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His Holiness Kyabgön Gongma Sakya Trichen Rinpoche (41st Sakya Trizin), Courses and Events

This thread is for announcing courses that feature live and recorded course teachings of His Holiness Kyabgön Gongma Sakya Trichen Rinpoche (41st Sakya Trizin). His Holiness is one of the current patriarch's of Sakya tradition of Vajrayana Buddhism and He is well known for traveling all-around world and giving Buddhist teachings and initiations.

Every reader should understand that receiving transmissions or empowerments in Vajrayana Buddhism absolutely requires taking refuge in the Three Jewels: Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. Also, many types of teachings may require meeting certain prior conditions such as having formally taken the Bodhisattva vows or received Empowerment (wang) to some particular meditative deity. All these blessings carry certain conduct or practice commitments that you should investigate prior to receiving blessings: these commitments are understood to be take for life.

Vajra Armor Mantra Course at P'hurba T'hinley Ling Retreat Center

Vajra Armor Mantra Course​

At P'hurba T’hinley Ling Retreat Center​

The Vajra Armor Mantra was first introduced into Tibet in the eighth century by Padmasambhava, who had collected various teachings and practices on this mantra from the ancient Indian Buddhist tradition. After teaching his close disciples in Tibet, he hid the Vajra Armor teachings in 124 places, to be discovered by future ‘treasure finders’ as prophesied in his writings. Padmasambhava predicted that a time would come when there would be a great need for this mantra and to preserve the integrity of the teachings and lineage, he hid different versions of this practice in many different places for safekeeping, until the designated treasure finder would reintroduce them to the world. Over the past one thousand years, there have been numerous major teaching cycles of the Vajra Armor Mantra that have been revealed, including those of Dorje Lingpa, Mipham, Dudjom Lingpa, and Trak-t’hung Namkha’I Jigme. These teachings outline a deep and profound path to realization and ultimately to Buddhahood through the practice of healing and rebalancing the outer and inner elements.

”When beings engage in the ten non-virtues, causing warfare and committing immense sin, these negative activities will pollute the mother elements and give the spirits opportunities to become more powerful. Thus, the seasons will become unbalanced, the crops will fail, the weather patterns will bring disaster, diseases will multiply every year and even the best remedies will no longer have any effect. Food and herbal medicine will loose their potency, requiring stronger dosages…at that time this mantra, which shall be known as the Vajra Armor, or ”Ngak-Bum Dorje Go-Drab” – the One Mantra That is the Source of the 100,000 Methods – will be needed to save beings from this immense suffering. If you place one hundred percent trust in this mantra and if you receive the transmission from a true lineage holder and practice it according to the samayas, then this mantra will cure disease, protect and prevent illness, calamities, restore balance to the environment, and most importantly destroy the true cause of all suffering – anger, desire and ignorance.” – Padmasambhava

A Powerful Path to Enlightenment​

The Vajra Armor Mantra is not only a powerful healing method, but a profound path to illumination, ultimately leading to the attainment of the rainbow body. It is one of the few paths, along with P’howa, that do not require the Ngondro (the 500,000 accumulations) as a prerequisite to practice. It is a path in its own right, with many levels and degrees of mastery. As one traverses the path, through a series of short retreats and ongoing practice, one systematically purifies the five elements within one’s own body and thus attains the ability to purify the elemental imbalances in another. In this way, diseases are removed. With further training, the practitioner cuts through the five poisons of anger, desire, ignorance, jealousy and pride, and in turn attains the ability to work directly with the elemental essences in the environment. Thus, one is able to control the weather patterns, increase prosperity, subjugate harmful influences and restore peace and harmony. In advanced stages of training, one gains control over the eight classes of spirits that live under, within and above the earth, thus preventing the rise and spread of contagious disease, natural disasters, and poverty. In the final stages of practice, the three poisons are transformed into the three kayas, and the five poisons become the five wisdoms. thus the very elemental essences of one’s body are transmuted into the five wisdom lights, and one’s own body is transformed into the ‘rainbow body.’

Overview of the Training Program​

Although the Vajra Armor Mantra is actually a path to enlightenment, this mantra is largely known for its healing abilities. Few practitioners ever move beyond the outer levels of training and discover the mantra’s true potential, and very few Lamas are teaching it. Lama Dawa Chhodak Rinpoche feels that now is the time to heed Padmasambhava’s prophesies and introduce a course of training retreats so that this profound practice can bring benefit in these very trying times. Based on the traditional tantric texts, he has outlined this retreat course so that practitioners can move through the levels of practice in a systematic way, and undergo traditional retreats under the supervision of a lineage holder.

