two parts, that is, one part involving the person who does visualization and the other part involving the visualized point, then we divide our consciousness in two parts. It is not possible to transfer one half of the consciousness. We must visualize ourselves and the point together in the state of deep samadhi.

A Chinese proverb says: "To change the house and to forget the wife in the old house, cannot be done." Under such conditions samadhi cannot result and we do not get identification with the visualized essential point (tingle). The tingle (consciousness) is involved in the process and without its transference, the Pho-Wa cannot be successful. Amitabha is the object or the goal of the Pho-Wa.

The median nerve is not a man-made thing. It is a holy symbol of Dharmakaya. Taoists mistake their Doma nerve for the median nerve and when they get some movement of energy through the Doma, they believe that they opened the median nerve. This is quite wrong. Please read my book Tantras Discriminations. For example, the Chinese kill pigs by inserting an iron pipe resulting in swelling of the pig thus enabling them to cut the hair. Do you think that by making a hole through the pig's body in this way the median nerve is opened?

When the wisdom energy enters the median nerve, the outward breathing and pulse stop, and ten outside signs appear: smoke, light, star, sun, moon, fire, etc. (see Evans-Wentz The Tibetan Book of the Dead.) These outside signs and the inward minds must be united in the samadhi of Sunyata. If all these conditions have been fulfilled, this indicates that our wisdom breathing has entered the median nerve where it abides and dissolves. If we have not realized the above conditions, and we just say that we opened the top of our skull (the gate of Brahma) and confirm existence of an opening there by inserting a grass in the aperture, we have not really and reliably succeeded in the Pho-wa, since the median nerve is not actually opened. If you dig a tunnel through a mountain, but the tunnel does not penetrate it completely, then how can you say that there is a passage?

As far as the wisdom breathing or energy involved in the Pho-Wa is concerned, we must not confuse it with the subtle breathing of Taoism. We must also not confuse the wisdom breathing with breathing of the human body, which involves rough karmic energies, nor with the Hindu yoga type of breathing. That is why if the practitioner has not accomplished renunciation, and does not keep vinaya, commandments or silas well, his breathing is not holy. If he has not practiced the Bodhicitta well or if his evolutional yoga has not been accomplished, his breathing is not holy and his breathing energy cannot transcend the human body, that is, he still breathes as a human. If the practitioner has not accomplished the perfection yoga and has not achieved the samadhi of the victorious significance of Sunyata or non-egoism then his energy has not become wisdom. If the energy has not become wisdom, it cannot enter the median nerve. Such energy cannot be of help in the Pho-Wa.

The object of the transference is tingle. Tin means a "point" and gle means wisdom. Tingle means the essential wisdom. If the karmic breathing is used to help in transformation, it is like washing the monkey and then dressing him up as a man. It simply cannot happen. If the way of transference of consciousness does not pass through the median nerve, it is like wanting to go northward and mistakenly taking a carriage which goes southward. It is not the real way to accomplish the objective of transference. If the Yidam of wisdom of the Buddha body is not there, it is just like taking a box rather than its content or like taking the peel rather than what is inside of it. Wisdom breath helps in transference, the object of transference is the wisdom point, the way is the wisdom nerve, and the objective is the wisdom body of the Buddha; that is, they all are of the Wisdom. When the above can be accomplished, the final goal is reached which belongs to the Anuttara Yoga. The beginners in the Pho-Wa practice are foolish when they proudly proclaim that they have accomplished Pho-Wa because they opened the gate (opening) on the head. When death comes they cannot accomplish the final goal and at that time it is too late.

My beloved Guru Lola Rinpoche liked to joke. Once a foolish student came to him and told him that he knew how to practice deep, bottle breathing. The Guru asked him how he practiced it. The student answered: "With the upward energy oppressed downward and the downward energy lifted upward." My guru, with a smile, said: "If that is the case, may I ask you to sit on a Rock Mountain, I would like to fly a stone from the heaven and drop it on your head to make your upward and downward energy unite together." Is it right? Actually it is not right. It is not so. For every practice, preparation is needed. You should not undertake any practice without proper preparation; and in the practice itself, unless you have fulfilled all conditions, you cannot succeed. If your practice is not carefully undertaken, and if you take only some outside sign as evidence of success in practice, you only cheat yourself.

Some people may say that all the tantras dealing with the Pho-Was of different schools mention only the three outside signs (swelling of the skin on the head, blood coming out of the swelling, and a piece of grass can be inserted in the hole which opens on the top of the head), and that the Pho-Wa is realized when these signs appear. My answer is that I described four signs of realization which belong to the Anuttara Yoga. Every practitioner must know them. The three outward signs must be present in addition to the four signs mentioned above. If these four signs are not present and we limit ourselves to the three outward signs, we lose the real foundation and the three outward signs will be of no use.

Therefore, in order to correct this mistake, I wrote this essay. Somebody may say that the three outward signs are then useless in transference of consciousness. My answer to this statement is a negative one. As I said before, the Pho-wa should have first fulfilled four inner conditions to which the three outward signs are added. We must have both the inner realization and the outward signs. It is not bad to have only the outward signs. They belong to the grace of guru and Amitabha. When one gets such a blessing, he can utilize it at the time of death when the median nerve opens by itself and he can take advantage of this opportunity. (Even a person who never practiced the Pho-wa may try to utilize spontaneous opening of the median nerve to his advantage). Also, he can take advantage of the dying time when Buddha appears in the Bardo state and accomplish the objective of the transference. For a person who never practiced the Pho-wa, it is very difficult to utilize such an opportunity. It is much easier for the person who obtained the three outward signs even if he did not get the four inner realizations. Although it is better to have the three outward signs, without the four inner realizations we cannot be sure that we will succeed in the Pho-wa, because the Clear Light appearing in the Bardo is very intense and for the untrained person it appears only for a very short period of time, which makes it very difficult to grasp it.

Then again somebody may say that if everybody has a chance at the time of death, why do we need such a practice at all. The outward signs are like a gate of a theater. If fire occurs in the theater some people may pass through the gate, but we cannot say that everybody could do so. The dying person is in a similar position as being in the theater during a fire. His enemies and debtors are around him and trouble him so that it is difficult for him to exit through the gate. Under some conditions you may pass through the gate, but you cannot be certain that you will be able to do so.

After death we enter a quite different world. If you are a practitioner without diligence, you cannot take advantage of the time of death, because the light of Dharmakaya flashes as fast as a lightening. The dying person is quite alone. There is no helper before or after him to guide him. It is just like thousands of heavy things are hanging on one thin hair and he has only his karma with him. When I write this I feel very sad for people who have died, for people who have not accomplished the practice, and for those who will die without knowing real meditation. I do want to give clear understanding to people before they die.

Somebody asked me whether my Guru Lola Rinpoche permits people who have already opened the gate for the Pho-Wa to help dying people. According to them, if you see a dying man or animal you should help them with the Pho-Wa. If you do not help, then you are breaking the Pho-Wa commandment which says that you should render help. My answer is that this commandment applies only to people who have not only the three outward signs but have also realized the four inner conditions. If you have only three outward signs, you must not go to the house of the dying person and be with the corpse. You must stay home and refuse to help to open the gate of the dying person. Only a sage should do that. (If the four inner conditions are not realized and we approach the corpse, by our attachments to worldly things we can only increase his attachments and thus contribute to his fall. For example, if the dying person is attached to his wife and daughter and we find them attractive too, then attachment of the dying man for his wife or daughter will increase.)

Once there was a sage who collected all the ants at his home, killed them in an apparatus in which bran is removed from rice, and then transferred their consciousness by the Pho-Wa technique to Sukhavati. One day he had to leave his house and entrusted his wife to do the same that he did during his absence. His wife agreed to follow his direction, she burned incense, lighted a lamp, killed ants, but she was not able to transfer them to Sukhavati. When her husband came back and saw dead ants, he asked his wife why she killed them. She answered that she did what he ordered her to do. The sage then performed the Pho-Wa for the ants and transferred their consciousness to Sukhavati. His wife misunderstood his instructions; he did not mean for her to kill the ants. She should not have killed the ants. This story was told to me to illustrate what my guru said, that is, that we should do Pho-Wa for others only when we have the ability to do so.

I would like to advise my readers to be careful, to reflect on their achievements, not to be foolish and proud, and not to trust too much their Pho-Wa realizations. Do not stop when you obtain the three outward signs and do not assert that you are accomplished in the Pho-Wa unless you have also the four inner realizations. If you accept my advice, then this essay has not been written in vain.







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Lang & Lit






Phowa (pron. poh-wa) is Tibetan for "transfer of consciousness" at the time of death. Tantric methods are employed to take "the swift, supreme path to free oneself from samsara and to attain enlightenment."  It is considered a complete path, even for those who do not meditate.

There are two different phowa transmissions.  One originates with the Nyingma (Old school) as taught by Padmasabhava (Guru Rinpoche) and another is a Sarma Tantra (as practiced by Marpa, Atisha and so forth.  Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche teaches one that combines both. 


Why Learn this Practice

According to Ayang Rinpoche, Marpa the Translator said, "If you study Phowa, then at the time when death is approaching you will know no despair.  If beforehand you have become accustomed to the Path of Phowa, then at the time of death you will be full of cheerful confidence ... ." 

Also, it is taught that one does not return to the samsaric realms after having entered Amitabha's Pure Land called Dewachen, and that from that realm one can readily achieve enlightenment.  So p'howa is like an insurance policy; if one does not achieve enlightenment while alive, one can ensure that this attainment will follow death.

P'howa is one of the Six Yogas of Naropa.  It is said to be the quickest, most direct way to be liberated from samsaric suffering.  As Marpa promised, "There are teachings for one to become enlightened, but I have a teaching that offers enlightenment without meditation."  

Ayang Rinpoche feels that this practice is especially relevant nowadays, when most people cannot afford the luxury of an extended period of solitary meditation.  Also, since we are subject to "the overwhelming power of laziness in the postponement of our practice, we desperately need a spiritual path that is simple and direct, and which enables us to transform the stresses of modern life into a vital force that cuts through attachment to illusory objects and awakens in us the realization of our own Buddha nature.  Life is very short, and can end suddenly and without warning. When death comes, we have no escape: neither our accumulated wealth nor our dear ones can help us Ė- nothing can help except the precious teachings."

~ H.E. Ayang Rinpoche (Drikung Kagyu) 

  • Canada:  Markham (Toronto, ON) Sept. 18-25th, 2006:  Ven. Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche gave the complete phowa transmission (teachings and empowerment.)   He said that  

Even if you are not able to do the practice at your time of death, you will have a better chance of attaining enlightenment if others are able to perform it for you. 

There are also benefits of having the connection with this transmission even for those who do not keep on with the practice, and even for those "who have strong emotional afflictions with no desire to denounce samara." 

those with strong negative karma such as results from the commission of the five serious offences can overcome the tendency to rebirth in the lower realms. 

People who plan to attend any powa of the Kagyu programmes should begin to accumulate 100,000 repetitions (or at least 10,000 times) of one or the other of the following mantras beforehand: 

1) Amitabha (Opameh) "OM AH MI DE WA HRI"  or  2) Vajrasattva (Dorje Sempa) long or short form. 


 Companionship at the Time of Death

One should not let a person die alone.  Indeed, in several societies, there are people whose role is to provide this special service.  They are not there in the capacity of ritual mourners, but to act as a companion or guide --  a kind of spiritual midwife.  Their work is considered to be of great merit.  Trungpa Rinpoche, in the Introduction to The Tibetan Book of the Dead (Fremantle and Trungpa) said that he learned to do that when he was just eight years old.   

This companionship is not only to assuage the fears of the dying, but also to comfort the mind of the person immediately as it detaches itself from the physical body.  This perspective is not only Buddhist (or Hindu) for, as states the Jewish Code of Laws compiled by 12th-century sage Moses Maimonides (Shulhan Arukh 194: 4,) "From the moment a person is in the throes of death, no one is allowed to leave him, in order that his soul may not depart when he is all alone, because it is bewildered when departing from the body."

  • Bardor Tulku Rinpoche (KTC, Minneapolis, Sept. 2005) addresses contemporary concerns such as organ donation, phowa by telephone, etc.  [last half of Rutter article.]


A Guided Meditation for Time of Death


Above the crown of your head, on a lotus with a moon and sun throne, sits Guru Buddha Amitabha in the Vajra pose. His holy body is radiant and ruby red, and he is wearing the saffron robes of a pure monk.  He has one face, and his two hands resting in his lap hold a bowl filled with the elixir of immortality, 

(Reader can substitute the appropriate deity's name and description as above,  and an appropriate invocation prayer instead of the following one.  For example, "the glorious risen Jesus Christ surrounded by angels" and the Our Father.)

Repeat  [or recite preferred invocation]

Guru, invincible one beyond all evil, endowed with all virtues,

Tathagata, Foe Destroyer,

Fully complete and perfect Buddha,

Magnificent King, Guru Amitabha of boundless light,

I prostrate to and take refuge in you.

Please bestow upon me your countless blessings.

Now do this visualization:

In heartfelt devotion, concentrate single-pointedly on Guru Amitabha (or - --.)  From his holy body five-colored nectar-light streams down through your central channel.  From there it flows through all the other channels of your body completely filling it with blissful nectar-light.  All hindrances, such as illness, guilt, fear are completely purified. All negative forces utterly disappear, especially the grasping at mundane existence.  The power to be successful in transferring consciousness and taking rebirth in the pristine realm of Amitabha Buddha (or Heaven) is granted.  Your body becomes crystal clear and translucent like a rainbow.


PRAYER FOR TIME OF DEATH [reader can help the dying person]

At the moment the messenger of death arrives

Please come instantaneously from your pristine realm.

Advise me to give up grasping at mundane existence

And invite me to come to your pristine realm.


When earth sinks into water

And the mirage-like appearance is perceived,

And my mouth becomes dry and foul-tasting,

Please come and tell me not to be afraid and inspire me with true courage.


When water sinks into fire

And the smoke-like appearance is perceived,

And my tongue gets thick and my speech is lost,

Please show me your shining face and give me solace and peaceful joy.


When fire sinks into air

And the firefly-like appearance is perceived,

And my body heat and the light of my eyes rapidly fade away,

Please come and fill my mind with the sound of Dharma wisdom.


When air sinks into consciousness

And the burning like a butter lamp appearance is perceived,

And my body becomes like the earth and my breathing altogether ceases,

Please draw me to your pristine realm with the radiant light of your shining face.


And then, may the radiant red hook

Emanating from your pristine heart

Enter my crown, then descend my central channel,

Hook my very subtle clear light mind, and bring it to your pristine realm.


Yet if I must go into the intermediate state by the force of my negative karma,

May all the Buddhas and bodhisattvas rescue me with the power of Dharma

And inspire me with the pure view that sees all beings as utterly pure,

Hears all sounds as Dharma teaching, and sees all places as a pristine realm.

Now visualise:

From Guru Amitabhaís (or Jesus Christís or other deity) heart a reed [or stem] of radiant white light descends to your crown and forms there an indestructible and cohesive bond.  There is now an unobstructed passageway between your very subtle mind, the white-red clear light energy-drop in the center of your heart, and the clear mirror-like heart of Guru Amitabha (Jesus).  Then suddenly a radiant hook of red light emanates from Guru Amitabhaís (Jesus) heart, descends through the passageway, and securely hooks the delicate and pure clear light energy-drop in your heart.

See the energy-drop as the traveler, the white light reed as the path, and Guru Amitabhaís (Jesus) heart as the destination. Your consciousness as the blissful energy-drop, by the force of your devotion, flies like an arrow to meet and mingle with the clear, non-dual, and radiant wisdom of Guru Amitabhaís (Jesus') heart.  Or you can visualise that the Guru's heart draws the energy-drop upward just as a magnet attracts iron filings.


Guru Buddha Amitabha [Glorious Jesus, etc.,] essence of the perfect truth of the Triple Gem, courageous one who liberates all sentient beings from the bondage of mundane existence and delivers them to the supremely blissful realm of Infinite Light, Victorious One, please release (name -------------) and all others from the difficulties and fears of the death process and the intermediate state of the after-death plane. Easily guide (-----) to your wisdom heart by inspiring (------) to thoroughly renounce the grasping at mundane existence and to achieve success in transferring (his/her) consciousness. You are liberator of all beings. Please with great compassion take (------) to your pristine realm.

DEDICATION [by reader]

Through the merits of these virtuous actions

May I quickly attain the enlightened state of Amitabha

And lead all living beings, without exception,

Into that enlightened state.


~ Edited from stupa.org.nz &  Christine Longaker < http://www.spcare.org/practices/phowa-practice.html>

Please Note:  The substitution of any deity other than a Buddhist one does not necessarily confer the result of liberation from samsara.

The dying one who is empowered in shitro (zhitro) or the bardo thodol, can also say: 

Om Ah Hum, Bodhichitta Mahasukhaka Jnana-dhatu; Ah. Om rulu rulu Hum jo Hum.




Note: The Tibetan word Phowa is pronounced p'hoe-wa.

TO THE DYING PERSONFor someone of another belief system, one can substitute appropriate words eg. God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, Heaven, The Source of All Being, The Great Mother.)  However,  we must note that there is an essential and  important distinction whenever we do this. 

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Ayang Rinpoche




His Eminence Ayang Rinpoche, founder of two monasteries in India and the worldwide Amitabha Foundation, is widely considered to be the worldís living master of Phowa.

