GIVEN BY VENERABLE TULKU TENGA
How Amitabha achieved Buddhahood
The Qualities of Dewachen
THE ACTUAL PRACTICE
1) Refuge and Bodhicitta
Blessing the Offering
2) The Visualisation
3) Gathering the Accumulations and Purifying Karma
Confession and Purification
Visualisations for the Mantra Recitation
THE CONCLUDING PRACTICE
Prayer of Good Wishes
Dissolving the Visualisation
4) Prayer for rebirth in Dewachen
HOW AMITABHA ACHIEVED BUDDHAHOOD
A long, long time ago, before this era known as the Superior Aeon, there appeared in the world a Buddha called Jikten Wangchuk Gyalpo. His attendant, a monk named Gelong Chöchi Lodro, showed great mindfulness, intelligence, understanding, and diligence, and he took the Bodhisattva Vow from this Buddha. For thousands of millions of years, he applied himself earnestly to spiritual practice with the intention of helping sentient beings towards full realisation. He also made a sincere wishing-prayer that, on his attainment of enlightenment, he would manifest a buddha-realm incorporating all the qualities of a million buddha-realms within it.
Many thousands of millions of years later, in the aeon known as 'Zinpa', Gelong Chöchi Lodro was born as a chakravartin monarch, Zipji Muchee ('Rim of Spokes'). One of his ministers, the brahmin Gyamtso Dul, had a son, Gyamtso Nyingpo, who became ordained and, feeling wearied with samsaric existence, he attained full realisation in that very life, becoming Buddha Rinchen Nyingpo (Ratnagarbha).
This world ruler, Zipji Muchee, and his retinue made many offerings and served this Buddha with great respect. "Over many of my former lives," said the king, "I've made this aspirational prayer to create a buddha-realm." The Buddha gave him this prophecy: "Many aeons ago you were the gelong Chöchi Lodro. Now you are Zipji Muchee, and in a future life you will become Buddha Amitabha."
For thousands of millions of years Zipji Muchee practised the Dharma. He vowed that he would not achieve buddhahood until every being who prayed to be in his buddha-realm could be born there. Eventually his wishing-prayer was fulfilled, and he became Amitabha. The buddha-realm he manifested is known as Déwachen. Ten aeons/kalpas have passed since Amitabha established that realm.
THE QUALITIES OF DÉWACHEN
In general, to enter a buddha-realm, one must have removed even the most subtle of obscurations, kept very pure samaya, and have attained the first bodhisattva level. So, for ordinary beings, it is very difficult to enter a buddha-realm. However, due to Amitabha's strong wishing-prayers, anyone who makes a sincere wishing-prayer to go to Déwachen can be reborn there, even though one has not purified unvirtuous karma nor liberated oneself from the disturbing emotions.
In this present Superior Aeon, the Bodhisattvas Manjushri, Chenrezig, and Vajrapani, as well as deities, nagas and humans, requested Shakyamuni to teach "The Sutra of the Pure Realm of Déwachen". This sutra describes the qualities of Déwachen. In brief, these qualities are that the earth is made of precious substances, the ground being as flat as the palm of a hand, not uneven like our world of mountains and valleys. It is vast and spacious, and the light shining from the body of Amitabha, and from the jewels and precious substances, makes it very clear. The ground is not rough, solid or stony, but soft, smooth and comfortable. If one were to press down on the ground, it would give way and spring back like foam rubber.
In Déwachen, the trees are made of 7 precious gems: all the roots are of gold, the trunks are silver, the branches lapis-lazuli; the large leaves are crystal and the small ones are pyrites; the blossoms are pearls and the fruits are diamonds. Whatever one wishes for appears from these trees. Jewels, tassels and adornments loop from one tree to another. Birds and animals, unlike those of our world, are manifestations of Buddhas and bodhisattvas. Some are the colours of conches, turquoises and corals, and their bird-calls are very enchanting, like the sound of a lute. Within those sounds are taught the vast and deep teachings of the Dharma.
The rivers flow softly and gently, carrying the fragrance of camphor and white and red sandalwood. This water has 8 qualities: its essence is very cool, its taste delicious, its outer appearance light, soft to the touch, very clear and unsullied by stones or pebbles; if drunk, it gives no harm to the throat or stomach. On the water are buddha-manifestations of geese, ducks and cranes. One can bathe in the many pools, reached by descending flights of 7 steps made of precious stones.