Lama Dawa Rinpoche had close connections with this mantra for many lifetimes. He received the lineage transmissions and training in the Vajra Armor from his Root Guru, HH Dudjom Rinpoche, HH Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and from the Taklung Kyabgon, Matrul Rinpoche, who was also a famous physician. From 1999 to 2003, Lama Dawa Rinpoche has given the outer level teachings of the Vajra Armor mantra numerous times, and in 2003 lead the first three-day group retreat. Since 2003 hundreds of students have attended the retreats with several graduating from the program.

Prerequisites for Vajra Armor Mantra Retreat​

In order to participate in this training, you must have received Buddhist Refuge vows, and should have devotion to Padmasambhava, preferably receiving the empowerment to any aspect of him. Ideally, although it is not required, you should have some experience with the rules of boundaried retreats and experience in intensive mantra recitation. This training is conducted in the traditional way, with no compromises. Participants are expected to abide by the samayas of tantric retreat and practice, and must pass a series of tests before they are authorized to progress to the next level and to use the mantra for others. If used with the right motivation, this practice can be the vehicle to attain enlightenment through the service of healing others. In this regard, it is a perfect path for Buddhist practitioners who are involved with the healing profession.

Using the Vajra Armor Mantra for Self Healing​

In addition to using the Vajra Armor Mantra as a path to spiritual enlightenment, this mantra is often called for as an effective method to heal one’s own diseases. In many situations, the mirror divination may indicate that it is necessary to learn and practice the mantra for one’s own healing. In this case, attending one retreat is all you need to be able to use this mantra every day on your own.

Outline of the Levels of Training​

In general, the levels of training is divided into four levels and can be understood in relation to the five elements.
The levels of training include instructions for conducting the silent retreat, teachings on the history of Guru Rinpoche and of this practice; teachings on the lineage; teachings and transmission of the mantra, including the lung (verbal transmission) and empowerment (wang); teachings on how to recite the mantra; the rules and samayas of the retreat, including the outer, inner and secret meaning of boundary; teachings on the meaning of the mantra; teachings on the cause of diseases, including the eight classes of spirits living above, beneath and on the earth; instruction on how the mantra provides protection from the major and minor causes of diseas; instruction on how to use the mantra to treat illnesses; making blessed healing water, and making sacred amulets. In level 3 students learn the practices outlined in Dorje Lingpa’s Ley-Tsog.

At the end of the Level 1 and 2 retreats, students will undergo a series of tests related to the elements water or fire, and receive further instruction on how to use the mantra. These retreats are repeated until the tests are passed.

The final level of training involve 7-21 day dark retreats, where the participants are submerged in total darkness for one week while practicing the mantra. These are very advanced practices and are only embarked upon when the student has shown significant purification and progress through the previous levels of training. These retreats are related to the movement of the planets and the planetary spirits (rahulas) that are associated with them. These retreats require very close supervision by the lineage teacher, and for that reason are limited to very few people at a time.

Khandro Kunzang Give an Intro to the Vajra Armor Mantra Course​


While I have no affiliation nor experience with this particular lineage or its teachers, I wholeheartedly endorse Vajra Armor or Dorje Kotrab as a premium healing method to learn for any aspiring healers if they also are interested about Vajrayana Buddhism and Buddhist bodhisattva commitments in helping other sentient beings altruistically. That is to say, the true skill in tantric healing will require unceasing practice and living your life according to Vajrayana view and conduct.

This program in particular seems very traditional and complete path.

I myself have received a mantra initiation into Vajra Armor practice through the famous Dzogchen and Vajrayana Buddhist teacher Chögyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche. Unfortunately, I can't tell of any results because the activation of mantra's healing function requires a three day personal retreat at minimum, which I haven't accomplished.

Blaming and Seeing Faults in Others Is Harmful

Blaming and Seeing Faults in Others Is Harmful​

Anyone interested in self-transformation and real spiritual progress should understand that blaming others and seeing faults are harmful for one's own character and health. These divisional projections entirely, yet perhaps subtly or deceptively, transgress the basic principles of avoiding harm (such as harsh speech), doing good (such as spending your time and energy on more altruistic affairs), and cultivating the mind (such as exercising the ever important patience).

