A Long Life Practice

Sunday 6 October 1996

Thupten Rinpoche teaches a White Tara Practice for Gen Rinpoche's Reincarnation
In past Sunday meditation classes I have given general talks, but this morning I have some special things to talk about. As most of you know, Gen Rinpoche's reincarnation is due to be born shortly. What we need to do, those who have been benefitted by his teachings, is to pray for a safe birth, safe and healthy growth both physically and mentally, and safe training. In other words, we need to pray for his all-round success.
Now I want to tell you what you could do for that. For the next few months there will be no teachings at the Centre so I thought it would be a good idea if people engaged in a White Tara Long Life practice and dedicated this to Gen Rinpoche's safe birth and his long, successful life. I would like to tell you what you need to think about, what you need to do, when you do the practice of White Tara. At the end of this session you will be meditating briefly on what I will shortly explain.
I recommend that you do this practice in the morning, before you have eaten any meat. When you do this practice you don't eat meat before the practice has been completed. The practice is going to be done at your home. It can be done either in Tibetan or in English. For those who don't read Tibetan, a two-page manual [i.e. sadhana] in English was given to all the participants at the Kalachakra in Sydney. You could follow that. People who don't have copies will be able to get them here. For those who read Tibetan there is just over one page in the prayer book. [An English translation of the latter is also available from the Centre.]
How to start the practice. You do it at your home in the morning. As always, you start by doing refuge practice and the practice of generating universal altruism, bodhicitta. What we need to think about when doing refuge practice and bodhicitta practice you can recall from the explanations I gave during the teachings on Gen Rinpoche's Guru Yoga practice. With regard to the object of refuge, in Gen Rinpoche's Guru Yoga practice the central figure of the objects of refuge was Gen Rinpoche himself. Now in this case the central object of refuge is White Tara, the female Buddha known for longevity and wisdom etc. It is this female Buddha who is to be seen as inseparable from Gen Rinpoche himself, and who is then also surrounded by a host of Buddhas, meditational deities, etc.
"...I'm asking everyone to say the short Tara mantra 10,000 times or more. I will also do the practice and collect as many mantras as possible. When we meet next time let's have the good news to tell each other, 'I have said ... mantras,' so that we can total up the mantras and dedicate them to the long-life of Gen Rinpoche's reincarnation."
Once you have recited the lines concerning refuge practice and the generation of universal altruism, then you should feel that through your sincerity in taking refuge and generating bodhicitta, the objects of refuge Tara and all the surrounding deities become extremely pleased and, because of their deep pleasure and delight they dissolve into you. When you visualise objects of refuge dissolving into you it would feel a bit cumbersome and awkward for all of them to dissolve directly into you. Rather, you visualize that all the surrounding gurus, Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and meditation deities etc, first dissolve into the central object of refuge, Tara, and then the solitary Tara, embodying the essence of all the others, dissolves into you. Due to the dissolution of Tara into you, you experience a great sense of well-being, spiritual, mental and physical, your body becomes extremely light and a kind of bliss overwhelms you due to which feel that your body dissolves into a state of emptiness.
The reason why you need to dissolve your gross physical form into light and then into the state of reality, emptiness, is that if you try to transform your human body straight into Tara's form without first dissolving it into emptiness, you would still have the sense of being an ordinary human being. In order to cut through this conception that one is an ordinary human being, deluded etc, you need to first of all dissolve yourself into the pure state of emptiness. As with all deities, it is from there that you transform yourself into the deity.
From the pure state of vacuity, imagine that first of all there comes into being a lotus. On top of the lotus is a full moon. The lotus and moon signify the very important Buddhist concepts, wisdom and method. In any activity two things are essential: first, some degree of intelligence or wisdom, and then a sense of resourcefulness, the way you go about doing it. Thus wisdom and method are signified by the lotus and moon. It is good to imagine that the lotus and moon are fairly big.
At the centre of the moon imagine a seed-syllable TAM. In English, the Tibetan letter is transliterated as TAM but this would be a bit difficult to visualize, so I suggest that you try to visualize the
Tibetan letter. Just as in the case of our ordinary human body the ultimate initial source was the semen and egg of our parents, the seed-syllable is the source from which the physical form of Tara is to be generated. The lotus and the moon are like the semen and egg of our parents. Just as in the fusion of semen and egg our consciousness enters at the time of conception and the embryo begins to develop, in the fusion of the lotus and moon the seed syllable , the mind of Tara which is in fact your mind, is generated and arises as the physical form of Tara.

