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Buddhist Tantra Teachings


Chapter 3. The Arising and Perfecting Yoga

In the second part, the actual practice of the Path, there are two divisions—the Arising Yoga and the Perfecting Yoga.

We have heard some ignorant sayings from schools in Tibet that the Arising Yoga is necessary only for the Mundane Accomplishments. Nevertheless, according to the Mes-mds'ur and Rngog [37] schools of the Marpa lineage, the teaching of the Arising Yoga is given first. Milarepa said:

37. These names are the title of the sub-schools or branches of Kagyutpa (the White School, or the School of Marpa.)

"In the course of the arising and extinction of manifestation,

For the sake of developing the illuminated mind,

One should diligently practice both the Arising and the Perfecting Yoga."

Many great teachers of the past said that to practice both the Arising Yoga and Perfecting Yoga is necessary. Therefore, to dispense with the Arising Yoga is against the teaching of Tantra and its authoritative commentaries. It is also against the teaching of their own [i.e. the ignorant objectors'] schools; hence, before the practice of Perfecting Yoga, we must study and practice the Arising Yoga. As said in the Tantra of G'ye-rdo-rje:

"If one says the two Yogas are equal [38],

It is a Tantra-infant's preaching."

38. This quotation from the Tantra of G'ye-rdo-rje is incomplete, being only a part or the original stanza. It therefore can be given many different interpretations.

The same Tantra also says:

"Through practising the Arising Yoga,

The Tantric Yogi [39] first practices the Yoga of Forms [40]

Knowing the Yoga of Forms is dreamlike p. 147

The Yoga of Form itself eventually becomes the Yoga of Non-Form."

39. The Tantric Yogi: The original text is Brtul-zugs-chans, meaning literally "the one with oath."

40. The Yoga of Forms and Non-Forms: This is not a perfect but an expressive translation. The Tibetan term Spros-pameans "Nonsense" or "Play-Words" which implies that all the conceptions and patterns of human thought are relative and illusory; they are "play-words" when applied to reality. For convenience, the translator has used the term "Yoga of Forms," because in the practice of Arising Yoga one cannot free oneself from conceptualism and symbolism. All visualizations, recitations, and prayers practiced in the Arising Yoga have form, while Mahamudra or the Yoga of Non-Forms transcends all these practices.

The reader may consider "The Yoga of Away-From-the Play-Words" and "The Yoga with Play-Words" as alternative translations.

The Holy Nagarjuna says:

"First one should master the Arising Yoga,

Then one should aspire to the Perfecting Yoga,

This is the teaching given by the Perfect Buddha,

It is like a ladder with rungs."

Thus in many sutras we find stated the necessity for practising the Arising Yoga first. The main reason for this necessity is that the Arising Yoga will lay a good foundation for the Perfecting Yoga, and will ripen and produce in the Yogi's heart the complete enlightenment experience of the Perfecting Yoga.

If the disciple has attained a stable Samadhi of Arising Yoga, he can then begin practicing the Perfecting Yoga. In the course of this practice, he first meditates solely on either the Father or the Mother tutelary deity for the sake of convenience and ease. In such case he may not be wrong. However, to think that this process can also be adopted by the beginner is certainly against the principle of Tantra. Then, how should one practice? According to those who retain the traditions and principles of this teaching, the foundation of the teaching of the Six Yogas is the Heat Yoga. This view is based mainly on the doctrine of Hevajra, in which it is stated that any one of the four castes [41] can be led to practice this teaching.

41. Four Castes: the four castes of India.

Those revered masters in the past who devoted themselves mainly to practicing this teaching acquired their Pith instructions from the Tantra of Bde-mchog. From [p. 148} Gambopa, through the transmission of Ladak and Mar, the Bde-mchog teaching of Ladak was transmitted. In his youth, the Glorious Pag-mo-grub-pa practiced the Bde-mchog teaching from Mar-do. Transmissions were derived from the Bde-mchog Mandala of Sixty-two Tutelaries of the Lu-I-Pa School. Although there are two such different transmissions, they both (provide the methods of) producing bliss and joy; therefore the practice of either one will do. One should thus practice the Yoga of Four Periods [42] which will lead to the unfoldment of the Mandalas from the feet—the Five Buddhas and Bells—to the head.

42. Four Periods: Morning, noon, afternoon, and evening. Here Tsong Khapa's commentary is not explicit. The translator presumes that he means that the Yogi meditates on a different part of the body (corresponding to the Five Buddhas and their adornments) during each of the four periods.

