by Jangsem Yeshi Tsomo
Sakya Monastery of Tibetan Buddhism
Om Ah Hung Benza (Vajra) Guru Pema Siddhi Hung.
At the exquisitely beautiful Sakya Monastery on August 9 and 10, 2019, we assembled to practice our 6th Annual Guru Rinpoche Bumtsok. The following briefly describes the event and the words of our teacher, Tulku Yeshi Rinpoche.
Five years ago, His Holiness Dagchen Rinpoche gave permission and blessings for our Sangha to practice the Guru Rinpoche Bumtsok at Sakya Monastery. At that time he also consecrated the beautiful “Eight Manifestations of Guru Rinpoche” thangka we display during this special practice. We are thankful to His Holiness Dagchen Rinpoche, to Dagmola, and to Sakya Monastery. We practitioners are also very thankful to Tulku Yeshi Rinpoche, a qualified Vajra Master, for compassionately and skillfully leading us through the stages of practice.
Tibetan Buddhism came from India originally from Siddharta Gautama Buddha, and of his disciples, only a few of them came to Tibet, including Padmasambhava, also known as Guru Rinpoche. He arrived around the time King Trisong Deutsen, a reincarnation of Manjushri, was middle-aged. Guru Rinpoche remained in Tibet even after the King passed away and stayed until his son became an adult.
Since the eighth century, Guru Rinpoche, himself, including his various manifestations and reincarnations has visited and brought forth pure vision for the practitioners who have strong devotion in Guru Rinpoche and his disciples. While in Tibet, Guru Rinpoche subdued the mountain spirits and consecrated the ground for the first Tibetan Buddhist temple where he gave teachings. He and his manifestations, including Yeshi Tsogyal, hid numerous treasures, called “termas,’ including such things as vajra bells, statues, pieces of holy cloth, writings, and teachings. Guru Rinpoche is very important to we who practice the Vajrayana tradition.
The Guru Rinpoche Bumstok conducted by Tulku Yeshi Rinpoche at Sakya Monastery has been a very popular event these last 6 years. Practitioners look forward to this opportunity to retreat into practice with other devotees for 2 days, bringing their bells, dorjes, and damarus to enthusiastically offer prayers, incense, flowers, and other substances. Each day food is prepared and blessed for the Tsok offering, and we also enjoy delicious potluck meals at break time. This year, the beautiful and strong Tibetan ladies of Sakya Monastery prepared an amazing vegetarian feast that was greatly enjoyed by all.
We began each retreat day by sincerely offering prostrations to our teachers and the lineage masters such as Buddha Shakyamuni, Padmasambhava, His Holiness Dagchen Rinpoche, Tulku Yeshi Rinpoche; to all the great masters of our tradition, the mahasiddhas, to our Sangha sisters and brothers, and to all dakas and dakinis.
There are a number of biographies published about Guru Rinpoche; I think all of them include passages wherein it is said that Guru Rinpoche promised those who offer Guru Rinpoche statues, paint statues, build temples and monasteries, even just setting up a small shrine or offering flowers or food; the benefits will come to those devoted practitioners. Other common offerings include substances such as water transformed by pure vision into precious wisdom nectar, flowers, and incense. It is written that the kinds of benefits received will be birth in higher realms, liberation from lower realms, birth into a healthy body with a strong mind and a happy disposition, and birth into fortunate circumstances to find their spiritual master, and with access to and knowledge of the holy Dharma.
When we offer the Tsok, we don’t visualize these water bowls, candles, and incense as worldly, samsaric objects. We must visualize in the way of the Bodhisattva Samantabhadra such that the offering of even one water bowl or one incense stick is manifested into hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands, millions, billions, even trillions and in this way we may receive greater and greater merit. During this visualization practice, we also aim to transform the quality. From our human culture, people often value gold, silver, diamonds and other gemstones, for example. With the leadership of a qualified master, in a sacred place and time, and with our brother and sister yogis and yoginis, we try to transform the ordinary, worldly substances into the most precious of substances. Water becomes holy nectar with the 8 auspicious qualities; it is no longer simply ordinary water from the tap. Tulku Yeshi Rinpoche emphasizes the importance of the quality of our visualizations and the purity of our thoughts during this ceremony. He tells us, “Don’t think only a thangka, visualize the real Guru Rinpoche. He already said, ‘If you have strong devotion in me, I’m just outside your door.’ If we have strong devotion and pure vision (no negative thoughts, emotions, don’t give chance, just follow forgiveness, happiness pure vision) he is here 100%.”
