(5a) From the HRIH in one's heart, lights radiate to the 10 directions inviting the 5 buddhas of empowerment and their consorts. The 5 Buddhas scatter flowers and recite prayers of good fortune. The 5 consorts hold vases of good fortune full of amrita with which they give empowerment to Amitabha, Chenrezig, and Vajrapani in front. Amitabha's body fills with wisdom-amrita, and the excess overflows from the top of his head to transform into Amitayus, who remains as his head-adornment. The 5 Buddhas and consorts dissolve into Amitayus.
This head-adornment of the master of the relevant buddha-family is customary for all tantric practices. All deities from the Vajra family have Akshobya as their head-adornment; those from the Ratna family have Ratnasambhava; all from the Lotus family have Amitabha; from the Karma family, Amoghasiddhi; from the Buddha family, Vairochana. For the buddhas themselves, as there is no-one higher than them to become master of their family, they take different aspects of themselves as their head-adornments. Amitayus, as the sambhogakaya form, is above Amitabha, who is the nirmanakaya form. They are essentially the same Buddha.
3) GATHERING THE ACCUMULATIONS
& PURIFYING KARMA
The third factor one needs to practise in order to be reborn in Déwachen is gathering the accumulations and purifying one's bad karma and obscurations.
(5b) Countless bodhisattvas emanate from oneself as Chenrezig, holding vases of amrita for washing the 3 principal deities. Although they have no dirt, smell or stain on their bodies, one enacts this as a good sign (Tib. 'tendrel') for the purification of bad karma and obscurations.
This is followed by the drying of their bodies with soft, white, scented cloths, as a good sign for removing suffering in one's own and others' minds.
The bodhisattvas hold the 3 dharma-robes for the nirmanakaya deity, Amitabha, and dress him.
There are basically 3 dharma-robes:
- the outer robe has 25 vertical sections, each divided further into 5 parts;
- the upper robe has 9 vertical sections, each divided into 3 parts;
- the lower robe has 8 vertical divisions, each divided into 5 parts.
There are elaborate, medium and simple forms of these robes, and within these categories there are elaborate-elaborate, medium-elaborate, simple-elaborate and so on, making 9 possibilities in total. Although Amitabha does not feel cold, one offers these 3 types of robes as a token of increasing the vitality of oneself and others.
One offers to Chenrezig and Vajrapani crowns, bracelets, lower robes, and jewellery. These bodhisattvas, who are in sambhogakaya form, have 13 types of adornments, comprising 8 types of jewellery and 5 types of silk clothing.
The 8 jewelled adornments are:
- a jewel crown or tiara called "The 5 Buddha-Families";
- jewel earrings;
- a short necklace;
- a necklace reaching to the heart;
- a long necklace reaching to the navel;
- bracelets and armlets (1 of each for each arm);
- a belt or 'girdle' at the waist, with loops of jewellery hanging from it.
The 5 silks are:
- a 'back silk', i.e. a silk ribbon hanging from the back of the head, just behind the tiara, like a tassle;
- 'silken earlobes' - the tiara stops just behind the ears with a decorative pattern of 5-coloured silks which hold the back silk tight, and these silks hang down behind the ears;
- some deities have a short blouse, and others have a floating scarf;
- a red silk skirt, or some have a skirt 'like Indra's bow', which means a rainbow-coloured skirt;
- on top of this red lower skirt is a blue silk.
One also finds variations of these 13 types of adornments in the instruction texts. One offers these, not because Chenrezig and Vajrapani have a desire to possess such jewels and clothing, but in order to create the karmic conditions for increasing the majesty and splendour of oneself and all beings.
After the bodhisattvas have offered the drinking-water of the 8 qualities, as an auspicious sign for oneself and all beings becoming free from suffering, they merge back into oneself as Chenrezig.