Now, these experiences will be encountered during the practice of Arising Yoga as the appropriate instructions are followed:

At first, (the yogi) should visualize the tutelary deity through the gradual steps till the whole body of the tutelary is completed. If the tutelary deity visualized has many faces and arms, the yogi may disregard the others and concentrate on visualizing the two main arms and the main face. There are two ways of visualizing the tutelary one's body: the upward process from the feet to the head, and the downward process from the head to the feet.

The tutelary-body should be envisioned as a whole, clearly and vividly. At first, however, the yogi should visualize the body not in specific detail but the body at once complete; then softly and loosely hold onto the visualization without any distraction. If any disturbing or diversified thought arises liable to cause the meditator to follow it, the meditator should beware, and bring his mind back to the object of meditation. If the visualization (mind-picture) becomes unclear, the yogi should freshen it by seeing it vividly until it becomes clear again. In the process [p. 149} of his meditation, the yogi will have the following experiences; that part of the tutelary-body he intensifies will appear clearly and vividly, the part to which he pays no attention will never appear in his mind-picture. Finally, the mind-picture will become so clear that he will think that not even the actual eye could see it better.

If the yogi wants to rest his mind stably on the clear picture, he must overcome drowsiness and distraction. Throughout the whole period of meditation he must possess the power of concentration.

Having mastered the above-mentioned "sketchy visualization" [43], the yogi should then visualize the other faces, arms, adornments etc., until all the details are complete and perfect. Thereafter the Mother tutelary deity should be visualized, then the other deities. Eventually the yogi is able to picture clearly and vividly all the deities (in the Mandala) and the objects in the complete Beyond-Measure Palace, general and specific, all at once in perfect concentration. The yogi is required to reach this stage.

43. "Sketchy Visualization": a general, non particularized mind-picture of the tutelary deity.

Now the teaching of the Tutelary Pride [44]:

44. Tutelary Pride: to cure the Samsaric Pride-of-Ego, Tantricism teaches the yogi to expand instead of abandon, as Hinayana Buddhism taught, this pride to a cosmic scale—to the identification of one's self with Buddha, this being the highest pride of all.

The yogi should raise the Tutelary Pride and think to himself, "I am the Buddha so-and-so," and concentrate on this. If the vision becomes unclear, the yogi should freshen it again. In the beginning, this meditation-with-effort-and-stress is needed. Later on, the yogi will be able to maintain a stable feeling of the Tutelary Pride after the meditation period in his daily activities. When he reaches this stage, his mental power of retaining the visualization will be strong enough to withstand the fluctuating circumstances, and he will maintain the Tutelary Pride in between meditation periods. The Visualization Practice and Tutelary Pride Practice should be exercised alternately. Working [p. 150} on this superb meditation, consisting of both deities and their dwellings, will eventually prevent the arising of the Samsaric visions; only the Superb Visions [45] will appear in the yogi's mind. The spontaneous Tutelary Pride—capable of maintainingitself in all fluctuating circumstances—is the cure which purifies the vulgar (or Samsaric) attachments in the yogi's mind.

45. Superb Visions: When the Yogi reaches this stage he no longer views the world and its objects in the ordinary, common, Samsaric way but sees the outer world as the Palace-Beyond-Measure and himself as the tutelary Buddha.

When the yogi arises from his meditation, whatever he sees—living beings or the material world—he should think of as Buddhas and Buddhas' dwelling-places. If he can stabilize this feeling, he can attain the steadfast Samadhi. When he reaches this stage, he is admitted to have purified the Common Visions through the practice of the Arising Yoga.

It is said in the Tantra of Sdom-abyung:

"The nature of the Three Kingdoms is the Beyond-Measure Palace. All the living beings are the deities of the Mandala."

The saintly Apags-b'a-Iha said, "If you understand that the myriad manifestations are the Mandala itself, how would it be possible for your mind to become confused?" This understanding is applicable to both the Arising and the Perfecting Yoga. According to the principle of Vajrayana, all manisfestations are the Mandala of Heaven; all feelings and experiences are the Great Bliss; all thoughts are the Untreated. To follow and to identify this principle is the main function of the Arising Yogi. In the Arising Yoga, the Great Bliss of Perfecting Yoga—produced by the entering of Life Prana into the Central Channel—is not found. Nevertheless, since the practicer has attained a very stable and clear visualization of Yab-Yum Buddha, he is able to unify wisdom and skill, to stop wavering and fluctuating [p. 151} Bodhi-heart, as symbolized in the Pad word [46]; and he will experience a variety of blisses in Arising Yoga.