Although these pools are deep, as one enters, the depth of the water adapts itself to the size of one's body. Surrounding these bathing-pools are fragrant utpala and lotus blooms, emanating light-rays. At the tips of the light-rays appear innumerable Buddhas, each surrounded by Arhats.
Within this buddha-realm resides Amitabha, known in Tibetan as 'Öpamé', meaning 'Immeasurable Light' or 'Limitless Radiance' because light-rays from his body pervade every buddha-realm, illuminating them all. He is also known as Buddha Amitayus, or in Tibetan 'Tsépamé', meaning 'Immeasurable Life', because the extent of his life cannot be calculated. His body is as red as ruby, which symbolises the warmth of his compassion extending to all beings.
Amitabha has the 32 principal and 80 secondary marks of a Buddha, like Shakyamuni. On his head, one of the main marks is the head-mound or 'ushnisha', gained whilst he was practising the spiritual path (as Chöchi Lodro and Zipji Muchee), from bowing down with reverence to the Buddhas Jikten Wangchuk Gyalpo and Rinchen Nyingpo. As a result, at the time of attaining buddhahood, the head-mound appeared. Amitabha's 'one face' symbolises that the dharmakaya is free from all conceptual complication. His 2 arms represent means and wisdom, and his 2 hands in meditation gesture signify the unification of means and wisdom. He holds a begging-bowl filled with amrita, symbolising his kindness towards sentient beings by giving vast and deep Dharma teachings. He wears the 3 dharma-robes, denoting gradual instruction of beings through Sravaka, Pratyekabuddha and Bodhisattva Paths. As he never wavers from resting in the equality of samsara and nirvana, his legs are in vajra-posture.
Amitabha sits on a throne that is supported by 8 peacocks. When the sutras and commentaries describe the 5 buddha-families, a particular aspect of wisdom and a specific direction are ascribed to each one, even though they each embrace every aspect of wisdom. Amitabha is associated with the western direction, and he embodies discriminating wisdom, which arises when thoughts of desire and craving are purified. Within the minds of ordinary beings, all the kleshas are present: anger, desire, ignorance, pride, jealousy and so on. It is believed that birds, in particular, have strong desire and craving, so, as a symbol of craving transformed into discriminating wisdom, Amitabha's throne is supported by peacocks.
In other practices, Akshobya is associated with the eastern direction and his throne is supported by horses; Ratnasambhava with the south, his throne supported by elephants; Amoghasiddhi with the north, his throne supported by shang-shang creatures; Vairochana with the centre, his throne supported by lions.
On Amitabha's throne is a 1000-petalled lotus, which symbolises that he remains unstained by samsara. Although he has attained liberation, he has not abandoned his body nor entered nirvana, but stays in the world, due to his compassion, in order to benefit beings. His back rests against a bodhi tree, 600,000 yojanas high, and its branches, leaves and flowers extend 800 yojanas (1 yojana is approximately 4 miles). Due to our impure vision, we only see a small bodhi tree at Bodhgaya, but once we are reborn in Déwachen, a bodhi tree resembles this one described above. It is called a bodhi tree because every Buddha has one, and when one achieves buddhahood, it is obligatory that one must have a bodhi tree to lean against! (Rinpoché chuckles). The cause for achieving buddhahood is to take the Bodhisattva Vow and to develop bodhicitta. In every sadhana practised, one takes refuge and generates bodhicitta. The bodhi tree symbolises bodhicitta.
To Amitabha's right is Chenrezig, with 4 arms, and to his left Vajrapani, with 2 arms. The fact that both are standing symbolises, first, that until samsara has been emptied they will work to liberate sentient beings, and, secondly, that they are disciples of Buddha Amitabha. They are surrounded by an infinite number of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and Arhats all with head-mounds, and wheel-marks on their hands and feet, wearing dharma-robes.
In Karma Chagmé's long 'Déwachen Prayer', he describes Amitabha, Chenrezig and Vajrapani as 'very vivid' by using 3 synonyms. Firstly, they are physically 'vivid' (Tib. lhang ngé) because, amongst the entourage of Buddhas and bodhisattvas, they stand out as exceptional, like 3 supreme mountains. This is due to the proportions and qualities of their major and minor marks of buddhahood. In terms of speech, they are also 'vivid' (Tib. lhan né) because first Amitabha teaches Dharma, followed by Chenrezig and Vajrapani, and at that time their speech permeates all the buddha-realms. For the mind aspect, Amitabha is again described as 'vivid' (Tib. lham mé), because of his compassion.