Imagine that that, signifying your mind, which you have visualized as standing in the middle of the moon, undergoes a dramatic transformation out of which feel that your mind arises as the form of White Tara with all the major and minor marks of an enlightened being. White Tara arises in space and her left hand is raised to her heart with the thumb and index finger touching. The three other fingers are standing. These three fingers, signifying the three refuges, signify that she is the embodiment of the three objects of refuge. Her right hand extends down onto her right knee with the palm showing outwards. That gesture is the mudra of bestowing refuge. White Tara must be visualized as having one face, two hands and seven eyes. She has the two usual eyes, another eye in the centre of her forehead, and eyes in the palms of her hands and the soles of her feet. Many other forms of Tara sit with their right leg folded in and their left stretched forward, but White Tara has both legs in cross-legged position. White Tara must be visualized as being marked with OM on the crown of her head, AH at her throat and HUM at her heart. In fact it is you who is being generated into this White Tara. The practitioner who does White Tara practice must be generated into that deity form.
Once you have generated yourself into the deity, up to the point where your two legs are seated in cross-legged position and your three places are marked with the three seed-syllables, then feel that rays of light go out from the at your heart inviting all real, enlightened Taras and White Taras, Gurus, Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Protectors etc from Pure Lands, and these dissolve into you as White Tara. Imagining that you have invited actual Taras, Gurus, Buddhas and so on from Pure Lands and that they dissolve into you, also helps to cut through the feeling that one is still an ordinary human being. When Buddhas dissolve into you, you feel you yourself are a Buddha.
Once you have become a deity, what happens in the manual is that you imagine that you invite actual initiating deities who empower you by giving you the water initiation on your crown. Just as when a human baby is born it is given a bath, similarly when you have freshly generated yourself into a deity Tara, that Tara needs to be bathed. The water to be used, now that you are a fully-fledged Tara with all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas dissolved into you, can't be ordinary water, so you need to invite initiating deities from their respective places. It is only with the wisdom water that you as Tara are washed. Imagine that you have invited innumerable male and female initiating deities who stay in the space above you (remember that you are now female Buddha Tara). From there they shower you with wisdom water. As you sit under this cascade of wisdom water poured by the initiation deities, the wisdom water enters your being and completely fills your body. In order that it does not spill onto the ground, be sure that you put a lid on the top by transforming the excess water into Amitayus, the male deity of longevity, who now sits on the top of your head. At this point you must feel that you are indeed the real White Tara, the deity of longevity.
Next you say the mantra of the deity. This is what you have to visualize for that. You as White Tara now have a moon-disc at the heart level in your central channel. Imagine that standing at the centre of that moon disc there is a white . Whoever's lifespan needs to be increased must be visualized within the circle on top of . As I told you in the beginning, the primary purpose of our doing this practice now is so that the child who is Gen Rinpoche's incarnation, due to be born shortly, has a very healthy, long life. If you were to put into the circle above everyone whose life you want to increase, it might be too uncomfortable. So in the circle put just the figure of a small child, the reincarnation of the guru. Then around the syllable itself, put your parents, friends etc -- all those people whose lives you want to increase. These people are visualized surrounding the syllable . The itself emits rays of light which go out to the ten directions and invite the essence of longevity of the enlightened beings who are dwelling in the ten directions, as well as all those conditions -- nutrients as it were -- that promote longevity. Imagine the essence of longevity drawn in by the rays of light, which then dissolve into the circle of in which the small child is to be visualized, as well as into all the other humans and sentient beings that you have visualized around the . It is good to dissolve the essence of longevity and conditions favouring longevity into the recipients one by one, not all together. If you try to dissolve it into everyone at once you might find it difficult or uncomfortable. Imagine first that light and nectar carrying the essence of longevity and the favourable conditions that support longevity, dissolve into the child inside the circle above . Next, visualize the same rays of light and nectar dissolving into your parents who you could visualize just in front of the . After that you can take the light and nectar and dissolve it into the sentient beings you have imagined surrounding the at your heart.
As to the mantra recitation: Since White Tara's mantra is longer than the mantra of most other Taras, you could recite it about twenty-one times. If you can't say it more than twenty-one times at least do it twenty-one times. The mantra is written in the English translation. Once you have recited White Tara's long mantra you can start saying the usual Tara mantra OM TARE TUTTARE TURE SOHA. I ask those who have received White Tara initiation in a formal way, as people who went to Sydney did, to do the practice according to the manual and say the mantra as many times as possible. Those who have not received White Tara initiation may recite the manual if you want to but I'm only requesting you to say the mantra.
I'm asking everyone to say the short Tara mantra at least 10,000 times or more. I will also do the practice and collect as many mantras as possible. When we meet next time let's have the good news to tell each other, 'I have said .... mantras,' so that we can total up the mantras and dedicate them to the long-life of Gen Rinpoche's reincarnation. It would be nice if you could say 500 mantras a day, not all in one go but at different times of the day. At the end of the practice do a short dedication prayer. I thought that this would be a good thing that we individually could contribute to the successful birth, healthy growth and long, successful career of the reincarnate guru to be born soon.
Meditation: This morning we will do a short meditation. If you can visualize and recollect all that I've said and do a full process of generating yourself into the deity, well and good; if not, at least imagine/feel that in the central channel at your heart level is a moon disk at the centre of which stands the seed-syllable . Within the circle of the imagine a small child.