Gautama Buddha himself taught the following about complaining and patience (emphasis mine):


“Mendicants, there are these eight powers. What eight? Crying is the power of babies. Anger is the power of females. Weapons are the power of bandits. Authority is the power of rulers. Complaining is the power of fools. Reason is the power of the astute. Reflection is the power of the learned. Patience is the power of ascetics and brahmins. These are the eight powers.”​

We might also remember the Biblical story about how the devil in the form of serpent tempted Eve, the archetypal mother of mankind, to act against a direct injunction of God and to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The temptation itself was a veiled accusation against God, alluding that God didn't want the best for mankind. The etymology of the word devil is in the Greek word diabolos which simply means 'accuser'. Therefore, isn't one of the central devices of the Abrahamic faiths that the good and faithful person shouldn't emulate what the evil one does and thus refrain from accusations and divisions that split people and their relationship with God?

Even though blaming may hurt the other person(s) more than the one who sees fault in others, it actually is the accuser who will reap the worst retribution in the long term. It might come as a surprise to some, but habitually blaming others can in fact damage your health: this is caused by the aggravating impact of persistent harsh speech on one's energy-body. There is a brilliant book by Liu Yousheng, Let the Radiant Yang Shine Forth: Lectures on Virtue, that gives many illustrating clinical cases in modern day how people had become sick because of blaming, but then recovered after they fully repented their lack of conduct and turned their mind towards virtue instead. Please see this post for more information:

Seeing faults in teachings is another matter that deserves attention. We have all the right and responsibility for ourselves to ask good questions from teachers and scrutinize whether teachings are entirely wise and good for well-being. However, we should exercise discernment and recognize that explicit blaming and seeing faults essentially is about creating difficult to mend rifts between people. We should exercise keen awareness and readily depart from what is harmful without making a big number about it if the situation doesn't warrant public discussion.

Any thoughts on the topic of blaming and seeing faults in others? Feel free to post your observations, experiences, and even teachings from wise teachers.

On Not Seeing Faults​

“Someone with a truly virtuous mind does not look at worldly faults. Seeing faults in others is your own fault, and therefore it is you who are mistaken.”
– From the Altar Sutra by the Sixth Patriarch Huineng

I always tell you not to look at the faults of others, don’t I? According to the view of Secret Mantra, when you see a fault in others you should understand that you see this fault due to your own afflictions. Afflictions see afflictions. Looking at the affliction itself, you recognize, “The fault I see in this person is just an affliction. Where is this affliction? I can find it in my own mind.” So you look at your own afflictions and not at those of others.

Lord Jigten Sumgon said, “Not looking at the faults of beings’ body, speech, and mind, but seeing the good qualities in them, is the perfect liberation of the bodhisattvas.”

When I see the good qualities in all the disciples my mind is pure. This pure mind can cause their mind to become pure. When I see others in an impure way, it is due to my own impure mind. It is like being obscured by darkness, like a dark cloud making a white cloud look dark.

Sakya Pandita said, “A noble being, like a jewel, never changes. By looking at the goodness in others they increase their own well water. An inferior being, like a sieve, is holding the bad, but losing what is good.” A noble being embraces goodness, they see the good qualities in others. An inferior being who sees the faults in others is like a sieve that collects just debris while the pure water is lost. Seeing the faults in others is a sign of one’s own wicked nature.

Therefore, do not look at the faults of others but look at their good qualities!

Source: Drikung Dharma Surya Center website, article "On Not Seeing Faults" by His Eminence Garchen Rinpoche

The Unsurpassed Benefits of Studying Well and the Downfalls of Its Neglect

The Unsurpassed Benefits of Studying Well and the Downfalls of Its Neglect​

We want to practice internal arts for the results in self-transformation, but even a good practice itself is rarely enough for deep understanding. The reason is that everyone has many lifetimes of unconsciously adapted prejudices and biases that could come up at inopportune times and jeopardize our own wisdom life at the very least. An even more egregious error would be to transmit misleading opinions to others or to accumulate unvirtuous demerits while consciously thinking that it's all alright.

To correct possible shortfalls before they become problems, we can study written teachings or visit our teachers for oral instructions. The quality of both can vary and it's important to remain discerning, but the ideal is to take the advantage of both options and seek the best with great care.

