The Mandala Offering
Fourthly, there is the mandala offering. Visualize the field of merit in the sky before you, as in the refuge practice.
On a clean mandala plate made from precious metal or some other material, and anointed with scented water and bajung, arrange thirty-seven or seven piles of flowers. Alternatively, if you are not doing this as a daily practice, it is sufficient simply to visualize.Whichever way you do it, begin by offering the ordinary nirmanakaya mandala of a billion-fold universe made up of a thousand million worlds, each consisting of four continents, Mount Meru and the realms of the gods, and completely filled with abundant riches of the environment and of its inhabitants. Offer especially your body, possessions and the merit you have accumulated.
In the space above, infinite clouds of offering arise as the display of kayas and wisdoms in the realm of Akanishtha-Ghanavyuha. This is the extraordinary sambhogakaya mandala.In the sphere above that, on the primordially unarisen ground of the special dharmakaya mandala, arrange piles representing “awareness reaching full maturity”, the appearance aspect of unceasing luminosity.
Offer all this, considering that inside every atom there are many more pure realms, as numerous as all the atoms in the universe, and also with the knowledge that the inconceivable nature of reality permeates everything.
With yearning devotion, pray as follows:
Together with all sentient beings, may I complete the accumulations of merit and wisdom, purify my emotional and cognitive obscurations, develop the qualities of experience and realization in my mindstream, and ultimately enjoy infinite realms of the three kayas.
With this thought of intense devotion, recite the following verses:
One billion universes a hundred times ten million worlds,
Filled with all the wealth of gods and human beings, like the “seven precious gems”,
My bodies, my possessions, and my sources of merit, all together, I offer them in their entirety, so that
I may be born as a nirmanakaya and turn the wheel of Dharma, liberating all beings!
The highest heaven of great bliss, the realm of “Tukpo Köpa”,
Perfect with the five certainties and the mandala of the five buddha families, and
Inconceivably vast clouds of offerings of every variety of sensual and emotional stimulants—
With this offering, may we enjoy the perfection of the sambhogakaya fields!
Where all appearance and existence are completely pure from the very beginning—the youthful vase body,
Ornamented by the play of dharmata, unceasing compassion,
The realm where all clinging to the perception of kayas and tiklés is naturally liberated—
With this wisdom offering, may we enjoy the freedom of the dharmakaya reality!
Accumulation of the Kusali: Chö
Fifthly, there is Accumulation of the Kusali. In an instant, visualize the field of merit as before, and below it all the sentient beings of the six realms, led by those who have harmed you.
Whilst reciting “PHAT! By abandoning all attachment to this body held so dear, the demonic forces of seduction through desire are destroyed…etc.” visualize the following.
Abandoning the attachment that causes you to cherish your own body with an attitude of clinging, visualize the essence of your consciousness in the form of a white drop the size of a pea, which shoots out through the crown of your head, and is transformed into the wisdom dakini black Tröma (Krodhikali). She is adorned with silk and five bone ornaments. A sow’s head protrudes from her crown, and her right hand waves a hooked knife through the air, slicing the skull off your old, abandoned body at the level of the eyebrows. The skull grows as large as the billion-fold universe and is placed upon a hearth made from three skulls, each the size of Mount Meru. The remainder of your body is then cut into pieces and placed inside the skull-cup.
Below it is the vertical stroke of a letter A, from which the fire of wisdom now starts to blaze. Above it is a white syllable HAM, turned upside down, from which nectar begins to flow down into the skull-cup, melting and boiling its contents.
Reciting OM purifies the contents of the skull-cup, expelling any impurities in the form of purple steam. AH multiplies the pure contents, producing an unimaginable quantity of wisdom nectar. Through HUNG, the wisdom nectar maintains its essence, but is transformed into great clouds of sky-treasury wheels that arise as whatever is desirable or enjoyable. Repeat the three syllables OM AH HUNG many times.
Then, from your heart emanate innumerable offering goddesses who offer the first portion to the deities of the field of merit, bringing them immaculate bliss and satisfaction. Together with all sentient beings, you complete the two accumulations, purify the two obscurations and receive the two kinds of accomplishment (siddhi).
The leftovers are then given to the beings of the six realms. The assembled harm-doers, in particular, receive their share as heaps of flesh, blood and bones, and whatever they desire. Because they enjoy what you offer them, your karmic debts are eliminated, and their malevolent and vindictive natures are pacified. Your body becomes an immaculate rainbow body, and your mind finds rest, free of concept, in the dharmakaya.
