Jung, the imagery of this classic text has acquired farreaching recognition on account of its importance for the Tibetan Buddhist understanding of death and the rebirth processes. Little is known, however, of the tantra-text on which this maala and its various gter ma revelations, including that of Karma Lingpa, are based. It is this tradition which has maintained the teaching-cycles and texts introduced to Tibet during the royal dynastic period of the eighth and ninth centuries, through to the epoch of the Indian scholar Smtijnakrti and prior to that of Lochen Rinchen Zangpo By contrast, the adherents of the later Buddhist lineages such as the Kadampa, Sakyapa and 1 Kagyupa which evolved in Tibet during the "subsequent dissemination" phyi dar of the teachings by Atia, Drokmi Lotswa, Marpa Lotswa and their contemporaries are generally known as Sarmapa, "followers of the new schools". In his view, the ancient translations of the Nyingma tradition are distinguished by the greatness of their royal benefactors, by the sanctity of the early Buddhist shrines, temples, and monasteries in which they were prepared, by the calibre of their translators, and the enlightened attributes of their supervising paitas, as well as by the lavish offerings made at the time when they were commissioned. Lastly, the Indic sources on which the ancient translations are based are said to have been propagated and transmitted through pure unadulterated lineages during the period when Buddhism reached its zenith in India, before the devastation caused by the Islamic incursions and Hindu resurgence.
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Jung, the imagery of this classic text has acquired farreaching recognition on account of its importance for the Tibetan Buddhist understanding of death and the rebirth processes. Little is known, however, of the tantra-text on which this maala and its various gter ma revelations, including that of Karma Lingpa, are based. It is this tradition which has maintained the teaching-cycles and texts introduced to Tibet during the royal dynastic period of the eighth and ninth centuries, through to the epoch of the Indian scholar Smtijnakrti and prior to that of Lochen Rinchen Zangpo By contrast, the adherents of the later Buddhist lineages such as the Kadampa, Sakyapa and 1 Kagyupa which evolved in Tibet during the "subsequent dissemination" phyi dar of the teachings by Atia, Drokmi Lotswa, Marpa Lotswa and their contemporaries are generally known as Sarmapa, "followers of the new schools".
In his view, the ancient translations of the Nyingma tradition are distinguished by the greatness of their royal benefactors, by the sanctity of the early Buddhist shrines, temples, and monasteries in which they were prepared, by the calibre of their translators, and the enlightened attributes of their supervising paitas, as well as by the lavish offerings made at the time when they were commissioned.
Lastly, the Indic sources on which the ancient translations are based are said to have been propagated and transmitted through pure unadulterated lineages during the period when Buddhism reached its zenith in India, before the devastation caused by the Islamic incursions and Hindu resurgence. As far as the technique of the ancient translations is concerned, Rongzompa makes the following additional remark: Concerning the translations themselves: Since the translators of the past were emanations, they established the meanings correctly.
For this reason their works are easy to understand and, on plumbing their depths, the blessing is great. But the translators of the later period were unable to render the meaning and made lexical translations following [merely] the arrangement of the Sanskrit texts.
Consequently, their forced terminology is hard to understand, and on plumbing the depths the blessing is slight. Therefore, they are dissimilar. Certain linguistic distinctions between the so-called semantic and lexical translation methodologies will be considered below in the context of the debate surrounding the origins of the Guhyagarbha Tantra. Generally speaking, the simple versification of texts like the Guhyagarbha stands in 2 marked contrast, for example, to that of the Klacakra Tantra, which is considered by many to epitomise the most complex of the later translations.
Their philosophy and spirituality have however continued to exert influence on the later traditions until recent times. Important figures such as Karmapa Rangjung Dorje , Yungton Dorjepel , the Fifth Dalai Lama , Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and Jamgon Kongtrul have contributed immensely to the evolution of the Nyingma teachings, notwithstanding their affiliation to other schools. It is in the Nyingma system that the Buddhist teachings are classified according to a hierarchical gradation of nine vehicles or nine sequences of the vehicle theg pa rim pa dgu , extending from the most exoteric stras to the most esoteric tantras.
Karmay in his "Origin and Early Development of the Tibetan Religious Traditions of the Great Perfection" has traced the development of this ninefold classification through a comparative study of the writings of Padmasambhava, Kawa Peltsek, Nubchen Sangye Yeshe, Longchen Rabjampa and others.