It's wise to keep questioning and have healthy skepticism about one's capabilities by thinking like this: How well do I really understand what I'm saying about spiritual topics? Studying is very beneficial if it's motivated by genuine self-scrutiny and asking wise questions from teachers. Studying the foundations of spiritual practice is the most important learning because it helps keeping track of how our daily life has transformed in terms of conduct and integrated awareness from internal training. Studying more advanced spiritual visions and their experiential insights about meditative states could be useful for confirming that everything is progressing as it should, but this could lead to shakiness and self-deception if the foundations aren't on a solid ground.

Buddhism especially encourages that the practitioners should study a lot in order to sharpen their discernment. It also is particularly relevant because the Buddhist path is built on (1) having the right view that emphasizes the precious value of this fleeting human life and the opportunity to practice Dharma, (2) deepening understanding of how all experiences are transitory and empty of self-sustaining existence, (3) recognizing the unremitting law of cause and effect that propels all self-clinging into the cycles of self-serving drama, and (4) accepting the fact that self-cherishing joys only lead to pain and dissatisfaction. If these four premises aren't graciously accepted as the valid practical and philosophical foundation, then it would be impossible to argue that the person has really been following the teachings of the Buddha.

The law of cause and effect, or karma, in particular is a tricky subject because people often seem to have their self-claimed and self-serving opinions about how cause and effect applies. The Buddhist tradition is very keen about this topic because they hold it as a centerpiece of their philosophy: No other tradition has as comprehensive and lucid explanations about cause and effect and how it relates to self-grasping and then overcoming all of these self-concepts as illusions, which leads to the extinguishing of heedless motivations and ill results. The various Daoist and Indian Dharmic lineages may have some reference to the concept of karma, but their takes aren't as accessible for cultural and spiritual reasons. This is where it should be of paramount importance to have humility and admit that not all paradigms and traditions, even if they refer to shared words like karma and enlightenment, may without reservation agree with the single semantic definition of these words or their spiritual implications overall.

Another instance of study concern is the practice of Buddhist tantra. I personally made grave mistakes and suffered spiritual complications because I didn't study well first before diving into Vajrayana Buddhism, so I can't emphasize enough how important it's to study well and give at least moderate benefit of doubt to all relevant counsel when offered. I've read both Vajrayana and Chinese Ch'an Buddhist teachers warn that misrepresenting Buddhist teachings or having otherwise harmful speech makes a potential cause for having a rebirth in the hell of pulling tongues. Tantric practice commitment, or samaya, is another matter that needs awareness and dutiful concern, as indicated in these two sources:

"The vajrayana vow, samaya, is even more difficult to keep than the bodhisattva vow. Because the vajrayana vow of samaya is so stringent, someone who undertakes it can only achieve one of two fates. Once you take samaya you become like a snake in a vertical bamboo tube: you’re either going up, or you’re going down. You can’t sneak out the side [Rinpoche laughs]. As for the number of rules with the samaya vow, they are numbered in the hundreds of thousands."​
— A teaching from Songs of Barway Dorje, Part 2, by Bardor Tulku Rinpoche. Translated by Lama Yeshe Gyamtso.​

"An empowerment carries in itself a great force, a powerful blessing, and an important manifestation of compassion. The benefit of the empowerment obtained by the disciple largely depends, however, on the observance of sacred commitments accompanying it. It is said that if commitments are respected, the disciple will obtain liberation, if they are transgressed, the disciple will fall into inferior realms.​
To understand how crucial these commitments are in the Vajrayana, it is said that a follower of this path is like a snake trapped in a bamboo stalk. There are only two possibilities, to ascend or descend; exiting on the side is impossible. In the same way, the Vajrayana practitioner, whether respecting or transgressing the samayas from the empowerments he or she has received, can only ascend or descend without choice of a third path.​
From a certain point of view, the commitments of the Vajrayana may appear impossible to observe, because there are so many. The major monastic ordination already has a relatively important number of rules, 253 rules for the monks (bhiksu) and 440 for the nun (bhiksum). Some tantric texts claim that there are no less than 10,100,000 samayas related to the Vajrayana practice! However, when one understands the function of the Vajrayana and even more when one is truly committed to its practice, things appear easier. Indeed, it is said that the identification of our three doors to the three vajras of the deity is enough for the observance of the 10,100,000 samayas. This means that all commitments are maintained to the extent that one’s body is assimilated to the deity’s body, one’s speech to the mantra, and one’s mind to the meditative absorption (Sanskrit, samadhi)."
Drikung Dharma Surya Center website's article Importance of Hinayana vows