Having taken birth in Déwachen, one does not hear any more even the mere names of the 8 unfavourable states, or of the lower existences . In Déwachen, there are no ordinary women with anger, pride or desire. In this world, sometimes men love women, and at other times they are angry with them and quarrel, yet feel great suffering when they die. However, in Déwachen there are only goddesses, 3000 emanated to serve each individual.
If someone in Déwachen wishes to visit the other pure realms of, for example, Vairochana, Ratnasambhava, Tara or the Glorious Copper-Coloured Mountain of Guru Rinpoche, one can simply go there, receive empowerments and teachings from those particular Buddhas, and return again to Déwachen. Having been born in Déwachen, one possesses unobscured clairvoyant powers, including the ability to see other beings in their particular worlds and give them protection and blessings, or, at the time of their death, to go to the bardo to meet them and bring them to Déwachen. All these qualities of Déwachen are explained in "The Sutra of Amitabha", which was eventually brought to Tibet and translated by the learned lotsawas, and now exists as part of the Kangyur.
This Amitabha sadhana is a terma teaching called "The Space Dharma" (Tib. nam chös), revealed by a tertön, Minjur Dorjé. It is a 'realisation-terma' that arose within his mind, with visions of Amitabha, from whom he received these teachings. Rigdzin Minjur Dorjé was an emanation of the translator Vairocana (8th C.), and of Shubu Palji Sengé. Karma Chagmé brought the tertön to his residence at Nédo, and when these visions and instructions from Amitabha came to Minjur Dorjé, Karma Chagmé wrote them all down. There are 13 volumes of these teachings.
When he was 19, Minjur Dorjé went to Katok, a famous Nyingma monastery, where he gave the Space Dharma teachings to Palyul Kunzang Sherab (Penor Rinpoché) and 25 tulkus. Karma Chagmé compiled these mind-treasures and visions, writing them down Karma Chagmé's first teacher was the 5th Trungpa Rinpoche, Kunga Namgyal. His root lama was the 6th Shamarpa, Chöchi Wangchuk. There is a vast life-story of Karma Chagmé's practices, studies and visions.[He lived from 1613-1678 and was 17 years old when his teacher the 6th Shamarpa passed away. From 1649-1662 he did a 13-year retreat, during the last 7 years of which he was accompanied by the young Nédo Minjur Dorjé (1645-1667), whose visions he compiled as the Space Dharma teachings. While sadhanas from this form the 'Nédo Kagyu' tradition, the entirety of his teachings has been transmitted as the central basis of the Palyul Nyingma tradition.] In later life, Karma Chagmé went to Nampatsé, passed away and is said to have gone to Déwachen.
THE ACTUAL PRACTICE
The first verse of 4 shlokas (page 1b in the Samye-Ling translation Amitabha Prayers, 1987 edition) is a supplication to Amitabha, followed by a verse to Chenrezig, Vajrapani and their vast entourage of bodhisattvas and arhats. Next (page 2a), there is a verse of supplication to 'The Second Buddha', Padmasambhava, and his 25 main disciples in Tibet, and to the 84 mahasiddhas of India. As this practice first appeared as a mind-terma of Minjur Dorjé, the next 4 shlokas are to him and to all the gurus who received the empowerments and instructions from him. These verses supplicate the gurus. There follow 4 shlokas to the yidam deities, both those who are peaceful manifestations such as Manjushri, Tara, and Chenrezig, and those with wrathful aspects, such as Dorjé Phurba and Channa Dorjé (Vajrapani). After this, one supplicates the Dharma protectors (2b), Palden Lhamo and Mahakala, and the guardians of this practice, the Shingchong protectors. In the final verse one prays that, through the blessing of having supplicated in this way, all one's illness and suffering will be pacified; one's life and merit will be increased; one will be reborn in Déwachen and become inseparable from Amitabha. Throughout this prayer, one is praying with faith and devotion. There is no special visualisation.
order to be born in Déwachen, one needs 4 causes:
1) whatever virtue one is practising, one must do it with bodhicitta motivation; 2) the realm of Déwachen, with its special features, must be imagined clearly;. 3) one must purify one's bad karma, and accumulate good karma; 4) one must pray many times to be reborn in Déwachen.
These 4 Causes will be explained below.
REFUGE & BODHICITTA
When reciting the first 2 lines (3a), one takes refuge in the 3 Jewels and 3 Roots. Imagine Amitabha in space before one, encircled by gurus, buddhas, bodhisattvas, yidams, protectors and dakinis. One imagines oneself and all beings taking refuge in Amitabha.