Rinpoche, a lineage-holder of both the Nyingma and Drikung Phowa, has completed extensive retreat devoted to the practice at the time of death. He continues the unbroken line of succession of the Drikung Phowa lamas from Buddha Vajradhara to the present time. Each January, he offers free instruction in Phowa to all who come to his retreat in Bodh Gaya, India.

Rinpoche is the founder of two monasteries, including Thupten Shedup Janchub Ling at Bylakuppe, a Tibetan Settlement in India where he lives. He has taught extensively in the West and in 1986 established the first Amitabha Foundation in the U.S. It now has branches in Europe, Asia and Australia as well. Amitabha Foundation members support several charitable projects through the Drikung Charitable Society, which is connected to Rinpocheís Indian monastery.

Rinpoche has received many teachings, including the Kalachakra initiation from H.H. the Dalai Lama in Lhasa; the initiations and oral transmissions of Chagchen Kundzod Chig She Kundrol and a special Mahamudra introduction from H.H. the sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa. From Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, he received the Dam Nag Dzod, which contains the essence of all the initiations and teachings of all schools.

Born into a nomadic family in eastern Tibet, Rinpoche was recognized as an incarnation of a Drikung Kagyu lama by a delegation of high lamas, including the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa. He received his early education at the primary Drikung monastery and then continued his studies at the Drikung philosophical college. He then went on pilgrimage in Tibet to many of the holy places of Guru Rinpoche.

Rinpoche completed a lengthy retreat at Phulung, the place where Guru Rinpoche practiced Phowa. At the end of his retreat, he performed an offering puja. It was attended by many members of the neighboring Naga tribe, who came with offerings and circumambulated Rinpocheís retreat place while performing mantras of Guru Rinpoche. Rinpoche felt that this was a sign that in the future he would be teaching Phowa in foreign countries.


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Phone 585 442 5853  Fax 585 442 7630
email  info@amitabhafoundation.org






About Phowa





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Lifeís most awesome event is death, and death comes to all without regard to wealth, beauty, intelligence or fame. Death is inevitable, but how you dieóterrified and confused, or with confidence and spiritual masteryóis within your control.

H. E. Ayang Rinpoche offers Phowa teachings in Bodh Gaya, India, each January. As is his annual tradition, the teachings are offered free of charge. If you are interested in attending, please contact us. We also encourage you to read some of our sangha membersí experiences in attending Rinpocheís Great Phowa Course.

See when the next phowa courses will be given

About Phowa, the Practice for the Time of Death
Phowa, or ďtransference of consciousness at the time of death,Ē is the Tibetan Buddhist method for ensuring that one attains enlightenment after the present life ends. Through a combination of breath, mantra, and visualization techniques applied at the time of death, the consciousness is ejected from the crest aperture or crown chakra, avoiding rebirth in the six realms of cyclic existence. From this gate oneís consciousness can be transferred directly to the pureland of Buddha Amitabha or Dewachen.

All Tibetans are familiar with this practice: every twelfth summer, a city of tents and pilgrims would arise around the small Bhum Ngu Sumdo temple in Drikung for the three-week-long performance of Phowa by the head Tulku of Drikung Lamas.

<>Phowa is taught by all the schools of Tibetan Buddhism, but the Drikung Kagyu lineage has placed the greatest emphasis on this
practice. H. E. Ayang Rinpoche, considered the worldís living
Phowa master, teaches Phowa from both the Nyingma and Kagyu lineages.


An Insurance Policy
It is taught that one does not return to the samsaric realms, or lower rebirths, after having entered Dewachen, and that one can quickly and easily achieve enlightenment from that realm. Phowa is sometimes referred to as ďan insurance policy,Ēóif enlightenment is not achieved in this lifetime, then Phowa will ensure that this attainment will follow death.

One of the Six Yogas of Naropa, Phowa has been said to be the quickest and most direct way to be liberated from samsaric suffering and to attain enlightenment.


Enlightenment without Meditation
Marpa called Phowa the ďteaching that offers enlightenment without meditation.Ē This practice is especially relevant in the present day, when most of us lack the luxury of lengthy solitary meditative practice.

A Phowa retreat with a qualified Lama commonly results in the opening of the central channel and attainment of clear and tangible signs of accomplishment. The appearance of these signs assures successful entrance into the enlightened realms when Phowa is employed at the time of death. The devoted practitioner who has no doubt in the qualified Lama and teachings can experience the signs of Phowa merely through receiving the Lung (Oral Blessing Transmission). This has been experienced by many practitioners around the world.


The Necessity of a Qualified Teacher
In the presence of a Phowa master the signs arise much more easily than when practicing alone. This is the great benefit of Phowa: the signs of accomplishment come quickly, without years of strict meditation practice.

Should the Phowa be attempted without the vital precaution of an initiation from a lineage holder, the results will not be the same, and the practitioner will be faced with many dangers. Initiation will render the practice safe and the blessings of the lineage will flow unhampered to the disciple, bringing quick results.


A Means to Benefit Others
Sufficiently accomplished practitioners may use this powerful method to benefit other persons, as well as animals who have reached the end of their present life. Tibetan lay people consider it extremely important to perform Phowa for the dying and recently deceased.

See when the next Phowa course is being taught by Ayang Rinpoche.



Naropa said, ďThere are nine Gates which are of the world, but there is only one which is the gate of Mahamudra (Nirvana). If you shut the nine Gates then you will get the Path of liberation without any doubt.Ē

According to Marpa, the translator, ďIf you study Phowa, then at the time when death is approaching you will know no despair. If beforehand you have become accustomed to the Path of Phowa, then at the time of death you will be full of cheerful confidence...Ē


Amitabha Foundation
501(c)3 Non Profit Organization
11 South Goodman Street    Rochester, NY  14607    USA
Phone 585 442 5853  Fax 585 442 7630
email  info@amitabhafoundation.org 




What is Phowa






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         What is Phowa?

         Preparation meditation

         Who is Lama Ole Nydahl?

         Who are we?

         When and where?

         Phowa Q&A
The practice of concious dying or 'Phowa' is one of the most profound teachings of diamond way Buddhism. During this practice one learns to transfer ones consciousness at the moment of death into a state of highest bliss. Traditionally, the phowa was given only after a lengthy preparation and extensive meditation practice.

We now have the extraordinary opportunity to complete this powerful practice in a five day retreat with Lama Ole Nydahl, a great Phowa Master who has taught this method to tens of thousands of people around the world. This course is suitable for beginners and Lama Ole starts the retreat with an introduction to Buddhism. This course also enables us to help others at the time of their death.

"The practice of Phowa brings about physical and mental changes. It opens the central energy channels in our bodies and enables us to go to the pure land of 'The Buddha of Limitless Light' at the moment of death. In order to do the practice with some success you need some preparation: Please do the meditation on Opagme and if possible, repeat the mantra 'OM AMI DEWA HRI' 100,000 times. In order to do the Phowa you will also need Buddhist refuge. I will give that at the beginning of the course." - Lama Ole Nydahl






What is Conscious Dying - Phowa ?



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What is Meditation?

Meditation turns accepted information into experience. On the first level, its purpose is to calm mind and keep it in one place. It creates space between the experiencer and his experiences, permitting the wise to choose roles in the comedies of life and avoid its tragedies. This protective distance is most frequently achieved through awareness of one's breath or the concentration onto a Buddha form, a meditation called 'Shamatha' in Sanskrit and 'Shine' in Tibetan. Whoever can hold this state of mind in the lab situation of one's meditation, will gradually accomplish the same in daily life. This is a first step in one's development and a necessary foundation for both penetrating insight and more elaborate practices.

The second level of meditation is called 'Vipassana' in Sanskrit and 'Lhaktong' in Tibetan.

Here, the meditation is formless and aims at the nature of the mind itself. By being aware without an object to be aware of, insight and understanding arise spontaneously.

So meditation is the concentrating of the mind onto something and the clarity which arises from this.

Is meditation good for everybody?

Diamond Way meditations are for people who aim at enlightenment. If someone only wants to relax, other means are better suited for this purpose.

Generally, meditation is for people who have enough positive impressions in their store consciousness, enough insight and joy, so that they can stand to meet with their own subconsciousness. For psychotic people e.g. it can be dangerous to meditate, since they tend to take their feelings and inner conditions for too real and may experience many inconvenient projections. In this case, saying Mantras and trying to act in a positive way is better than to start with concentrative meditation too early. Only when one feels good without taking pills and is able to work, live on one's own and maintain relationships, it is time to start meditating.

Then, there are meditations which shouldn't be practiced without the so called Buddhist Refuge. It gives protection and creates a connection to the own Buddha nature, a connection to the teachings, to friends which are on the same way and to the Lama who gives the Refuge.

Moreover, meditation can only bring positive results to people who have the right foundations for the kind of meditation they practice. If difficult meditations are tried too early and outside of the well-tested gradual system, it may result in a so called Ľwhite wallę state: One feels calm but rather sleepy. This state can reduce intelligence and energy.

What we strive for is an awareness as sharp and clear as a diamond.

How to calm a busy mind during meditation?

Treat impractical or disturbing thoughts like a thief in an empty house. Give him nothing, let him look here and there, but not find anything. If you have a busy mind and do not attach to the thoughts which come up, there can be no harm. Don't give your thoughts any energy and you will not be bothered by them.

What meditation can be recommend to non-Buddhist friends?

A good suggestion is to try the ĽMeditation on Light and Breathę. A booklet giving differenct practices is used around the Buddhist centers of the Karma Kagyu Lineage. Also see the topic ĽMeditationsę on this server.


What is Conscious Dying - Phowa ?

The goal of the Phowa practice is to learn how to die consciously, and transfer the consciousness at the moment of death to a state of highest bliss. The practice is the last of the Six Yogas (energy teachings) of Naropa, and one of the most profound teachings in Tibetan Buddhism. It is a very direct method involving visualization and mantra. Lama Ole is one of the few Buddhist lamas empowered to teach the Phowa practice. Since 1987, he has taught Phowa to over 80,000 people at several hundred meditation courses around the world.




back to overview FAQs




Teachings on Phowa



By H.E. Lingtrul Rinpoche

Translated by Jhampa Shaneman
These materials have been edited


April, 1998



Introduction to Phowa
    Refuge and Bodhichitta
    Five Styles of Consciousness Transference
    The Importance of Practice
    When to do Phowa
    Getting Ready to Practice

Commentary on the Practice Text
    Identifying with the Body of Chenrezig
    The Central Channel
    Buddha Amitabhaís Pure Land at the Top of the Central Channel
    Consciousness in the Central Channel
    Signs of Attaining the Practice
    The Importance of Faith
    Prayers for Blessings from the Lineage
    Becoming Amitayus, the Buddha of Boundless Life
    Dedication of Merit
    Practice and Accomplishment
    Questions and Answers
        Vajrapani's Color
        The Meaning of "Thigle"
        Birth in an Open or Closed Bud
        Doing Phowa for Someone Else
        Reciting in Tibetan Instead of English
        Shooting Fire Sparks from the Masar Egg
        Pure Land of God or Jesus Instead of Buddha
        Where Consciousness is Visualized
        What is a Pure Land?
        Choosing a Rebirth to Benefit Beings
        About the Different Pure Lands
        Does the Spark Stay in Amitabha's Heart?
        I Don't Feel Deserving
        Special Breathing
    The Benefits of Practice
    Questions on the Practice
        Your Root Guru as Amitabha
        What is Dewachen?
        Boredom in the Pure Land
        Names for Amitabha Buddha
        Is it Better to Do a Retreat, or Have a Daily Practice?
        Clarification of Text, Page 37
        Location of the Central Channel
        Practice Tape
        Three Kathok Siddhas
        Deep Faith

A Second Way to be Born in Amitabhaís Pure Land
Four Causes for Taking Rebirth in Amitabhaís Pure Land
    Strong Faith
The First Cause: Accumulating Merit
    Heartfelt Joy
The Second Cause: Purification
The Third Cause: Wanting to Benefit Sentient Beings
The Fourth Cause: Prayer
Questions and Answers
        Rejoicing in the Merit of Animals
        Mantras in Sanskrit
        Bi-Monthly Tsok Offerings
        Temple Work is Very Beneficial
        Non-Sectarian Open-Mindedness
        Rainbow Body
        Sending Energy from the Egg
        Misuse of Consciousness Transference
        The Ability to Dissolve Your Body
        What About the Physical Body Once Your Mind Has Gone?
        Going Directly to the Pure Land

Friday Evening, April 10, 1998

Introduction to Phowa

So the transference of consciousness is something that weíll give you an introduction to, and also to the visualizations that are related to it. By relying on that, what you basically try to cultivate is the ability to consciously move your consciousness from your body at the time of death, and take a rebirth in a pure land such as the pure land of Amitabha, the land of happiness.


When you start receiving any teachings itís always important to review your motivation and purify or correct it. So try to think not only of yourself and your own needs, but also try to have the intention to benefit beings. Sentient beings are as vast as space and as great as an ocean, so work to change your motivation from being selfish to something like, "For the benefit of all sentient beings I am going to participate in this particular teaching, which is called the transference of consciousness." Itís important to be very conscious of your motivation because your motivation establishes how things develop. For example, suppose that someone has a very pure heart. From that, actions of their body and their speech will be in harmony with that, and they will create basically good karma, positive actions, and of course that will bring about proportionate good results. Whereas if someone has a bad mind, a negative motivation, even though their body and their speech may behave in a manner which appears to be virtuous, this doesnít actually accrue any positive quality whatsoever because the nature of the mind is negative in its motivation. Therefore itís important to be more conscious of your motivation and to correct it in a positive, constructive manner.

By having a virtuous and positive attitude and approach to life, your own life will be much more a source of happiness for yourself. The way you approach situations will be happier, the actions of the body and speech will be happier, your relationships with others will be more positive and other people will recognize that. They will recognize you as a nice person and will therefore like your company. Whereas in contrast if someone has a negative mindset, of course we become distrustful of the person because they lie, theyíre deceptive and they also commit negative actions. So we can easily see that a negative mind and a negative approach to life creates complications and sufferings not only for that individual, but also for others around that person. Therefore itís very important to put some emphasis on, "Who am I?" and, "Where am I coming from?" Try to make your mind positive and virtuous, and in that way many good qualities will accrue.

Certainly the whole intention of Buddha Shakyamuni was for us to realize our mind and gain a deep realization of ourselves. With regards to that the Buddha said, "Irrespective of what the actions of your body and speech are, your mind is the most important thing. It is what creates how you experience things and creates your actions." Therefore the Buddha said to be very conscious of yourself and your attitude or approach to life, because if that is in a virtuous direction then it will be more beneficial for you. Also, if you have a virtuous, positive mind and approach to life, then of course what you are doing is working constructively to remove the negative traits that you might have. So you are developing a purification of negativity, and this accrues a great deal of positive energy. And by doing that then you are accomplishing what is necessary in the process of becoming an enlightened person. So please be much more conscious of your motivation.


Refuge and Bodhichitta

Having corrected your motivation and established in yourself in a more positive approach, the next thing that you need to do is to take Refuge and generate the altruistic attitude towards others. Now, why take Refuge? You do this because Refuge puts you on the path to enlightenment. What Refuge means is that you decide what is important for yourself and how you are going to work with yourself. So you take Refuge and develop the altruistic mind of bodhicitta, or the altruistic mind of working for the benefit of other sentient beings. That insures that you will obtain the path towards enlightenment. If you want to practice any style of practice you have to first be able to appreciate what taking Refuge means and then also generate an altruistic mind. You may have heard of the teachings called the Great Completion. The Great Completion is a very special and profound practice. If you practice and rely upon it properly you can attain enlightenment in one lifetime. But to be able to do that you have to first take Refuge and generate the altruistic attitude of wishing to benefit sentient beings. If you donít, even though you try to practice something so profound as the Great Completion it will not have any benefit. This applies actually to any style of spiritual practice you may undertake. You have to put it in the context of first taking Refuge, trying to gain understandings to bring about your own enlightenment, and then secondly generating the altruistic attitude to benefit all sentient beings. By doing that, all your practices will be successful and will bring about all the positive results that you desire. If you donít take Refuge they wonít. So this is the bottom line, the basic point. Itís what Buddha Shakyamuni (the historical Buddha of our time) meant when he said, "The purpose of my Dharma is to make you realize your mind and then to develop that." Therefore be conscious of your attitude, and bring yourself into the style of practice with the Refuge and the altruistic motivation.


Five Styles of Consciousness Transference

With these thoughts in mind, we are going to start the teaching on the transference of consciousness at the time of death. There are five styles of transference of consciousness that can be initiated by you at the time of your death. The first one is called the supreme transference of consciousness by realizing the nature of reality. What this refers to is that an individual in their practice gains a direct understanding of the ultimate nature of reality, which of course is called the realization of the Great Completion. By obtaining that, what the transference of consciousness really entails is that the individual merely recognizes that state of consciousness at the time of death. The individual is then able to liberate their consciousness at the time of death by understanding that ultimate nature of mind. One therefore gains the transference of consciousness by the direct cognition of the nature of reality, or the transference of consciousness in the body of truth (dharmakaya).

The second transference of consciousness is called the transference of consciousness in the body of enjoyment (sambhogakaya). In this case the practitioner relies on having received initiation, identification of the self as the deity, recitation of mantra Ė they do whatís called the stages of generation and completion. Doing that at the time of death, they enter into the intermediate state and at that point they generate the pure astral form called the body of enjoyment. In that form they meet the various Buddhas. So their transference of consciousness is accomplished in whatís called the pure astral form in the body of enjoyment.