At the end, all notions of subject and object represented by the offering, recipients of the offering and so on, are purified into the expanse of the luminous Great Perfection, the fundamental state of the mind that lacks any inherent existence. Rest in this natural and uncontrived state, free from the marks of the three conceptual spheres (of subject, object and action).
By abandoning all attachment to this body held so dear, the demonic forces of seduction through desire are destroyed.
My consciousness shoots out through the aperture of Brahma into all-pervading space, uniting rigpa with space,
Destroys the demonic force of death and transforms into Tröma:
In her right hand, the hooked knife that symbolizes destruction of the demonic force of conflicting emotions.
Slicing the top off my corpse’s skull, she destroys the demonic force of the aggregates of ego.
Her left hand holds the skull-cup to carry out her activity,
Places it on the fireplace of three human heads representing the three kayas;
Inside it is the corpse, now an offering as vast as a billion worlds,
Melted into nectar by an “A stroke” and HAM,
Purified, multiplied and transformed through the power of OM AH HUNG
OM AH HUNG
Once this mantra has been recited countless times, continue with:
The guests above—the root and lineage lamas and yidams—by my offering are pleased,
Whereby merit and wisdom are accumulated, and ordinary and supreme siddhis attained.
The guests below, belonging to samsara, are satisfied by my offering; karmic debts are repaid.
In particular, by satisfying malicious and negative forces,
All illnesses, destructive influences and obstacles are pacified, dissolving into all-pervading space;
Harmful circumstances and clinging to self are exploded.
Finally offering, offerer and guests—all
Dissolve into the nature of Dzogpachenpo, the great simplicity: AH
Firstly, there is the visualization of the objects of refuge. As you recite the verses beginning, “Emaho! My entire perception, spontaneously perfect…etc.” visualize the following.
Wherever space pervades, perception pervades, and the entire extent of your perception is a pure realm. As the ordinary way you perceive dissolves into space, the paradise of infinite purity arises by itself, spontaneously perfect, as the great Akanishtha Palace of Lotus Light, manifestly sublime in its design, ornamentation and limitless structure.
You are at its centre. In essence, you are Yeshe Tsogyal, but you appear in the form of Vajrayogini, red in colour, with her right hand holding a hooked knife, and her left a skull-cup filled with blood. In the crook of her left arm she holds a khatvanga trident. She is standing upon a lotus, sun and corpse, with her right leg extended and the left slightly bent. She is adorned with silk and bone ornaments and gazes longingly, with her three eyes, at her master’s heart.
In the sky before you, level with the top of your head, is a multi-coloured lotus with a hundred thousand petals. Seated there, upon sun and moon discs as wide as the anthers of the lotus, is your own root master, the embodiment of all objects of refuge. He appears in the form of Orgyen Tsokyé Dorje (the Lake-born Vajra of Oddiyana), white with a tinge of red, and as youthful as an eight year old boy.
His two eyes are wide open in a piercing gaze. On his body he wears a white vajra undergarment and, on top of this, in layers, a red robe, a dark blue mantrayana tunic, a red monastic shawl decorated with a golden flower pattern, and a maroon cloak of silk brocade. He has one face and two hands. In his right hand, he holds a five-pronged vajra at his heart; and in his left, which rests in the gesture of equanimity, he holds a skull-cup in the centre of which is a vase of longevity filled with the nectar of deathless wisdom. Cradled in his left arm is a three-pointed khatvanga representing the consort Mandarava. On his head, he wears a five-petalled lotus hat. Wrathful and smiling, he blazes magnificently with the splendour of the major and minor marks. He is seated with his two feet in the royal posture.
He is completely surrounded by a rainbow sphere and a lattice of five-coloured rays of light, in and out of which swirl orbs of rainbow light. Then, arising as the display of your root master’s wisdom mind are the eight vidyadharas of India, the eighty-four lords of yogins, the mahasiddhas of Tibet such as the twenty-five disciples, and many more. There are those on the level of vidyadhara, siddha and pandita from India and Tibet. There are infinite peaceful and wrathful yidams associated with the six great classes of tantra, and an assembly of dakas and dakinis of the three abodes, Dharma protectors, guardians, wealth deities and treasure masters. Together they appear like billowing clouds; all of them uniting luminosity and emptiness like the moon’s reflection in water, or a rainbow. Visualize them in such a way that your ordinary perception ceases automatically.
