WHAT IS A "BUDDHA"?
The word "Buddha" is not the name of a person. It is a title bestowed on someone who
has reached Enlightenment/Nirvana/Satori (See Enlightenment). According to Buddhist lore, Gautama Siddharta was but one of many enlightened beings who came forth into this world but instead of keeping what he knew to himself, Gautama Siddharta went out and taught those who would listen, thus spreading the Dharma to all beings. With this definition in mind, other Buddhas that have come forth into the world are Jesus, Mohammed, Saints and other figures who have been known to have a strong and unwavering connection with the Divine.
A Buddha has also been described as someone who is "Fully Awake". Someone who is fully aware of His/Her divine nature. It is also said that a Buddha exists in all of us That means that all of us are "Sleeping Buddhas" just waiting to be awakened.
WHO WAS GAUTAMA SIDDIIARTA?
Prince Siddharta was born around the 6th century B.C to King Suddhodana and Queen Mahamaya. They were the rulers of the Sakya people who lived in the kingdom of Kapilavastu located near the border between India and Nepal. According to legend, when Siddharta was born, he was born of his mother without pain and could already walk and at every footstep the babe took, lotus flowers sprouted on the spot where his foot touched the ground. This was a sign that the newborn prince was no ordinary Prince. An Indian mystic said upon seeing the babe that the Prince would pave the way to liberation for all beings.
Growing up a prince in the Kapilavastu kingdom was filled with pleasure and joy. King Suddhodana made it a point to shield Prince Siddharta from the ugliness and suffering of the physical world. Prince Siddharta was literally spoiled with worldly indulgences and around Siddhartha were young people to shield him from old age. He was not permitted to witness funerals to shield him from the idea of death. He was not permitted to experience poverty, hunger, loss and other pains of the world. His father did all he could to divert the prophecy of the Prince leading the life of a holy person to liberate all sentient beings. This ploy would have succeeded too were it not for Prince Siddhartha, by chance, or fate seeing an old beggar - withered, poor, weak and suffering This was the first time in his life Prince Siddhartha was introduced to the concept of suffering. With his curiosity guiding him, he set out beyond the gates of his hedonistic sanctuary and witnessed all that was being shielded from him, birth, old age, sickness, death, suffering.
It was after witnessing suffering that the Prince of Sakya vowed to find a way to liberate those who suffered. By cutting off his hair donned in royal knots and exchanging his princely garb with a vagabond's wrapping, he set off to find the answer to suffering.
For six years the Prince of Sakya was an ascetic, one who seeks liberation through self-denial and extreme self-mortification, denying himself food, water and nourishment of any kind. He would have continued on this painful attempt at liberation had he not overheard a conversation between a minstrel and his student about a stringed instrument. The minstrel said "If the string is too tight it will break; if it's too loose it will not play." Upon hearing this, Siddharta realized his error. For a long time, he was like the tight string ready to snap. When he was living a life of pleasure in the palace, he was the loose string that could not play. The answer to suffering, he deduced, must lie in the middle. Hence the birth of the Buddhist principle of the middle path.
Upon setting his efforts with this new insight, Siddharta sat under a Bodhi tree in Bohd Gaya and under a full moon he dealt with the obstacles set forth by Mara, the lord of evil and illusions, after which the Prince of Sakya became enlightened for the benefit of all beings.
WHAT IS ENLIGHTENMENT?
It is said that words cannot describe being enlightened. It is said that to be enlightened means to be free. Before one can be free, one must know what to be free from. What does it mean to be free from suffering? In the Buddhist sense, suffering means to be caught up in the karmic wheel of Samsara or the cycle of birth and rebirth. Every being on this earth is subject to the concept of impermanence by going through at least two of the four earthly stages of birth, old age, sickness and death.
Beings are born into this and other planes of existence because of what they did in a past incarnation. The concept of reincarnation applies to this line of thinking. The being's karma determines whether re-incarnation will be pleasurable or painful. Whatever it may be, it doesn't last and the being gets reborn into another plane or the same one. And this cycle of suffering goes on and on. Enlightenment is freedom from this cyclic existence by being beyond karma. The Tibetan Buddhist tradition sites a place called Dewachen where enlightened beings congregate. It is a sort of Heaven in
the Tibetan tradition where all are spiritually accomplished and rest in bliss.