The third transference of consciousness is called the transference of consciousness with the body of manifestation (nirmanakaya). This refers to the individual who in their lifetime receives the high Tantric initiations, and keeps the commitments that they received at the time of the initiation very pure. By the power of this, although they may not have done a great deal of meditation, it is said that at the time of their entering into the intermediate state they will be conscious of the fact that they have died, and will be able to very consciously pick exactly the rebirth they would like to take. They might take a rebirth as a human or go to a pure land Ė whatever the objective they are able to do this by the intention or power of their mind on the basis of the pure life that they led. So this is the transference of consciousness through the body of manifestation.

So these three transference of consciousness Ė the body of truth transference of consciousness, the body of enjoyment transference of consciousness and the body of manifestation transference of consciousness Ė are said to not require practice. Basically the individual is immediately able to initiate these styles of transference of consciousness due to the power of realization. Now for ourselves, we have to practice. And therefore the type of transference of consciousness that we will do is called the through introduction transference of consciousness.

So if you are able to generate a realization of the Great Completion, then you obtain the transference of consciousness by the cognition of that. If you are able to generate a pure astral form, then you can gain the transference of consciousness due to that. If you are able to keep your commitments very pure and are able to generate yourself as the manifest deity, then you have the transference of consciousness of the body of manifestation. Now all of those require that an individual is developed in a deep spiritual way. As for us though, we have to practice. We can rely on ourselves just as we are without any special recognition of our divine qualities, and this is the ordinary aspect transference of consciousness through introduction.

The first of the three recognitions that are going to be introduced to you is the recognition of inside the body. When you talk about the recognition of inside the body what you are talking about is that inside the body there are special nerve channels, the pathways on which your consciousness is running. The second thing that you will be introduced to is called the concentration point and this refers to the consciousness. Itís identifying your consciousness in a concentrated form that will then transit upon these pathways. So the nerve in the body that we want to identify is called the central channel and it runs through the centre of your body. The vehicle that you are going to use is manifesting your consciousness in a concentrated form. The third part is, where do you want to go? Having established a pathway and a vehicle that is your consciousness, where do you want to shoot or take that consciousness? Well, where you would like to take your consciousness is into the heart of the Buddha of infinite love, Amitabha Buddha, to be born there.

The fifth of the types of transference of consciousness is called a blessing transference of consciousness and is bestowed upon someone by others. To do this does require a fair amount of spiritual attainment. For us as ordinary people, maybe we will say the prayer and have the intention that we will get that personís mind and sort of move it toward the heart of Amitabha, the Buddha of infinite light and love. It might be something that we intend, but whether we really do that or not we donít know. So it is said that the blessing transference of consciousness should be accomplished by someone who has attained the path of seeing or has some deep spiritual attainment. They can then move the consciousness of that body to the pure land and accomplish the transference of consciousness.

Also of course, when the person dies they do exit their body and enter into the intermediate state where they will be searching for a new rebirth. They will have a body in a certain style and proportion, they will have certain hallucinations according to what their karma is in that intermediate state. So itís very hard for us to know what on earth is going on for that person, to be able to benefit them, to be able to project them towards the pure land or such. Therefore, although we may have an impact on the person who has died due to pure love in our heart, it is not easy for people such as ourselves to actually accomplish the transference of consciousness by guiding that individual in the intermediate state to a pure land.


The Importance of Practice

So itís best if the individual who is going to die actually has an opportunity to practice a little prior to death. They understand the techniques, theyíve been introduced to how to do the meditation and theyíve practiced it to some extent. In that case we act as an assistant to the person who is dying, and we have an opportunity to do something for them. For example as they approach their death we can remind them about the meditation technique, we can remind them of their spiritual practice and the good qualities theyíve developed. As they die we can talk into their ear and in that way give them the instruction. Due to that circumstance we are providing for them, as they die they can implement their transference of consciousness because weíre giving assistance with prayers and other things. So this is something we can do for someone who is dying. But the actual ability to take someoneís consciousness and move it to a pure land is something that is not very easily attained because we donít have the spiritual power ourselves.

When a person is going to die, they need to work with themselves and become familiar with what is important for them in terms of spiritual practice. If you donít do that, if you just practice verbally without a real inner connection to what youíre doing, then there will not be a lot of benefit. So you need to develop a deep feeling of your own spirituality, of your sense of commitment, and so on. With those factors in place, then you will actually accomplish something at the time of your death due to the power of your sincere prayers and practice. If youíve only had a verbal type of spiritual practice then your ability to rely upon the transference of consciousness techniques will be rather weak.

Regarding ourselves as western individuals, we of course would like to be able to do something with ourselves at the time of death, to be able to do something positive and constructive for ourselves. But you wonít be able to attain this ability without practice. What is said is that you need to receive the instruction and apply yourself for a certain period of time until you have what's called the signs that you've accomplished the transference of consciousness. So if you do the practice over a period of days and then finally get the sign that indicates that youíve been able to open the central channel, then at the time of your death all you need is to be reminded of this. Because youíve already done the practice and have the familiarity of it, you will be able to get out of your body and you will be able to accomplish the transference of consciousness. Therefore it is necessary to receive the instruction, and to do the practice until you get the sign, a dream or something such as that, there are various signs. And when youíve received the sign then you can put the practice aside until it is actually your time of death, then merely clarify it at that time and actualize it.

Now, what were going to do is rely upon whatís called the transference of consciousness with the three recognitions, and that is something that will be very beneficial for us. If we already had a developed spiritual practice, if for example we had received initiations, we had practiced, and we were able to do things like generate the psychic heat within our body and so on, then we would have the attainment so to speak in our hand. Because of our developed spiritual practice, we would not have to do the three recognitions, because we would already have in place the things needed to bring about the transference of consciousness. For ourselves though, we donít have a practice, weíre a little bit lazy, we donít do too much, so then because of that laziness we need a different approach. Therefore weíre going to rely upon the three recognitions and become familiar with them, because in that regard at least then we can benefit ourselves to some extent.

Now there have been people who have an incredibly negative type of nature, people that have done incredibly heinous types of crimes such as murdering their mother and father, people of unbelievable negativity. For them, generally speaking it is said that they will take a very bad rebirth due to the nature of that great heavy negativity. But the Buddhas in their great compassion have given teachings and instruction that allow an individual who may even have done such intense negative actions the ability to gain something better for themselves. It is said that due to the kindness and compassion of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, the technique of the transference of consciousness can be relied upon even by someone who has done great intense negative activity, and they can bring about some better situation for themselves due to that.

Guru Padmasambhava, who introduced this actual transference of consciousness technique that we are going to rely upon said, "I have a technique that does not require meditation." Generally an individual puts themselves into a positive mental attitude, practices virtuous and positive actions in relationship with others, and develops a cognition of how they can practice in their striving towards attaining enlightenment. By putting their mind in the channel of that positive and constructive direction they will bring about the ripening of their attainment of enlightenment as time passes. When Padmasambhava says, "I have a technique that requires no meditation," what he is referring to is that if you rely on this transference of consciousness technique, even though youíve done no meditation you can benefit yourself. Now what that really means for Padmasambhava to say that is Ė I mean obviously you donít get something for nothing. If you want to become enlightened you have to spend the time, you have to put yourself into the practice, you have to develop the qualities that will bring about enlightenment and then enlightenment will be yours. It will be something that youíve worked for. But thatís a long process. What the transference of consciousness technique is, is this. If you receive this teaching, you practice it for two or three weeks time, you gain some of the signs that the transference of consciousness technique will be successful Ė itís not that in this lifetime you donít need to worry about any practice and development Ė what it is, is that you will so to speak have in your hand the liberty to be able to do something for yourself when you die, because you have been able to escape an uncontrolled death. So this is what is referred to, you donít get something for nothing, but you will have an opportunity to develop your spiritual qualities if you rely on these transference of consciousness techniques.

Thereís a good example of this, which is Milarepa. Milarepa was a very famous yogi and he attained enlightenment in his one lifetime in Tibet. Prior to his real spiritual development he had done many negative actions and so he was repentant of those and seeking a spiritual teacher to help him become enlightened. He came across a Nyingmapa master who was teaching the Great Completion technique. This master said, "My technique is so profound that if you meditate on it in the morning you will get the realization by the evening, and if you meditate on it at night by the next morning you will have the realization. And if there is individual who has great merit and they even hear the teaching of the Great Completion, they can gain realization immediately and not even have to do any practice." And Milarepa, being a bit arrogant, thought that he had actually done so much meditation already that he must be this fortunate disciple. So he did nothing, and therefore nothing happened. And so the teacher realized that Milarepa had some purification to go through due to the very heavy negative actions he had been accumulating prior to meeting him, and said, "You should seek out this particular teacher, the great translator Marpa and relying on him you will gain realization. You do not have a karmic connection with the Great Completion style of practices." So Milarepa moved on to the next teacher. Basically, you should not think that you can get an attainment by doing nothing.


When to do Phowa

So in regards to this practice, when do you implement it? Well, you implement it when your body is not going to be reliable anymore. If for example a very strong illness is starting to eat away at you, you get very old and realize that death is near, then at these times it is said you can implement the transference of consciousness practices strongly, basically giving yourself the opportunity to escape your body and the ordinary death and take your rebirth in the heart of Amitabha the Buddha of infinite light and love, and in that way benefit yourself.

When your body becomes old or weak, then the actual separation of your mind from your body is fairly easily accomplished. But if youíre young and healthy, the constituents of your body are all in balance and such, itís not easy to get your mind out of your body. The example that can be best given for this is that in the spring time when the buds first come forth and then the leaves form, although you might take a branch and shake it very vigorously the leaves donít fall off because basically theyíre too healthy and have no cause to fall off. But if you wait for the fall or winter time when the tree is old and dried up then the leaves easily fall off if the branch is shaken. In the same way with your own self, if the body is extremely healthy your mind wonít separate from the body very easily, and though you might practice there might not be much indication. But if your body is sick, if youíre old, and Iím talking maybe 60, 70, 80 years old then your ability to get your mind out of your body is a lot easier. The constituents of your body are weak and therefore the mind can be pulled out more easily.

The next thing is how can we know the time of death is approaching so we know to do the transference of consciousness? Now when an individual gets old then there will be various signs that come about. It is said that one of the signs that it is a good time to be very enthusiastic about the transference of consciousness practice would be for example, the ears start to lose the ability to hear. Although there are people around and they are talking, all you get is a sort of buzzing, you canít distinguish the words. Even if someone is beside you and chatting with you, you lose the context of whatís being said. That could be one of the indications that death may be close. Another one is that your eyes lose the ability to see. Although there are forms in front of you they are just fuzzy and blurry. You donít recognize individuals although they are before you and such. This is another indication that you might consider doing a stronger practice of the transference of consciousness. Another one is that the body fluids are starting to become much more complicated. There is the general flow of the fluids in your body when youíre healthy or strong, but as the body is losing its power then these elements or fluids become drier. So when these types of things start to be very manifest it is said that it is a good time for you to put your mind strongly to the practice of the transference of consciousness.

So when we get to that point where weíre starting to see that this is the case for ourselves, that life is obviously getting very close to the end, what we should do is give up the normal activity of desire that we might be involved with. Normally we have many things that we want, we have many normal actions we do. We sometimes lie a little bit, do this and that a little bit because we have this idea that we will have a lot of time to achieve what we would like to do, and sometimes we rely on some negative activity. At this point then we need to really abandon that and stop completely. We should say to ourselves, "At this time now I donít need to have any more worldly involvements or engagements. I should abandon all of those and I should turn my mind very strongly to Amitabha, the Buddha of infinite light. Now Iím going to do my transference of consciousness and I donít want any obstacles in the way of getting to the Pure land of Amitabha. Therefore Iím going to pray, Iím going to motivate myself in this way, Iím going to turn my mind strongly in a spiritual direction."

And of course if you do have this kind of practice, if youíve done the visualizations for Amitabha, if youíve worked on yourself spiritually with that cultivation, youíve done prayers and such practices of meditation, then when the time of death comes close youíve really facilitated the transference of your consciousness because youíve put everything in place.

So now in regards to all of this practice we need to know the timing. The timing is very important because it is said if we donít do it at the right time we actually do a great non-virtue. If you try to extract your consciousness from your body at a time that is earlier than is necessary to go to the pure land of Amitabha, when the time is not yet really right for that type of activity, itís said that itís killing the divine. What this means is that youíve done it too early and youíve done a great non-virtue to yourself.


Getting Ready to Practice

Now Weíre going to discuss the actual techniques for the transference of consciousness practice. In this regard, what you need to do is put your body in the correct meditation posture. Itís best if you can sit in what is called the vajra asana, the cross-legged posture, but that might be a little difficult. So in whatever way you can, put your body in good posture. Right now our bodies are all inside this room thereís no doubt about that, but where our mind is isnít so certain. Our mind can be all over the place. I mean it might be in Duncan, Victoria, Vancouver, it might be in Asia, it might be with our children, our mind might be with our lover, it can be all sorts of different places. Our mind doesnít have to be inside our body, it could be sort of thinking somewhere far away. So in that regard what you need to do for this practice is put your mind in your body. That means you just be astute, be with yourself here, so that your mind is contained within your body. You donít take your mind to some far away object away from yourself, you put your mind in your body because that is where youíre going to accomplish the practice.


Commentary on the Practice Text

(What follows is a commentary on the text, Buddhahood Without Meditation: The Swift Path of Phowa, the Transference of Consciousness. Revealed from the Vast Luminous Vajra Essence. by Terton Longsal Nyingpo.)



When we do the transference of consciousness there is the main body of the practice, and there are the preliminaries.  The preliminaries are that which facilitate the transference of consciousness.  They can be such things as relying on your spiritual mentor, doing guru yoga, or taking inspiration from your spiritual master and other such things.

Within the practice text itself, (the Preliminaries are at the beginning: pages 1-6 including Refuge, 4 Immeasurables, and Prayers to Tathagatas and Bodhisattvas.  These are the Preliminaries in the text - Ed.)


Identifying With the Body of Chenrezig

Now in regards to doing this practice, of course what we have is a body, and in regards to that normal body we have many attachments that relate to that body. We look upon ourselves like, "I am this way, I want that, I have this desire, I have that thing to avoid."  We have all of these things. I mean very much you have great familiarity with the body that you have and the wide variety of selfish desires and such which have consumed your consciousness. Thereís a long imprint with this due to a whole lifetime of relating to the kind of image that you have of the ordinary aspect of yourself as the basis of all those worldly mundane and material types of obsessions and such. To be able to work with yourself on the basis of that identification can be very complicated because of the great familiarity with the common aspect of yourself.  So itís said then to help you develop the ability to transfer consciousness you should develop a new identification for yourself, and actually bring forth that which is divine within you. So therefore on page seven it says, "This illusory body of aggregates I call self becomes the meditational deity of great compassion Chenrezig." On our shrine, Chenrezig is the large statue just to the right of Guru Padmasambhava. Chenrezig has a body which is clear like crystal and within that body is crystal clear light energy.  There is one face and four arms. The first two arms are in front of the chest holding a wish fulfilling jewel. The second right hand is holding a mala for reciting mantra. The second left hand is holding a white lotus. He is seated in vajra asana. His body is divine and is for the benefit of sentient beings. So this is the body that you should identify with because this body will give you, so to speak, a fresh start.


The Central Channel

Now the next line says, "Rising upwards from the heart is the wisdom central path." So that means that within this body which is clear like crystal you have an essential path which you are identifying. This wisdom channel that you are going to generate is something that is very important to identify clearly. For example, it runs up the centre of your body. It is a channel and in that regard it is even and smooth, straight and hollow. It is very very important to solidly identify it in this manner. You should not see it as being maybe a bit rickety, as having fat areas and skinny areas, as being blocked or obstructed or anything like that. Rather itís a uniform size. Itís like a chimney going straight up and out of a house. Itís about that size compared to your body. Itís this thin channel going up the centre of your body, clear, even, straight, hollow, and the nature of light energy.

This is a wisdom consciousness channel youíve generated within your body, coming from your heart upwards. It is the size of a milkshake straw and you should visualize the outside of it as being like glass. Clear, crystal-like, hollow, but on the outside it has a bluish color to it. To give another example for you of the actual size of it, it is like the stem of a fairly good sized flower like a dahlia, the stem is that size. It has the strength, the hollowness and the straightness of that. Now also this channel is said not to be darkened with ignorance. It is said that an ignorant mind is a dark mind because it doesnít understand. Well you donít want that in the central channel. The central channel should be like the brightness of a candle. So if youíre in a dark room, when you light a candle the space around the candle is luminous. You want the central channel within your body to be luminous like that, it is not darkened with ignorance.

You also need to be very stable in this visualization. You donít want to put your mind on the wrong pathway and send it to the wrong place, you want to be on a good path and on a straight path. So therefore when you think of this channel it should be stable and not be agitated. As for the central channel that we have been working with, we want to have the four identifications, the four things which you identify with this channel. These four things are: first, that it has a bluish color; second, that it is like the stem of a flower like a dahlia, of that nature and size; third, it is free of the darkness of ignorance, so it has the nature of luminosity like a candle, illuminating an area of space, and the fourth point is that it is stable. It is not going to be rickety. It is stable and firm to rely upon. These are the four identifying characteristics of your central channel.