My entire perception, spontaneously perfect, is a realm of infinite purity,
The Glorious Copper Coloured Mountain, arrayed in complete and perfect detail. Here, in its very centre,
My own body is Vajrayogini,
With one face and two hands, brilliant red and holding hooked knife and skull,
My two feet gracefully poised, my three eyes gazing into the sky.
Above my head, on a blossoming hundred thousand-petalled lotus, sun and moon disc seat,
Inseparable from my own root master, embodiment of all sources of refuge, appears
Guru Rinpoche, in the supreme nirmanakaya form of the “Lake-born Vajra”.
His body glows with youth, white with a tinge of red,
He wears a gown, monastic shawl, cloak and robe,
With one face, two hands and seated in royal poise.
In his right hand he holds the vajra, in his left a skull-cup
containing the vase of immortality,
On his head he wears a five-petalled lotus hat,
Cradled in his left arm he holds the “supreme consort” of
bliss and emptiness,
Concealed as the three-pointed khatvanga trident.
He presides amidst a shimmering aura of rays and rings of rainbow light.
All around him, enveloped in a beautiful lattice of white, blue, yellow, red and green light,
Are King Trisong Detsen, the twenty-five disciples,
The pandits, siddhas and vidyadharas of India and Tibet, yidam deities,
Dakinis, and dharmapalas and protectors who keep the samaya—all gather like billowing clouds,
Visualised vivid and distinct, in the great equality of clarity and emptiness.
Having visualized this clearly, recite:
In the north-west of the land of Oddiyana,
In the heart of a lotus flower,
Endowed with the most marvellous attainments,
You are renowned as the “Lotus Born”,
Surrounded by hosts of dakinis.
Following in your footsteps,
I pray to you: Come, inspire me with your blessing!
GURU PADMA SIDDHI HUNG
As you invoke the deities with the seven-line prayer, feeling an intense yearning and devotion, Orgyen Pema Thötreng and an ocean-like assembly of victorious deities of the three roots arrive from the nirmanakaya realm of the glorious mountain in Ngayab Ling to the south-west. They descend like a great mass of sesame seeds that have just burst from their pod, and merge inseparably with the samayasattvas.
The Seven Branch Practice
Secondly, there is the seven branch practice.
Mentally create hundreds, thousands, and eventually countless, emanations of your own body, and then offer prostrations together with all the beings of the three worlds, expressing tremendous respect through your body, speech and mind.Offer actual, prepared offerings, as well as those created in your own imagination, which you can imagine sending out, until they fill the whole of space, like the clouds of offering of the bodhisattva Samantabhadra.
Confess, with intense regret and remorse, all the harmful acts and transgressions that you have accumulated with body, speech or mind throughout your infinite lives in samsara. Consider that they gather together into a black heap on your tongue. Confess them, and vow not to commit them ever again. Then, as an antidote, rays of light shine out from the enlightened body, speech and mind of the deities in the field of merit, strike the pile, and purify it like a stain that is washed clean away. Rejoice, without the slightest feeling of envy or jealousy, in all the absolute and relative sources of virtue of samsara, nirvana or the path. Implore the buddhas and bodhisattvas of the ten directions to turn the Dharma-wheel of the three yanas of the shravakas, pratyekabuddhas and bodhisattvas. Pray and request that they do not pass into nirvana until samsara is empty. Dedicate all the causes of virtue accumulated throughout the past, present and future, represented by the virtue gathered through this practice, as the cause of all beings attaining enlightenment. Keeping the meditations for these seven branches in mind, perform prostrations and recite:
As many times as there are atoms in the universe,
I multiply my body and offer you prostrations.
With both real offerings and those created in the mind through the power of samadhi,
I offer the entire universe in one vast “gesture of offering”.
All the harmful actions of my body, speech and mind,
I confess and purify in the luminosity of dharmakaya.
Whether they be relative or absolute,
I rejoice in all positive, virtuous actions.
According to the receptivity and needs of different beings,
I implore you to turn the wheel of Dharma of the three yanas.
Till samsara is completely empty, and all beings liberated,
Do not pass into nirvana, but remain here among us, I pray.
All the merit and positive actions of past, present and future,
I dedicate so that all beings may attain supreme enlightenment.
Thirdly, there is the section of prayer and receiving empowerment.