But on a more simplistic note, the sufferings one 'tries1' to be free from are the illusions the mind/ego present, illusions of greatness, hate, greed, guilt, jealousy, anger and all other disturbing and destructive emotions and states of mind. The concept of attachment is often used in Buddhist teachings. One can say that enlightenment is to relinquish one's attachments to these disturbing states of mind. How does one get attached to disturbing emotions? Isn't it that disturbing emotions are what people try to avoid? Feeling negative emotions is a very human characteristic and should not be suppressed when they arise, but to remain angry, hateful or depressed long after the reason for it has past, is what is known as being attached to the emotion. To be free from suffering in the Buddhist sense means to be beyond hate, anger, fear, and other negative emotions.
Siddharta Buddha was known as "The Compassionate One'. Compassion is an indispensable part of being enlightened. There are numerous tales of Siddharta demonstrating acts of selfless compassion to others. The Buddhist concept of a Boddhisattva is an enlightened saint who defers his/her entrance into Nirvana until all other sentient beings have entered Nirvana. Compassion in the Buddhist sense not only means compassion for others, but also for oneself. There are many tales of masters and monks who attained enlightenment through acts of selfless compassion. It is said that in one of Siddharta's past lives, he was an ox in one of the infernal hell planes. He and another ox were being tormented by a demon to pull a heavy load. In his ox incarnation he took pity on his suffering partner ox and told the demon that he would pull the cart himself saving his friend ox from further suffering. Enraged, the demon slew Siddharta's ox incarnation which furthered his path to higher incarnations for enlightenment. There are many teachings, sutras and meditation practices in the various schools of Buddhism that promote compassion. Compassion is an essential factor in attaining enlightenment. In fact, other religion's central figures have been known to be an icon/symbol of unconditional, selfless compassion.
Another description of enlightenment is to give up the struggle of being caught up in the illusions of life. There is struggle everyday, everywhere, by everyone. There is the struggle for status, wealth, and acceptance. There is a struggle to achieve happiness. The reason why there is struggle is because one is looking outside of oneself for happiness, looking to materialism, and people for self worth. Giving up the struggle also means to look within oneself for happiness. A sort of reflective attitude is encouraged to be free from the struggle. It is said that Ananda, Siddharta's cousin and right hand man, attained enlightenment in one night by just giving up struggling, trying, for enlightenment. It seemed that he was one of the first followers of Siddharta but was one of the last of the original disciples to attain enlightenment. By letting go, enlightenment seems to be so simple yet so many are still struggling for happiness.
Enlightenment can also be defined as being in complete connection with the Divine, being totally aware of one's spiritual identity. In this sense one can say that Jesus, Mohammed, and other noted teachers and masters are enlightened beings.
Enlightenment has also been described as being beyond duality. Duality is the concept of separation where there exists an I, me, you, them, and other concepts of division via race, creed, nationality, economics etc. It's seeing all as part of a Divine whole and seeing oneself as an inseparable part of the whole.
The preceding explanations are but a few attempts to explain what enlightenment is. The Zen Buddhism school says that enlightenment/satori is beyond form. But explaining enlightenment in words, attempts to give it form. By attempting to give enlightenment form though words, the essence is lost. To understand enlightenment one must do the practice of meditation. This is an essential prerequisite.
Guru Rinpoche Padmasambhava
Guru Rinpoche was the Indian tantric master who brought Buddhism to Tibet during the 8th century A.D. Guru Rinpoche is considered the second Buddha to be born in our time. His birth was predicted by Gautama Buddha and that his arrival would spread the Dharma and other high
teachings and practices to Tibet. According to legend, Guru Rinpoche wasn't born like any other human being. He was born out of a lotus flower in a lake a fully grown boy. He did not have any biological parents and was raised by foster parents. Legend also has it that Amitabba, the Buddha of long life, blessed Guru Rinpoche with immortality. To this day, many Tibetans believe that Guru Rinpoche is still alive somewhere in Tibet, fully enlightened, watching over all Dharma practitioners.
All the four major Buddhist Schools of Tibet can trace their lineage all the way back to Padmasambhava.
The Three Vehicles
There are three major vehicles of Tibetan Buddhism - Theravada (or Hinayana), Mahayana and Vajrayana. Theravada Buddhism emphasizes working on the self towards enlightenment. Following discipline and ethics is what characterizes the Theravada vehicle. It is said that those who follow the Theravada vehicle can achieve enlightenment within seven lifetimes. The central figure of the Theravada school is the Arhat or Enlightened Saint. An Arhat is one who has rid him/herself of delusion and impurities. Theravada is prevalent in Sri Lanka and other Southeast Asian Nations.