So then you say, "Above the crown of my head is an open space of the pure land of great bliss." So not touching your head but some space above it, is this very blissful realm. And also this channel which youíve identified, although it says, Ďstarting at the heart,í it actually starts at below the navel. And so if you were to take four finger widths below your navel (it starts there), and its solidly blocked (at that end). And so itís said that going downwards the entrance is completely blocked so you will not take a lower rebirth from the lower portions of your body. The channel is completely empty, and you should visualize it as hollow and empty.

So then it says, "The best of guides is Buddha Amitabha."  Now  what we are doing here is giving a commentary to the actual words (of the practice text), so it is up to you to connect the words to what they mean. So in looking at the practice (text) of the swift path of the transference of consciousness, you can then have an appreciation of what the words refer to.


Buddha Amitabhaís Pure Land at the Top of the Channel

So youíve given yourself a fresh start by identifying yourself as divine in the form of the Buddha of love and compassion, Chenrezig, and youíve then identified the central channel with itís four principle characteristics.  Then it's said that one cubit, the length of one's forearm, in the space above the crown of your head should be a very ornate throne of jewels. Now itís not too large, but above your head that height in the nature of light is a throne. Then seated upon this throne is a lotus of various colors, and within that lotus is a red cushion which is called the sun cushion, a white cushion which is called the moon cushion, and upon that then is the great Lord Amitabha Buddha.

So above the crown of your head is the throne, and upon that is the lotus and the sun and moon cushions, and upon that is seated the Lord Amitabha Buddha. Now in regard to the aspect of Amitabha Buddha, see him as the essence of your main teacher, your root teacher. Your root teacher is the teacher who has been very kind to you, helping you on the path. And so you should have faith. You will of course have some faith in your teacher but you have to have a faith that inspires or lifts you. And therefore you should not see your teacher as being an ordinary person, a male or female with their ordinary qualities, but you want to make them very transcendent. So then therefore it is said that they are the essence, the holder of all the wisdom of the Buddhas of the three times, with great qualities and such. By doing this then you have a very special sense of veneration. So as to this teacher who is the essence of all the Buddhas of the three times that is appearing in the aspect of Amitabha, Amitabha Buddha has one face and two arms. He is seated in the meditation posture. In his hands is a begging bowl full of nectar. His body is very beautiful, it is of course a red color, a ruby red. He has the three robes of being a monk upon his body. His body has the 32 major and 80 minor signs of beauty and quality. And in this then you should visualize Buddha Amitabha as the essence of your most kind and precious teacher, the essence of all the Buddhas of the three times. There is a very colorful beautiful aura radiating from his body.

And around the Buddha Amitabha you should also include of course many other Buddhas. It is said both male and female Buddhas, all standing though, are around him. And you can see them all as being in the nature of great compassion. And so it says on page eight, "surrounded by the loving and compassionate Buddhas and Bodhisattvas." Theyíre all standing, very resplendent, very vast. There are many many of them, both male and female, and they have beautiful qualities of enlightenment. Specifically, standing on the right hand side of Amitabha Buddha you have Chenrezig who is the spiritual son of Amitabha. And then standing on the left side of Amitabha Buddha you have the Buddha Vajrapani. Vajrapani is the very powerful Buddha who removes all interferences. He is standing with a vajra and bell in his hands crossed in front of his chest. Chenrezig and Vajrapani are adorned with the very beautiful ornaments of whatís called the pure astral form. Very beautiful jewels and very resplendent robes of silk are upon their bodies. They are said to be in the aspect of being regal, the pure astral or sambhogakaya forms.

Amitabha Buddha is seated cross legged upon the lotus, sun and moon throne. As for Chenrezig and Vajrapani to the right and the left respectively, they are standing because they are working very strongly for the benefit of sentient beings. So to be able to work for the benefit of sentient beings theyíre not sitting down, theyíre standing up. In the space around them with all of the great compassionate Buddhas and Bodhisattvas you should have all the great lineage masters. All the great divine spiritual Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are on clouds and such floating around. Itís very beautiful, vast and going in all directions.

And so having established this visualization and placed the things around you in this manner, of course you should see that you are working very strongly for the benefit of the infinite ocean of sentient beings. And in that regard thinking that, "If I were to attain some spiritual capacity through doing this practice, may I be one who implements the benefit of sentient beings bringing them into happiness and releasing them from their suffering."

Now youíve set yourself up, youíve visualized yourself in the divine aspect of Chenrezig, above your head one cubit is the throne and seated upon that is the very glorious Amitabha Buddha. And then to the right and the left are the Bodhisattvas Chenrezig and Vajrapani. Around them gathered like a great crowd are all of the very beautiful male and female Buddhas with their great compassionate nature, all of the lineage masters, all of the practitioners that have existed. All of these beings are above you. Now in doing this then you should feel that for the benefit of sentient beings this is really the case. Principally then, Amitabha Buddha with the throne and everything in the space above you is really there. With deep faith, deep feeling, you have to say that really this is the case, there is no doubt. You have to encourage such deep conviction to arise within you.

So now what you should do next? Weíre into the second line on page eight where it says, "in the centre of the opened eight petaled lotus of the heart." Itís your heart thatís being referred to. And so of course you have the central channel which is clear, straight and luminous running through your body. Now the lower end of thatís completely blocked, the upper end is open and like a tunnel that youíre looking up through to the throne of Amitabha. Now at the level of the heart inside of this central channel will be a very tiny white eight petaled lotus. Then there is the central stamen with your consciousness as a little ball of energy standing in the centre on the top of that.


Consciousness in the Central Channel

Now in regards to the actual form that your consciousness takes upon the white lotus and the white cushion thatís in the centre of it, this can vary according to what lineage of practice you would like to do. It could be visualized as a syllable vibrating in the nature of Hri, it could be seen in a variety of other aspects. But in this particular practice it is said to be like an egg. And the egg is of this particular bird, but it would be something like a hummingbirdís egg because it has to be very teeny doesnít it. And so in that regards then you should see this very little egg standing upright. And not of course the nature of an egg. It is the nature of light energy and so it is actually totally luminous, and this is your mind.

So your consciousness in the form of this tiny egg is sitting upright. And itís very vibrant with the life energy Ė vibrating, energized, very specially alive, buoyant. Now it says, "vibrant and buoyant radiant thigle rise upward and become non-dual with the heart of Amitabha." What you have there is the egg has an incredibly buoyant, vibrant sort of light. Sort of like when you have a spark that goes off from a fire. When you do this visualization you have of course being non-dual with the heart of Amitabha. In saying that you actually donít have the whole egg shoot out of your body and join with Amitabha, that is not necessary. What you visualize is the light like a spark shoots up and becomes non-dual with the heart of Amitabha. In that regard then what you do is with the word phet Ė and underneath there you see the word phet three times Ė with the word phet you visualize that the light from this very vibrant little live egg shoots up through the central channel and joins and becomes inseparable with Amitabha.

And so the reason you want to keep the egg in your heart, and not have it eject out and join with Amitabha non-dualistically, is that if you were to do that youíd actually harm your life. You would shorten your life by doing that and you donít want to do that. So at that point just the light and not the egg shoots up and joins with Amitabha. It creates the circumstance but doesnít shorten life.

Now weíre only doing a practice of this, we only want to set up a familiarity with the practice. Of course if our body became old, if our body became ill with a terminal illness, then at that point you would definitely do this practice and you would eject the whole egg because you want to get out of your body.


Signs of Attaining the Practice

It is a necessity to do the practice, youíre not going to get the results without doing anything. And so itís said you should do this practice properly and then the signs will appear. Now Iíve actually seen and many of us have seen, if someone actually does this practice repeatedly there will finally arise the signs. For example a small bead of blood will start to form on top of the skin on the crown of the head, or there is a very itchy spot or a very tingly spot that arises on the crown of the head. There are many different signs which then indicate that there is some attainment of this practice.


The Importance of Faith

So when you do this practice, especially at the time when the end of your life is drawing near, you should have no doubt that you will be born in the pure land of Amitabha. That is definitely the attainment that is possible. If you do the practice well you should have that expectation, that that is going to be there for you. As I was trying to escape from Tibet I had to stay at the border between Tibet and India for some time, waiting in that place due to the Chinese occupation. There were very few teachers, monks or nuns in that area and therefore there were no teachings. So I had to stay there for several months and a group of people approached me asking for teachings.  One man specifically wanted a teaching on this transference of consciousness. And this is actually the practice that I taught him. Between the time I taught him and the time I left he did a lot of practice of it. And just before I departed to go into India he actually came to me and said, "I have had all the signs. I actually have a direct cognition of the pure land of Amitabha. I will be able to go there. I have no doubts about that. Thank you so much, youíve given me a great blessing." And so I think from my side that due to the power of his deep faith and his relying upon this technique, he definitely was convinced. He had the internal signs he said, he actually had seen the visions and so he had that expectation of what was going to be there for him.

So that is the end of the class for today and we will do some practice tomorrow and that is something that you should look forward to. Now in regards to this though, if you are going to do the practice you have to bring your faith. When I talk about bringing your faith what Iím really referring to is you have some appreciation of what is, so to speak, the divine in the sense that we talked about the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Now the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas from our point of view are universal. Itís not that they just work for Buddhists and they donít work for others, or they just work for men and not for women, or they just work for certain people and not for other people. That is completely a limiting point of view in regards to the divine beings. And so from a Buddhasí perspective they canít do it for us, but they work for us and our benefit. As much as we allow ourselves to become involved, they will be there for us irrespective of who we are, irrespective of how virtuous or non-virtuous we are. All of those things from the side of the enlightened beings are not how they look at it. They look at all of us completely equally, wishing to benefit us all and to bring us all into enlightenment. The meaning of a divine being is that it has transcended all of the normal partialities that we might have. The Buddhas do not have that type of nature (having partialities). Therefore when you think of this practice, if you have a feeling for your own spirituality, a feeling towards what is important in your life Ė for example we said remember, in the beginning, Ďrecognize your motivation, cultivate a positive motivation, rely upon your positive motivation.í With those sorts of elements in place Ė doing good actions, you have a correct motivation, you are a beneficial person in the world around you Ė with all of those things itís like you donít have to doubt it, the Buddhas will be there for you because you have the qualities that are attracting them and facilitating their intervention in your life. Therefore with this practice when I say bring your faith what I really mean is that you can think that, "On the basis of who I am, how I live my life, I have faith that the Buddhas will intercede for my benefit."

That brings us to the conclusion of this eveningís class, thank you very much. Tomorrow we will start the class again at 9:30, so please come tomorrow and we will do practice. Thank you very much.


Saturday, April 11, 1998

So in regards to the teachings on the swift path of the transference of consciousness, weíve covered a large portion of the material already, but I just have a little bit left just to complement or complete the actual teaching. Looking at the text weíve received, on the first page we take Refuge and generate the altruistic thought of wishing to benefit all sentient beings by attaining enlightenment. Having completed that then, we have the four immeasurables and then we go into the praises of the Buddhas and the Tathagatas, which refers to the Buddhas and the Bodhisattvas. Having completed that then, thereís the main practice you come to where you generate yourself in the form of Chenrezig, the Buddha of love and compassion. Having done that you do the practice up to the transference of consciousness. Now on page eight at the bottom it says, "From the heart of the Lama, self-awareness as the luminous deity." That then actually is if you are doing the transference of consciousness for someone else, then you would recite that. If youíre doing it for yourself you would go to where it says, "ah phet" and then stop. From there you go over to the other page (page 10) and carry on. So the last two lines on the bottom of page eight 8 are for doing it for someone else.


Prayers for Blessings from the Lineage

So then the prayer, "ĎBhagavan, Tathagata, Arhat, Samyaksambuddha, protector Amitabha," you recite that three times. Then it goes, "Om ah hung, to the dharmakaya Amitabha, the Buddha of boundless light I pray." From there going all the way up until approximately page 18 then, there is one set of prayers which is basically a reminder, a review of the transference of consciousness, and (requesting) the blessings from the lineage masters to be able to receive the realizations.  And on page 19 you do the (prayer to Buddha Amitabha) three times. Then after that the prayer that starts, "In the exalted palaceÖ" and continues on until page 27, again is requesting for blessings from the great masters that have accomplished the technique. On page 28 again you recite (the prayer to Buddha Amitabha) three times. Then you do the "oh how wonderful" all the way until page 29. At that time then you are basically reciting a request for blessings. If youíre doing this practice these are things to do because they bring to mind things which are important for you. And then of course you have (the prayer to the Buddha Amitabha) again. If you want to you can recite it three times but itís not necessary. At this point once is sufficient and that makes it a little bit easier for you. On page 30 then you have another prayer, requesting the transference of consciousness which is particular to the Dzogchen transmission. Again itís requesting the blessings for that. Then on page 31 you have the prayer, "Very essence of the undeceiving three supreme jewels," up until halfway down page 32. This is a request for the blessings of the three precious jewels of Refuge and such. Then you have, "Because of the unbearable force of this powerful prayer." So having done that youíve completed the basic prayers for being able to collect the merit to be able to practice the transference of consciousness.


Becoming Amitayus, the Buddha of Boundless Life

When you get to page 33 you have, "The body of Amitabha above the crown of my head melts into light and dissolves into myself." Prior to that you have yourself identified as Chenrezig. In your heart you have the particular visualization of the lotus with your mind as being the atomic egg. And youíve done the visualization of Amitabha in the space above you with Chenrezig on his right side and Vajrapani on his left side. Then around you have all the male and female Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and all of the root and lineage gurus. You have all of these together in a huge mass. At this time you should feel that all of those deities absorb into whatís called the principle three. And the principle three are of course Amitabha, Chenrezig Ė it says here Avalokiteshvara Ė and Vajrapani. They (all the deities) are absorbed into those . And so they become very resplendent with the blessings as the great assembly absorbs into the principle three. Then you have Chenrezig on the right and Vajrapani on the left, in that order they absorb into Amitabha Buddha. Amitabha Buddha then becomes the principle one having everyone absorbed into him. Then the principle, the Buddha Amitabha, flows down in the nature of light and absorbs into you. Then from that being absorbed into you, you turn into the Buddha Amitayus, which is actually the Sambhogakaya form of Amitabha, a more exalted form of Amitabha. You turn into Amitayus, the Buddha of infinite life.

So how you visualize yourself when you turn into Amitayus, the Buddha of infinite life, is that that manifestation is in the aspect of being red in color, ruby red. You have one face and two arms, your legs are in the crossed leg vajra position, your hands are upon your lap in the meditation posture. In the palm of your hands you should have a vase appear. In this vase is the nectar of immortality. This then is the aspect that you manifest as. Having absorbed Amitabha you become the Buddha of infinite life, Amitayus. In this aspect you are what is called the Sambhogakaya, the body of enjoyment, and that means your body is very resplendent, having all the ornamentation of a highly exalted being decked out with jewels and such ornaments.

So the reason for visualizing yourself as Amitayus is because you have practiced Phowa. At this time you are healthy. There is a need to visualize yourself (as Amitayus) because this is the Buddha of infinite life and you want to stabilize your life energy. By doing the transference of consciousness practice you are actually shaking your continuity, the life energy within yourself. By doing that then you can shorten your life if you do the practice intensively while youíre still very healthy. Therefore to offset that type of effect to yourself Ė because you are a healthy, alive, very vibrant person Ė you generate yourself in the aspect of Amitayus. By doing so you are in effect blessing yourself to have the stability of long life. Now if you happen to be old, or youíre ill, you know that death is approaching, you do not need to do this practice because thatís not something that you wish to obtain. You wish to get out of your body. But if you are a healthy individual and you are merely practicing this to become proficient in this practice at the time of death, to be able facilitate your getting out of your body, then you would do this practice of Amitayus. You generate yourself in this aspect and bless yourself. Then because of the great power of the blessings of that Buddha, you bless yourself that your life energy becomes stable and strong, thereby not weakening your life energy therefore shortening your life. If you see that death is close you do not do this visualization. Then you would recite the life recitation mantra three times. Then if you like to thereís the mantra, "Om Guru Ahyour Siddhi Hung". You recite that some number of times, maybe seven times or so. Itís the mantra for long life.


Dedication of Merit

And then the final prayers from page 34 onwards are the dedication of merit. Which of course is, "Having practiced this transference of consciousness may I receive the blessings to be able to progress quickly to the attainment of enlightenment to be able to benefit all sentient beings." And you have the variety of prayers and also you have the prayer on page 39. Again all these prayers are for the pure dedication of the merit to accomplish the practice to be able to benefit sentient beings. So these are the concluding prayers that you would do.


Practice and Accomplishment

As for the signs that you have been able to accomplish the transference of consciousness you will have a variety of different signs. The signs can arise quite easily if you do the practice with some sincerity.  One sign is a sort of itchiness or scratchiness feeling on the crown of your head. Another one is if you were to take a piece of grass, then on the crown of your head you would be able to insert it into the skin very easily. You would find that it becomes very soft and such in the crown area of your head. These are two of the signs that you have got the preliminary signs of accomplishing the transference of consciousness to some proficiency.

You donít have to have a long consistency of this practice. Itís something that doesnít require an incredible amount of meditation, but what you establish is that you have a technique. And if you rely upon it and do practice and get some of the signs, then you can have a great sense of joy for yourself because you know that at the end of your life you will be able to rely upon this practice and accomplish getting out of your body. And so it is said that you should have great joy having applied yourself to the practice which is a quick way to get out of your body.