Now, from one's heart, emanate many beautiful dakinis of individual colours, each holding a specific substance to offer. First, yellow dakinis appear with scented water of the 8 qualities to wash or cool the feet of Amitabha, Chenrezig and Vajrapani. Jamgon Kongtrul explains in a Guru Yoga practice the reason for this offering: it is not because their feet are dirty or hot, but in order to purify the incidental stains in one's own mind, so that in future one will be endowed with immaculate wisdom. The offering made, these yellow dakinis merge into the feet of the Buddha and 2 Bodhisattvas. It will be the same procedure for all the subsequent offering-dakinis: after completing the offering they merge into the corresponding part of the recipients' bodies.
White dakinis offer flowers. Amitabha will be neither pleased nor displeased if these are offered or not, but, through making this offering, one can remove the suffering in one's own mind, and in future one will be able to please beings by possessing the body of a buddha with the 32 major and 80 minor marks. These dakinis merge into the eyes of Amitabha, Chenrezig and Vajrapani.
Blue dakinis offer incense.
This offering is made to purify the stains of one's conduct. If one has broken
commitments, one will have to experience the results of this negative karma
and the obscurations that it produces. In the future, through making this incense
offering, one will have stainless, correct conduct. The dakinis merge into Amitabha's
Red dakinis offer butter lamps, in order to clear away ignorance and stupidity in one's mind, so that, in future, one will attain the clear light of ultimate wisdom (skt. jnana). The dakinis merge into Amitabha's hands.
Green dakinis, carrying scented water, anoint the bodies of Amitabha, Chenrezig and Vajrapani. This offering is made to eliminate duality in one's mind: clinging both to perceptions and to their perceiver (the mind itself that grasps). In the future, one will attain the non-conceptual state of the samadhi of shamatta and vipassana. The dakinis merge into the bodies of the 3 deities.
Yellow dakinis offer food to the tongues of Amitabha and the 2 Bodhisattvas. This offering eliminates the sufferings of hunger and thirst experienced by sentient beings. It also eradicates greed, the cause of these miseries. In the future, all beings will be able to enjoy the food of samadhi. The dakinis merge into the deities' tongues.
Yellow dakinis offer music, in order to eliminate all the sufferings of sound experienced in the 3 lower existences, so that, in future when one is teaching Dharma, one will have a voice as melodious as that of Brahma. The music-offering dakinis merge into Amitabha's ears.
One then emanates many beautiful dakinis, who make the offering of a beautiful consort to Buddha Amitayus on top of Amitabha's head. This is offered in order to eliminate the sufferings of the hell-realms that result from anger, greed and craving, so that, in the future, one will attain a state of bliss and emptiness.
Following this, from the tips of one's fingers (as Chenrezig), which are in prayer gesture, rays of light bearing the 8 auspicious substances, the 8 auspicious symbols, the 7 possessions of a chakravartin, and the mandala of Mount Meru and the 4 continents are offered to Amitabha, Chenrezig, Vajrapani and the entourage.
Why are the 8 substances considered auspicious? They were all offered to, and subsequently blessed by, Sakyamuni Buddha. Since that time, if one gives or receives any of these as a present, one thinks, "This is a good sign, a very auspicious substance!" There is auspiciousness and inauspiciousness related to everything. In the practice of Dharma, every circumstance is considered to occur according to the 'laws of interdependence', and sometimes events can happen auspiciously or inauspiciously. For example, if one wishes to go into retreat, and one has a retreat house, food provided, a lama to give one instructions, good caretakers, freedom from illness and so forth, these are favourable conditions and are considered auspicious, or of good fortune. Conversely, if one needs to find one's food, falls ill, things always go wrong, or there seem to be obstacles and one cannot complete what one wishes to do, that is called inauspicious.
Each of these 8 substances was offered to, and blessed by, the Buddha:
- white mustard-seed was offered by Vajrapani;
- a straw-seller offered durva grass as a seat for the Buddha;
- a tree-goddess offered bilva fruit (applewood);
- Longchen Sasong offered 'givang' (ambergris) which comes from an elephant;
- the goddess of earth offered red lead (minium);
- a dairymaid, Lekchéma, offered yoghurt that had been condensed from the milk of 2000 cows;
- the goddess of form, Zukchi Lhamo, offered a mirror;
- the Lord of Gods, Indra, offered a white conch.