Mahayana evolved in India about 500 years after the Buddha's final Paranirvana. The path to enlightenment in Mahayana is the concern for others. The emphasis on altruism is what characterizes the Bodhisattvas, the central figure of this vehicle. The Bodhisattva is said to be an enlightened being who postpones his/her entrance into Nirvana until all sentient beings are liberated. This altruistic endeavor causes the Bodhisattva to be reborn countless times on earth or other planes for the purpose of helping others. It is said that those who follow the Mahayana path can achieve Buddhahood in four lifetimes.
Vajrayana is the vehicle followed in Tibet. Many believe that it is the highest form of Buddhist practice and the fastest way to enlightenment. It is said that with Vajrayana, enlightenment can be achieved in one lifetime. Vajrayana is also known as the Diamond vehicle, the Tantrayana, and the Mantrayana because of the vehicle's use of Mantras. Vajrayana embraces all the teachings of both Theravada and Mahayana and also has the Bodhisattva playing a central role in its doctrine. Vajrayana meditation practices can be characterized as visualizations focused on personified images of Buddha nature. These practices are tantric practices that were revealed by Guru Rinpoche Padmasambhava. Although considered to be a higher vehicle, Vajrayana meditations are best done when one has a good grasp of the Theravada and Mahayana concepts.
The Vajrayana vehicle has four Tibetan schools or lineages. Nyingmapa, Gelugspa, Kagyu and Sakya. Dudul Hung Nak Mebar Ling is of the Nyingmapa sect, which is the old translation school. One can trace back all the Gurus of the lineage to Padmasambhava himself.
His Holiness Orgyen Kusum Lingpa
H. H. Orgyen Kusum Lingpa, known as Pema Tumpo to his many disciples, is a realized yogi and renowned as one of the great Tertons. His title Kusum Lingpa, means "Treasure Revealer of the Three Kayas." Various great masters of the past including Guru Rinpoche Padmasambhava himself; the great treasure revealer Nyima Trakpa, and Dzogchen Master Min Gyur Namke Dorje predicted his coming. He is the sole holder of the unique lineage emanating directly from Guru Rinpoche known as the Pema Nying-Thig, "The Innermost Spirituality." In a previous incarnation as Guru Rinpoche's disciple, Lha-Lung Pelgyi Dorje, His Holiness received the teachings and practices directly from Guru Rinpoche. These transmissions have re-awakened from the depths of his mind in the form of Mind Treasures. With the various earth treasures his holiness has revealed, they are from the heart of this lineage.
His Holiness is especially renowned for the potency of his teachings and his dedication to upholding the highest standards of the Dzogchen teachings. Recognizing his eminence as a teacher and the profound level of his accomplishments, the Dalai Lama requested teachings and transmissions of the Great Perfection from his Holiness. Their profound teacher-disciple relationship is well known throughout India and Tibet.
His work is now directed towards providing a bridge of understanding for those outside Tibet who wish to learn and apply the teachings of Buddhism in their lives. He is committed to making the teachings on the nature of mind available to all those undertaking the journey toward the heart, the inner truth that leads to inner and outer peace for themselves and others. These teachings are particularly potent in these times of intense confusion and searching.
Khandro Susan Blaikie Recto and Dudul Hung Nak Mebar Ling
Khandro Susan Blaikie Recto is the resident teacher of the Dudul Hung Nak Mebar Center that was established by His Holiness Orgyen Kusum Lingpa in 1995. The center's name, roughly translated, means "Place where Illusions are Destroyed." Its primary purpose is to serve as a focal point for those interested in learning more about Tibetan Buddhism or Vajrayana and also to propagate the practices of Vajrakilaya and Tara.
His Holiness bestowed the title of Khandro (Wisdom Dakini or female Guru) upon Mrs. Recto in 1996. She is also a recognized emanation of the Tibetan deity, Tara. Khandro has been a teacher of meditation for more than a decade and has been practicing meditation since 1972. She has studied under several teachers of different faiths - Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Taoist, Zen and Vajrayana. Some of her teachers among others, are Qigong Masters Gong Chang and Li Jun Feng, Sr., Rosario Banung (Zen), Kalsang Rinpoche (of Pal-Ul Dharma Center), and of course her root Guru, His Holiness Orgyen Kusum Lingpa.
She has lectured internationally in Kathmandu, Bangkok, Beijing, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. She is a counselor and a practitioner of complimentary healing or Qigong external therapy. She is also an artist-painter. She is married to George Recto and has four sons.