46. Bodhi-heart means in this case, the male life-force or semen. Pad symbolizes the stability and the union of the two forces (male and female).

In short, the main objective and function of the Arising Yoga—the practice of visualizing the Mandala—is to ripen the yogi, to bring his consciousness forth to the realization of the identity of Buddha and sentient beings.

The instruction of the Practice of Perfecting Yoga is given in three parts: the basic principles, the step-by-step path, and the realization of the fruit or accomplishment.

In the first part there are two divisions:

1. The basic principle or real-nature of the mind.

2. The basic principle or real-nature of the body.

For the sake of exposing the principles behind the complete practices, the first exposition is introduced. For the sake of explaining the points in the body with respect to which the visualization should be carried out, the second exposition is introduced.

1. The basic principle of the mind.

The Tantra of Two Forms says:

"The mind, the perceiver, is formless in its essence.

There is no sound and no hearer, no smell and no smeller,

no taste and no taster, no touch and no feeler.

Likewise there are no mind and mind-functions [47]."

"One should understand that the organs, the outer-objects,

and the consciousnesses of the organs

Are all the Goddesses.

Thus, the eighteen dhatus [48] are preached.

From the very beginning, their essence is uncreated—never did they come into being. p. 152

They are neither false nor real;

Therefore, they are like the moon's reflection in the water.

Thus should you understand the Dakinis."

47. Mind-Functions: Buddhism distinguishes between the mind and its activity. Mind is that which acts, but the functions are the different ways in which this mind manifests. According to Yogacara, the mind or the No. 6 Consciousness has 51 mind functions.

48. The eighteen dhatus (groups): The six outer-objects, the six sense-organs, and the six consciousnesses.

The [visual] form, sound, smell, taste, and [touch] stimuli are the five outer objects, from the seer to the feeler are the five senses, from the eye to the body are the five organs. In the terms of Skandhas, they all belong to the Aggregation of Form. In the terms of Ayatana [49] they belong to the ten Ayatanas of form; the Nonself-nature of them is thus pointed out by the stanza. The so-called mind (Sems) is the Aggregation of Consciousness, or the Ayatana of Consciousness. The so-called mind-function is the Aggregation of Feelings, Perceptions, and Emotions. The above stanza explains the Non-self-nature of sense-data or the Ayatana of Dharma. The form-seer and the sound-hearer mentioned in the stanza denote the egotistic conception of beings. In short, this stanza illustrates both the Clinging of Ego and the Clinging of Dharma.

49. Ayatanas: The six places where the consciousnesses abide and the six objects observed.

The stanza says that the non-existence of essence means the absence or the non-existence of self-nature in all Dharmas and living beings. These sayings are the philosophy of the great master Mds'o-sg'yes as mentioned in his commentary. They imply the Voidness or non-existence of the self-nature or the non-existence of the definable nature of being—the self-being as expressed in many other sources.

This truth of the non-existence of self-nature, or the nonexistence of essence, or the never-come-into-being-self-nature, is by no means previously untrue but intentionally and subsequently verified through human reason and the holy edifications. This truth exists from the very beginning, as said in the stanza "to understand the truth as it is"; [p. 153} this clearly demonstrates the aspect of the "Originally true".

Guru Marpa said:

"On the bank of the Ganges river in the East,

Through the grace of the great Medrepa [50],

I fully realized the original reality of the never-come-into-being.

This enlightenment kindles the void-nature of mind.

Clearly I beheld the original essence—the truth devoid of play-words,

And clearly saw the Three Bodies,

Whereby all the conceptualistic ideas in my mind were forever cleared up."

50. Medrepa: The Guru of Marpa, an accomplished Indian Yogi.

Thus Marpa's understanding of Mahamudra was procured mainly from the great master Medrepa, who, in this connection, particularly referred to the Thatness among the Ten Solenesses. As he said in a stanza: "It is neither with form nor without form." By this he meant the Soleness of the Originally True, not the Soleness With Form nor the Soleness Without Form. His disciple Lhan-j'ig-sg'yes-pai-rdor-rjes gave the exposition to this stanza in his commentary:

"Without-Form means the doctrine of the Sutra School. These terms also imply the True Form or Illusory Form of Yogachara, as favored by the School of Yogachara of True Form and the School of Yogachara of Illusory Form. This is also applicable to the Madhyamika Yogachara School—its doctrine allows the mind-only philosophy, either With Form or Without Form, of Yogachara in the field of mundane truth [51].