So this is the basic presentation of the transference of consciousness and weíre going to do some practice of it, but prior to that Iíd like for you to have the opportunity to ask questions. Do you have any questions?


Questions and Answers

Vajrapani's Color

Q: What color is Vajrapani?

R: Blue.

The Meaning of "Thigle"

Q: What does thigle mean?

J: Thatís concentration point. In Sanskrit itís called bindu, in Tibetan itís called thigle. Itís a concentration point, normally a little dot with a squiggly above it like a semen.

Birth in an Open or Closed Bud

Q: If you were to transfer consciousness to the pure land by ordinary phowa, would you reincarnate in the pure land as an open or closed bud?

R: So the actual issue is that yes, when you do the transference of consciousness you will arrive in the pure land of Amitabha Buddha. Arriving there if you have doubt that maybe this practice isnít going to work, you havenít got strong faith in your spiritual master, such things like that, then itís said you will be born into a closed lotus. The reason for that closed lotus is because you have doubt. Doubt is an obscuration which is arising in the form of a closed lotus around you. You can hear Buddha Amitabha giving his discourses, but you cannot see him and you cannot get up and move around. And you will remain in there for 500 years being able to listen to the discourses, but not getting out. If you have deep spiritual faith in your master, you believe in this practice and such, you do not have to be born in a closed lotus. You will be born in an open lotus and therefore you have the opportunity to be able to walk around, see and participate with Buddha Amitabha in receiving Dharma teachings. You can also go to other pure lands. There are many things. You have complete freedom with the attainment of the phowa without doubt. So lack of doubt or having doubt will be limiting factors for you in taking this rebirth.

Doing Phowa for Someone Else

Q: On page eight and nine here youíre doing this for somebody else, someone who is passing away?

R: So youíd like to do a transference of consciousness for somebody else?

Q: Not that but (inaudible).

R: So actually go back to page seven where it says, "This illusory body of aggregates I call myself." Then you would actually change that line and say, "The illusory body of the individual Iím focused on."í You would put that in instead of yourself because youíre doing this for somebody else and thatís the basic reason for that. In doing that then you do the same exact recitation on to page eight. At the bottom of page eight, where it says Hri and then, "From the heart of the Lama (etc.)," that is recited for the benefit of the other person that you are doing this practice for. If youíre doing it for yourself, on page eight you would do the ah phet three times, then youíd flip over to page 10 where it says, "(Chom den day de shinÖ)" At this point recite the verses developing the self-visualization, then youíd start doing those prayers. Those are little changes youíd do if youíre doing it for someone else versus yourself.

Q: Can this be done at a distance? If you know that someone is passing away then would you visualize that person?

R: Now actually to be practical, the ability to transfer another individualís consciousness is not easily done by ourselves. We have to actually have the clairvoyance to see where their consciousness is to be able to grab it, then to be able to put it into the pure land. And unless we have a fairly high level of spiritual attainment we will not be able to really do that. So therefore itís not to say that there isnít a benefit that we can accomplish for someone who is dying, but the actual transference of consciousness would not be really accomplished because we donít know where that personís consciousness is to be able to go and get it, and do this to it. So therefore to be practical thereís not a lot you can accomplish in that regard, but there is definitely the capacity to affect the consciousness of the individual who has passed away, due to the power of your prayers and your pure intention. If you go to page 34, on page 34 there are the prayers which are prayers of sincere wish for the benefit of others. And if you have a deep heartfelt feeling and you recite these prayers, you actually will benefit the consciousness by blessing it. And this does not require you to have any special spiritual quality other than a deep feeling and faith within yourself that you are invoking the blessings of spiritual beings to intercede on your behalf. Therefore intensity of prayer is a more appropriate technique for the level weíre at.

Reciting in Tibetan Instead of English

Q: Do you think it would be better for us because we donít speak Tibetan to do the English where English appears? Would that have more meaning for us?

R: So actually I can appreciate the fact that you do not read or understand Tibetan. Therefore the recitation of Tibetan to some extent is not really that meaningful, whereas in English you understand what you are saying, therefore there is some impact for you. Now if we actually look at the tradition weíre talking of, these are called termas which are hidden teachings and theyíre revealed. Now the particular teacher that presented this practice was a very realized being, and this is a terma which he realized in a particular way and then transmitted in the Tibetan language. For someone within the Tibetan language then this is very blessed because it is sacred speech in that regards. But if you look at it, for example there are the Sanskrit mantras. Originally the Dharma came from India, and in that regards we as the Tibetans recite the text of the Sanskrit mantras because of the blessing that was bestowed upon them by the Buddha. Therefore those have a very special meaning. So mantras are definitely something that should stay in Sanskrit. There is a blessing from our point of view in this particular text, and it is done from the actual recitation of it in the Tibetan. That is not to say it is exclusive of the fact that you could recite it in English, but from our point of view there is a blessing because it was realized in the Tibetan language and presented that way.

Actually though, there is a possibility to learn and therefore we're going to do the recitations in the Tibetan. Beneath the Tibetan of course is the English. So while doing it in Tibetan, which is a tuneful sort of way, you can sort of check up the English and become familiar with the meaning. So actually it isnít impossible for you to be able to, while reciting the Tibetan, to be familiar at least with the idea and concept behind it and still receive the blessings. So thatís what weíre going to do here OK?

Shooting Fire Sparks from the Masar Egg

Q: Can you say something a little bit about the visualization that we need to be having when the spark is going up? Is there something special, some special visualization there or..?

R: Now the particular bird that was referred to and the birdís egg has some meaning in regards to so to speak, the mythology of Buddhism. It the sense that at the time of Machig Labdron, when she was doing her practices and such Ė this is a very famous yogini, a woman practitioner Ė it is said that at that time then there manifested two birds. They were said to be the manifestations of Avalokiteshvara, the Buddha of love and compassion Ė Chenrezig, and Tara. And they basically came together and produced one egg. This egg was very special, being that it was the product of two divine beings, and it had very special qualities. Wherever it was placed it would radiate light, removing darkness, giving blessings, releasing illnesses and such. When we refer to you visualizing your mind as being this blessed egg that was created from the union of Chenrezig, the Buddha of love and compassion, and Tara, the female Buddha, there actually is a special reason for that. Because of the quality of the story, when you visualize your mind as being like that egg then it gives you stronger blessings. Thatís why itís referred to as the product of these two divine beings who were manifested as birds, who together produced this very special egg. So visualizing your mind as that gives you a strong blessing in your mind. It empowers your mind to have more power, to have more effect. Now thatís one point. The second point in regards to this is that you visualize your mind as this egg. Itís very tiny, has special radiance and such. The actual energy around the egg is what you send up becoming inseparable, non-dual with the mind of Amitabha. Now thatís very much like when you have a fire burning and then a very hot spark shoots off from the fire. Like that then, you want your mind like that. Itís the nature of the fire but itís not with the fire anymore. It sort of has itís own glow and radiance as it blasts off. You should visualize that itís not your whole mind that goes, but that a spark of it goes and becomes inseparable with the mind of Amitabha.

Pure Land of God or Jesus Instead of Buddha

Q: I have a hard time relating to Buddha. Is it possible to do God or Jesus instead (inaudible)?

R: Yeah, if your confidence is in that regards, yes thatís what you should visualize.

R: If thereís no more questions weíll do the recitation.

Where Consciousness is Visualized

Q: Sorry Iím just confused for a minute. I was thinking that what I heard last night was at the heart was the eight petaled lotus, and on top of that was the egg. But then when you talk about the mind, I visualize it from here up to here (points from the chest to top of the head). So in my visualization I donít know where to place it.

R: What you visualize is that your mind and the egg are inseparable. That sits on top of the lotus.  Everything else is sort of the circumstance. But your conscious awareness is the radiant egg. So as you remember, as we talked yesterday the central channel is the pathway. Itís like the road. The place we want to go to is Amitabha. Then the vehicle that youíre driving on is the radiant egg. The radiant egg is the vehicle, thatís your conscious awareness, your mind. Thatís the one that you want to move. Itís moving on the pathway of the central channel. The place itís driving to is the pure land of Amitabha.

What is a Pure Land?

Jhampa: I have a question. My question was, ĎYou know we always hear about a pure land. Whatís a pure land? What are some of its qualities?í

R: Basically the qualities of a pure land are quite inconceivable in the sense that it facilitates oneís spiritual practice immensely. Now in this regards Amitabhaís pure land is said to be a dharmakaya pure land, so if you were to take rebirth there then you would receive the blessings to be able to develop. At this point there is a text which gives a very descriptive presentation of it and I havenít got that text right here. So for right now you can think of it as a totally inconceivable special place where your spirituality is greatly enhanced. So if you do the practice of this transference of consciousness well, you will actually generate the ticket to be able to go there and then you can see for yourself.

Choosing a Rebirth to Benefit Beings

Q: When someone wants to be a Bodhisattva, do you want to go to a pure land and come back after, or do you want to get reborn as a human so you can benefit sentient beings?

R: Really this depends on your own ability. I mean definitely thereís always the intention to benefit sentient beings, but in regards to actually oneís capacity, for ourselves, we donít have a lot of ability. Therefore we are pushed by our karma to take a particular rebirth. So that says we have rebirths that are uncontrolled as in not under our control. Our births are established merely by our karmic propensity. When you have a higher realization you have freedom, meaning you have control. If you want to take a rebirth you can take it wherever you want. If you want to be born into a worldly realm benefiting sentient beings you can do that, but your power of consciousness is very great. You know exactly what you want to do, the rebirth you want and such. If you want to take a rebirth in a pure land to enhance your skills, then that is another opportunity that you have. So in this regards the ability of the individual to take a rebirth is dependent on their spiritual practice, their evolution and such. Itís always the benefit of sentient beings because youíre developing your skills as a Bodhisattva, but the place that you go to depends on what you deem as the most appropriate thing at that time.

About the Different Pure Lands

Q: Is there a sambhogakaya and nirmanakaya pure land, and is the "pure land of the western world" the same as Amitabhaís pure land?

R: First in regards to the western paradise of Amitabha, in the country of India and in Tibet we always say the western paradise. So there is a western paradise and Iím sure that that is of course the paradise of Amitabha Buddha, the divine realm. Iím sure theyíre exactly the same. And so as a second point, when you talk about a dharmakaya pure land itís not something you could substantially say is material, because itís a state of consciousness pure land. But from there then there are all of the manifestations which are the pure astral forms, the sambhogakaya or body of enjoyment pure lands. From the dharmakaya pure land the infinite number of manifest realms in what are the subtle and divine astral form are manifest. Then from those realms, the pure astral form realms, there come the material pure lands. Now a material pure land for example would be the arrival of Buddha Shakyamuni to the country of India 2500 years ago. His presentation of the Dharma is a nirmanakaya or manifest body pure land, but that came from a pure astral form or body of enjoyment sambhogakaya pure realm, which of course came from the dharmakaya pure realm. So theyíre all related, but the pure land of the nirmanakaya is Buddha Shakyamuniís presence in the world and the presentation of the Dharma.

Does the Spark Stay in Amitabha's Heart?

Q: Once you transfer the spark or thigle into the heart of Buddha Amitabha, do you then not take it back down? Does it stay there when Buddha Vajrapani and Chenrezig dissolve?

R: So actually what you do is visualize that your mind, in this particular transference of consciousness practice, stays in your heart in the form of the radiant egg. Only the light rays go up and become inseparable with the consciousness, the divine mind of Amitabha Buddha. In that regard youíre not really sending your mind there, youíre just saying that a portion of your energy so to speak is identified inseparably with the holy mind of Amitabha Buddha. Now what you do from that point then, is remember that you have generated yourself as Chenrezig or Avalokiteshvara, the Buddha of love and compassion. Youíre in that divine aspect. Amitabha Buddha is above the crown of your head with Avalokiteshvara, Vajrapani and all the great lineage gurus and everything. Of course Amitabha specifically is the essence of your spiritual master, your root teacher and all the blessings of all the Buddhas of the three times. So what you do is, having identified that very clearly by absorbing all the lineage gurus, by absorbing the two Bodhisattvas to the left and the right of Amitabha into Amitabha, and then Amitabha flowing down into you in the nature of light, you bless yourself. And so what youíre doing is creating yourself as an aspirant Buddha as Chenrezig. Youíre merely receiving the blessings of your spiritual master very strongly within your consciousness by doing this visualization. So in that regards youíre blessing yourself and itís only a little bit of the energy of your mind thatís merging inseparably with the consciousness of Amitabha, OK?

I Don't Feel Deserving

Q: I have a question about doubt. I perhaps donít doubt so much that Buddha or God can receive me, but I perhaps have doubts that Iím deserving. You know in my little mortal form Iím trying to do what seems like a wondrous achievement. So Iím wondering what (Rinpoche) has to say about that.

R: I agree with you on your point. That is correct we are just an ordinary sentient being. But what we need to do is move away from grasping at ourselves as being ordinary in the sense that, the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas were ordinary sentient beings. They have applied themselves to their spiritual practice. They have evolved and become enlightened. Now the Buddhas have whatís called buddha nature. We have buddha nature. Whatís the difference between the two? (The difference) is that they have no obscuration to their buddha nature, they fully understand it. We have an obscuration to our buddha nature. It is the karmic imprint of habit or negativity and delusion which is obscuring that nature of ourselves. Because of those two things, delusion and habit patterns, we have an obscuration to directly perceiving our buddha nature. So what we have to do to protect ourselves is that we have to practice. The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas canít come and do that for us. They can inspire us, but the real issue is that we have to have a spiritual practice. We have to work with our delusion which sees ourselves as being inferior and such. We have to work at releasing ourselves from the habit pattern of negativity. If we apply ourselves to that then we will actually be able to attain enlightenment. We have the basis of enlightenment within us, it is merely obscured by delusion and the habit pattern of negative imprints from before. So what we need to do is to say, "The basis of my ability to evolve and attain enlightenment is the application of my spiritual practice, releasing myself from these things which obscure my buddha nature." In regards to ourselves we have to recognize that the limiting factor from our side is our delusion and negative habit energy, and these are the things that we have to overcome.

Special Breathing

Q: Is there a special method of breathing we should use during the meditation?

R: No, thereís no special breathing thing you need to do with regards to this style of practice. You do the mantra with some emphasis, but thereís no special breathing that youíre doing at all.

J: So (Rinpoche) would like us to do the practice now.


* * * Practice * * *

The Benefits of Practice

Now as for the teaching of this particular transmission of consciousness, I received it on numerous occasions, and of the people I received it from there is one particular teacher, Lama Khenpo MŁnsel, who was the principal instructor. He is very adept at this particular practice and he gives instructions to many of his students, and so the practice was then presented many times. The general plan of it is one receives the transmission of the teaching, one covers the general points on it, and then for one or two weeks one does the practice and has to sit very well. And the test (to see) if itís been successful is that they use a stalk of quite stiff grass like a wheat straw, and they place it on the crown of the head and they push down. When it enters into the skull quite easily then that is the sign that the attainment is had. Normally it takes between one and two weeks to be able to generate that type of effect upon the body. Now sometimes he would joke and say if I get someone who has not attained this after two weeks, then what we will do is take all your clothes off, tie you up like you were a corpse and lie you on a rock naked outside. Then weíll all sit around you and weíll do the transmissions of consciousness again and again until finally your channel opens. And so all of us were sort of terrified that we would be tied naked on top of a rock and have all these monks sit there and do prayers in front of us, and so we would all sit really straight and do the practice really well. And so his technique seems to have worked.

So at this pointyou have been receiving the instructions on this and thatís very good. And of course if you can do some practice, whether you actually practice until you are getting the sign of the attainment or not is really not so important, but you should do some practice of this. Because in doing so then you will benefit yourself to actually have some accomplishment. That is of course the intention. I mean to give teachings on my part, and for your part then to participate and to do some practice is beneficial. Then you actually get some attainment. To do all of this and then not to do anything is sort of like a loss of the opportunity to be able to prepare yourself for something that will inevitably happen to you, death.

And so this actually applies now to everything. It can be for example, that you become very interested in practicing some kind of Buddhism, and of course maybe you move into the Vajrayana Buddhism. And so you attend and participate in an initiation given by a Vajrayana instructor. You receive the initiation, you get special implements placed on the crown of your head to bless you, you get holy substances to eat and such. Having accomplished all of that, receiving the perfect initiation, then if you donít do the practice itís such a shame. You have all the opportunity in place for you to be able to do a spiritual transformation and then you donít do it. That would again be a loss. Practice is sort of like needing to eat food. We have a stomach and we have to put something in it. So if you have a very large table with many great delicacies placed upon the table, many delicious things that are wonderful to eat and you just look at them with you eyes, that doesnít get it into your stomach. And so that would be like attending the Dharma discourses and everything, which are a great many wonderful delicacies, and just look at them. What you need to do is actually put it in your mouth, eat it, and then satisfy your stomach. Then you actually have the beautiful delicacies on the table benefiting you internally. So in the same way with the Dharma practices, you should undertake the practices. The objective of this is that your delusions become less, your mind becomes clear, you gain some experiences, your qualities grow, your ability to benefit increases. Those are the objectives of what your spiritual practice is, that those things come about. That comes about because of practice.