If we follow any practice paths with strict regulations, then it's important to study and have comprehensive awareness of what is asked of us in return for the blessings that we receive. In tantra it's essential to see one's teacher as the Buddha so that you receive the teachings in the proper respectful and open mindset. Likewise, it's important to be careful with the Mahayana Buddhist concept of skillful means and not get lost into deluded impressions on superficial basis. For example, how the provocative visual images of tantric Buddhist deities help us is because the overall meaning is to lead beyond dualistic notions: Sexually embracing deities aren't actually copulating in the usual vulgar sense, but expressing a union of emptiness and clarity in our pristine nature; and wrathful looking Buddhist deities aren't actually angry in their hearts, but expressing a frightful visage in order to help move past stubborn spiritual obstacles, such as our own impatience and anger issues, with the least possible harm to sentient beings. However, you shouldn't take my words alone for anything, but get inspired to study how often these are stated among Vajrayana teachers, how they are philosophized, and then gradually refine your perception whether these claims hold to the highest standards of all-benevolent wisdom.

No one is asked to give blind belief, but having openness to gaining insight is a sure sign of correct devotion that every teacher would rejoice over. Studying isn't for the sake of becoming a scholar or feeding the intellect with theories, but the unsurpassed benefit sought after is the opening our own true heart.

Songs and Poems by Buddhist Enlightened Masters, with Practical Wisdom and Giving Advice

Here we share songs and poems by realized Buddhist masters who share their practical wisdom and offer advice.

Please note that we have another topic for sharing haikus in a more free flowing context:

Song of the Enchanting Wildwoods​

by Longchen Rabjam

In Sanskrit: sāna-ānantavāti
In Tibetan: nags tshal kun tu dga’ ba’i gtam

I prostrate to my guru and the Three Jewels!

Her form, a peaceful grove of fresh blossoms,
Pleasingly dappled with the soothing moonlight of compassion —
The sole restful tonic for those long exhausted —
I honor the miraculous wildwoods,
Which I see now as if for the first time.

Since I am broken-hearted here in the city of existence,
My mind sends these tidings its own way —
A story about resorting to the peaceful forest
For someone who will apply their heart to the Dharma path.

I see the truth that this life won’t last and is swiftly heading toward ruin,
That even this body which I’ve so lavishly cared for will be lost,
And I’ll have to head off alone to parts unknown.
So now, I’m off to the wildwoods.

When I get distracted, I lose sight of the path to freedom —
Which is solely responsible for prolonging my saṃsāric suffering.
Now that I’ve seen the plague of conceptual thinking,
I’m off to live in the unborn peace of the wildwoods.

The busy cities are bonfires of desire.
I see now that if I catch the terrible plague of existence,
I’ll just keep wandering in the canyons of saṃsāra.
So, I’m off right now to the wildwoods.

Every being in existence is threatened by affliction
And totally bound by terrifying chains of duality.
Because each one has at some point or another been my mother or father,
To free them, I must go to the wildwoods.

All these outer things we keep looking to
Are impermanent and completely unreliable —
Seeing how they change like autumn clouds,
My heart knows I must go to the peaceful wildwoods.

The sun of the good times of yore has set
And the moon of mean people is on the rise;
The darkness of evildoing māras closes in on all sides.
I see it, so I must go to the wildwoods right now.

People are so difficult to be with —
The good ones won’t lead the way, and the bad ones never stop.
At the slightest provocation, their mood can shift unpredictably.
No matter what I do, they’re never satisfied.
So, I can’t stay here — I’m going to the wildwoods.

If I don’t take charge of my own mind,
No one else is going to steer the course for me.
If I’m really going to give the best counsel to my own mind, it’s this:
Don’t stay here — you must go to the wildwoods.

Spending time with the spiritually immature diminishes my virtue
And certainly makes me more negative.
To make sure I’m totally engaged in the positive,
From today on, I must go to the wildwoods.

These days, when you spend time with somebody,
You might make a quick friend,
But at a moment’s notice,
They can become as unbearable as an enemy.
Therefore, I can’t stay — I’m going to the wildwoods.

Alas, even the light of the Sage’s teachings
Is drawing down upon the peaks of the western mountains.
Once it has set, the lion’s roar of the true Dharma
Will not be heard again.
So, I’m off to the wildwoods.

When explained well, nobody pays attention.
Poor explanations contradict the true Dharma.
Since beings prefer to believe that the buddhas have taught only
That they should do what they like, and nothing else,
When I teach the real Dharma way, everyone reviles me like an enemy.
For whatever reason, when they teach non-Dharma these days,
People love it, even though it sends them off to the lower realms.
I simply can’t understand what they’re up to.
Seeing all this, since I aim to accomplish the benefit of beings,
I can’t stay. I won’t stay. I’m going to the wildwoods.

