Oral Instructions on the Practice of Guru Yoga (Part 2)
by Chogye Trichen Rinpoche

GURU DEVOTION

The ceremonies of empowerment are an elaborate way to receive the blessings of the Gurus and the spiritual lineages. Whether our particular Guru Yoga practice is elaborate or not, Guru Yoga is still a brief, less elaborate way to receive the blessings of the Guru, masters, deities, and so on. In comparison with Guru Yoga, this process of calling forth blessings through the descent of primordial wisdom (yeshe bab) during empowerment is done with a much more elaborate ritual, although the meaning is exactly the same. When we practice Guru Yoga well, the experience of blessings should be the same as when we receive empowerment.

When we ourselves are benefited by the Guru’s introduction to the nature of mind, by his blessings and teachings, this will strengthen our sense of gratitude and affection toward the Guru, and Guru devotion (lama mogu) will flower. We will know for ourselves the benefits of the Guru’s blessings.

Whether or not we receive blessings depends on devotion (mogu) and faith (depa). When we begin to receive blessings, we will feel something unique that we have not known before; a new kind of feeling or emotion will arise in our hearts. One of the meanings of blessings (jin lab) is to feel inspiration (trowa; spro ba), to be filled with joy and inspiration (tro ga; spro dga’).

The word for devotion, “mogu” (mos gus) is made of two words: “mopa” (mos pa), which means “to feel devoted to”; and “gupa” (gus pa), which means “respectful reverence”. Thus the word for devotion, mogu, means “to feel reverent devotion”. Guru Devotion

The ceremonies of empowerment are an elaborate way to receive the blessings of the Gurus and the spiritual lineages. Whether our particular Guru Yoga practice is elaborate or not, Guru Yoga is still a brief, less elaborate way to receive the blessings of the Guru, masters, deities, and so on. In comparison with Guru Yoga, this process of calling forth blessings through the descent of primordial wisdom (yeshe bab) during empowerment is done with a much more elaborate ritual, although the meaning is exactly the same. When we practice Guru Yoga well, the experience of blessings should be the same as when we receive empowerment.

When we ourselves are benefited by the Guru’s introduction to the nature of mind, by his blessings and teachings, this will strengthen our sense of gratitude and affection toward the Guru, and Guru devotion (lama mogu) will flower. We will know for ourselves the benefits of the Guru’s blessings.

Whether or not we receive blessings depends on devotion (mogu) and faith (depa). When we begin to receive blessings, we will feel something unique that we have not known before; a new kind of feeling or emotion will arise in our hearts. One of the meanings of blessings (jin lab) is to feel inspiration (trowa; spro ba), to be filled with joy and inspiration (tro ga; spro dga’).

The word for devotion, “mogu” (mos gus) is made of two words: “mopa” (mos pa), which means “to feel devoted to”; and “gupa” (gus pa), which means “respectful reverence”. Thus the word for devotion, mogu, means “to feel reverent devotion”. The biographies of the great masters always speak of the fervent devotion of these masters toward their Gurus. Milarepa’s songs are filled with yearning prayers sung to his Guru Marpa. In their biographies, the yogis speak of their eyes being flooded with tears and the hairs of their body standing on end, of chills sweeping through them, and so on, during the descent of the Guru’s blessings.

It is not enough just to pray with one’s mouth. When chanting verses of supplication, it is very beneficial to give rise to fervent devotion (mogu dragpo; mos gus drag po), as a means of increasing our faith, in order to receive blessings. It is helpful to remember that it is through the blessing lineage (jinlab kyi gyupa; byin rlabs kyi brgyud pa) that one gains realization. If there is no experience of the stream of blessings (jinlab kyi gyupa), one will not experience the true benefits of practice.

Once we begin to receive these blessings during empowerment or during our practice, we should call to mind our Guru’s introduction to the nature of mind.

During our practice, once we have prayed to the Guru with fervent devotion (mogu dragpo), then as we receive the empowerments and dissolve the Guru into ourselves, we can experience this same feeling, the quality of blessing.