In the west there is great material prosperity and such. In that regard the outside is taken care of very well. But there is something in developing oneself internally. For example, where I come from there was lots of opportunity to practice but not so much material. So itís good you have an opportunity now to bring in both the material and the spiritual. Now in regards to the spiritual though, itís something that you actually undertake within yourself internally. You develop a sense of what is important for yourself, for example abandoning the non-virtuous actions. There are three of the body, four of speech, and three of the mind. You try to abandon those to try to make yourself of greater quality in your positive nature. And in that regard you bring about the implementation of those qualities so you can do them anywhere. You can do that sort of practice when you get up in the morning, when youíre eating food, when youíre driving in your car, whatever. You can always implement your principles of morality and such, they are easy to be implemented. So thatís something you can undertake as part of the total scope of your practice.

So part of course of what is in practice, is that if you apply yourself in practice the results will come about for you. I mean one time even the Buddha himself was an ordinary person, completely an ordinary sentient being with many delusions. But due to his practice and due to persisting in practice, the unfolding and revealing of his buddha nature took place until finally he attained full enlightenment. Well, that is also possible for us to do. By merely applying ourselves to our practice things will come about and change, and the results will be manifest. In regards to practice we should always recognize that at one time all the great spiritual beings that have ever been were ordinary beings, and through practice they applied themselves, attained realizations, and then slowly evolved. So in that manner that is completely available to us too. There are results for our spiritual endeavor.

We can also bring to mind the story of Milarepa, the great saint of Tibet. At one time he was part of a rich family, and then his inheritance was taken from him. Then due to the prodding from his mother, he went off and learned black magic. Doing a retreat he attained some possibility of inflicting great harm. Then he one day destroyed a house, killing 32 people, due to the power of this particular magic. After that the local villagers were quite angry with him and he again threatened that he would destroy their crops. And with his ability to control the elements he brought a great hailstorm that completely destroyed the crops of that valley. So he did many of these great negative actions. Then with a feeling of strong repentance he abandoned such negative activity, realizing that it was very sad and caused so much pain. He went and sought out a spiritual master and with a strong feeling of wanting to purify himself, it is said he applied himself to the instructions of his spiritual master, and in one lifetime attained the exalted state of enlightenment of the state of Vajradhara. And therefore it can be that even though weíve done deep negativity, with correct application of the teachings, with our own enthusiasm, we can be just as Milarepa and attain enlightenment in one lifetime.

And there is also the story of Angulimala, who was a man from the country of India who displeased one of his gurus. His guru then being angry with him, gave him an inappropriate instruction saying, "If you can kill 1000 people you will be born into the realm of the gods." And so with this instruction he sent him away from where he was receiving study. And so basically the fellow started to kill people and cut off their finger and hang it around his neck as a sign. And he had killed 999 people and in this regards was a very feared man because of his great power and the brutality that he inflicted upon the people of that area. Then Buddha Shakyamuni came to hear of this and came to the area where the man was. And although walking very slowly in the aspect of a monk, Angulimala seeing him and thinking this is the 1000th person I will kill chased the Buddha, but could never catch him. In this regards the Buddha tamed him and so had the opportunity to instruct him in the Dharma. Angulimala then relied upon the instructions of the Buddha and in that life time managed to realize the mistake that he had made. With deep repentance he purified himself and in that life, even though he killed 999 people, he attained the attainment of an Arhat. And so even someone who had done such great evil by relying on practice was able to attain spiritual purification.

Now of course we have never gotten anywhere close to killing 999 people. In fact we have never even killed one human. In fact I would estimate we have never even killed a sentient being. So in that regard we donít have any of the great karma that they accumulated in the scale of just their one life. But what we do have is the fact that in this life we have negative actions due to just the mindless way that we have lived. And we can extend that to previous rebirths. We have been involved in a variety of activities, and so have a great store of negative karmic activity which will bring suffering for us as time passes. And it is because of the great accumulation, not just in one rebirth, but over a great many rebirths. We have that continuity within our consciousness. If we would like to become purified we have to actually then regret the negativity by seeing that it causes suffering for us. We have to understand the delusion, understand that if delusion is acted upon it creates a karmic imprint. And if that karmic imprint is acted upon, when it ripens it will create suffering for us. Therefore we need to have a strong regret for our negative actions because we recognize that they cause suffering. The best example for this is that if someone was at one time to mistakenly eat a poison, and having eaten it they realize theyíve eaten a poison. It makes them deeply ill and they manage to recover, but they just recognize that, "Boy, I will never eat that again." So in that way they regret that they ate the poison because they experienced how sick it made them. And so in the same way with regards to our own delusions, and then the negative activities that we create, we should recognize that just like that poison it makes us completely ill. It makes us ill with all the sufferings we experience. So if we can generate regret for the sufferings that we experience by recognizing that they are related to the delusions that we have, that we rely upon, that create the negative karma, and then we make a strong turning of our mind Ė just as the person who ate the poison really rejects ever eating that poison again by saying, "I donít want to get sick like that again," Ė in the same way we also have to reject our negativity. And so when we talk of moving away from our negative actions which we normally rely upon because of delusion, we have to have on one side that we regret those negative actions because we see how they only make us miserable, and then we have to have a real commitment, a promise and commitment that we wonít fall in that direction again. If we do this, then the possibility of spiritual transformation is easily accomplished.

Generally we would say that negativity, delusion, and the negative action which is produced from that has no quality whatsoever. But actually there is a quality that you can identify with negativity. This is the fact that if you recognize the suffering that it causes, and then you regret that action, and you completely turn yourself away from it, the quality that you gain actually is the quality of experience. You know it doesnít work. So therefore suffering, and the realization and rejection of the causes that create the suffering has a quality. The quality that you have experience and wisdom.

So also of course, if we look back in the past when Buddha Shakyamuni was actually in the world, walking in the world and giving instruction, then of course even though people were in direct relationship with the Buddha, able to hear his actual discourses and such, they still had to actualize the teachings and practice them to bring about their own transformation. Because as the Buddha said, "It is not possible just by knowing me you will bring about realization. You actually have to practice yourself. You have to tame your own mind." And so in this regards when we look to ourselves we donít have to have great expectations, just that we should try to take something (from a teaching). For example, if there are four points in spiritual transformation to be understood, maybe we donít get all four, maybe we just get one. Even if we donít get one, we should at least recognize that we are the source, the creator of how we experience things. So we donít look outside at other people or things like that, external to ourselves, we look within ourselves. And to gain a realization of our own mind this is the whole emphasis of what the Buddha taught. He said, "Our mind is the creator of how we experience things. Our mind is the creator of our suffering. Our mind is the creator of our enlightenment." So in this regards, even though we donít have a profound practice, at least we can get things right as to what is the source of our transformation. Then actually we are doing something beneficial.

A very good analogy for the Buddhaís teaching is that it is like a mirror. And all the mirror is, is that it reveals where we have made mistakes and what we need to do for ourselves. And in that regards, if you have the mirror of the Dharma you can see where you yourself are dirty. For example, I mean how your face is dirty, how maybe your teeth are dirty, how maybe your ears are dirty and such. All of these things are revealed. The Dharma teaching is a mirror that lets you reflect upon yourself and see where there is an opportunity to do some improvement, to see where there are things to be cleaned or qualities to be enhanced. And in that regards then, the mirror of the Dharma reveals ourselves and what we can potentially attain, and what needs to be done to bring that attainment. And when you have the Dharma, it has nothing to do with taking the Dharma and looking at everyone else and measuring them, and deciding if they have a Dharma practice. That is not appropriate at all. The Dharma practice is to be applied to yourself. There is nothing to do with other people. You donít look at other people and decide how deluded or undeluded they are, you only look with the Dharma at yourself and to change yourself. Thatís the intention of the Buddha.

Also when you practice the Dharma it can sometimes be that people, they practice for maybe 5 years, 10 years, 15 years, 20 years, and some people say, "Look nothingís ever happened for me. Nothing seems to have improved. You know for example, here I am trying to be a Buddhist, you know, and things go wrong. Iíve lost my money, my house got burned down, my arms and legs are getting broken, all these things are happening. So whereís the blessings of the Dharma, Iím not a happy person." So we sort of maybe think sometimes, "Wow, the Dharmaís completely useless. Life isnít the way I expected even though Iím trying to practice the Dharma." Well itís not that case. We donít know what our karmic continuity might hold for us. Although things are happening a little bit now, we really donít know what could have happened if we werenít involved with that perspective of trying to be a virtuous individual, by relying on the Dharma to try to get ourselves out of the suffering, and trying to attain liberation. A good example might be this, letís say, Iím a Tibetan. Iíve come to the country of Canada and arriving here I borrow 1000 dollars from every one of you. And thatís fine, you lend me the money and thereís a relationship established. Then maybe if I suddenly get an opportunity to go somewhere where Iím completely freed and liberated, well all of you will show up on my doorstep saying, "Hey, before you go I want you to pay your debt." You will make those demands on me. Well itís like that. Letís say you start to enter into the Dharma practice. Well that means youíre going to a good place, youíre going to enlightenment, so your karma will actually start ripening a little quicker. Now it doesnít have to be that it ripens in a negative aspect, but it can be that some things get speeded up a little bit. Now maybe for example, in your previous rebirths you have some very heavy karma that you are not conscious of, that is waiting to ripen and give you a very bad lower rebirth, some horrendous rebirth. Well if you enter into the Dharma you might just get a migraine headache. So although you are in the Dharma, you get this small headache. It carries on for two or three years and you think, "Gee, I wonder why this is going on?" Well, what you are doing is you are purifying the karma that would give you that rebirth in that lower realm. And itís no longer going to ripen because your attitudeís changed, then your karma shifts, then the karmas basically get purified because of your intentions in spirituality, your intentions of being positive, trying to bring about a transformation for yourself. That causes the karma to ripen in a different manner. So maybe a small suffering in this rebirth actually stops a great suffering in the future. And of course if you persist in your Dharma practice you will gain the opportunity to go to a pure land, or gain better rebirth, or attain enlightenment - whatever it is you are able to muster from your spiritual enthusiasm and endeavor. So in this regards you should never think that the Dharma doesnít work and things arenít happening. If you sincerely take the Dharma to heart and apply yourself, no matter what is happening to you there is a definite shift in the whole structure of your karmic evolution. And in that regard the Dharma is effective and is working for you. Itís just maybe you donít understand or see the exact implications of whatís happening. But it is effective, the Dharma does work because itís working with you at the source of who you are.

And of course we might see other examples of someone who practices the Dharma for some period of time, they try to be virtuous and things donít work out, and they say, "Oh this Dharmaís ridiculous and nothingís going to work." And they just give it up and it seems like then things go well for them. You know, they get a good job, they make good money, have all the perks they would like to have. And we think, "Well gee, here I am being so devout to the Dharma and nothing very beneficial is happening. That person completely gave up the Dharma and look at them. Theyíre getting so far ahead." And they even talk about how stupid the Dharma is and how dumb all the people are that practice and such. They collect that sort of bad karma. Well we really donít have a bigger picture on things. Generally itís said that the experiences of this life time are ripenings from previous lifetimesí karmic activity. So in that previous rebirth, maybe that person did practice some forms of generosity and such, which creates the physical prosperity in this rebirth. But what they have waiting for them are the activities of this rebirth ripening for them in a future rebirth. So maybe at this moment things look pretty decent for them, but when their good karma runs out, all the previously accumulated good karma exhausts itself, then things will definitely turn around for them. Because they havenít been doing anything new with themselves, nothing more productive or in a positive light, things will only go from worse to worse. So in that regards we shouldnít try to judge the Dharma by how successful or unsuccessful we are in this life. Thatís not any way to talk about how the Dharma is successful. The Dharma is successful because it changes your attitude, makes you a virtuous, positive individual, and then creates a whole different rapport with the world. Thatís what the benefit of the Dharma is. We shouldnít expect material benefit, or that things will somehow greatly improve just because we get into the Dharma.

Also, in regards to the practice, the first thing we do of course is take Refuge, which puts us into the pathway of virtue and working towards liberation and enlightenment. Then of course we do the generation of the altruistic thought of working for the benefit of sentient beings, to attain enlightenment for the benefit of sentient beings. So that is called taking Refuge and altruistic generation. Now those are basic preliminaries. Some people might think, "Ah, Iíve been doing spiritual practice for a long time. I donít need to worry about those things. I want the big practices, the big stuff. Iíd like to have a Tantric deity. Iíd like to practice the Great Completion. Iíd like to practice Mahamudra, some very profound practice like this. So this whole thing with Refuge and the altruistic mind, benefiting others, those are all just preliminary stuff. I donít need to worry about that anymore." Thatís a big error in oneís practice because if you took all the Buddha Dharma teachings - it's said Buddha taught 84,000 discourses on how to become spiritually inclined - you could actually bring all of those practices down to just one day having a kind heart, having a noble heart and benefiting others. Thatís what itís all about. So if having a positive, kind hearted motivation is where all the Buddha Dharma can be brought down to, then you can understand it doesnít matter what you do in regards to a big practice. The real essence of the practice is that your heart is transformed into being kind and a benefit to other sentient beings. That's actually what Refuge is. Refuge makes you an inner person, the altruistic thought of bodhicitta, working for the benefit of sentient beings, makes you a kind person giving benevolent help to the world around you. Thatís the essence of the Buddha Dharma. Irrespective of whatever youíre doing, thatís what you really want. So donít think that the big practices are important. If you donít have those two, you donít have a big practice. Even if you have just the smallest amount of kind intention towards others, you have a big practice.

So Rinpoche would like us to do the sadhana again, but weíre going to pause at various times and do some meditation on some of the material. Rinpoche says weíll stop at the end of the section halfway down page eight for five minutes. Then at other points in this practice weíll stop again for five minutes. So page two then.


* * * Practice * * *

Questions on the Practice

On page 29 halfway down after you go, ĎMay I attain the kingdom of the dharmakaya you have to put in three of the "ah phet". Then at the bottom of page 30 (also). Then at the bottom of page 32 again. So are there any questions on what weíve done to this point?

Your Root Guru as Amitabha

Q: I havenít been able to follow exactly because (of trying to follow) the Tibetan and English, but thereís lots of people that weíre praying to, and weíre praying that we become one with them. But Iím assuming that the visualization of Amitabha is still the same, that theyíre one with Amitabha and weíre praying that way.

R: So in regards to this practice then, when you started yesterday of course I described to you there is the principle Amitabha Buddha, to the right and the left is Chenrezig and Vajrapani, and then around there are many of the male and female Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and all of the lineage teachers. Now you can think of those as you do this practice, or if you wish remember that the teacher is called the essence of all the Buddhas of the three times, then the teacher as inseparable from Amitabha is called the jewel-like quintessence. The jewel-like quintessence means the jewel who has all the essence of everything that is special and beautiful. That is, the root guru. So it depends on your own mind and then how youíd like to do it. If you can of course expand it, if not, just focus on the guru and feel that he is the quintessence of the jewel-like qualities of all the great lineage masters.

What is Dewachen?

Q: What is Dewachen?

J: Dewachen is Sukavati and that is the Sanskrit word for the western paradise. Dewachen, dewa means bliss, chen means great, so itís the place of great bliss. And that means Sukavati, which means itís the pure land. Pretty good hey? A whole new meaning to heaven.

R: You donít even find one iota of suffering in a pure land of great bliss. For us we have all sorts of things. We have a birth, we have an abiding, then we have death and all the sufferings in between. There you have none of that. Also then, the basis of all the delusions such as pride, arrogance competitiveness, jealousy, all of those delusions donít arise there. In fact, there is no sense of I and other. There is no this is my cup, my house, thatís yours. All of those sorts of discriminations are completely dissolved. In the palm of your hand will arise whatever is your wish. So if you wish to make an offering, in the palm of your hand it arises. Whatever you need. So you donít have to go off and do business to get the money to do the offerings, they just appear in the palm of your hand. And also of course, in regards to everything that arises within your ear, it is totally within the teachings of the Mahayana. Meaning that whatever youíre doing, whether sitting or standing, whatever sounds you hear bring about the reflections of the Dharma and spiritual realization. And as for the type of teaching, of course because this is a realm for Bodhisattvas thereís only the teaching of the Mahayana vehicle, working for the benefit of sentient beings. You donít hear anything about working for your own liberation. Itís always for the benefit of all sentient beings. But if you doubt any of this at all donít worry, youíll just be born in a closed lotus and have to hang out there for 500 years. This is the actual picture of Amitabha Buddha in the centre, with Avalokiteshvara on the right. Then in regards to this you can see that Vajrapani, which is the blue deity and Avalokiteshvara, which is the white deity are appearing seated, but theyíre actually standing. And youíll see down below there are three to this side and three on this side, those are the great Bodhisattvas. Thereís a total of eight Bodhisattvas of course, and the two principle ones are Avalokiteshvara and Vajrapani and they all should be standing. So thatís it.

Boredom in the Pure Land

Q: What about boredom in the pure land? I mean if you can just manifest stuff in your hands and the guy next to you can do that too and youíre there for 500 years, wouldnít you get bored?

R: I guess youíre pretty doubtful arenít you? Your reference to the word bored though refers to there being some sense of dissatisfaction in the consciousness. Thatís why boredom arises. So youíve got to remember that in the state of the pure lands the delusions such as having aversions and attractions, those sort of fluctuations of samsaric mind donít arise. So therefore the conceptuality of boredom isnít part of the realm of the pure lands. And remember thereís not even an iota of suffering, which includes all the things such as boredom that are related to suffering consciousness.

Q: We like challenges, we like goals, we like striving after things.

R: Isnít working for the benefit of sentient beings, trying to become enlightened and trying to help all sentient beings a challenge enough for you?