Even though your body is beautiful with discipline,
You soar on the wings of the three trainings,
And you’ve plunged into the lotus lake of study and contemplation,
If you aren’t also wealthy, everyone just reviles and ignores you.
The evil-acting irreligious rich are treated like gods.
This is an age when fools are marketed better than the holy ones.
Seeing these signs of the times, I’m off to the wildwoods.

Wherever I look,
Apart from people putting their energy into the material world,
Those practicing the Dharma path are as rare as a supernova.[1]
Having seen this to be true,
If I’m going to accomplish the true Dharma,
I can’t stay any longer — I’m going to the wildwoods.

Compared to those who seek distraction with every thought,
People who care for themselves according to the Dharma are altogether rare.
Those who actually practice it are bullied and disregarded.
Thus, I can’t stay — I’m going to the wildwoods.

Even if you spend this life in introspection,
It passes so quickly, without pausing day or night.
Having seen that laziness always gets the better of my virtue
And that this mind won’t settle even a little,
I’m off to the wildwoods right now.

Because I’m distracted by the eight worldly concerns
Such as preferring praise to blame,
Even though I live spiritually, its all for this one life.
So, I can’t stay — I’m going to the wildwoods.

All the good times I had until yesterday
Are now as real as last night’s dream,
Though sometimes they do become objects of pleasant nostalgia.
Seeing how meaningless this is, I’m going to the wildwoods.

Even savoring my desires, I never feel content.
All the pleasures that I’ve experienced
From birth till now
Would not satisfy me, even if they returned.
This mind is addicted to desire.
If I’m not even securing this life’s happiness in this way,
How will I ever achieve the nirvāṇa I seek
Which ensures benefit that lasts through all lives?
So, I’m done following the desire highway.
O dear heart, we can do it:
Let’s abandon these desires and get to the wildwoods.

Since all this thinking hasn’t done me much good,
In order to grow accustomed to observing my own mind,
I’m going today to the wildwoods,
Where you, dear mind, will realize lasting happiness.

Once I’m lying on my deathbed,
I’ll have to leave everything behind and travel on — alone.
This time is certain to arrive before long.
So, right now, I’m going to the wildwoods.

Because this time is incredibly degenerate,
Even if someone like me were to teach,
It won’t really benefit others.
Because I aspire to be of benefit to future ages,
I can’t stay here — I’m going to meditate in the wildwoods.

O mind, dismiss these preoccupations
That are of no help to yourself, and no help to others.
You must, from today forth,
Go to the wildwoods to meditate on the nature of mind
In order to accomplish what will definitely bring us benefit.

But absolutely, I make the noble heartfelt aspiration
That a time may come when I receive
The opportunity to be of benefit to others,
Accomplishing their needs on a vast scale
Without thinking of myself for even a moment.
Now though, if I have one thought in my heart,
It’s this: don’t wait — go meditate in the wildwoods right now.

In order to encourage those below me to listen
And especially uphold the buddhadharma,
My primary concern will be the exchange of the essential teachings.
This will spread the Sage’s doctrine
And increase the intelligence of my own mind.

Whatever I conceive of is impermanent and meaningless.
Even the best conditioned things are bound to fall apart.
Having seen this to be true,
I will seek the sacred undeceptive mind —
The essential and indestructible truth.

All the Dharma collections that the Sage has taught,
Come down to giving up desires
And settling evenly[2] in the peaceful truth — nothing else.
O mind, consider your mortality,
And be intent to go to the wildwoods.

The wildwoods have been universally praised by the victors.
So, they encourage anyone who has few desires and is rich in contentment
To go live in the wildwoods.

Now when there’s all this unstable thinking,
The primary task is to settle mind inwardly.
For it projects itself toward objects in the midst of many distractions,
Unable to rest for even a moment.
Even if well-guarded, it follows compulsively after emotions.
Therefore, I can’t stay here. I’m going to meditate in the wildwoods.

Intellectually understanding phenomena’s nature
And leaving them as mere objects of mindfulness is no help.
So, if I’m going to become intimate with the true nature of phenomena,
I can’t wait — I must go to the wildwoods.

The wilds naturally entail few distractions and obligations
And are free from the suffering of anxiety and adversity.
So today, be happy go to the peaceful wildwoods
Which far surpass the joys of the cities of the higher realms.

