Buddhist Tantra Teachings
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Chapter 9. The Transformation Yoga
The ramifications or sub-instructions of the main path are given as follows:
1. The teaching of going above to the pure land(instructions on the Transformation Yoga).
2. The teaching of entering into another's body (instruction on the Yoga of Entering Another's Body).
The teaching of transforming one's consciousness to the Pure Land, is a special teaching of the Unparalleled [i.e. Anuttara Ed.] Tantra. It is found in both the Tantra of Bde-mchog's Teaching and that of Jerdo, and their common Tantra Sambhuda; in the Tantra of Vajra Dakini, a special Tantra of Bde-mchog; in the Two Tantras of Sdom-abyung (Bde-mchog's teaching) and in the Admonishment of the Holy Manjushri, etc. If one intends to get well acquainted with the pith-instructions of the Transformation Yoga, one may study these Tantras and their special commentaries. The instructions given here are all based upon these sources, with careful arrangement.
The merit of this practice is stated in the Tantra of Vajra Dakini:
"If one has committed the sin of killing a kinsman,
Of slaughtering the Brahmins;
Or has committed the Five Paramount Crimes ,
Or has stolen or robbed from others for pleasure
All these sins can be cleansed
By practicing this superb teaching.
No evils or sins can ever defile it, p. 251
It stays aloof and far apart from all wickednesses of Samsara."
100. Five Paramount Crimes: (1) matricide; (2) patricide; (3) killing an Arhat (Buddhist saint); (4) causing disunion or division among the priesthood; (5) malignantly causing Buddha to bleed.
Its advantages are also claimed by the Tantra of G'a-sbyor and Gdan-bzhi. Therefore, this yoga is of utmost importance and should receive greater attention. These sources say that this teaching can liberate one from falling into the miserable path, cleanse one's sins, and bring one to the happy land.
The time to apply this yoga is instructed by the Tantra of Vajra-Dakini as follows:
"When the time (of death) comes,
This teaching is applied.
If the time (of death) is not near when anyone applies the teaching,
He is committing the crime of slaughtering Buddha;
He will certainly fall into hell and be scourged.
Therefore, one should carefully and diligently study the signs of death."
This point is also stressed by the Gdan-bzhi and the G'a-sbyor–if the yogi uses this teaching at the wrong time, he has thus murdered the Buddha-like self body. If he has taken the precepts of Tantra, he is then violating the eighth rule of the basic precepts of Tantra, and he is exposed to the danger of falling into hell. Therefore, he should clearly understand the time factor, and industriously study the signs of death to foresee the coming of death. When the signs appear, he should try to prevent it by all possible means. If everything is done but to no avail, he should know that it is the right time to apply this teaching. According to the commentary on Gdan-bzhi, Bhaba Bhadras, he should practise this teaching, or make his preparations six months before the time of death. For this reason one [p. 252} should carefully study the lines in the books concerning the signs of death.
Furthermore the Tantra of Gdan-bzhi says:
"The best condition under which one transforms (his soul)
Is without disease or other illness."
The Transformation Yoga is applied under condition that one has not caught any disease. If the practitioner is caught by disease, he cannot perform the transformation in a perfect way, though he may have tried his utmost.
In the case of an old, miserable man with great sufferings who foresees the coming of his death and intends to leave this world by means of the Transformation Yoga before the time of death comes, it is still forbidden. It is also forbidden in the case of one who suffers from an unbearable sickness. Some ignorant people say that in the former case, the old man is allowed to use the Transformation Yoga (before his time comes). *
The main instruction on the Transformation Yoga consists of two practices. The Tantra of Vajra says:
"The foundation of all (feelings) should be purified.
After the purification the transformation from existence is applied;
Otherwise it will be futile."
"The foundation of all (feelings)" implies that the human body is the foundation or base of all agreeable or disagreeable feelings. (Purification means that through the practice of Heat Yoga the body and mind are purified.) Without purifying the body through practicing the Heat [p. 253} Yoga it will be useless and futile to perform the Transformation Yoga. This is said in Bhaba Bhadras, because the Tumo practice is the very foundation of Transformation Yoga. The Tantra of Vajra Dakini also says:
"By means of the Vase Breathing the door is bound (opened).
Thus, the hole of the door is purified."