THE FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS
Truth One: Life is difficult
This is often misconstrued as a very pessimistic way of looking at life. It is rather an objective view of how the material world works. There are wars, sadness, poverty, hate, aggression and other "imperfect" situations existing in the world. On a more Buddhist perspective, life is hard because all living things on the physical plane are subject to the concept of impermanence. All beings born will one day die, all things created on this plane will one day deteriorate or be destroyed, hard earned wealth will be depleted or stolen. Fame will rise and diminish. Love turns to hate. Relationships sour. The constant ups and downs of life are often referred to as the Wheel of Samsara. Let's face it, life is difficult.
Truth Two: Life is difficult because of attachments
Life is difficult because people pursue happiness through unsatisfying, impermanent ways. When wealth and power are present, people are elated and have a feeling of self worth but once it comes to an end, people become sad, angry, even vengeful because they lost the thing with which they gauge their self worth.
The things people cling to are illusions by virtue of their impermanence. According to Buddhist lore, Siddharta faced Mara, the lord of illusions before he attained enlightenment. According to Buddhist doctrine, illusions can be classified into four categories:
Deva Putra - Pursuing pleasure and/or escaping from pain. Pleasure and pain are considered illusions in Buddhism. People pursue wealth, power, fame, sex, entertainment etc. and once these things come to an end, people go into denial and run away from the uncomfortable feeling of loss. In a way this illusion makes people run, either towards something or away from something.
Seanda Mara - This illusion manifests itself as the roles people play in life or what people
perceive themselves to be. It is by attaching oneself to these roles that people often delude themselves. There are many roles people play in a lifetime. In one day alone, a person may go through 10, 20 even 30 roles. A person may play the role of supervisor, subordinate, friend, enemy, confidant, citizen, patient, worker, adversary, parent, child, customer, client, etc. There are numerous labels people attach to themselves. And like all things in life, these things are impermanent.
Alesha Mara - This illusion is about emotions. It is how people let emotions rule their lives. Is it bad to have emotions? No. Having emotions is a part of being human and should be expressed when the situation is right for it. The trouble is that people cling to
these emotions far longer than they have to. By clinging to emotions, one makes decisions in life that are a bit lacking in the area of logic and common sense.
Yama Mam - This illusion is the fear of death. In other faiths, death is seen as not the end, but rather a transition to a higher plane of existence. It is rather ironic that with so many things people are running away from in this life, they would run away from the thought of leaving this plane for a better place. Death in the Buddhist sense is much like other faiths. It is nothing to be feared, but rather part of the cycle of life. It is often said that to accept the concept of death is when life truly begins. When the fear of death has been transcended, a certain courage enters a person in living life. Fear now plays a minor role in their lives.
Death doesn't only mean death of the body. It can also mean the death of things around us---death of a career, relationship, role, position etc. again referring back to the concept of impermanence. Siddharta Buddha himself passed on into nirvana to remind his disciples that death is a fact of life and should be accepted when the time comes. He even predicted the death of the Dharma (teachings) in certain places and in the world at certain times.
Truth Three: There is a way for everyone to be free from suffering by achieving Enlightenment
This truth has been proven over time not just by Siddharta Buddha, but by other figures from other faiths as well. To this day, it is said that there are enlightened beings that walk the earth with us. Some are known; others choose to live a low-key existence. It is said that when a being becomes enlightened the earth will shake to bear witness to the event.
Siddharta was of noble birth. He was a prince of the high classes of ancient India. However high his stature was, it was not a prerequisite for enlightenment. In fact, many of Siddharta Buddha's disciples came from all walks of life and class. There was the Arhat Chundaka who was known for his limited intelligence yet great heart. Arhat Anguli Mala was a murderer before he met Siddharta Buddha. Buddha's sangha was comprised of people from different backgrounds and many of them, regardless of where they were, attained enlightenment regardless of who they were. Enlightenment was available for them.
Truth Four: The path to enlightenment is by living a life of compassion, wisdom, virtue, and meditation. This truth is expounded into the Eight-Fold Path.
THE EIGHT FOLD PATH
1.Right View - Four concepts can be cited to understand the essence of having the right view. Impermanence, Detachment, Buddha nature or Divine nature which Christians would call spirit, and Spiritual Unity.
Impermanence - The essence of the First Noble Truth. This concept brings to mind that nothing lasts forever. Pleasure, pain, wealth, poverty, youth and even life will one day come to an end.
