For those following along at home, Japhy wants to write about Karma Chakme’s “The Quintessence of the Union of Mahamudra and Dzokchen” for this post.
“With this verse from the first song, verse eight, Karma Chakme speaks to a matter which concerns many in the Vajrayana.”
The individual “approach and accomplishments” of the individual generation stages
Of the many yidams, the deities in the tantras,
Are necessary for great gurus who give empowerments.
But as a method for purifying obscurations and siddhas,
It is profound to unite all yidams into one deity and one mantra.
“Here is Khenpo Karthar’s commentary on this verse, in which Rinpoche speaks directly to the problem of picking and choosing.”
The individual practice of the individual approach and accomplishment phases of the individual generation stages of all the many yidams in the various tantras is necessary for a great guru who will be giving a lot of empowerments. For ones own use, for the purification of obscurations and as a method of attaining siddhi or attainment, combining all yidams into one, into one deity and one mantra is most profound. There are an infinite number of deities, each with many different forms. With so many lineages, deities, and forms of these deities practiced within each lineage, there are a vast number of different deity practices. If you take the attitude that any one deity on which you meditate is the embodiment of all those deities without exception, you receive the blessing of all those deities—since, in truth, they are of one nature—and you also avoid the degeneration of samaya that comes from taking and leaving deities, known as “picking and choosing.
“My first empowerment was Green Tara with Khenpo Karthar. My next empowerment was the Kalachakra with Kalu Rinpoche. Right off the bat, I was in over my head.”
In this text, the deity that will be focused on as an example of this approach is the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. Using Chenrezik as the example makes it very easy to understand this approach, because Chenrezik is the embodiment of the compassion of all buddhas, and therefore is the embodiment of all buddhas. By supplicating him as such, you are supplicating all buddhas. Because you understand his mantra, OM MANI PADME HUM, as the embodiment of the quality of all mantras, when you recite this mantra you are reciting the essence of all mantras. This is most profound because in doing one practice, you are doing the essence of all practices.
“At the time, Khenpo Karthar advised me to not worry about picking and choosing, and focus on my Green Tara recitation, but it bothered me all the same.”
In addition, you are avoiding the degeneration of samaya, which arises when you exclusively practice one or a few deities and consciously neglect the practice of others. By thinking you are neglecting the practice of other deities, you are in fact neglecting them. If you think that by practicing one deity you are only practicing this one deity and not caring about the others, that produces the problem of picking and choosing. If you realize that the practice of any one deity is all-inclusive, you avoid the picking and choosing problem. Since they are all the same in nature, the practice of one deity such as Chenrezik is sufficient to purify your obscurations, to accumulate merit, and thereby to attain siddhi.
“My paradigm going in was that of ritual service, mastering the deity. Khenpo Karthar instructed me otherwise, to instead make the purification of my obscurations and accumulation of merit my paradigm.
Over the coming years Japhy continued to receive empowerments, while relying on his Green Tara recitation as he was instructed to by Khenpo Karthar.
“If your approach is that of ritual service, mastering every deity you have received an empowerment for, the prospect of receiving another empowerment becomes a problem for you.”
It isn’t uncommon for Japhy to have a cohort decline an empowerment citing they already have more deities than they can practice.
“This is due to the conceit of ritual servitude, that they are mastering the deity they have received an empowerment for, which is most unfortunate.”
Obviously, if the purpose of an empowerment in today’s Vajrayana was such, the giving of empowerments would not be as it is, a not uncommon occurrence for Japhy and his cohorts.
“No Rinpoche would give an empowerment without first vetting each and every person that wished to receive the empowerment.”
Japhy’s mistake going in, which Khenpo Karthar corrected, is very common in the Vajrayana.
“What I thought I was supposed to be doing, wasn’t what Rinpoche wanted me to do.”
Japhy had read about the Vajrayana, descriptions of its practice, that weren’t applicable to his circumstances.
“In retrospect, over thirty years in, I can laugh at the pretense of thinking I was cut out for the task of mastering a Tantric deity, a task for a Rinpoche.”
This will have to suffice for now, to be continued. Japhy has used the time he allows himself for his writing. Karmapa Chenno!