The Tantra of Gdan-bzhi as well as the Tantra of Sambhuda says the same thing. They stress the necessity of having a (tamed) prana for practicing the (Transformation Yoga), only because through practicing the Vase Breathing can the pranas, which run wild toward all organs and gates in the body, be fairly gathered (or tamed). Some people say that, if one reaches the lowest stage of Vase-Breathing practice, one is qualified to perform the Transformation Yoga. This shows their ignorance of the teaching of Tantra.
In performing the Transformation Yoga, all the nine gates of the body  except the Golden Gate on [top of the] the head should first be closed to prevent the escape of the consciousness through these gates. The consciousness should be allowed to exit only from the Golden Gate. According to Tantras, these conditions are required to meet the qualifications of a perfect ground upon which the qualified Tantric yogis may perform the Yoga of Transformation.
101. Nine gates of the body: two eyes, two nostrils, two ears, rectum, urethra, top of head.
Furthermore, a perfect visualization on the exit of consciousness described by the Tantras is required. The procedure of the visualization is profusely described in the Fourth Book of Transformation Yoga as well as in the Book of Transformation Yoga of the Rngog School. However, the instructions I give here are mostly based upon the verbal [p. 254} instruction from the gurus who primarily follow the teaching of this school.
One may ask, "Upon which deity's body should one practice the Transformation Yoga?" According to the gurus, one may depend on any patron Buddha of his own choosing. Though the Tantra of G'a-sbyor and Gdan-bzhi have pointed out some particular deity for Transformation Yoga together with the instructions on their practices, I shall not introduce them here; for it would take excessive space to explain them.
The Practice of the Transformation Yoga.
First, the yogi visualizes the self-body become the body of the patron Buddha; then visualizes a red Ah word at the reproductive center or at the navel center, a dark blue Húm word at the Heart Center, a white Kha word at the Gate of Purity . Then he should pull up the lower prana (from the reproductive center) to the navel center; thus the Ah word is pushed up to the place of the Húm word (in the Heart Center); again the Húm word is pushed to the Kha word. Some say the Húm word and Ah word should come down and return to their own places once, then rise up again; but I think the first way is simpler and more convenient. One should repeatedly practice this until the signs or symptoms appear. The signs are the feeling of itching, throbbing, etc., at the top of the head.
102. Gate of Purity: another name for the Golden Gate or the gate of the head.
Thereupon, the yogi may proceed to practice the formal or real Transformation Yoga as follows: Sitting in a crouching posture, grasp the two knees with hands clasped, recite the prayer of Taking Refuge and the prayer of Raising the Bodhi Heart. Then visualize your body become the body of one's patron Buddha; also think that the patron Buddha whose essence is identical with that of your [p. 255} guru, sits in the sky in front of and above your head at a distance of one to six feet. With great earnestness and faith the yogi should pray to him. Then, with a clear visualization of the Ah word at the Navel Center, the Húm word at the Heart Center, and the Kha word at the Pure-Gate Center, the yogi pulls the lower prana to drive up the Ah word into the Húm word through the Central Channel, and thus the two words are fused in one. Meantime, he should pull up all his strength and say loudly "Ah-hi-ga" many times, until he feels that the Ah word has been actually driven into the Húm word. Then he says again "Ah-hi-ga" loudly twenty times, and the Húm word thus rises to the Throat Center. At this time the yogi should visualize clearly the Kha word standing at the Gate of Purity; the gate is open and through it can be seen clearly the firmament as one sees the bright sky through an open window. Then the yogi pulls all his strength together and shouts "Ah-hi-ga" five times; through this force the Húm word is ejected (with great speed) from the Gate of Purity and hits right into the Heart Center of the patron Buddha [above your head]. Thereupon, the yogi concentrates his mind in the realm of Non-Thought.
Based on the Tantra of Gdan-bzhi as well as the verbal instructions given by gurus is this brief instruction on the Transformation Yoga.