51. The philosophies of these schools are very complicated. Because of the limitation of space, the translator cannot explain all their differences here.

The doctrine of Two Truths should be established in a manner such as the Great Yogi Milarepa explains:

(The printing is not clear in the two first lines.) [p. 154}

"Buddha says that all do exist.

But, in the category of Transcendental Truth,

There are no hindrances and even no Buddha.

There is no meditator nor meditation.

There is no practice nor experiences.

Neither is there any Buddha-body nor Buddha-wisdom—

Therefore there is no Nirvana.

All such terms are merely names and conceptions."

According to the Middle-Way doctrine of Nagrajuna, Aryadeva, Zla-wa-grags-b'a, the very nature of causation itself is Soleness. So this stanza implies that only these sages' doctrine is acceptable [52]. Nagrajuna and Aryadeva, the Savior and the Holy One, were both middle-wayists after the Sutra period. Subsequent to the period of these two sages, there were many people who talked about Middle-Way philosophy, but these people can only nominally be regarded as middle-wayists. The superb being, Master Medrepa, and the meritorious Dhawadrapa were two outstanding sages who really held Nagrajuna's and Arydeva's view in a correct manner. Furthermore the Treatise of the Ten Solenesses says: "Without the adornment of pith-instructions from one's Guru, one can be considered only a mediocre follower of the middle way.

52. This is Tsong Khapa's view and does not reflect that of Tibetan scholars in general.

Zla-wa-zhaba said that, if a teacher has no pith-instruction as if an adornment for himself, he can be only a mediocre follower of the middle way. This right explanation of the ultimate truth by Zla-wa-zhaba should be rightly followed.

Now, the explanations of "neither true nor false."

Says the Sutra of the Sixty Rational Stanzas:

"The beings that depend on and are caused by other beings, p. 155

Their nature is insubstantial like the moon's reflection in water.

All the stable and unstable living beings in Samsara

Are originally unborn and non-existent.

There is no fundamental truth nor Innate Wisdom [53],

There is neither Karma nor the effects of Karma.

Therefore, the Samsara never existed—even its name is meaningless!

O, the absolute truth is like this!"

53. Innate Wisdom: The perfect wisdom of Buddhahood, which is not made by humans but is inborn in every sentient being.

Thus it is said that in the Transcendental Truth nothing whatsoever exists, Samsaric or Nirvanic—not an iota ever existed. But immediately the Sutra continues:

"Alas, if there is no sentient being,

From where have the Buddhas in the Three Times come?

If there are no causes there will be no effects.

In the sense of Mundane Truth

Both Samsara and Nirvana exist.

This is said by Buddha Shakyamuni himself.

The existence and the non-existence,

The entities and the emptiness,

The manifestations and the reality,

Are identical and of one taste.

In essence there is no difference between them at all.

There is no self-awareness nor other-awareness,

All and all are absorbed in the great two-in-one.

The sages who have realized this truth

See no consciousness but wisdom.

The sages who have realized this truth

See no sentient beings but Buddhas,

See no Dharma Form but Dharma Essence.

They are neither true nor false

One should not fall into these views." [p. 156}

Sentient beings and materials are all produced through respective causes and conditions; they are consolidated through conceptualization; therefore, they are not real, nor have they any substantiality. In other words, all beings are void in their self-nature in the sense of the actual existence of self-essence. If there were an independently-solid self-nature in beings there would be no need for depending on any cause or conditions (to form the beings themselves). Thus there never existed even an atom of sense-data (outer-object) upon which the Clinging of Existence arises [54].

54. This complicated conception is unique in Tsong Khapa's philosophy. Tsong Khapa's definition of the self-nature is very peculiar; his philosophy of Middle-way is greatly different from those of the old schools and is refuted [rather, "opposed," for the Middle Way doctrine's meaning is really not different from Mahamudra] by many outstanding scholars of these schools. Since it takes a great deal of careful thought and study to understand Tsong Khapa's philosophy and how it differs from that of the old schools, the translator believes that it is not wise to explain the different views here briefly, for that would definitely lead to misunderstanding. It is the wish of the translator to write an essay on this topic at some later date.