The following 2 lines are the development of the bodhicitta attitude, whereby one thinks: "I'm going to practise this Amitabha sadhana, in order to establish all beings in buddhahood." Having recited the refuge and bodhicitta verses 3 times, Amitabha and his whole entourage dissolve into light and merge into oneself.
(3a) One imagines that from emptiness the 7 offerings appear, as well as the amrita, torma, and rakta. They are inexhaustible offerings filling the whole of space.
Of the 4 causes for rebirth in Déwachen, the first, the prerequisite of bodhicitta motivation, has been covered in the refuge and bodhicitta part of the sadhana. The next part is the basis for rebirth in Déwachen: the visualisation of developing the realm.
2) THE VISUALISATION
There are 2 parts to this: imagining oneself as the deity, and imagining the deities in front. Other tantric practices have an elaborate procedure for developing the self-visualisation, followed by the front-visualisation. This sadhana has just a simple procedure.
(3b) Imagine Déwachen with its soft, springy ground. In the centre of a pond of water, with the 8 special qualities, is an 8-petalled white lotus, its petals almost closed. In its centre is oneself as Chenrezig, white in colour, with head-mound and 2 arms, hands together at the heart in prayer-gesture, one's lower body hidden within the lotus.
In front of one is a precious throne, supported by 8 peacocks. On it is a thousand-petalled lotus and a moon-disc, on which Amitabha sits, as red as a ruby, with 2 arms, his 2 legs in vajra-posture. A begging-bowl filled with amrita rests on his hands, which are in meditation gesture. His back rests against a bodhi tree. To his right is Chenrezig, white in colour, standing on a moon-disc and lotus, with 4 arms: 2 hands in prayer-gesture at the heart, and the other two holding a lotus and mala.
On Amitabha's left stands Vajrapani, on a lotus and moon-disc. He is blue in colour, with 2 arms, holding a vajra and bell in his right and left hands respectively.
(4a) In the 3 places of the Amitabha, Chenrezig and Vajrapani in front of one are a white OM, red AH, and blue HUNG, and in one's own heart, a white HRIH. Light-rays of 5 hues go out to Déwachen, inviting the 3 principal deities, and they arrive in space before one. The damtsigpa deity of one's own visualisation is already in front, and one now imagines that the yeshépas, the wisdom-beings, become inseparable from one's visualisation.
Rinpoche was asked to explain the terms 'yeshépa' and 'damtsigpa'. This
was his explanation:
The commitment-being, 'damtsigpa' (Tibetan) or 'samayasattva' (Sanskrit) is the deity one is imagining, i.e. oneself as the deity or the deity in front. From both oneself and the deity in front light-rays go out inviting the deity from the buddha-realm: the wisdom-being, 'yeshépa' (Tib.) or 'jnanasattva' (Skt.).
In the word damtsigpa/samayasattva, 'damtsig'/'samaya' is a changeless commitment. When one imagines oneself as Chenrezig, one does not change back into an ordinary being, or into another deity. It is a changeless commitment. The '-pa' (short for 'sempa') or '-sattva' is a hero, or someone with courage. This means that sometimes during meditation the deity can become unclear, but one has great courage and the strength to prevent that from happening, to remain clear. Thus all the faults in the development and completion stages of visualisation are unable to defeat one. That is why it is termed '-sempa' or 'brave one', 'hero'. Through meditating on the damtsigpa, clinging to the 5 skandhas is purified, and the result of this purification is the attainment of the sambhogakaya state in the bardo.
As regards the yeshépa/jnanasattva whom one invites, 'yeshé/jnana' is the pure nature of one's own mind and the nature of a Buddha's mind too, they are identical. The Buddha's awareness of the mind being dharmakaya, or primordial mind, is called ultimate wisdom, or 'yeshé.' The '-sempa' refers to the fact that in the dharmakaya one is free from all thoughts of something existing or not. One is free from all these faults or complications. At this time, one is inviting the primordial wisdom, 'yeshé', in the form of the deity, who merges into oneself as the damtsigpa. Through meditating on that, the ignorance of one's own mind is purified. What makes this purification possible is the innate purity of the dharmakaya mind of a Buddha and the purity of the essence of one's own mind. The result of this purification is the attainment of the dharmakaya at the time of death, when the 'ground luminosity' appears, along with the 'clear light of the path'.
In the nyingma tradition, one visualises oneself as the damtsigpa, and in one's heart is the yeshépa, the size of one's thumb. In the heart of that small deity is the 'ting-dzin-sempa' (skt. 'samadhisattva'). So it is slightly different.]