The attainment of liberation and omniscience depends upon the realization of co-emergent wisdom within your own mind; such a realization is dependent upon the blessing of the master; and whether or not you receive his blessings depends entirely upon creating the auspicious circumstances by the power of your devotion.
Come to the firm decision that your own root master has exactly the same enlightened qualities as the Buddha, and yet he is even greater than the Buddha in terms of the kindness he shows you. Generate this kind of conviction.
Then, focusing your entire mind, heart and soul upon the master, and placing all your trust in him or her, think:
From now until I attain enlightenment, in happiness or sorrow, in circumstances good or bad, in situations high or low, I rely on you completely! You know me!
Practise with an intense yearning and devotion that affects you physically and mentally: the hairs on your body stand on end, tears stream from your eyes, and your mind is so captivated by the master that you can think of nothing else.
O Guru Rinpoche, Precious One,
You are the embodiment of
The compassion and blessing of all the buddhas,
The only protector of beings.
My body, my possessions, my heart and soul
Without hesitation, I surrender to you!
From now until I attain enlightenment,
In happiness or sorrow, in circumstances good or bad, in situations high or low:
I rely on you completely, O Pemajungné, you know me!
OM AH HUNG VAJRA GURU PADMA SIDDHI HUNG
Recite the mantra as many times as possible, and then recite:
I have no one else to turn to;
In these evil times, the beings of the Kaliyuga
Are sinking in a swamp of intense and unbearable suffering.
Free us from all this, O great Guru !
Grant us the four empowerments, O blessed one !
Direct your realization into our minds, O compassionate one !
Purify our emotional and cognitive obscurations, O powerful one!
When my life is at an end,
With my entire perception the heaven of Ngayab Ling--the Glorious Copper Coloured Mountain,
The nirmanakaya pure land of indivisible appearance and emptiness--
My body, Vajrayogini,
Is transformed into a radiant, shimmering sphere of light
And merging, inseparable, with Padmasambhava,
I shall attain buddhahood.
Then, from the play of vast primordial wisdom,
Which is the miraculous manifestation of bliss and emptiness,
For every single being in the three realms,
Let me appear as their true guide, to lead them to liberation—
Jetsün Padma, grant this, I pray!
I pray to you from the bottom of my heart, It’s not just words or empty mouthings:
Grant your blessings from the depth of your wisdom mind,
And cause all my good aspirations to be fulfilled, I pray !
Recite these verses several times and then practise the yoga of prayer and invocation, by saying the mantra OM AH HUNG VAJRA GURU PADMA SIDDHI HUNG, as you bring to mind its meaning.
It begins with OM AH HUNG, which are the seed syllables of the three vajras (of body, speech and mind).
VAJRA signifies the dharmakaya since [like the adamantine vajra] it cannot be “cut” or destroyed by the elaborations of conceptual thought.
GURU signifies the sambhogakaya, which is “heavily” laden with the qualities of the seven aspects of union.
PADMA signifies the nirmanakaya, the radiant awareness of the wisdom of discernment arising as the lotus family of enlightened speech.Remembering the qualities of the great Guru of Oddiyana, who is inseparable from these three kayas, pray with the continuous devotion that is the intrinsic display of the nature of mind, free from the elaboration of conceptual thought.
All the supreme and ordinary accomplishments—SIDDHI—are obtained through the power of this prayer, and by thinking, “HUNG! May they be bestowed upon my mindstream, this very instant!” Apply yourself to the mantra recitation, while recognizing your environment as the Palace of the Glorious Copper Coloured Mountain, and all beings within it as the Oddiyana Guru and the assembly of dakas and dakinis. Remember that all sound is the spontaneous sound of the mantra, and that, secretly, the movements of mind liberate themselves, without leaving any trace behind, just like the path of a bird in flight. At the end, recite the lineage prayer, while bringing to mind the wonderful qualities of the root and lineage masters.
In the heavenly realm, free from all dimensions and extremes,
Is the Primordial Buddha, the dharmakaya Samantabhadra;
His wisdom-play, like the reflection of the moon in water, the sambhogakaya Vajrasattva;
Perfect with all buddha-qualities, nirmanakaya Garab Dorje:
To you I pray: Grant me your blessings and empowerment!
Shri Singha, treasure of the ultimate Dharma;
Manjushrimitra, universal ruler of the Nine Yanas;
Jnanasutra, great pandita Vimalamitra:
To you I pray: Show me the way to make my mind free!