Even if one sees oneself as just an ordinary being, if one is able to receive the introduction (ngotro) to the true nature of mind (sem nyid) from a realised master who is able to truly introduce the enlightened essence (sugatagarbha; desheg nyingpo), a significant realisation will be experienced.

Having been truly introduced to one’s own awareness wisdom (rang rigpa’i yeshe), the yogi may gain a great enthusiasm for practice and a new confidence in the meaning and intent of the teachings. As a result of such an experience, we will know for ourselves something of the Guru’s qualities and will feel deep gratitude for the Guru’s incredible kindness in revealing to us our Buddha nature (sugatagarbha; desheg nyingpo).

These are just a few of the limitless benefits that come from being genuinely introduced to the true nature of mind (sem nyi). Once we know something of the qualities of the Guru from our own experience, we will feel great devotion for him or her. When I hear the name of my root Guru Dampa Rinpoche Zhenpen Nyingpo, immediately tears come to my eyes and I am filled with devotion. I have seen his qualities for myself, and I have experienced his kindness, because I have practiced his teachings and received his blessings. The gratitude I feel toward my Gurus is something that has remained with me and has continued to increase throughout my whole life.

BLESSING: THE DESCENT OF PRIMORDIAL WISDOM

There are different ways in which the nature of mind is explained. In the Sakyapa school, we speak of the Indivisibility of Samsara and Nirvana. The Kagyupa speak of Mahamudra and the Nyingmapa teach Dzogpa Chenpo, but all of these refer to exactly the same essence.

Sakya Pandita did explain that the Sakya tradition uses the term Mahamudra to refer to what is experienced due to the descent of wisdom (yeshe bab) at the time of empowerment, when the empowerment is given by a fully qualified master. This is the source of our tradition of Mahamudra, the initiation of a great master.

In the case of my root Guru Dampa Rinpoche, Zhenpen Nyingpo, there were often signs of the transmission of blessing when he bestowed empowerment. When a great master like Dampa Rinpoche would give empowerment, during the descent of primordial wisdom (yeshe bab), many people would shake or jump or cry. Some people would move or utter something, and many special signs would occur during the empowerment.

When a disciple would experience such signs, Dampa Rinpoche would instruct them to recognise the nature of mind. This was the way Dampa Rinpoche liked to give the pointing-out instructions (ngotro; ngo sprod pa), the introduction to the true nature of mind. Introducing through the descent of primordial wisdom is actually one of the greatest methods of introducing one’s innate awareness wisdom (rang rigpai yeshe). As Sakya Pandita said, “My Mahamudra is that which is experienced during the descent of wisdom at the time of empowerment.”

Much is possible when a great master gives initiation, as I so often saw when Dampa Rinpoche offered empowerments. Many experienced immense blessings, the great descent of blessings (byin rlabs bab chen po). When receiving empowerment, some people would cry, some would chant, some would shake or even dance; each had their own unique expression. Since there were so many different types of people, and they may have been following various methods of practice, each disciple would experience blessings in a different manner.

However their experience would be expressed, Dampa Rinpoche then gave the introduction to the nature of mind. At these moments, Dampa Rinpoche would very often say, “Rigpa rang ngo toh! (rigpa rang ngo Itos)”, meaning “Look and recognise the essence of awareness!” He might then continue, “Now, remain in this state.”

Lama Gephel and his nephew were together with us receiving the Gyude Kuntu from Dampa Rinpoche. Lama Gephel’s nephew was a khenpo of the Ngor school. Whenever Dampa Rinpoche would bestow empowerment, and the time for the descent of primordial wisdom (yeshe bab; ye shes dbab pa) came, Lama Gephel’s nephew would cry or shake, showing many different signs of blessings.

Lama Gephel would inevitably scold him, and poke him or give him a whack, telling him to stop acting in front of everyone. Lama Gephel would reproach his nephew and start shaking him, but Dampa Rinpoche would always say, “Don’t say that.” Dampa Rinpoche would correct Lama Gephel, saying “Don’t scold him. Don’t beat him. He is not acting. He is being introduced to the true nature of mind, receiving the blessing of the initiation.”