According to Lochen Dharmar, the enumeration of nine is itself provisional because the structure may be simplified, e. Indeed, in the final analysis, there may be as many vehicles as there are thoughts in the mind, while, from the resultant or absolute standpoint, there is said to be no vehicle at all. The following verses from the Lakvatrastra T. When the mind becomes transformed There is neither vehicle nor mover.
The distinctions between them are discussed in the many philosophical treatises of the Nyingma school which focus on spiritual and philosophical systems siddhnta, Tib. All these sources make the most basic distinction between the first three or stra-based vehicles which advocate a graduated, causal approach to enlightenment byang chub or buddhahood sangs rgyas nyid and the last six or tantra-based vehicles which maintain the resultant view that buddhahood is primordially or atemporally ye nas attained, and realised as such by the removal of the obscurations covering enlightened mind byang chub sems.
It is this structure of ground, path and result around which the tantra-texts, both Nyingma and Sarma are developed, as we will see below with reference to the Guhyagarbha Tantra. At the same time, the term tantra also refers to the four classes of texts which assume this threefold structure. The four classes are the texts of Kriytantra, Ubhayatantra or Carytantra , Yogatantra and Yoganiruttaratantra, which are differentiated and discussed at length in the above treatises.
The last of these subdivisons, according to the Nyingma school, comprises the texts of Mahyoga, Anuyoga and Atiyoga, the "vehicles of overpowering means" or three classes of inner tantras nang rgyud sde gsum , which form the principal subject matter of the Nyingmapa commentarial tradition.
It is important that the distinctions between these three are now comprehended because, as we shall see, the Guhyagarbha Tantra has been interpreted from divergent Mahyoga and Atiyoga perspectives. When the three classes of inner tantras are contrasted, Mahyoga is said to emphasise the ground or basis of the realisation of buddhahood, i.
Alternatively, from the standpoint of meditative stability samdhi , Mahyoga focuses on the generation stage of meditation bskyed rim , Anuyoga on the perfection stage rdzogs rim , and Atiyoga on the Great Perfection rdzogs chen. In the words of Menyak Khyungdrak, an eleventh-century holder of the Nyingma lineage: Though the three aspects of generation and perfection are present in them all, Mahyoga emphatically teaches the generation stage [of meditation], Anuyoga emphatically teaches the perfection stage [of meditation], and the Great Perfection is effortless with respect to both stages.
Longchen Rabjampa, in his Mind at Rest Sems nyid ngal gso , adds: Mahyoga emphasises [control of] vital energy and the skilful means of the generation stage. Anuyoga emphasises [control of] seminal energy and the discriminative awareness of the perfection stage. And according to Kyoton k-ye of Gongbu: Mahyoga stresses conduct, Anuyoga stresses meditative stability, And Atiyoga stresses the view. As these authors state, Mahyoga emphasises the ground in its perspective, the generation stage in its meditative technique and ritual activities in its conduct, Anuyoga emphasises the path, the perfection stage of meditative technique and meditative stability, and Atiyoga emphasises the result, the Great Perfection or the view itself.
We shall observe however that tantratexts such as the Guhyagarbha, despite their classification within Mahyoga, necessarily contain elements of all three, and it is for this reason that divergent exegetical traditions later developed. The dispositions of those who would aspire to the three inner classes of tantra are also mentioned in the Tantra of the Great Array bKod pa chen po , which says: For one who would transcend the [mundane] mind There is the generation phase.
For one who would possess the essence of mind There is the perfection phase. And for those who are supreme and most secret There is the Great Perfection. Longchen Rabjampa in his Great Chariot Shing rta chen mo elaborates: The father tantras of Mahyoga are the natural expression of the skilful means of appearance, intended on behalf of those requiring training who are mostly hostile and possessed by many ideas; the mother tantras of Anuyoga are the discriminative awareness of the perfection stage which is the reality of emptiness, intended for the benefit of those who are mostly desirous and delight in the tranquility of the mind; and the non-dual tantras of Atiyoga are revealed as the natural expression of their nonduality, intended for the benefit of those who are mostly deluded, but who are energetic.