Detachment - By seeing all things as impermanent, this will train the mind not to be too attached to illusory things around them. Does this mean that Buddhists are considered apathetic and passionless? Not at all. In a way, accepting the impermanence of a situation will make the person prepared for the inevitable. Seeing joyful situations as impermanent may make a person ever more present to relish every moment of the situation, not taking it for granted and being ready to say goodbye when the time comes. Painful situations may become easier to bear knowing that there is an end to it.
Divine Nature - This is knowing that one's identity is not confined to flesh and bone, status, wealth, or titles. It is knowing that one is a spirit experiencing ephemeral, physical sensations. By bringing one's attention to the spirit, one may not take the body too seriously. Issues of vanity, illness and other discomforts are easier to bear or come to terms with.
Spiritual Unity - By seeing oneself as having only one nature, one can move to seeing others also as themselves. There is nothing really dividing everyone--- race, nationality, creed, wealth etc. It can lead to seeing the connectedness of everyone in Sprit - that all are one in Spirit.
2.Right Intentions - In dealing with others, we all have expectations. We expect this person to behave in a certain way. We expect this person to treat us with respect, civility and honor. This is a normal and healthy expectation to have but then there are times when our expectations seem to lean towards the selfish side so much so that we only help others when we expect something in return for our time and effort. We ask ourselves subconsciously "What's in it for me?" "How much will I get in return?" This is perfectly fine when doing business but are these the same intentions we use on a personal or social level? What are the intentions that motivate us to help, entertain, be civil to others? Do we do it for fame, recognition, and social status? More often than not our intentions are skewed towards ourselves.
What is the Right Intention according to Buddhist philosophy? The Right Intention is to have a less selfish view of the world. When we do things or interact with others we should ask, "What can I do to make this world a better place?" One should look beyond one's small world of selfish desires and look towards the community. By having the intention to look to the betterment of humanity, we veer away from the ego and more towards the nature of our spirit, the Buddha Spirit.
3. Right Speech - The doctrine of right speech is to avoid speech that denotes dishonesty, slander, gossip, rumors, or anything that would cause harm to one self or others.
4. Right Action - Right action pertains to how we live yiour lives. In its simplest form, Right Action would be to treat others, as you would have them treat us. Generosity and compassion are the key elements involved in Right Action, to help others or at the very least harm no one including oneself. Right Action also includes refraining from acts such as stealing, sexual misconduct, and taking life.
5. Right livelihood - Right livelihood pertains to how we should go about our vocations or chosen careers. At best one must choose a vocation that would help alleviate the suffering of others. There are so many opportunities to do this. There is a great demand for medicines, machines and/or technology that would make life easier for a lot of people. However, even if one has a product or service that would be beneficial to others, the temptation of greed and unfair business practices is very strong. Right livelihood means honesty in one's business dealings. Admittedly, this is very hard to do in the modern world where a lot of dishonesty, greed and lust for power overshadow the dharma. Honesty, in the modern world of business, may be a difficult path to follow, but then hardship is often a necessary hurdle on the path to enlightenment. Right livelihood also includes not choosing a career that would do harm to others, examples of which are slavery, prohibited drug dealing, polluting the environment etc.
6. Right Effort - To get a physically fit body, one needs the proper tools, place and equipment, weights, gym clothes, exercise shoes, exercise videos, a coach, even a lifetime membership in one of the most popular gyms. Despite all the opportunities and resources one has to have a fit body, if there is no effort to make use of these resources, physical fitness will be far from achieved. Just like enlightenment, there must be a sincere effort to practice. There must be an effort to practice the Dharma everyday and make it a way of life. One may have met enlightened teachers, recipients of secret sutras or practices, memorized all of the Buddha's doctrine, but without any effort to practice, it will not make anyone nearer to enlightenment.
7. Right Mindfulness - The simplest way to explain right mindfulness would be "To see things as they really are." This means to see things devoid of delusion, attachment and being ruled by one's emotions; to be able to step back and see things as they are, not for what we don't want or want them to be.
Another way mindfulness is explained comes from the Zen teaching of being "in the moment". Do not concern yourself about the past or the future but live the present to its fullest. When body sits, the mind sits. When one eats, the mind also eats. So often does the mind wander when the body is doing something else. There is an old Zen parable that goes as such: A man was chased over a cliff by a tiger. He managed to stop his fall by clinging to a hanging vine. As he looked down, he saw that it was a hundred-foot drop to the river. At the edge of the cliff the tiger loomed hungrily and a mouse was slowly gnawing at the vine just above his head. As he looked at the face of the cliff he saw a rare flower vibrant with color and sweet scent. He smiled, plucked the flower from the cliff and remarked---How wonderful! To find such a rare flower in this time of year." How could this man think of beauty in the face of danger and peril? He was just reacting to what was there at the present moment. The tiger didn't get him, he wasn't falling, and he was still hanging safely. He was being mindful of the present.