Q: Thatís plenty of challenge but are you doing that in the pure land?

R: Basically yes, your working for the striving of enlightenment is to attain enlightenment for the benefit of sentient beings. And until sentient beings are empty from samsara your work isnít finished.

Q: Ok.

R: Good job.

Names for Amitabha Buddha

Q: Sometimes Buddha Amitabha is referred to in Tibetan as Nangwa Thaye and sometimes as ÷d Pagmed, is there a difference?

R: No, itís the same. Theyíre just different names. Exact same Buddha. Thereís no difference in who it is, itís Amitabha Buddha.

Better to Do a Retreat, or Have a Daily Practice?

Q: To do this practice is it best to try to do it everyday once a day, or is it best to try to do it in retreat and do it for a month or something like that? And if you do it every day do you do it instead of the practice youíre already doing or in addition to?

R: Basically it would be best if you can do a retreat for one or two weeks. That should be all thatís necessary in doing a retreat. And having completed that if you turn to page seven, the top two lines, ĎI pray to the Buddha Amitabha for the blessings to be born in the pure land of great bliss, Dewachen. In saying those two lines thatís all you need to do. So what you do as a daily practice after youíve done your one or two weeks, is that every day you would say these two lines with deep feeling, saying, "When I die I want to go to the pure land of Amitabha Buddha." With that thought in mind then, you visualize him above the crown of your head and saying this is the way it is from now until I die. So if you can, try to do the retreat of one or two weeks and then every day after that say these one or two lines, that is sufficient.

Clarification of Text, Page 37

Q: On page 37 thereís a sentence I canít really understand. It says, ĎBeing born there may I your face.í I donít connect it to another part of the recitation.

J: No, itís may I see your face. Itís missed the word "see". In the Tibetan it saysÖbeing born there may I clearly see your face.

Location of the Central Channel

J: I just asked a question Ė where is the point where the central channel is Ė Ďcause I was always taught itís what is called eight finger widths from your eyebrows back, so about this point (pointing to a place on the scalp).

R: It depends on the individual. Some people have it at the back, sort of at the crowís nest of the hair, and other people have it forward from there. So it just depends on your personal physiology as to where it will arise.

Practice Tape

Q: (request for a tape of the practice because it would be difficult to remember the melodies etc.)

J: You can ask (for one from) David.

R: Donít worry I had the same problem. When I was in Berkley, California I was attending an English class, and they would say everyone should turn to such and such a page and start reading. And I wouldnít even know where the heck that was, where the page was or anything. If I donít get it in English you can have the same mistake.

Three Kathok Siddhas

Q: Thereís a picture of those three (inaudible)?

R: This actually refers to the Kathok monastery. The founder of the Kathok monastery is the person in the middle and his principle student was the one to his right or to your left. The person on his left, Campabum, was the second student. In the second line then it says, Ďare the three lords of Dharma inseparable from Amitabha and his lineage,í referring to those three. Now these three (siddhas) all made it to the pure land of Amitabha, so when you pray to them it makes them have to think about you to get you up there too.

Deep Faith

Q: How much (word unknown, sounds like bakshi) is there in this?

J: Define bakshi (?) because (tape change).

R: (tape change) it says deep faith in your heart actually makes a ring and with that ring then the hook of the Buddhas can come down and grab you and pull you wherever, to your good rebirth or whatever. If you donít have the ring of deep faith the Buddhasí hook doesnít catch on anything.

Q: Deep faith is different from devotion though.

J: Thatís why I asked you to define it. The words you used were devotion soÖ

Q: Yeah, but (Rinpoche) said deep faith so I (inaudible).

R: Yeah thereís some differences but essentially itísÖSo if we talk of you having great faith what the faith actually refers to is that you reflect upon the Buddhas and the Bodhisattvas. You see that the Buddhas and the Bodhisattvas have qualities. Then in regards to their qualities they can help sentient beings to work out their delusions and attain enlightenment. So the faith thatís referred to from a Buddhist perspective is a faith in the qualities and the abilities of the enlightened beings to help and benefit sentient beings. Therefore when you think of the word faith thatís how you should think of it from a Buddhist perspective.

Q: Exactly, but devotion you seeÖ

J: Ok then thatís the thing you should work with. Iím sorry I used the wrong word for you.

R: Thank you very much, your legs must be tired.



Sunday, April 12, 1998

A Second Way to be Born in Amitabhaís Pure Land

R: Good morning to you all. So to be able to bring ourselves to liberation for the ending of our cyclic existence, we would practice the transference of consciousness to be able to get to the pure land of Sukavati, the pure land of Amitabha Buddha the Buddha of infinite light. Now thatís one technique is to do the phowa. There is a second technique to be able to take birth into the pure land of Amitabha in Sukavati.


Four Causes for Taking Rebirth in Amitabhaís Pure Land

The circumstances to be born into the pure land of great bliss would be one would have developed four causes.


Strong Faith

One of the objects for the cause of taking rebirth into the land of great bliss, which is Amitabhaís pure land, is that in your heart you would develop great faith. So whenever you see a picture, or in a meditation hall, or a temple, all of these places, then you would develop the thought in your mind that you would have a very strong connection with Amitabha. That you will be able to pursue your spiritual practice with Amitabha and such. So the internal cause, which is called an internal reliance, is that within your mind you have strong feeling for Amitabha, to be in his retinue in his pure land.


The First Cause: Accumulating Merit and Awareness

So you might have the idea that you have devotion, faith and inspiration to take rebirth into the pure land of Amitabha. But just having that alone (is not enough). You actually need the cause, you need something thatís going to bring that about. So what brings that about of course is that you accomplish virtue, you accomplish positive activity, and you purify your negative habit patterns. Now what might be the way to purify negativity, what might be a way to generate the positive qualities? Well actually itís said the easiest way is to just abandon the ten non-virtues and to accomplish the ten virtuous actions.



One of the activities of course to be undertaken in regards to oneís body action is to do things of generosity. Now of course you may be familiar with the stories of the great Bodhisattvas of the past who for the benefit of sentient beings made great sacrifices, or basically practiced generosity on a very profound level. They would actually offer themselves in service, they would offer their body, even body parts for the benefit of other sentient beings. Then also theyíve given up all of their home, their belongings, their family, theyíve given all of these things away for the sake of benefiting sentient beings. Now these of course are very exalted beings that have been able to do this because they donít have any miserliness within their mind, and they solely work for the benefit of others. And with this type of a deep attitude, of course then they have been able to accomplish this. Now we ourselves shouldnít have expectations that we will be able to give up family, home, all of our possessions, and even parts of our body for the benefit of others. We have not generated the altruistic thought of Bodhicitta, therefore what we should do is just practice generosity in ways which are most appropriate for ourselves. And there are different types of generosity, but these are the things that we might do on our own side for generating a very positive feeling of generosity and sharing.

Now of course in practicing generosity there are many ways we can accomplish that. But one that is very simple, that doesnít cause any agitation for us, is for example if you have a personal altar of some sort, or you go into a temple, then there are many different things that you can do with the practice of generosity. For example setting up the offerings in front of the altar, putting flowers and burning incense. All of those things can be done, and the reason why itís a very beneficial thing to do is because the objects that youíre offering to have the quality of no miserliness, and therefore have great qualities. So to make offerings sets up an appropriate association for yourself. But also the reason is that very often you see, when we practice generosity with other people we have a very low mind. Sort of thinking, "Oh Iíve worked so hard for what I have, how can I give it to these other people? Theyíre not deserving of it." Many negative thoughts come to mind. So we think, "Oh this is my thing, if I give this away they might do something inappropriate." or, "Itís my hard work." We have these sorts of mundane attitudes which sometimes make it difficult to practice generosity purely. So by doing offerings on your altar Ė flowers, incense and such Ė or doing it in the meditation or spiritual hall, some sort of centre like that, then with those sorts of offerings normally we donít have the generation of miserliness. Because our mindís very pure, the objectís pure, and therefore itís much easier for us to accomplish a great merit with just a simple action in such a place, because of the associations with it.

And of course the whole issue with being generous is that it is an attitude of mind. It has nothing to do with the outside phenomenon, itís an internal event. So if for example you go outside and youíre walking around and you see someoneís very beautiful garden, or you see a beautiful scene, very pretty things, a wonderful sky, all of these things you can also offer because itís within your mind that you actually set up a sense of generosity. So when you see something thatís very beautiful and very pleasant and such, just in your mind you think that, "May this bring about happiness and joy for sentient beings." And in your mind you make a sense that this is being offered for the benefit of all sentient beings. Even though the physical thing is not owned by you, the experiences of beauty that you have can be set up in your mind as an offering of beauty for everyone.

And you actually can have a much more spiritual relationship with things such as clothing and food by thinking, for example, when you get a brand new piece of clothing you can in your mind say, "I offer this to the divine. I offer this to the Buddhas and the Bodhisattvas." And you can do this with great sincerity and then that way you give it to them and feel that they then allow you to wear it. And so in this manner by wearing it you remember the fact that it is due to the blessings of them, and their inspiring you in the good qualities and such that you generate, that allows you to have all these good things. So in that regards for example, just having beautiful clothing then, you can feel that this is due to the blessings of the Buddhas, due to having offered it to them. Or food, when you have food you first offer your food to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and feel that they receive it. And from there you eat it and it becomes food then for your spiritual practice. So it puts things in the context of spirituality for you.



In doing this you create a great sense of positive energy and attitude around the material world. And this is called the accumulation of merit. And in doing so then it establishes you in a very positive manner. Now of course you also need to develop whatís called the accumulation of wisdom, understanding the nature of reality. And that is true whether you study within the Mahamudra tradition, or the Great Completion tradition, or the central path tradition, whatever style of practice that youíre relying upon to generate those accumulations. Now it's very good to develop wisdom, but itís sometimes difficult. So itís actually said that if you first work on technique or on skillful means, which is developing a very generous attitude and a very positive attitude in relation to the world, the quality of your being increases a great deal. And then it is very easy to gain realizations into the nature of wisdom. So also, if on an outward level of expression in your activities, you always have a very powerfully positive attitude and such, it makes your life much easier. In that regards then, it makes it more easy to work within the realm of being a spiritual person, because everything is facilitated for you because of your great positive energy. In this manner then you can develop on that side, and then the development of wisdom is easy.


Heartfelt Joy

Another way to look at how to generate a very positive energy within yourself is to rejoice. Now rejoice means that you take great joy in other peopleís virtue. This is an easy way to develop your own spiritual quality, but itís actually very profound. The reason for this is that the whole object and the whole activity of being positive and of working to benefit the world is an attitude that arises within the mind. So if in your mind thereís a very strong feeling, you actually accrue a great blessing or positive energy within yourself. Thereís a story that relates to this and it happened at the time of the Buddha. When the Buddha was with many of his ordained people, one great king invited him to the palace and then made great offerings. So there was a whole day of feasting and many gifts were given to the sangha. Incredible lavish wealth was directed towards the prospering of the Buddha Dharma. And being that it was offered to the Buddha and to many of the highly realized beings that were with the Buddha, the merit that was being accumulated by the king because the objects were so special was very vast. But at the time of all this happening there was a beggar woman, an old beggar woman, outside of the palace watching all of the fanfare going on. And in her heart she thought, "Truly, this man, this king, is so special. Heís created all the causes for himself to be born as a great and wealthy man in a future life, and he has deep devotion to the Buddha. How wonderful it is that he sees the quality of spirituality." And so in her heart she had deep feelings of joy for the king and for what he was doing, and all of the activities he was involved in. In her heart of hearts she was deeply moved and rejoiced with incredible joy. So at the end of the day when the king had accomplished all of his great activities, he approached the Buddha, thinking that he had done such a wonderful job, and that no other king in the past had made such incredible offerings to any of the other spiritual mendicants of India.  He was expecting that he was going to get a wonderful sort of pat on the back. And so he approached the Buddha and said, "Tell me, who in the world has accumulated as much merit as I? Is there anyone?" And basically he just wanted the Buddha to say, "Oh youíre the best in everything that ever happened." So the Buddha responded and said, "The merit that has been accumulated today has been very great by you, but the woman at the gate has accumulated more merit." Of course the king was a little depressed by that. He thought, "How does that little beggar woman out there get better stuff than me? Why does she get a better blessing?" And then the Buddha responded, "Because she had true love and joy in what you did with no other thoughts. Therefore, her merit is greater because she rejoiced in your activity. You were a little proud and arrogant in what youíve done and therefore that diminished your merit." So in this regards then, the Buddha showed that being in a positive nature is related to the mind. And if you rejoice truly and deeply from your heart at another personís virtue Ė whether building a temple, doing some statue work, doing virtuous actions, or working for the benefit of others Ė if you truly rejoice in that personís activity, then you actually accrue a similar virtuous action because of your heartfelt rejoicing and empathy with that personís great quality.

Of course thatís a two way street. So as much as you can have heartfelt joy in someoneís virtuous action and accumulate equal merit, if you rejoice in someoneís non-virtue then also you would of course accrue equal negative energy. So for example if someone murders somebody and you think, "Oh itís really good that guyís gone, he was such a jerk anyway," then actually you accumulate equally negative merit. So be careful what you rejoice in.


The Second Cause: Purification

So there is a second cause of taking rebirth in the pure land of Amitabha. The first is the accumulation of positive energy and merit, and the next one is purification. So the things I was just talking about of course are the accumulation of a great positive force within yourself that will bring great goodness into the world around you. The second thing is the purification of negativity. Now you not only have negativity of this rebirth, but you have from previous rebirths many types of negativity that you may have been involved with. So to be able to purify that, to diminish itís karmic effect upon your stream of consciousness, there are various practices you can do in this rebirth. These are things like the Vajrasattva practices of purification, and other ways of meditation and such, which can diminish the karmic weight of negativity from the past.

Also too, there are other ways that purification can take place at the same time as accumulating merit. For example, when you come to a spiritual place and you do a prostration, or come before a spiritual teacher, a spiritual mentor, if you do prostrations there are a great many both purifications and accumulations of merit that are accomplished. For example by showing respect for the object of a prostration, you actually are showing that you venerate those spiritual qualities by showing respect with your body, your speech, and your mind. So for example with your body, by putting your hands together in front of your chest and placing them on your crown, your throat, and your heart, what youíre doing is purifying the obstacles of body. And in that regards what you should think is that youíre eliminating the negative forces for body that may have been accumulated, and youíre accumulating the positive forces of the blessings of the beautiful body of the Buddhas, of the enlightened beings, which is being able to attract sentient beings. It is said that your throat is the centre for the blessings of speech, so by reciting some prayer while doing your prostrations, or just by touching your throat, what you do is then you feel that youíve purified the impurities of speech that you may have ever uttered, and you accumulate the qualities of very beautiful and harmonious speech that attracts sentient beings into enlightenment and such. So blessings of speech are accrued at the base of the throat. And at the heart of course, your heart in the centre of your chest, what you should think of is that you purify the negativities of mind and you accumulate the virtuous qualities of all the enlightened beingsí holy minds. And thatís of course from having faith and devotion within your heart, then the qualities of the enlightened beings can enter into your mind. Then thatís whatís called the purification of the body, speech and mind, and the accumulation of merit for the body, speech and mind. When you then go down with your hands touching the ground, your knees and your feet on the ground, and you touch your forehead to the ground, at that point then itís called the integration of body, speech and mind Ė doing the prostration so that everything is integrated together. So in this way, doing a prostration is actually an accumulation of great merit and the purification of great negativity. But it has to be done within the context that you are doing it from the point of devotion and such.

So what we are focused on is that we would like to be with Amitabha, the Buddha of infinite light, and to be able to be inspired into being a Bodhisattva, accomplishing great virtue for the benefit of sentient beings. And so these are the practices which are called the cause in the sense that they are the cause of the accumulation of positive energy, and the elimination of negative habit patterns. They therefore become the cause of being able to be with Amitabha.


The Third Cause: Wanting to Benefit Sentient Beings

So the third of the causes for being with Amitabha Buddha in the land of infinite light, is that this particular pure realm is a Mahayana pure realm for the benefit of sentient beings, meaning that Bodhisattvas take rebirth there. So therefore the third cause is that within your heart you have to generate the universal altruistic attitude which says, "May I be of benefit for all sentient beings. May I bring about benefit for all sentient beings. May I attain enlightenment to be able to be fully qualified to benefit all sentient beings." So in this manner then what you need to do is to bring forth the thought of truly wishing for the attainment of enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings; have heartfelt feelings to liberate sentient beings from suffering and the causes of suffering, and bring them into happiness and the causes of happiness.


The Fourth Cause: Prayer

And now the fourth of the things that will bring you into the pure land of Amitabha the Buddha of infinite light, is pure prayer. Now of course there are prayers related to desiring this particular rebirth, but here we're talking about having noble and altruistic prayers. So if in your prayers and your thoughts and aspirations you were to generate strong feelings towards the ability to be a Bodhisattva, to be able to receive the inspirations of Amitabha, to attain the rebirth in his land, to be able to become more deeply moved in your practice, then all of these become the causes. Then there will be no doubt that you will attain entry into the pure land of Amitabha to pursue your spiritual development to enlightenment.

