The Beauty of Chenrezi

Posted on December 3, 2016

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The Beauty of Chenrezi

This past Saturday, we students had the fortunate opportunity to listen to a precious Dharma teaching from Tulku Yeshi Rinpoche and receive transmission on the two texts that he had explained. After a few days of unexpected summer rainstorms filled with lightning and showers, Saturday came along with radiant sun and warmth. Many students gathered to welcome Rinpoche and he began to teach the glorious Dharma; giving direction and explanation on the two Chenrezi texts used at Sakya Monastery.

These two texts are entitled, “An Ocean Of Compassion” and “Filling Space To Benefit Beings”. As we began, Rinpoche shared that traditionally Tibet is called the “Land of Chenrezi” as ancient Tibet is known for being so peaceful. He then gave us an eloquent reminder of the importance of the Dharmic bridge between ourselves and our gurus. We should remember to remain thankful and appreciate this connection that we are so fortunate to have. If someone helps you to practice Dharma, we should think that this person is a good person and be thankful, respecting them. We don’t really know if this person is an emanation of Buddhas or Bodhisattvas, but this connection, the Dharma, is perfect. Don’t think that guru means someone wearing a yellow robe or sitting on a throne, those kinds of things. If someone gives teaching of perfect Dharma, that’s your Guru. This person, you can visualize on the crown of your head or in your heart, and respect this person.