Furthermore, according to the teaching of Tantras and their commentaries, the yogi will gain great profit if he understands the way of meditating on the crown of two sounded letters, of visualizing the two words with the heads of the letters seeing upward and downward; the way of "calling-with-prana" during the up-going and down-coming performance; and other special superb instructions. [p. 256}
Generally speaking, the teaching of transforming one's consciousness to a felicitous plane, (such as the thirty-three Heavens and the Heavens of Forms in Samsara) is of great importance and value; especially, the Tantric Transformation Yoga designed for the qualified Tantric Yogis. With the power of the unique Samadhi, the Tantric yogi is able to close all eight gates and make the consciousness exit through the Golden Gate. If he can keep the (horse-like) prana, upon which the consciousness rides, from running through the eight gates, he can automatically stop the consciousness from escaping through the eight gates. The yogi should know how to use the words to close the gates and control the consciousness, and he should be able to control the prana at the different gates through the Vase Breathing [practice].
It is difficult to find a clear instruction in the books concerning what kind of words should be used to close the gates. However, according to the Tantra of Sambhoda and Man-snye, only the red Ah word like that of the Ah at the Navel Center should be used. Some say the best teaching is to use a red Húm word instead of Ah to close each gate. This saying proves ignorance of the meaning of the Tantra and of the clear instructions about using the word to close all the nine gates, in the Tantra of Gdan-bzhi and others.
The instruction of Grong-hjug (House Entering) is also called the instruction in the Yoga of Entering Another's Body. Grong (literally, city or house), here implies the physical organs of eye, ear, etc., (for they are like houses wherein the consciousnesses dwell). Says the Sutra of the Paramita Vehicle: "One's consciousness entering into the not-yet-decomposed corpse of another is called Grong-hjug [p. 257} Entering into Another's House." This teaching is the unique teaching of the Unparalleled Tantra. It frequently appears in the Mother Tantra, and sometimes in the Father Tantra. *
What is the purpose of practicing this yoga, or what is this teaching for? Who is qualified to practice it? How is the teaching of this Yoga exercised?
The person who practices this teaching, as well as those who practice the Transformation Yoga, must have well obtained the initiation and observed the Tantric precepts in a perfect manner, etc., as required in the practice of the Arising Yoga.
According to Tantra there are three different teachings of the Transformation practices: the special Transformation Yoga; the Teaching of the self-mind (or soul) entering into another's corpse; and the teaching of expelling another's soul from his body so that one's consciousness may enter this body. All these three Transformation practices require, first, the capability of closing the nine gates by words; second, the mastery of Vase Breathing, by means of which all the pranas of different organs are gathered and entered into the Central Channel; third, the mastery of Tumo, whereby the small Ah-word of the red-element in the navel center is able to attract and hold the wisdom Húm word (which is the rider of the subtle prana) at the Heart Center. This is said in the Tantras of Vajra Dakini and of Gdan-bzhi and in their common commentary Bhaba Bhad-ras; and in theTantra of G'a-sbyor and its commentary, the Fruit-Bearing Pith-Instruction. [p. 258}
I believe that in both cases, whether the self-consciousness enters into the corpse or into another's living body, a special prana performance is required in addition to the requirements and qualifications mentioned before . The details may be found in some other sources.
103. According to Tibetan lamas, the essential teachings of the Yoga of Entering Another's Body was lost in Tibet. It was lost after the death of Dharmadorje, son of Marpa.
It would be difficult to benefit sentient beings on a great scale with a low-born human body; therefore, it is desirable to have a human body of high class to accomplish the undertaking. Because the possession of a sick, aged, crippled body would handicap self-improvement as well as altruistic deeds, one resorts to the Yoga of Entering Another's Body to procure a fair and healthy body.
According to gurus there are three requirements for practicing this Yoga: first, the person who intends to practice this yoga must have an infinite compassion for all sentient beings; he must be absolutely sure that great benefits and boons for sentient beings will be achieved if he performs this yoga; he also must have mastered both prana and mind. A yogi who meets these requirements and conditions may then proceed to a very secluded, sheltered place. He should dispense with all distracted thoughts, keep away from all wordly activities, prepare the offerings, and establish the altar for the patron Buddha. With all these arrangements made, he should then engage himself in meditation under strict Confinement of Contemplation .
104. Confinement of Contemplation: Any Buddhist who wants to practice meditation in a serious manner must retreat to solitude or strictly confine himself in hermitage for his devotion; he makes a vow not to go beyond the boundary [p. 282} of his room, hermitage, or the like for a certain period of time in confinement to practice meditation.