When we practice the 7-line prayer, we visualize the Thangka coming alive with the actual Guru Rinpoche and his 8 manifestations and with dakas and dakinis from the copper colored mountains. We chant with fervor asking Guru Rinpoche and the millions and trillions of his retinue to come bless us and the Tsok. When we offer the substances, we must visualize and hold pure vision so the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Guru Rinpoche, and millions of dakas and dakinis will transform the offerings into most highly precious and enjoyable substances and treasures by their wisdom and compassion. These items are then no longer ordinary. That’s what we mean by pure vision pure offering.
The Vajrasattva purification practice is extremely important. You remember and acknowledge the bad karma created by your body, speech, and mind in this life and past lives. You sincerely confess with true and deep regret and you must resolve not to continue repeating negative behaviors and thoughts. If you don’t purify these, especially if you have broken samaya between yourself and your Vajra Master, Sangha brothers, sisters, dakas, and dakinis – if you don’t purify – day by day the negative forces multiply. In this worldly life, there are many obstacles. Sometimes we think, “Oh, it’s so important (about politics or religion),” you think you need to say something, but if the result is to judge or condemn, you will have broken your samaya. No matter what the reason, if there is a Vajrayana connection or if you received empowerments from a particular master, if you judge him, you will have broken the samaya. This is very bad for the long life of your Guru and for your realizations. Be very careful. Knowingly or unknowingly, it still matters. We must be careful to practice pure vision at all times.
Many times throughout the Bumtsok event, our kind teacher, Tulku Yeshi Rinpoche beckons us to hold this pure visualization throughout recitations and while visualizing yourself as Guru Rinpoche, the temple as a pure mandala with your brother and sister as dakas and dakinis, and the water transformed to wisdom nectar. Also, Guru Rinpoche said that when we recite with a beautiful melody, he will immediately come and bless you. We participants were especially fortunate that Tulku Yeshi Rinpoche is gifted with an especially beautiful singing voice, helping to make our offering even more blessed: Om Ah Hung Benza (Vajra) Guru Pema Siddhi Hung.
Our teacher leads us in the prayers, we ring our bells, and shake our damarus, making a beautiful sound. The sound of the conch shell blows, beckoning these beings to join us, to bless and transform and partake of our offerings. Sakya Monastery serves as our sacred place for this practice and there we see the Guru Rinpoche thangka displaying his 8 manifestations. Golden offering bowls filled with blessed substances and incense are in front of the thangka. To the left is a table with 108 small offering bowls filled with precious transformed substances. At the correct times, our teacher leads us with careful instructions for the visualizations and stages; such as visualizing ourselves as Guru Rinpoche, with a rainbow body, and within the rainbow body, the center of the heart is the white lotus, the moon disk, sun disk, blue hung syllable, and the Guru Rinpoche mantra garland in blue.
When we visualize the mantra garland and blue hung syllable, we raise 2 kinds of light. The upper light goes out towards and through the universe, lingering in the pure land, and these lights carry our offering the gods. The second light goes to towards the impure world, in Tibetan, the name is “matapeshung” and this light is sent to liberate all sentient beings from suffering.
As we continue the Bumtsok practice, there comes a second recitation of the Guru Rinpoche mantra, and in this time, the visualizations go a bit deeper and more complex; yourself as Guru Rinpoche, the Heruka Yabyum, in your heart, and within that heart, the syllable “hung” and the mantra garland. Our teacher again tells us not to give up – that we must visualize the prescribed images and beings as real, and manifesting like a kaleidoscope, or like mirrors upon mirrors, multiplying levels. We must work hard to keep our samayas, to maintain pure vision, and to pray unhesitatingly and with a one-pointed mind.
At the end of each day, we dedicate the merit of our activities for the benefit of all mother-father sentient beings, then we sing the prayer for the swift return of HH Dagchen Jigdal, we pray for the long life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, we pray for the long life of our teacher, Tulku Yeshi Rinpoche, and for all Dharma practitioners.
It’s a wonderful blessing that we have access to the holy Dharma, to a holy and sacred place for the Bumtsok practice, to a compassionate teacher who is a qualified Vajra Master, and to a community of kind and precious brother and sister practitioners who bring so much loving-kindness and support to each other. Everyone who participates in this annual event feels absolutely amazing afterwards. We all look forward to the 7th Annual Guru Rinpoche Bumstok and pray for the welfare of all mother-father sentient beings. Om Ah Hung Vajra Guru Pema Siddhi Hung.