8. Right Concentration - Right concentration is the fusion of Right Effort and Right Mindfulness. The best way to practice right concentration would be in meditation. To train in right concentration for meditation, one might try the five T's of Concentration:
1. Taming the mind, or be willing at least to enter the arena of meditation.
2. Training the mind. Training the mind to slow down and relax.
3. Testing the mind. Be willing to test the mind outside the meditation room and see if the usual illusions of life distract it.
4. Transforming the mind. Once the mind is no longer under the influence of disturbing thoughts and emotions, it can be used for deeper spiritual purposes.
5. Transcendence. Wholeness. Oneness. To realize that there is no separation between all things. To be in the flow no matter what we do, where we are.
NGONDRO: The preliminary practices
Ngondro are the preliminary practices with are normally undertaken by a meditation practitioner before engaging in higher Vajrayana practices. When one undertakes the Ngondro practice, one should not be concerned about achieving one Boom (100,000 repetitions) per practice. More importantly, one should be concerned with performing them properly with the attitude that one is providing a firm foundation for higher practices.
The 100,000-prostration practice is a powerful practice to imbibe humility, security, and purification and should be done with the spirit of achieving enlightenment for oneself and all sentient beings. The prostrations are done in sets of four, while reciting and/or keeping in mind one part of the refuge prayer (See Taking Refuge). When doing the prostration practices, one must visualize facing the Guru, Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and Enlightened beings and that one is offering the prostrations to them.
1. Stand erect, but relaxed, facing forward. Hands relaxed at your sides. Feet facing forward not too far apart.
2. Bring your hands together in a prayer posture (palms facing each other) with the fingers pointing upwards. Position your palms on your crown.
Symbolizing purification of Body.
3. Still in a prayer position, bring your palms down in front of your throat.
This symbolizes purification of Speech.
4. Still in prayer position, bring your palms down in front of your heart.
This symbolizes purification of Mind.
5. With your palms still in front of your heart, bow down by bending your torso.
6. Let yourself down on your knees touching your forehead on the ground
7. Extend your body forward, arms extended so your body is fully prostrated on the earth.
Repeat four times for one prostration count. (See illustrations below)
I go for refuge in the Guru
I go for refuge in the Buddha
I go for refuge in the Dharma
1 go for refuge in the Sangha
Taking refuge implies finding a reliable spiritual sanctuary, a place to safely rest your heart and mind. The recitation of the Refuge Prayer formalizes one's commitment to the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha or spiritual community. The Buddha, Dharma and
Sangha are known as the Three Jewels of Buddhism.
In Tibetan Buddhism, when you take refuge with a teacher or a Lama for the first time, you may be given a new Dharma name symbolizing spiritual rebirth.
I GO FOR REFUGE IN THE GURU
In Tibet it is said that your spiritual teacher is more important to you than the Buddha. This is because although you can't easily meet the Buddha, you meet him in your Guru who is supposed to be the living personification of enlightenment. They say your Guru is even more important than your parents because while your parents raise you in one lifetime, your Guru takes you through all your lives and brings you up in the most profound way. Tibetans cultivate respect and gratitude to their teachers as they would to the Buddha in order to develop inspiration and devotion, receive blessings and progress spiritually.
I GO FOR REFUGE IN THE BUDDHA
Going to the Buddha for refuge means that you are seeking awakening, Buddha-nature, Buddha-mind, Buddhahood. You are seeking an enlightened mind and spiritual realization. That alone provides shelter, sanctuary, a reliable place where you can come home.
The Buddha never said he would save you; in Buddhism, you save yourself. Taking refuge in the Buddha is making a firm commitment to know the truth, to know how things really are. It's making a strong commitment to saving your present and your future. Total awareness, pure wakefulness, is the Buddha within, the innate purity of your own heart-mind.