The Sanskrit term mahyoga is defined as the "great union" of the mind with non-dual truth. At the outset, four empowerments are conferred, enabling Mahyoga to be practised. The vehicle is then entered through three successive phases of meditative stability, namely: great emptiness stong pa chen po which purifies death, great compassion snying rje chen po which purifies the intermediate state after death bar do and the seals and attainment of the maala-clusters phyag rgya dang tshom bu tshogs sgrub which purify the three phases of life by establishing the practitioners true nature to be the maala of deities.
The view maintained by Mahyoga practitioners holds ultimate truth don dam bden pa to be spontaneous awareness rig pa without conceptual elaboration, relative truth kun rdzob bden pa to be the ideas or mental energy of that awareness which manifest as a maala of buddha-body and pristine cognition, and the superior indivisible truth to be the unity of these two emptiness and pure appearance. Discipline in the context of Mahyoga refers to twenty-eight commitments dam tshig that are upheld in relation to meditative practice, renunciation and attainment.
Meditation here comprises both non-symbolic meditative stability in the nature of ultimate reality and the symbolic meditations of 7 the generation and perfection stages. In the generation stage, the maala of meditational deities is gradually visualised through the aforementioned three successive meditative stabilities, in which deity and thought processes are indivisible. The conduct observed by practitioners of Mahyoga implies that the defilements and dissonant mental states of cyclic existence sasra , as well as the rites of forceful "liberation" sgrol and sexual practices sbyor can be engaged without attachment because they are retained as skilful means.
Lastly, the result attained by practitioners of Mahyoga is the actualisation of the five buddha-bodies sku lnga in this very lifetime or in the intermediate state after death.
ANUYOGA The essence of Anuyoga practice is that by relying on the perfection stage of meditation, emphasising discriminative awareness shes rab rdzogs rim , liberation is obtained through the unifying realisation of the expanse of reality dbyings and pristine cognition ye shes , without duality. The Sanskrit term anuyoga is defined as "subsequent yoga", i. As to the aforementioned six classificatory topics, Anuyoga has thirty-six basic and eight hundred and thirty-one ancillary empowerments which are conferred in relation to to all nine sequences of the vehicle, including the stras; and it is entered through the spontaneously perfect non-duality of the expanse and pristine cognition.
Meditation here comprises the path of means thabs lam which utilises the energy channels, currents of vital energy and focal points of seminal energy either with reference to the meditators subtle body or in union with a yogic partner, and the path of liberation grol lam which comprises the nonconceptual meditative stability in the nature of reality and symbolic meditative stability in the nature of the meditational deities, who are said, here, to appear instantly "in the manner of a fish leaping from the water.
ATIYOGA The essence of Atiyoga practice, also known as the Great Perfection rdzogs pa chen po , is that liberation occurs in primordial buddhahood ye nas sangs rgyas pa , without renunciation, acceptance, hope or doubt. The Sanskrit term atiyoga is defined as the "highest union" because it is the culmination of all vehicles, and of both the generation and perfection stages. The view maintained by Atiyoga practitioners is that all things of cyclic existence sasra and nirva are present as primordial buddhahood within the unique point of seminal energy thig le nyag gcig , identified with the buddha-body of reality chos sku.
Meditation here comprises the three classes of the Great Perfection Mental, Spatial and Esoteric Instructional sems klong man ngag gi sde gsum the last of which includes the most advanced techniques of Cutting Through Resistance khregs chod and AllSurpassing Realisation thod rgal.
The conduct observed by practitioners of Atiyoga is devoid of acceptance or rejection. Lastly, the result attained by practitioners of Atiyoga is that the goal buddhahood is reached at the present moment, on the level of spontaneously perfect Samantabhadra.
Taking all these points into account, the prime distinction between the three inner classes of tantra is therefore that Mahyoga, the basis, cultivates the realisation of primordial buddhahood in a gradual manner, Anuyoga does so in a spontaneous or perfect manner, and Atiyoga is the Great Perfection underlying both approaches the goal itself.
This great literary achievement was brought about at Drajurling in Samye through the combined efforts of invited foreign scholars paita and indigenous Tibetan translators lo ts ba , of whom the names of over sixty are recorded in the extant colophons of the texts they translated.