Well, my dear mind, listen now to the charms of the wildwoods:

Precious trees fit to offer to the victors,
Abound there, branches laden with fruit —
Their leaves and flowers fragrant and blossoming,
Graced with the scent of incense and mist on the breeze.

Cascades of water descend with the gentle rumble of bass drums.
The hills above are bathed in the coolness of the moon
And covered with a thick robe of clouds,
Above which shine the stars and constellations in their perfect beauty.

Flocks of geese glide above fresh smelling ponds and
Birds and deer roam freely about.
Bees buzz melodiously everywhere among the
Lotus and utpala flowers, among the wish-fulfilling trees.

The trees sway, dancing back and forth, back and forth,
And the tips of their branches bow,
As if lovingly welcoming guests,
Saying, “We’re glad you’ve come!”

The cool, pure ponds are covered with lotus flowers
Whose faces are bright as if smiling upon us.
Surrounding are groves of flowers and trees
And grassy meadows holding the robes of the sky.
All of this shining like the stars on a clear night
Or gods playing in pleasure groves.

While the cuckoo sings his intoxicating, piercing song,
And the flowers sway in the cool seasonal breeze,
Cloud-elephants trumpet their joy
And the appearance of rain heralds cooling goodness.

In all four seasons,
Guiltless subsistence can be had
From readily available fruit, leaves, and roots.

In the woods, the afflictions naturally subside
For there is no one to say unpleasant things.
Having gone far from busy cities,
In the woods, peaceful meditation naturally grows.
In the woods, the mind is tamed as it conforms to the true Dharma,
And one can find the bliss of inner peace.

In short, the charms of the wildwoods are endless —
Even if I had eons, I could not conclusively extol them.

The attainment of awakening by all the victors of the three times
Only occurs when staying in the wildwoods —
Never in stressful cities and countries.

Offering flowers and incense to all the buddhas
For eons as numerous as the grains of sand in the Ganges
Would bring but a fraction of the merit gained
From taking seven steps in the direction of retreat,
With the qualities of the wildwoods in one’s mind.
I encourage you thus to contemplate the qualities of the woods
As detailed in the Moon Lamp Sūtra.[3]

Once you’ve gone there, you’ll live near caves and cliffs,
In areas rich with medicinal herbs, amidst flowers and trees,
Or in a simple thatched hut made of grass and leaves.
You’ll sustain yourself with the bare necessities
Such as water, kindling, and fruit
And have the space to apply yourself day and night to what is wholesome.

There, inspired by the turning of the leaves,
You’ll realize with certainty that
Beauty, health, and various abilities
All gradually change—that they lack solidity:
What is called “the diminishing of one’s assets.”

There, inspired by the falling of the leaves,
You’ll realize with certainty that
Friends, strangers, and even your own body
Are such that they separate,
Even if they are together now, for the moment:
What is called “the reality of loss.”

There, inspired by the pond losing its lotus flowers,
You’ll realize with certainty that
All wealth, assets, and sensual objects
Are in the end changeable, lacking solidity:
What is called “the exhaustion of what is amassed.”

There, inspired by the passing of the months and seasons,
You’ll realize with certainty that
Even this body, like the blooming flowers of late spring,
Changes with time, its youth passing:
What is called “the arrival of the Lord of Death.”

There, inspired by the ripening and falling of fruit
You’ll realize with certainty that
Youth, the prime of life, and old age are just so,
That there’s no certainty of when death will occur:
What is called “what is born is bound to die.”

There, inspired by reflections appearing in ponds,
You’ll realize with certainty that
As the diverse range of phenomena appear,
They lack inherent nature,
Just like illusions, mirages,
Or reflections of the moon in water:
What is called “empty of true existence.”

Having thus internalized the nature of all that is,
Sit upright on a comfortable seat, with the body at ease,
And cultivate bodhicitta, concerned with the needs of beings.

Don’t dwell on the past or fantasize about the future,
Don’t engineer this natural ongoing presence.
Don’t direct the mind, or draw it within,
Just let it settle without distraction,
Resting without grasping or conceptually structuring this open clarity
That is vivid, quiet, lucid, illuminating.
This is the wisdom intent of the buddhas of the three times.

Other than settling, easily relaxed
In the innate experience of the way your mind abides —
There’s nothing you need to contemplate.
So, you can release the effort it takes to engineer it,
For it is not an object of conceptual elaboration —
It can’t be conceived of or investigated.
Yet, it is the wisdom intent of all the buddhas.