One offers these substances, not because Amitabha considers them auspicious or inauspicious, but in order that all beings will have the auspicious good fortune of being able to accomplish the practice of Dharma.
Following this, the
8 auspicious symbols are offered: when practising on the path, a bodhisattva
bows with reverence and respect to his teachers, and as a result, the head-mound
appears, one of the physical signs of a Buddha. The parasol is of a similar
shape to a Buddha's head-mound, so one offers this auspicious symbol and prays
that one will have the good fortune of this physical sign of buddhahood, as
a consequence of offering this symbol. A golden fish is offered to the eyes
of Amitabha, Chenrezig, Vajrapani and their entourage. Buddha Amitabha's eyes
are long, like the petals of an utpala flower or a golden fish. These eyes appeared
at the time that he attained buddhahood, after developing limitless compassion
and love for beings while practising on the path.
The Buddha's neck has the shape of a vase, since on the path he nursed the sick and gave delicious food to many. Due to that, on achieving buddhahood, his neck took the shape of a vase, so one offers an excellent vase to the necks of Amitabha and his entourage.
The Buddha's tongue is like a lotus petal, slender, supple and endowed with miraculous powers. While practising the path, he never told any lies. As a result, at buddhahood his tongue took the shape of a lotus petal, so one offers an excellent lotus to the tongues of Amitabha and his entourage.
On the Buddha's throat are 3 lines like the spirals on a conch. He gained this sign by giving medicine to sick people while he practised on the path, and when he achieved buddhahood, these 3 lines appeared. This is why one offers a white conch (with clockwise spirals) to the throats of Amitabha and his entourage.
The knot of eternity is offered, symbolising 2 qualities of the Buddha's mind: he knows the nature of things just as they are, and also the many things that are to be known. He attained these qualities by continually practising the 10 virtuous actions whilst on the path, so this knot is offered to the minds of Amitabha and his entourage.
The body of Buddha is like the victory banner, or like the nyagrodha tree, in that it is neither too small nor too tall but in perfect proportion and size. This body is said to be like a victory banner because he remains always in a state of meditation. One offers this banner to the bodies of the 3 deities and their entourage.
On each of the Buddha's palms and soles is the image of a wheel. While practising on the path, whenever a teacher came to give Dharma instruction, he would go to meet them out of respect and escort them to his residence. Likewise, when they departed, he would escort them some of the way, out of respect. Consequently, at buddhahood, these wheels appeared. They are offered to the hands and feet of Amitabha and his entourage.
As Amitabha has already perfected the 8 qualities associated with these signs, he does not need these auspicious symbols offered to him, but one makes the wish that, due to the virtue gained through making these offerings, in future oneself and others will be blessed with bodies possessing all these signs.
This is followed by
offering the 7 precious possessions of a universal monarch, a chakravartin.
In worldly terms, after buddhas, bodhisattvas and arhats, the next in degree
of merit is a universal monarch. Through the power of his accumulation of merit,
such a king attains naturally these 7 precious possessions:
- a 1000-spoked golden wheel. If such a king intends to travel from one continent, such as Lupakpo, to Dzambuling, this golden wheel will land on the ground before he arrives;
- a jewel. It is made of lapis-lazuli, is 8-faceted, and is worn on the king's top-knot. Light-rays from this jewel shine as bright as the sun for a distance of 5 miles even during the night. If one has such a jewel on the top-knot, all one's wishes or prayers will be fulfilled;
- a queen, as wife to the king. She is beautiful to behold, her behaviour is gracious and so forth: she has all the 32 excellent qualities of a woman.