I GO FOR REFUGE IN THE DHARMA
To seek refuge in the Dharma is to commit oneself to seeking refuge in a way of life that reflects truth. The Buddha-mind, which knows all things exactly as they are, sees reality and knows the truth. Joyfully live the truth and you will embody the Dharma. The Dharma is descriptive not prescriptive. It doesn't tell us how we should be; it does reveal how things actually are. According to this enlightened perspective, there are three primary reasons for dissatisfaction and unhappiness. These three reasons are called the Three Poisons. They are as follows:
POISON ONE: IGNORANCE OF THE TRUTH
In Buddhism the concept of ignorance refers to the age-old problem of delusion and confusion. Until we reach enlightenment, we are all at least a little bit ignorant of the truth or out of touch with reality. We tell ourselves stories and we live in our fantasies.
POISON TWO: ATTACHMENT
Who or what are you most attached to - a person, an object, an attitude or behavior, money, status or ambition? Often our attachments take over our lives. It is as if we are possessed by our possessions.
POISON THREE: AVERSION
Aversion is another word for dislike. Most frequently we form aversions or dislikes in response to frustrated attachments. We don't like it when we don't get what we want; we don't like unpleasant experiences. When dislike is reinforced, it often escalates to anger, hate and enmity.
In Tibet it is taught that the Dharma has two elements - the Dharma of Transmission or classical teachings and the Dharma of Realization or direct experience.
I GO FOR REFUGE IN THE SANGHA
The word "sangha" is translated as "virtuous community". It represents the spiritual community, our fellow seekers, kindred spirits and soulful friends we rely on and trust.
Spiritual energy is healing energy; when any group gathers with a dedication to something greater than one's finite, individual self, the accumulated energy is almost palpable. When Jesus said," where two or more are gathered in my name, there shall I be also," he was affirming the miraculous spiritual power, the delightful synergy, of sangha. When we dedicate ourselves to a cause larger or longer-lasting than our own mortal selves, we edge in the direction of immortality. Of course, with any group or community, one has to be alert to the dark side or shadow side represented by insularity, conforming herd instinct and group thinking.
100 SYLLABLE MANTRA OF VAJRASATTVA
The hundred-syllable mantra is a practice for purification of harmful actions and broken samayas. It also cleanses the body internally and externally of all impurities, sickness and negativities.
BENZA SATO SAMAYA
MANUPALYA BENZA SATO TENOPA
TISRTHRA DRIDHO ME BRAWA
SUTOKHAYO MEBRAWA SUPOKUAYO MEBHAWA
ANURAKTO MEBHAWA SARWA SIDDHI MEPRA YATSA
SARWA KARMA SUTSA ME TSITAM SHRIVAM KURU HUNG
HA HA HA HA HO BAGAWAN SARWA TATHAGATA
BENZA MAME MUNTSA BENZI BHAWA MAHA
SAMAYA SATO AH
Om, Vajrasatva, guard my vows. Vajrasattva, let them be firm. Be steadfast for me. Be satisfied. Be favorable Be nourished for me. Grant me all magical attainments. Indicators of all Dharma: Make glorious my mind. HUM. Ha! Hal Ha! Ha! Ho! Blessed one, diamond of all Tathagatas: do not forsake me. Make Diamond great being of the vow Ah!
The Mandala mudra is a hand gesture done for the purpose of offering the entire universe to the Buddhas, Saints and Enlightened masters. The two fingers that protrude upwards represent Mount Meru or Kailas. The four figures formed by the rest of the fingers represent all that there is - North, South, East and West of Mount Meru. In doing this mudra one offers everything including oneself to the Buddhas. This Mudra is also useful in raising the energy level of a certain place, sanctifying and making the place Holy Ground.
DEDICATION OF MERIT
Those who take the path of the Bodhisattva are known to have accumulated a lot of good karma but because of a Bodhisattva's great compassion, all the good karma and merit they accumulate are dedicated for the benefit of others. The prayer to dedicate merit is said after every practice to share the good karma to all sentient beings.
BY THIS MERIT MAY ALL ATTAIN OMNISCIENCE. MAY IT DEFEAT THE ENEMY WRONGDOING. FROM THE STORMY WAVES OF BIRTH, OLD AGE, SICKNESS AND DEATH, FROM THE OCEANS OF SAMSARA, MAY I FREE ALL BEINGS.
GLOSSARY OF TIBETAN BUDDHIST TERMS
Amitabha- the embodiment of the Buddha of long life.
Amogasiddhi- one of 5 Buddha families that embody all encompassing wisdom
Arhat -Enlightened saint
Avalokiteshvara -also known as Chenrezig, the embodiment of the Buddha of great compassion.