The texts were not publicly taught but applied in practice with great secrecy, in accordance with the ancient Indian tradition, by the first generation Tibetan students of Padmasambhava, Vimalamitra, and other great accomplished masters in the remote meditation hermitages at Chimphu, Dra Yangdzong, Chuwori, Yerpa and Sheldrak.
Many of the neophytes, including Nyak Jnakumra, are consequently said to have 10 manifested the supreme and common spiritual accomplishments siddhi , and to have established their own teaching lineages. For this reason, the esoteric higher classes of tantra were excluded from the lDan dkar ma catalogue of translations, which was compiled during the early ninth century by two foremost students of Padmasambhava, as a list of all the exoteric texts stras, vinaya and so on that had been translated for wider propagation.
Then, when concerted efforts were made in the early ninth century to standardise the terminology and orthography of the early exoteric translations, the more esoteric texts representing the three classes of tantra were left unaltered on account of their secrecy and great sanctity.
This is recounted in the sGra sbyor bam gnyis, an important ninth century manual on the transliteration and translation of Sanskrit terms, which in fact says: Because of their great strictness the inner tantras of the secret mantras are not here set forth. During the persecution of King Langdarma r. The subsequent assassination of Langdarma weakened the royal dynasty, and the country soon disintegrated in the wake of three catastrophic rebellions.
Later, in the eleventh century, when the new wave of translations was introduced to Tibet by the likes of Rinchen Zangpo, Drokmi Lotswa, and Marpa Lotswa, polemical edicts were written against the practice of the early tantras by Lha Lama Yeshe-o the king of Gu-ge in far-west Tibet, who was a fifth generation descendent of Langdarma, and by Go Khugpa Lhe-tse.
It is largely for this reason that these texts were not eventually included in the Tibetan Tripiaka Kangyur , which is essentially a 14th century compilation of the later translations.
Even so, the Kangyur does includes a short selection of early tantras in its rNying rGyud section T. These comprise only the principal texts representing each of the three classes, namely the Tantra of the All-Accomplishing King Kun byed rgyal po, T. Zurpoche gathered these early tantras from all possible sources, including some in the possession of his contemporary Rok kya Jungne, who imparted them through their mutual student Zangom Sherab Gyalpo.
Zurpoche then introduced the systematic study and practice of the tantras at his college and hermitage in Ugpalung, while his successors Zurchung Sherab Drak and Zur kya Senge widely disseminated the teaching of the early tantras from their nearby hermitages at Drak Gyawo and Drophuk respectively. This was undertaken as an act of devotion, coinciding with the death of his father.
Then, in the early 14th century, a descendent of the Zur family named Zur Zangpopel utilised the material resources, which he had obtained in the form of commissions and gifts from the Mongol emperor Buyantu r. He is said to have printed a thousand copies of each and distributed them to students.
This account cannot be corroborated because the xylographs and their copies are no longer extant, but, if true, the project 12 would certainly rank among the earliest Tibetan attempts to introduce woodblock printing. It is possible, as Bryan J. Cuevas has noted, that the manuscript version of the Collected Tantras that was formerly preserved at Thandrok Monastery in Kongpo was brought there around this time, because the third generation lineage-holder of Karma Lingpa, one Gyarawa Namkha Chokyi Gyatso b.
At any rate, the dissemination of the early tantra texts remained somewhat tenuous until the fifteenth century, when the treasure-finder Ratna Lingpa made great efforts to gather source materials from all quarters, including the provisional set of the Collected Tantras which was preserved at Ugpalung, and he received their complete transmission from the aged Megom Samten Zangpo of Tsang, who alone held their continuous lineage at that time.
Later, Ratna Lingpa integrated these texts with certain other tantras in his possession, including some that had been revealed as gter ma in the preceeding centuries, and he compiled two new manuscript editions of the Collected Tantras in 40 short-length volumes, at Lhundrub Palace, his residence in Drushul, the earlier one inscribed in black ink, and the later one in gold.
He transmitted the collection many times to ensure their continuity through the succession of his own familial line and that of the treasure finder Pema Lingpa , which are both intimately connected with the Lhodrak border region and neighbouring Bhutan. It appears that two extant manuscript versions of the Collected Tantras, those of Tsamdrak mtshams brag and Gangteng sgang steng in Bhutan, 13 could well be derivatives of Ratna Lingpas compilation.