Then he should prepare a Mandala painted black as the supporting-platform and put a human skull on it. In the center of the human skull a Húm word should be clearly written with a white stone (chalk). Visualizing himself become the Patron-Buddha, he then recites and meditates on the prayer of Seven Wishes of Bodhisattva Samantabhadra. Then the yogi visualizes a Húmword [p. 259} in the center of the heart, and, when the exhalation goes through the right nostril, he should think the Húm word comes out along with the exalted air and enters into and is identified with the Húm word in the skull. Meantime the yogi should hold the air outside as long as possible. When he cannot hold it any longer, he slowly takes the air in. Then he exhales and visualizes as before. Continuing this practice for a while, the yogi will see the skull shake, jump and movethese are the signs that will appear.
The yogi may now proceed to the actual transformation of soul. First, he should procure a fresh corpse with no signs of decomposing, not being dead from any injuries or disease; or he may procure a clean and fresh corpse of cattle or any livestock. Then he washes the corpse with clean water, decorates it with pleasing ornaments, and places it well on the Mandala in a sitting position. Then, the yogi visualizes the Húm word which symbolizes the mind, both in his own heart and that of the corpse. He then arouses his prana to drive the Húm word out through his right nostril and through the corpse's left nostril into the Húm word at the Heart Center. If the yogi practices this again and again, the corpse will start to breathe and to regain its senses. When these signs take place, the yogi should know his performance is effective and should (temporarily) stop the practice.
When the yogi is ready to carry out the real performance, he should release himself from the Confinement and go out to find a qualified and fresh corpse, bring it back, and place it on the Mandala facing him. Having decorated the corpse, the yogi then visualizes the self-Yidam-body and lays aside the attachment to the vulgar human body. He then reminds himself that all Dharmas in the cosmos are [p. 260} magic-like and illusory. Now it is time for him to cut off all vulgar, fallacious thought, as well as delusory habitual thinking, and render his body as an offering to the gurus and guards.
With great earnestness, he should pray them to protect him from all evil hindrances and influences. Then the yogi should clearly visualize both himself and the corpse transformed into Patron Buddha and vividly visualize the Húm word in the Heart Center of both. Then the yogi contacts the air-gate of the corpse and actuates his prana to drive the Húm word in his Heart Center out through his right nostril and into the Húm word of the corpse through its left nostril. At this time the yogi should pull up all his strength to aim at the Húm word of the corpse with his prana-mind. By means of this exercise, the corpse will begin to breathe and jerk, etc. Whereupon, the yogi's friendly companions should take care of him, foster him with proper food for half a month in a solitary place. Until the yogi can stably live with the new body, he should not appear before people. In order to express his gratitude to the deceased one, the yogi should perform the Offering Rituals, such as the Ritual of Tsa Tsa and the Ritual of Burning Performances. With this new human body, the yogi should devote himself to the welfare of sentient beings on a great and broad scale.
These instructions were given by gurus. Thus, the instruction on the Yoga of Entering Other's body which are based on the genuine contents of (several) Tantras and their commentaries has now been given here without wavering ambiguity.
(Now the important question concerning the rightfulness of performing this yoga will naturally arise in people's [p. 261} minds);  if it is sinful to transform one's consciousness to some other consciousness to some other place before the coming of death as admonished in the Instruction on Transformation Yoga, is it not also sinful to perform this Yoga? Though no clear statement answering this question can be found in Tantras, I consider the problem in the light of the following: first, since the performance of this yoga excludes itself from the category of normal death, it cannot be considered a crime of committing suicide, for it does not meet the qualifications of normal death and rebirth; it belongs to none of the regular Four Births of Samsara. Though there is a (tiny) intermediate stage between the time the consciousness leaves the body and the time it enters into the other's body, this cannot be considered a qualified Bardo-stage. Besides, in the case of a right performance of this yoga, the yogi has a pure and altruistic wish, and, since his mind aims at Dharma, he cannot be regarded as committing the crime of suicide. If one wants to know more about this topic, one may study the pith-instructions on the Illusory Body in theTantra of Gsun-adus.
105. The translator feels that it is necessary to add this sentence to make the text understandable.
Though both the instruction of the Self-Transforming Yoga and the Yoga of Transforming into Others were available in the past, the latter was not given to gurus; therefore, it is not explained here.
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