This very truth does not impair the order and functions of the causation-bound events in Samsara and Nirvana; as dream, magic, and shadow, all the transpiring events manifest. Based on this view, one should know that those who claim the Voidness as the non-existence of the horn-of a-rabbit [i.e. the non-existence of false notions Ed.] are mistaken. One should also know that those who claim nonexistence of the delusory snake-perception arising from the rope, are also wrong. Thus, one should know that this absolute non-existence of the sensedata upon which the Clinging of Existence arises is the correct understanding of Sunyata. Without such a horse-of-right-understanding, even if one rides on a horse-of-Buddha, one will not be able to cross the stream of Samsara.

Says the Tantra of Rdo-rje-bgur:

"In order to destroy the clinging of ego,

The Buddhas have preached the teaching of the Voidness."

This means that in order to destroy the Clinging of Ego and the Clinging of Dharma, Buddhas have preached the philosophy of the Voidness. Though the principle of the Transcendental Truth is as mentioned above, even in the [p. 157} category of Mundane Truth, if one decisively or unalterably identifies existent things with dreams, magic, and illusory visions, one will eventually come to the point of the Nothingness [55] which is not allowed in my school. If one follows the wrong views of other schools one is liable to fall into endless dangers.

55. Here is shown Tsong Khapa's "timidness" on SHúnyatá, and his materialistic view is clearly reflected *.

Some hold that all manifestations are magic-like, and accept the existence of all happenings in Samsara and Nirvana—such as the attainment of Buddhahood. They also claim that all manifestations are merely names and words denominated and conceptualized by human beings, that the manifested beings in the causations are identical in essence with the Voidness of non self-nature, that the existence and the non-existence have never separated from each other. They further claim that this is the special teaching given by the great masters in the past, and that it is not necessary to follow the Two-Truths System of the Middle Way doctrine. This kind of saying is not right; it is against the teachings of the Buddhas and the exposition of them by sages. Not only that, these sayings contradict their own doctrine, for on the one hand they deny the Two-Fold Truth and on the other hand they accept the principle of the identity of bliss and voidness. In short, one should definitely search for the understanding of Voidness which is briefly explained above.

2. The basic principles or nature of the Body.

In the center of the Transformation-Wheel (Chakra) at the navel and the other main Wheels in the body is pivoted the Central Channel; the upper end and the lower end of [p. 158} it, together with other points of the Wheels, are the most important centers. These centers are viewed as vital points and are emphasized in the Skill-in-Yoga-Teachings of Tantra.

According to the pith-instructions of Marpa, one should put emphasis on the Heart and Throat Centers during sleeping, and should know the critical teachings on the Navel and Forehead Centers during the practice of Heat Yoga and Karma Yoga in the awakening stage. This is because during these different times the Thig-le [FN 1] upon which the consciousness relies concentrates at these four different centers. According to the teaching of Dus-akor (Kalachakra) the Head Center and Navel Center produce the Thig-le in the awakening stage; the Throat and the Secret Center produce the Thig-le in dreaming stage; the Heart and the Precious Center produce the Thig-le in the deep-dreaming stage. This agrees approximately with the saying that at the end of the navel and genital center, the Thig-le is produced in the four different times.

At the time of falling into sleep, the pranas will gather at the Heart Center and the Precious Center. When they are heavily concentrated, one will fall into sleep; thereafter, the pranas in these two parts gradually become thinner and thinner. When (most of) the pranas come to the Secret Center and Throat Center the fleeting dreams will appear; when the pranas have gathered in these two parts for some time the actual dreams (or steady dreams) will arise. When the pranas rise up to the Center Head and Navel Centers, one will awake. From the Head Center the Thig-le drops to the end of the precious organ; as it reaches the different [p. 159} centers as mentioned above it will produce the various blisses (or so-called Four Blisses).

This is the meaning of the four times:

Through the power of the prana the Yogi manipulates in exercise, the Downward-Bliss produces the Dim Innate when it reaches the center of the navel; when it reaches the end of the precious organ the Bright Innate is produced.

That these four centers are very important in the meritorious exercises of dream and sleep by no means implies that they are not essential points upon which the exercises of mental concentration should be carried out during the daytime. Among all the centers in the body, the Navel Center is the one upon which the Yogi should begin. One should also know that to concentrate upon the different centers will produce different effects and specific advantages.

Buddhist Tantra Teachings, END MATTER

Buddhist Tantra Teachings, LITERATURE  

FN 1 (p. 158). Thig-le is equivalent to the Sanskrit bindu and signifies a seed and source of life-power.—Ed.


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