- a minister, white and beautiful. He is very wealthy, yet has the courage to give all his wealth away to Buddhas and Bodhisattvas as offerings, and to other beings as generosity. He is able to endure the hardships in giving away his wealth, so he also has great forbearance;
- an elephant, as white as a snow-mountain in sunshine. When the king rides it, it has the power to fly through the sky;
- the supreme horse: it is the colour of a peacock's neck, has a large tail and thick mane. It is so swift it can go around all the continents in one hour;
- a general. He is very powerful, and through the power of his prayers or wishes all his enemies are pacified, so he never needs to fight wars.
One offers these 7 precious possessions in order to become a chakravartin king in the future.
There follows the offering
of the Supreme Mountain and the continents. In the Kalachakra Tantra, the central
mountain is described as round, whereas in the Abhidharma system it is described
as square. Ultimately, they have no true reality. According to the scientific
view, one sees this world and the central mountain as round with all the continents
encircling it. Others see the world as flat, like a plate. The Buddha said that
in the minds of different beings arise different appearances, on account of
their individual karma, but ultimately none of this has any reality. One might
think that there is only one world like this, but the buddhas have taught that
there are millions of similar worlds, each with a supreme mountain and 4 continents,
containing many forms of life.
Before the creation of this world, there was just empty space, but beings were living in other worlds at that time. This empty space appeared as a world due to the karma of beings. First, a lot of air moved in this space for a long time, eventually becoming very solid, like a foundation or ground. The name for this is 'a double-vajra (or vajra-cross) of air'.
Through beings' karma, above this ground appeared a cloud in space called 'the essence of gold'. A heavy rain fell from this cloud for a long time. As a result, on this vajra-cross of air an ocean appeared, called 'the peaceful, solid and permanent ocean' which was soft to the touch, cool and delicious. The air agitated the many particles of gold that were contained in this ocean, and they were brought together, to create the golden basis for the earth. When one makes the mandala-offering, one says: "The completely pure basis, the ground of gold". That part of the offering refers to this layer of gold.
Through the karma of beings there appeared another cloud, called 'various jewels', and it rained for a long time, forming an ocean on this basis of gold. This is the water that people sail on, when travelling in a boat. As this ocean was agitated by the waves for a long time, all the particles of various jewels gathered together like foam on its surface, and gradually formed solid land, in the form of the central mountain, Mount Meru. In the Abhidharma system this mountain is described as square with 4 steps at the bottom, and its 4 sides are crystal (east), aquamarine (south), ruby (west) and gold (north). All the sediment of jewels left in the turbulent ocean came together and formed 7 mountain ranges, encircling the central mountain, made of 7 different precious substances. Between each range (and between the central mountain and the ranges) is an 'ocean of joy', a total of 7 oceans.
On top of Mount Meru appeared the city of Indra and the deities in the 'Heaven of 33'. Within this paradise is contained all the wealth and splendour of deities. In the 7 oceans that lie between the 7 mountain ranges, live the naga kings, and all their wealth is contained there. There are 12 continents around Mount Meru: the 4 main ones of Lupakpo, Dzambuling, Balangchö and Draminyen, each with 2 satellite continents. Apart from Ngayap, the land of the rakshasas, the other 11 are populated by humans, and all of their wealth and splendour are contained therein. When offering the mandala, all the wealth and splendour of the deities, humans and nagas from these paradises, continents and oceans is offered. Although Amitabha does not need these riches, they are offered to perfect one's dualistic accumulation of merit and the non-dualistic accumulation of wisdom. When one has perfectly completed these accumulations, one accomplishes one's own benefit, by attaining the state of dharmakaya, and the benefit of others, by manifesting the form-kayas.
When offering vessels of deathless amrita, one prays for the attainment of the supreme accomplishment (siddhi), i.e. the realisation of mahamudra, and the ordinary accomplishments. Altogether there are 8 ordinary accomplishments, such as the 'eye medicine' with which one can see great distances, or see through the ground; 'fast legs', whereby one has the power of great speed; clairvoyance; miraculous hearing; miraculous sight, and so on.