The latter has recently been photographed by Robert Mayer, but not yet catalogued. The former, in 46 short-length volumes, has been reprinted in photo offset format in Chengdu. A printed index to this edition was initially prepared by Anthony Barber in Taipei and included within the Taipei edition of the Tibetan Tripiaka. More recently, this has been expanded into a full internet version, including all chapter titles and colophons, by David Germanos project at the University of Virginia.
Yet, the proceess of redaction did not end with Ratna Lingpa. He prepared manuscript copies of the Collected Tantras on three occasions, integrating the compilations of Zur Zangpopel and Ratna Lingpa. The first copy was retained at his monastery of Gongra Nyesang Dorjeling in Tsang, while the other two were despatched to Kham and Kongpo. The Sakyapa lama Sangye Dorje is reported to have brought one of these manuscripts to Takbu Drakmar Monastery in the Yangtze gorge region around this time.
The great treasure-finder Rigdzin Terdak Lingpa , founder of Mindroling Monastery, who enjoyed the patronage of the Fifth Dalai Lama, is known to have prepared a new manuscript of the Collected Tantras in 23 long volumes pod chen , inscribed in silver and gold, and based on four earlier manuscripts in his possession: those of Ugpalung, Kongpo Thangdrok, Tsangrong Monastery, and his own ancestral seat at Dargye Choling.
According to his brother Lochen Dharmar , this new manuscript edition had a more methodical structure and also a catalogue in one volume, but it is, alas, no longer extant, Mindroling having been sacked by the Dzungar Mongols in However, one of his students Dalai Qutuqtu Ngawang Sherub Gyatso from Amdo succeeded in copying the manuscript, and on returning to Amdo, he prepared a newer version in 30 volumes, inscribed in black ink.
This was one of the sources utilised in the compilation of the Derge xylographic edition and it was considered at that time to be accurate and reliable. Their compilation was yet another important source utilised in the preparation of the Derge xylographic edition. Rigdzin Jigme Lingpa , a native of Chongye Pelri, whose revelations of the Innermost Spirituality of Longchenpa Klong chen snying thig are widely practised at the present day, resolved to prepare a new manuscript edition of the Collected Tantras following the destruction of the Nyingma monastic centres of Dorje Drak and Mindroling by the Dzungar Mongols.
Backed by numerous sponsors, headed by Chakzam Rinpoche of Chuwori, during the years he did prepare a new manuscript edition in 25 volumes 26 with the addition of his own catalogue, including altogether texts, with the first five pages of each volume written in ink made of the five precious substances: gold, silver, turquoise, coral and pearl, and the remaining folios in black ink on a white background skya chos.
Subject: Guhyagarbha Tantra (Peaceful & Wrathful Deities)
The wish is here expressed from the ultimate angle of being enlightenment, rather than aiming at becoming enlightened. The first verse expresses the nature of reality: that all things are like reflections in a mirror. The second verse expresses compassion in a way that transcends duality for every state of mind that fails to know reality. These words arose spontaneously from the primordial buddha, Samantabhadra, at the request of his consort and a gathering of billions of others buddhas in countless galaxies, in countless universes.
Mezuru Equally the Nyingmapas seem to have focussed more and more on the Guhyagarbha from the 11th century onward—perhaps exactly because it was not shared tabtra the new schools. His word-for-word commentary gives uncommon explanations regarding all stages of Vajrayana practice, including comprehensive teachings from the Dzogchen point of view on how to practice and accomplish the path to enlightenment. Views Read View source View history. Everyone does not have the financial resources or free time to travel long distances to a qualified teacher and sit among the crowd at very expensive retreats. Notify me of new comments via email. Navigation menu Personal tools Log in. You are commenting using your Twitter account.
In search of the Guhyagarbha tantra
Texts Requiring Prerequisites i. This Secret Essence Tantra is the most advanced and extensively studied tantra within the Nyingma lineage. The twenty-two chapters of this tantra elucidate how to correctly view the ground, traverse the path, and ultimately reach the result—fully enlightened buddhahood. The first part of this book includes the Tibetan and English translation for the root tantra itself. The second part is a translation of the extensive commentary on The Guhyagarbha Tantra, called Thorough Dispelling of Darkness throughout the Ten Directions, written by the omniscient Longchenpa, who was an emanation of Samantabhadra.