Therefore, to quiet the tangled mess of thought,
All you need to do is look into the intimately peaceful nature of mind.

At the end of the session, dedicate without reifying the three spheres.

In between sessions,
Cultivate your appreciation of impermanence and death.
Conditioned things have no attainable essence and are rife with problems.
Consider how saṃsāra’s nature is also like this.
Once you have realized how the play of all external appearance
Are like dream or illusion,
Let everything be within the equality of the experiential dimension of space.

Don’t affirm or reject anything.
Give up attempting to engineer experience.
By living in this fashion, anything that happens
Will help reveal the unborn and unceasing nature of mind,
Your innate nature, just as it is.

Also at night, when it is time to sleep,
Release your mind into a conceptually unstructured experience
Within the reality of its unborn nature.

When you wake and appearances dawn,
Repeatedly relate to them as being ineffable by nature like illusions.

Once you have seen this precious treasury of your mind’s nature
To be such that nothing need be added or removed,
You will cross the painful ocean of existence
To the simple experience of that which is eternally peaceful
And entails no suffering,
Arriving at the boundless state of buddhahood.

In the meantime, consider the magical play of concepts that occur
As the natural arising of your essence, to which you need not grasp.
Thoughts arise as the display of dharmakāya’s essence.

When appearances occur as you are up and about,
Think, “I will guide these beings.
May I be their protector, refuge, and friend.”
Once you have entrusted your mind to bodhicitta,
Bear in mind that your conduct should ideally be pure.
You needn’t think about anything other than the needs of beings.
This is the miraculous tree of compassion,
Which nourishes the shoots of the omniscient victors.

This path surpasses the śrāvakas and pratyekabuddhas.
For it is a great lake of innumerable qualities from which
The light of immeasurable compassion spreads —
The incredible source of the precious state of perfect buddhahood.

Nothing could be more incredible than this.
Thus, anyone who is wise
Should definitely go meditate in the wildwoods
To accomplish sublime and peaceful awakening.

If in this way I do not accomplish the Dharma now,
Later, who knows what direction I’ll head in
And how difficult it will be to reconnect with the path at that point.
Then, there will be nothing I can do.
So now, while I have the chance, I must apply myself to the Dharma.

Nobody knows for sure whether they will die today or tomorrow.
Nothing is totally reliable,
The Lord of Death is drawing ever nearer —
And I have no power to send him back.
So, quickly, quickly, I’m off to meditate in the wildwoods.

When death comes,
None of our wealth, friends, or relatives
Will be of any help to us.
A real practitioner will have nothing to fear of death.
So, let death come quickly here — I’m going to the wildwoods.

It won’t be long before everyone, everything, and I will all be gone.
This is certain to come to pass.
So I can accomplish a bit of the Dharma now,
I’m definitely going to live in the wildwoods.

Those who live an ethically impeccable life with
Abundant study,
Good meditation,
Life in the wildwoods,
And training in what is virtuous
Shall fearlessly discover great joy in the face of death.

The cause of their joy is exactly life in the wilds.
Thus, I am leaving to meditate there.
Nobody could know for certain
If the time when I shall be no more will come tomorrow or not.
On the morning of my death,
Nothing will protect me other than the Dharma.
For the Dharma is my protector, my home, and my friend.
It points me to the fine manor of the higher realms.

Thus, mind, remember that death is coming!
I must go to live in the wildwoods for the love of Dharma.

My mind sent this letter to itself.
Mind, if you’re listening, you are fortunate in the Dharma.
This message, spoken for your benefit, came straight from the heart.
Mind, take it, and head to the wildwoods.

This song of the enchanting wildwoods
Was penned by the man from Samyé
Whose mind was turned to liberation by renunciation,
On the highest mountain peak of Being at Ease in the Nature of Mind,
So he would wholeheartedly head to the wildwoods.

Through any virtue arisen from this,
May all beings extract their minds from the city of saṃsāra
And find freedom all together
In the enchanting wildwoods of omniscient liberation.

This Song of the Enchanting Wildwoods was written by Ngagi Wangpo (Longchen Rabjam), the well-educated poet from glorious Samyé Monastery, on the highest peak of the mountain when renunciation surged in him for our saṃsāric home.

Source: Lotsawa House, a virtual library of translations from Tibetan, including works by Indian Buddhist masters preserved in the Tibetan language. Translated by Timothy Hinkle, 2016.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.