In regards to this though, we have to have the confidence that this will be brought about by developing these four causes. Having confidence, being free of doubt as to the activities weíre involved with then, we will definitely bring about the ability for us to be in the pure land of Amitabha. Now the analogy for this of course is very much like, if you want to go to a different country you have to have a few things in place to be able to accomplish it. You need a passport, you need a visa, you need an airplane ticket and you need money. If you have those four things then you can get to that foreign country without any trouble. If any one of those is missing then Ė you donít have a passport Ė youíll never get to that other country. So in the same way, if you get these four causes in place for the rebirth into Amitabhaís pure land, youíll get there. If you donít get them in place, you wonít get there. But of course in going to this foreign land you donít need intoxicants with you, itís not like on the airplane.

So in regards to being able to go to the pure land, of course itís not that complicated. Itís not half as complicated as going to a foreign country for example. You have to have faith in the heart, you have to work at purifying the negativities and accomplishing virtuous actions. Then of course you have to have the sense of altruism in regards to wanting to bring about the benefit of all sentient beings. And then you actually even have to just offer prayers. "For the benefit of all sentient beings may enlightenment come about. May the development of sentient beings come about. May virtues be increased, may non-virtues be diminished for all the sentient beings of the universe." So with those four in place then you have no problem whatsoever taking rebirth in the pure land of Amitabha. These are not complicated things to bring about as causes for you to get that rebirth. So Iíd just like to again make sure again that thereís no questions that you have about anything.


Questions and Answers

Rejoicing in the Merit of Animals

Q: I was wondering if it would benefit or further if you rejoiced in the virtue of animals, trees, or mountains?

R: So in regards to animals, yes, you can definitely rejoice in the merit of what they do, and itís said actually that animals in their own quaint way do accumulate positive activity and merit. For example in the time of the Buddha there was one fellow that came Ė now he didnít come to the Buddha himself, he came to the two chief disciples of Buddha called Maudgalyayana and Shariputra Ė and he requested to become a monk. Both of these (Arhats) would look at the individual and they would look at their past lives looking for merit. And if they saw enough merit, so that the person on receiving ordination had the merit within them to be able to receive realizations, then they would bestow the ordination upon the individual. So both Maudgalyayana and Shariputra looked at this individualís stream of consciousness and found no causes of merit in any of the rebirths. The person had been rather mundane and so they said, "Well thereís no cause for you to take ordination because nothingís going to come of it. You have no merit, so donít worry about ordination just try to be a virtuous person as a layman." And of course the man was very disheartened. So at this point then the Buddha interceded and said, "Maudgalyayana and Shariputra have limited psychic vision. They do not see the causes of merit. I will give you ordination." And so then Maudgalyayana and Shariputra requested to the Buddha, "Why do you see merit when we donít?" And he said, "You donít see far enough into that personís stream of consciousness. I can see for many hundreds of thousands of years ago. Long long rebirths ago, in a previous age this man had been born as a pig. And in his rebirth as a pig he was on a farm quite close to a very large stupa (a stupa of course is a holy object). And so one day the pig was beside the stupa sort of grunting and walking around, and a dog came and bit at the pig. Then the pig was chased around the stupa. The pig ran very close to the side wall of the stupa and rubbed it clean. And so the pig ran in this way all the way around the stupa accumulating merit and cleaning the stupa." So on the basis of this positive action even as a pig, the Buddha said, "You have actually some cause of gaining liberation in this rebirth by that merit ripening for you in this rebirth." Therefore the Buddha gave the fellow ordination and the fellow received realizations. So anyway, in regards to the rejoicing you can rejoice in the merit of animals, and in this regard generate positive feelings for them.

Mantras in Sanskrit

Q: Rinpoche I was wondering if you could give a bit of an interpretation of the dharani, the life zung.

R: I donít know the actual meaning of the mantra, sorry. Iím not up on my Sanskrit actually, and in regards to the mantra, itís called the protection mantra for life by the Buddha Amitayus. And so the recitation of it has blessings because it was pronounced by the Buddha himself. And also I would say because itís from the Buddha and because itís blessed, it invokes blessings within the stream of consciousness of the individual. Thatís the way I recite that mantra. Actually a lot of the blessings of mantra come from your conviction as to the power of that mantra. If you have faith in your heart already from other practices and you have a deep spiritual intention within yourself, the mantras merely facilitate you being able to bring about blessings on others. And so in that regards the key factor with recitation of mantras, although they are blessed within their own right, they do actually work by the empowerment you give them from your own feelings.

So Iíd like us to do the sadhana if weíve got no more questions.  I have not a lot more to say about doing the transference of consciousness. Iíve pretty much said it all. It basically now it's a thing that you practice and so in that regard we are going to do the recitations.


* * * Practice * * *


Bi-Monthly Tsok Offerings

So anyway, we of course have met for the first time in this very beautiful temple which is in great part due to the kindness and inspiration of David and Jane. Because of their support, this opportunity has developed as a building. Of course to have a building, which is the opportunity to develop focus and practice spiritually, of course is a good start. With of course ourselves as the practitioners. In regards to that I was thinking that maybe at this point Ė of course the downstairs temple has not been greatly completed, but there is potential it will be as time passes Ė I would like to, starting at the end of this month or the beginning of the next month, to start doing what is called bi-monthly tsok offerings. And that would be for Padmasambhava and Yeshe Tsogyal Ė theyíre called the dakini days also. And so every two weeks we would get together and do a practice, and I think that would be a good place to start. And so of course it should be in harmony with your own wishes. And so we will try to draw people together and try to do that as a bi-monthly program. (Thank you Rinpoche).

Temple Work is Very Beneficial

And so of course that weíre here in this temple is due to a lot of hard work and hardship, thereís definitely hardship. People have to put a lot of energy and time in. David and Jane of course principle, and Ron whoís been the manager/supervisor for it. And all of you in your own ways at various times have been supportive of this, and I really hope that you rejoice in this. Because if you think about it, places of spiritual practice are rare. Theyíre not sort of all over the place and easily available. They donít happen often. So that there has been an environment within a place barren of spirituality; a spiritual centre developed is a place where we should all rejoice. In that regards then, rejoicing is to think that the Dharma, spirituality, is facilitated. And in this regards there are many great benefits for the people that do participate and actually then there are repercussions into the community. So although there has been hardship, I hope no-one ever gets despondent (thinking), "Oh this is too much work." Because actually in the long run, the bigger picture, itís incredibly beneficial.

Non-Sectarian Open-mindedness

And of course what we should look at though, is will you want to bring the benefits to the community. And so we should think that if there are teachers that come of a non-sectarian nature Ė in the sense of people that are open minded Ė and whether in the Tibetan traditions, we have the Gelugpa, Sakyapa, Nyingmapa, and Kagyupa, if they would like to come here, then we should certainly invite and allow that to happen. Because what the objective is, is that we develop ourselves in our qualities, our good qualities. And so this is something where joy, friendship and relationship all develop. We want to be the implementers and supporters of that. Also, to say each individually what youíve done is not easy to do, but definitely letís say the total support, in whatever part you play is incredibly beneficial, so thank you. (Thank you Rinpoche).

So now we have the last opportunity to ask questions at least for this workshop, so are there any other questions please.


Q: Would you have Rinpoche talk about empowerment, what empowerment is please?

R: Initiation is something that basically starts the Dharma practice in regards to the Tantra or Vajrayana. So what you need is a teacher, qualified, holding lineage. Then the bestowing of the initiation within a mandala for the nature of that particular deity and such. Then an introduction and transmission are given to the student, who then receives that. And so its said that to bring the Vajrayana alive an initiation which is a transmission of the lineage is required.

Rainbow Body

Q: Whatís the rainbow body?

R: Within the tradition of the Mahayana Buddhism and then also in the higher levels of practice, and certainly in the country of Tibet, we had many people that demonstrated this. If they, relying upon the meditation techniques and the particular yoga systems that they have Ė it is possible that if you gain the ultimate realization of the nature of reality, that at the time of death your body, if itís left in state, will completely shrink and then dissolve and disappear. All that will be left is your fingernails, toenails and your hair. And that ability to do that is because your realization has allowed you to completely dissolve your body and take it with you. Itís turned into energy. That energy is the rainbow body.

My own personal experience is that at the time when the Chinese invaded Tibet, we had many of the very old teachers. And because of their being very old the Chinese didnít really consider them to be people they needed to do something with, and throw them in prison or something, so they left them alone. And this one particular Drubchen (accomplished master) who was in a remote community, he was left alone. He was a very great master but he was not bothered by the Chinese military and such. So I personally - this was about 1962 I think - when he died his body shrank to the size of just one foot tall. I saw this with my own two eyes Ė that he had been able to make his energy that small.

As for the attainment of rainbow body, there are many biographies translated into English that you can read of many of the both male and female meditators who have completely dissolved their body into the light energy and to remove it. Now the reason that hair and fingernails are left behind is because theyíre something without consciousness in them. For example, if you cut your fingernails or cut your hair it doesnít hurt you or anything because itís actually dead matter. Itís not live matter which your consciousness has pervaded. Anything that your conscious energy pervades, which is the rest of your body, if youíve attained the state of attainment you can dissolve that part of your body, turning it into energy and light.

Sending Energy from the Egg

Q: A question about the meditation, when weíre doing the contemplation of the egg, the little egg at the heart, is it proper to contemplate the egg until spontaneously the thigle or the little energy goes up toÖor is that the correct way to do that?

R: You focus on your mind as being inseparable from the radiant light egg, but you actually consciously think that you send little bits of your energy from that egg to join inseparably with the mind of Amitabha. You actually visualize doing that. You donít wait for it to do it on itís own, you do it. Make your mind think that.

Q: It was just happening automatically. Soon as I would focus on the egg the thigle would just go.

R: Thatís good then donít worry about it. Also of course we are beginners in the whole process. We havenít been able to generate pervasive visualization technique. So therefore maybe we just want to focus on individual aspects. Sometimes just focus on Amitabha Buddha in the space above you. And really feel that heís there. Develop a deep feeling of wanting to be with him and to be able to merge your consciousness with the consciousness of Amitabha. At other times then focus on your body, itís arising in the aspect of Avalokiteshvara, one face, four arms, and just do that as something. Then at another point just focus on that central channel running up the centre of oneís body to the crown of oneís head. Then at another time just visualize the light egg. In this way becoming familiar with the various components, and just doing that, having a particular session focussed on the one aspect only. To have the whole thing arise at one time for us as beginners is a little complicated and may be difficult, but it can come.

Misuse of Consciousness Transference

Q: Is the egg sort of a milky white color?

R: Yeah, white. In India more than a thousand years ago, eleven hundred years ago, there was a particular lineage for this practice where if you were a very powerful meditator, you could eject your consciousness from your body. What they would do is if a person got very old, they would practice this particular one, and it was called transference of consciousness and possession of a body. So what you would do is when you got old and your body was getting very crippled, you would actually eject your consciousness from your body, and then you would find someone who was young and you would take their body over. And in that regards then, you would have a continuity of your being without ever losing consciousness, but just transferring from body to body. That particular lineage only lasted until a thousand years ago but it was broken and lost, and it has not been continued since.

There was a lot of malpractice with this particular technique though, and thereís quite a long story that goes along with it. Thereís a book of people that were practicing this and the particular story goes along the lines that, there was a king and his minister who had this ability to practice and they also had two sons. Now the king was of a virtuous nature, but the minister and the two sons were of a very non-virtuous nature. I donít really remember the story line properly, but it goes something to the effect of, the two boys were always hanging out together, they liked to gamble and smoke and basically led a very debauched life, and the minister managed to get himself very much in there. Now he then learned this technique of being able to possess another personís body. So at one point then, the king, who was very virtuous and had the ability to astral project and run around, one time left his body vacant and took over the consciousness of a bird, and was flying around sort of checking things out in that manner. At that time then, the minister then left his body and took over the kingís body, took his own body and had it destroyed, and then basically the king was out of a body. Now he was just in a birdís body. The minister who then was in the form of the king came back to the kingdom and did many bad things to the kingdom, threw people in prison, basically destroyed the Dharma because he didnít like the Dharma and such like that. As for the king, the one that took over the birdís body, he ended up teaching Dharma to many birds. Anyway itís a big book and itís got lots and lots of stories in it, and itís all about people shifting bodies and consciousnesses and anyway this techniqueís all gone now. All of the intrigues, the soap operas, ĎAs the world turnsí wouldnít even match it.

So also, the actual ongoing stories of the king, he had a lot of troubles of course being a king in a bird's body. But he did actually teach Dharma to many other birds and in that way affected the birds of that time and such. And there were lots of stories about some of the birds who were his disciples and what they did. Anyway thereís volumes of books which cover all of the various story lines that come out of this.

Thereís a whole story there that the king, as a bird, was a fairly powerful bird. He met with a hawk Ė and of course the hawk likes to kill other birds and eat them Ė and so there was a whole Dharma discourse in this one section of the book about the hawk dialogue compared to the bird dialogue and such. The hawk didnít benefit but there was a whole section in there about that. Anyway, other questions?

The Ability to Dissolve Your Body

Q: Rinpoche, if youíre successful with this practice, and at the time of your death you project yourself to Buddha Amitabha, does that mean your physical body dissolves, or do a lot of people go to the pure land without their body dissolving?

R: The attainment of your body being able to dissolve into light energy is if you have realization of Dzogchen or Mahamudra, the attainment of the nature of reality. If you have that power of consciousness then you can turn your body into energy and make it dissolve. If you havenít got that realization you havenít got the ability.

What About the Physical Body Once Your Mind Has Gone?

J: Now as for getting your mind out of your body, I just asked a question like what happens, what happens between you and your body. (Rinpoche) said that when you do this practice very aggressively you will actually get your mind out of your body, and at that point your body will die within a few minutes, it turns into a corpse. And then you basically donít have to deal with it anymore, youíre out.

Going Directly to the Pure Land

Q: If you do the phowa practice and leave your body, do you not then go through the intermediate states of death, through the intermediate bardos? Do you go straight to the pure land?

R: If you do the phowa and are successful you go directly to the pure land of Amitabha, you do not go through an intermediate state.

Q: Good.

R: Thank you. Thank you Jhampha. Weíve spent lots of time, but it was good time.





Images from Phowa 2000




Images from Phowa 2000

Karma Guen, Velez-Malaga, Spain

(Click here for the Karma Guen website)

Lama Ole Hanging Out by the Cafeteria


Lama Ole and Part of the Stage


Lama Ole and His Holiness the 17th Karmapa Thaye Dorje


The Karmapa Blessing a Student.     Mahakala.    Lopon Tsechu Rinpoche and Hannah.


Happy Phowa Participants

Roger's Phowa Hole
This is the Sign of Good Practice
(Picture taken from video)

Roger Cantu
Changchub Dorje





The historical Buddha (SHAKYAMUNI BUDDHA) always urged his followers not to take his words as a matter of belief, but instead to put them into PRACTICE and EXPERIENCE THEIR VALIDITY FOR THEMSELVES.


His Eminence KYABJE GARCHEN TRIPTRUL RINPOCHE and Konchog Sonam Gyalpo (Ly Van Lai). December 24, 2006 (Sunday).


His Eminence KYABJE GARCHEN TRIPTRUL RINPOCHE and Konchog Sonam Gyalpo (Ly Van Lai). December 24, 2006 (Sunday).


His Eminence KYABJE GARCHEN TRIPTRUL RINPOCHE and Konchog Sonam Gyalpo (Ly Van Lai). December 24, 2006 (Sunday).


His Eminence KYABJE GARCHEN TRIPTRUL RINPOCHE and Konchog Sonam Gyalpo (Ly Van Lai). December 24, 2006 (Sunday).


His Eminence KYABJE GARCHEN TRIPTRUL RINPOCHE and Konchog Trinle Namgyal (Joseph Naughton). December 24, 2006 (Sunday).


His Eminence KYABJE GARCHEN TRIPTRUL RINPOCHE and Konchog Trinle Namgyal (Joseph Naughton). December 24, 2006 (Sunday).


Left to right: The ABU Lama, Konchog Sonam Gyalpo (Ly Van Lai), and the VENERABLE DRUPON RINCHEN DORJEE RINPOCHE. December 24, 2006 (Sunday).


is blessing the mala (Buddhist rosary) for Konchog Sonam Gyalpo (Ly Van Lai).
This mala (Buddhist rosary) is a gift from Konchog Trinle Namgyal (Joseph Naughton), my friend in the Dharma. January 4, 2007 (Thursday).


is blessing the mala (Buddhist rosary) for Konchog Sonam Gyalpo (Ly Van Lai).
This mala (Buddhist rosary) is a gift from Konchog Trinle Namgyal (Joseph Naughton), my friend in the Dharma. January 4, 2007 (Thursday).


is putting the mala (Buddhist rosary) on Konchog Sonam Gyalpo (Ly Van Lai).
January 4, 2007 (Thursday).


Konchog Sonam Gyalpo (Ly Van Lai). January 4, 2007 (Thursday).


Konchog Sonam Gyalpo (Ly Van Lai). January 4, 2007 (Thursday).


Konchog Sonam Gyalpo (Ly Van Lai). January 8, 2007 (Monday).
The historical Buddha (SHAKYAMUNI BUDDHA) always urged his followers not to take his words as a matter of belief, but instead to put them into PRACTICE and EXPERIENCE THEIR VALIDITY FOR THEMSELVES.


Konchog Sonam Gyalpo (Ly Van Lai). January 8, 2007 (Monday).


Konchog Sonam Gyalpo (Ly Van Lai). January 8, 2007 (Monday).


Konchog Trinle Namgyal (Joseph Naughton), my friend in the Dharma. January 8, 2007 (Monday).


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