These two texts are entitled, “An Ocean Of Compassion” and “Filling Space To Benefit Beings”. As we began, Rinpoche shared that traditionally Tibet is called the “Land of Chenrezi” as ancient Tibet is known for being so peaceful. He then gave us an eloquent reminder of the importance of the Dharmic bridge between ourselves and our gurus. We should remember to remain thankful and appreciate this connection that we are so fortunate to have. If someone helps you to practice Dharma, we should think that this person is a good person and be thankful, respecting them. We don’t really know if this person is an emanation of Buddhas or Bodhisattvas, but this connection, the Dharma, is perfect. Don’t think that guru means someone wearing a yellow robe or sitting on a throne, those kinds of things. If someone gives teaching of perfect Dharma, that’s your Guru. This person, you can visualize on the crown of your head or in your heart, and respect this person.
We should remember that our Gurus’ bodies are a representation of the Buddha, their voice the essence of the all the Buddha’s speech carried down by lineage. This action of being able to use the voice to teach perfect Dharma is the most valuable activity. We see this by thinking about if we were to die wearing even Lord Buddha’s robe, it would not be enough to liberate our consciousness. It is through the ability of using the Buddha’s speech that beings are guided by their Gurus to use their precious bodies wisely to practice the Dharma. When you use your lifetime with your body to practice the Buddha’s teaching, there is a guarantee. This is why speech is so important. Third, we should remember the Bodhicitta, the Bodhi mind. Citta means the heart or mind. Buddha’s mind. Always patient and full of forgiveness and awareness; that is the Buddha’s mind. The order of importance would be speech and mind, and then the body.
In taking a look at the first text, “An Ocean of Compassion”, Rinpoche explained that we have two lineages that we are giving supplication to, one long lineage and one short lineage. Through the Buddha’s vision, Drale Namgyal, an Indian master, gave us the short lineage. Lama Dorje Denpa was a famous scholar and siddhi who, through tsok was able to invite 84 realized masters to come from many different places. When they arrived, he then asked his students to draw their appearances and obtain their names and stories. That is why we know these things about the 84 Indian Mahasiddhas today. Bari Lotsawa was a Tibetan translator and became a Sakya throneholder later in his lifetime. The text continues to list many Sakya Masters, and you can see the footnote section to learn more information. Rinpoche mentioned that after Jigdal Dagchen Sakya Rinpoche is listed, if you also have other teachers and you know their prayers, you may add them in this place when you practice at home. If you are very busy, you may read page 2 once and then jump to page 8. No matter if your Guru is male or female, you can visualize them as Chenrezi. First visualize Chenrezi in the center of the Mandala, either 4 arms representing the 4 immeasurables or 2 arms representing compassion and wisdom. Whichever is easier for you to visualize.
Rinpoche explained that this text is split into two chapters; 2-19 is the first and 20 through the end is the second. The first chapter is general and the second is more detailed. This gives you the chance to choose which chapter you have time for on different days. If you want to recite the mantra, OM MANI PEME HUNG, you can recite it before the mindfulness section on page 11. Traditionally, for Chenrezi practice, malas of bead or stone are used. You may also use a multiplying mantra, OM DURU DURU ZAYA MUKE SOHA. The Mahamudra section is amazing to use when you feel stressed, depressed or worried. Just sit or lie down, read and look at your mind; specifically paying attention to the words “ I directly perceive that mind”.
Rinpoche clarified that when you visualize yourself as Chenrezi (pg. 23), when there is a second deity or Guru above, it should always be the size of the head of the first. We visualize Buddha Amitabha above Chenrezi because Chenrezi is an emanation of Buddha Amitabha. Remember that Buddha Amitabha manifested in Chenrezi, Tara, and Guru Rinpoche. Both yourself as Chenrezi and Amitabha above your head should be “like an image in a mirror”; having the same quality. Then pray. From pg. 24-25 please pray, trying to create only positive thoughts of compassion and love. The deep love that you have had experience with, for example, like as if your own mother was begging you for help. At this time, your mind will be focused on that task only, on being able to help mother sentient beings with strong feeling. This kind of feeling makes your prayers real. This feeling makes you a Bodhisattva. If you have this kind of compassion and love for all beings, guaranteed, you are a Bodhisattva. You don’t need to fly or walk through walls or read someone’s mind. You have the real essence of Bodhicitta. This feeling helps yourself from suffering of Samsara and all beings. Only through this feeling can you reach Buddhahood. Bodhi mind itself is luminous; it is the image in the mirror that was mentioned in the Mahamudra section. Up until the Mahamudra section, you should pray by thinking of samsara and nirvana in terms of being connected to the suffering of others that you want to help relieve. Then, once you reach the Mahamudra part, your mind must be free from both samsara and nirvana; subject or object. Just be in the present moment.
Then recite the mantra. As you go from page to page, remember your visualizations each time you turn the page. Keep the visualizations from beginning to end; self-generation. So often, people go right back to having ordinary vision even though they practice Tantric Buddhism for many years. This is your first Samaya, pure vision. You should care about the rules, otherwise there is no result. Rinpoche compared this Samaya to the vows that one takes in marriage. If someone gets married but then continues to live as a single person, not abiding by the commitments of marriage, there will be a problem with the marriage; it doesn’t work. You cannot be a Tantric Buddhist practitioner without following the rules that are required. Otherwise, your practice looks like more like a researcher. You are only researching Buddhism, not practicing. So, keep your visualization, compassion and devotion all of the time. This is very important. Visualization, self- generation or front -generation, compassion for all sentient beings and devotion in Guru, Buddhadharma and deities. Then, always dedicate the merit.
Rinpoche discussed that the Thursday Chenrezi practice text, “Filling Space To Benefit Beings” is very similar to the Sunday text, only a different lineage. Tangtong Gyalpo was during the same time as Lama Tsongkhapa, 1300-1400’s. He was born in Western Tibet. First he was a monk and then later became a yogi. His other name means “enthusiasm” in Tibetan: Tsöndu Sangpo, or crazy . He didn’t care what people thought about him, so his behavior looked crazy to some
people. And so he was also known by his “crazy wisdom” name, Tsöndru Nyönpa. The reality is that he had achieved the high realization, which we sometimes call crazy wisdom. He saw that so many people died due to the fact that there were no bridges leading them to where they needed to travel. When people tried to cross rivers and lakes, hundreds died because they couldn’t pay to get across and tried dangerous routes on their own. He collected money for poor people by combining his teachings with inviting dancers and singers to perform. He did this like a gypsy, going from town to town. From these donations, he got the iron materials needed and built the bridges for everyone to be able to cross safely. Many times, people tried to attack him and stop what he was doing, but they couldn’t kill him because he was realized. He built hundreds of bridges that are still intact. People believe that he was an emanation of Guru Rinpoche.
If you are busy, after pg.2, you may jump to pg.9. Rinpoche clarified a translation on pg.9, second line. The best explanation should read spiritual masters, as this is a better description than spiritual friends. Pg. 10 is very common for all schools in Guru Yoga. You should memorize this in Tibetan, English, or both. With melody is good as well. Please read pg.11 in order to visualize the Refuge tree correctly. Pg. 12 was helpful during the time of building the bridges in order to complete the difficult work that was required; it is a very powerful prayer. When your mind is very dark, heavy or sad, when we recite “ We take refuge in our own minds, empty and luminous, the Dharmakaya”, it makes your mind free and calm. Continue pg. 13,14. Pg. 15-18 is the preliminary practice. Two lines in particular have been very powerful for Rinpoche personally on pg. 17. “ Suffering arises from obtaining one’s own benefit, and happiness from providing for the benefit of others.”
The second chapter of this text starts on pg.18, continuing to the end. In this text, in the beginning, you visualize Chenrezi on the crown of your head and all living beings’ heads; front- generation. At the bottom of pg.19, “emanating light in five –colored rays” represents the five wisdoms, five Buddha families, the impure five aggregates transforming into pure wisdoms. On pg.22, please memorize this prayer for when you would like to practice Chenrezi, but are driving or flying. First pg. 2 and then pg. 22. (3x) and then you can recite the mantra. When you practice with the text, you can continue on to the Transformation section on pg. 23, 24, 25. Recite the mantras. Go to pg. 27 until the longevity of the Gurus if you are very busy. Always remember to dedicate the merit, at least the first four lines of pg. 28. The continuing lines are very good to add if you are praying for someone who has just died.
Rinpoche then explained the meaning of the word Chenrezi in Tibetan language. Chen means “eyes”, Re means “corner or parts” and Zi means “seeing”. Chenrezi is a wonderful practice because it is not necessary to have an empowerment in order to practice. All you need is strong devotion. If you have pure love and compassion, Chenrezi works. Hell beings, hungry ghosts, animals and most humans don’t have empowerments. Still, Chenrezi tries to help them all of the time without empowerment. This is the beauty of the practice.

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