Dampa Rinpoche would continue, “Leave him alone. He is receiving the blessings of primordial wisdom. We must tell him now to recognise awareness wisdom (rigpai yeshe). Or he might say, “He is experiencing primordial wisdom (yeshe). Let him sustain the experience of awareness wisdom (rigpai yeshe).”

During Dampa Rinpoche’s empowerments, a lot of disciples would definitely receive blessings in many special ways. Some would shake; others would float into the air above their seat. There was one monk, an attendant of Dampa Rinpoche with only one good eye, who would float up off the ground during every empowerment. Someone would always slide his cushion back and forth to show he had lifted off the ground. Many others would likewise ascend into the air, at different times, during different empowerments.

Some disciples would rise up into the space a cubit (bskums khru; about eighteen inches) or higher during the descent of blessings (jin bab). Those with greater realisation would rise as high as two cubits (three feet) or more. I had these experiences as well, although I have no idea how high I rose above the ground. For me, all ordinary perception ceased (tha mal gyi snang ba ‘gags). At these moments, I experienced the Guru’s introduction, and many results of the blessings. As soon as signs such as these would occur to anyone, immediately.

Dampa Rinpoche would say, “Now you look into the essence of your experience. This is your own awareness wisdom (rang rigpai yeshe). Recognise it.” At the moment the disciple received blessings, Dampa Rinpoche was truly able to properly introduce the nature of mind.

If one would ask if the same things occurred when Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, Jamgon Kongtrul, or Jamgon Loter Wangpo, gave empowerment, the answer would of course be yes. Where else would the lineage have come from?

One may also ask, what is the nature of blessing (jinlab; sbyin rlabs), which is transmitted at the time of empowerment? During the empowerment ceremony there is the descent of blessing (jin bab), or the descent of primordial wisdom (yeshe bab). At this moment, one’s ordinary thinking processes are stopped, suspended, and one has the definite feeling that one has received blessings. It is at this moment that the primordial wisdom (yeshe) is revealed, and through the Guru’s pointing-out instruction (ngo tro; ngo sprod), one is able to recognise it. Then the Guru will explain that this is the state we should continue in from now on.

When people would receive the blessings of the descent of primordial wisdom from Dampa Rinpoche, he would always say “Look to your essence!” (rang ngo toh; rang ngo ltos). He was saying “Do not look outward, but look to the source of your mind.” The blessings had been received and the experience of primordial wisdom (yeshe) was manifest for the disciple. But, unless instructed to look toward his own mind, the disciple might not recognise it. Hence it is not enough for the wisdom to manifest, it must be recognised. For this, we rely on the Guru’s introduction.

Sometimes Dampa Rinpoche would introduce the View through the power of his gestures or of his gaze. As Dampa Rinpoche brought about the descent of primordial wisdom (yeshe bab) during empowerment, some people would cry uncontrollably. This is a sign of the descent of wisdom, a sign that they were flooded with blessings.

During the descent of primordial wisdom, ordinary perception is stopped (nangwa gag), one’s conceptual thinking is suspended (namtog gag). At these moments, Dampa Rinpoche would often give introduction to the nature of mind again and again, repeating a few simple words such as “Sustain the recognition of the essence!” (rang ngo kyong; rang ngo skyong).

I often experienced this for myself, and after each such experience an even deeper feeling of devotion (mogu) would arise. It is true that even deeper faith and devotion can arise from within the sustaining of the View. The experience of blessings does not obstruct the recognition of the View, and the recognition of the View does not obstruct the experience of blessings; each benefits the other.

Such things can happen when great masters like Dampa Rinpoche and Zimog Rinpoche give empowerment. I witnessed these things when those lamas gave empowerment. Although I am not that well qualified, we do have the lineage; it is present, and there are blessings that are sure to be very effective for each of us.

During the experience of receiving blessings, feelings may arise such as great faith and devotion toward our teacher, and tears may come by themselves. Or some may have an experience of clarity and happiness, and remain with the empty essence (ngowo tongpa) of that state. Even in our times, experiences of blessings definitely occur. One who is able to receive blessings should, at that moment, recognise the nature of mind and remain in that state. I have received many teachings from great and holy masters. But even if one receives such blessings and transmissions, one must still unite them within oneself, within one’s own practice.

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