Bodhisattva -A being who, out of great compassion for all sentient beings, defers his/her entry into Nirvana. The Bodhisattva has vowed to be reborn again and again in order to help alleviate suffering and will only enter into Nirvana when all sentient beings have attained liberation.
Buddha Shakyamuni-The historical Buddha.
Circumnambulation- the process of walking in a clockwise direction around a prayer wheel, stupa, etc.
Consort female- companion of a Tibetan Deity.
Dakini- Tibetan version of an angel. Also a title given to females.
Dharma - a Sanskrit word with a complex meaning. It can be translated as teaching, truth, doctrine, religion, spirituality, or reality. Its literal meaning is "that which supports or upholds." Dharma is thus often likened to truth itself- the ground we stand on - as well as the spiritual way, or the path that can be trusted to support, uphold and embrace us.
Dharani- Similar to a mantra but instead of a short phrase, it is a longer saying.
Enlightenment- whether you call it spiritual awakening, liberation, illumination or satori, enlightenment means profound inner transformation and self-realization.
Guru- spiritual teacher. It is derived from the root word "gur", meaning to "be heavy." Thus, the guru is someone whose wisdom or counsel is, by virtue of his/her personal attainment, weighty or of decisive importance to the spiritual process.
Guru Rinpoche- also known as Padmasambhava, bought Buddhism to Tibet.
Khandro- Female Guru, Wisdom Dakini.
Lama- "Possessing No Ceiling" or "Possessing No Equal". This is the Tibetan equivalent of the Sanskrit word guru. In Tantric practice, the guru's body is seen as the Sangha, his/her speech as the Dharma and his/her mind as the Buddha.
Mahayana -also known as the Great Vehicle is the school of Buddhist practice that seeks to obtain enlightenment for all sentient beings, not just the self.
Maitreya - The Buddha to come.
Mala- The Buddhist equivalent of rosary beads. There are 108 beads to a mala and they are used for saying mantras.
Mandala- a map like picture representing a Buddhist concept of heaven, hell and the universe.
Manjushri -the Buddha embodiment of wisdom, intelligence and will power. Also known as Yamantaka.
Mantra- word or short phrase said using the mala which will train the mind in imbibing certain aspects of your Buddha nature of compassion and wisdom.
Mara- an illusion
Medicine Buddha -The embodiment of the Buddha of healing, Baisaja-Guru (Radiant Lapis Lazuli)
Mudra -A gesture and/or positioning of the hands used in meditation.
Mt. Meru- symbolic center of the Tibetan universe.
Prostration -The act of extending oneself on the ground, face down, feet together with hands extended to the front. This is an act of total surrender and reverence to the three jewels (Buddha, Dharma and the Sangha)
Puja- engaging in a spiritual practice with traditional rituals, prayers and meditation.
Rinpoche-"Precious Jewel". One who is recognized as an incarnate of a high Lama and who has already finished formal training and studies. Prior to his completion of the required education, be is called a Tulku.
Root teacher- the one from whom you have received your teachings
Samaya- promise or vow
Samsara- the current physical realm of conditioned existence.
Sangha-community of spiritual practitioners.
Shambhala-legendary place according to Tibetan Buddhist tradition where highly evolved masters and spiritual beings reside. It is beyond physical form.
Sutra teachings- Equivalent of gospels.
Tantra- Practices having to do with union of Yin & Yang, Male and Female aspects.
Tara- female embodiment of the Buddha of Great Compassion. Tara can be white, green, yellow, red. There are 21 forms of Tara.
Terton - Treasure finder of teachings left by Guru Rinpoche.
Tangkha -sacred picture of Tibetan Buddhist deities.
Tatagatha- one who has awakened to the Divine nature, a Buddha.
Tulku-used as an honorific title and general term for recognized incarnations of lamas, who are usually found in childhood and brought up to inherit the lineage and often monastic foundations of their predecessors.
Vajra/Dorje- the diamond sceptre with five points, thunderbolt.
Vajrakilaya -embodiment of Buddha of dispelling all obstacles and illusions along the path.
Vajrapani -embodiment of the Buddha of perseverance
Yamantaka- also known as Manjushri
Some definitions were obtained from the following books:
The Words of My Perfect Teacher by Patrul Rinpoche
Awakening the Buddha Within by Lama Surya Das
Tantra: Path of Ecstasy by Georg Fenerstein
Essential Tibetan Buddhism by Robert Thurman
Credits to the DUDUL HUNG NAK MEBAR LING CENTER, Khandro Susan Recto, David Montecillo and Helen Mirasol
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