Padmasambhava, sole ornament of this world of ours,
Your supreme heart-disciples, Trisong Detsen, Vairochana, and Yeshé Tsogyal;
Longchenpa, who revealed the symbols of a vast ocean of wisdom mind treasures;
Jikmé Lingpa, entrusted with the space treasury of the dakinis:
To you I pray: Grant me liberation and fruition!
Through true renunciation and disgust for samsara,
May I rely upon my vajra lama meaningfully, as though he were my very eyes,
Following his instructions to the letter, and taking to heart the profound practices he gives,
Not just now and then, but with diligent and constant application,
May I become worthy of the transmission of his profound wisdom mind!
Since all that appears and exists, samsara and nirvana, from the very beginning is the Akanishtha pure realm of the buddhas,
Where all appearance is liberated into perfect buddha forms;
all sounds are purified into mantra; all thoughts are matured into dharmakaya;
And since Dzogpachenpo is free of any effort of abandoning and adopting,
And since rigpa’s self-radiance is beyond thoughts and experience,
May I see the naked reality of dharmata!
May all ordinary clinging to reality be totally liberated into rainbow light,
And the experiences of kayas and tiklés increase!
May rigpa’s strength be enhanced, maturing into the fullness of sambhogakaya perfection!
As all perception of phenomenal reality wears out, and the
conceptual mind dies into the state of total enlightenment,
May I gain the stronghold of the youthful vase body, free from birth and death!
But if I am not able to master the practice of the great Atiyoga in this life,
And this gross physical body is not liberated into the pure space of the rainbow body,
Then when the constituents that form this life fall apart
At the moment of death may the ground luminosity arise as the dharmakaya, pure from the beginning;
May appearances of the bardo experience be liberated into sambhogakaya forms;
And, perfecting the path of trekchö and tögal,
May I be liberated, as naturally as a child running into its mother’s lap!
In this great secret mantrayana path of luminosity—Dzogpachenpo—the summit of all,
Enlightenment is to be sought nowhere but in the face of the dharmakaya.
If I am not liberated into the primordial state by actualizing this,
Then, by taking the sublime path of the five practices of “enlightenment without meditation,”
May I be born in one of the naturally emanated realms of the five buddha families,
And especially in the “Palace of Lotus Light,” the Zangdopalri heaven of Guru Rinpoche,
In the presence of the Lord of Orgyen himself, chief of the ocean of vidyadhara masters,
While he is celebrating the feast of the great secret mantra Dharma,
Let me be born as his favourite son or daughter,
To take upon myself the task of helping limitless beings!
Through the inspiration and blessing of the ocean of victorious vidyadharas,
By the truth of the dharmadhatu, beyond conception,
And with this free and well-favoured human form, may I
Train in the three activities of perfecting, ripening and purifying,
And by actualizing this auspicious interconnection, attain the state of buddhahood!
By making this aspiration and feeling an intense yearning and devotion, consider that the retinue dissolves into the root master. Then, from your root master, who is the embodiment of all the objects of refuge, you receive the four empowerments, according to the description in the root text.
From the letter OM in the Guru’s forehead, radiant and shimmering like moonlight,
Rays of light stream out and enter my forehead.
Negative actions of the body and obscurations of the channels are purified.
The blessing of the vajra body of the buddhas infuses me,
The vase empowerment is obtained,
I become a receptive vessel for the generation phase of kyérim,
The seed of the “completely matured vidyadhara” is sown.
The potential for obtaining the level of nirmanakaya is
implanted within me.
From the letter AH in his throat, blazing like a ruby,
Rays of light streak out and penetrate my throat.
Negative activity of the speech and obscurations of the inner air are purified,
The blessing of the vajra speech of the buddhas enters me,
The secret empowerment is obtained,
I become a receptive vessel for mantra recitation practice.
The seed of the “vidyadhara with power over life” is sown.
The potential for obtaining the level of sambhogakaya is implanted within me.
At his heart, from the letter HUNG, sky-coloured rays of light Pour out and plunge into my heart.
Negative activity of the mind and obscurations of the tiklé are purified.
The blessing of the vajra mind of all the buddhas is instilled in me,
The wisdom empowerment is obtained,
I become a receptive vessel for the “chandali” practice of bliss and emptiness,
The seed of the “mahamudra vidyadhara” is sown.
The potential for obtaining the level of dharmakaya is implanted within me.
Again, from HUNG in his heart, a second letter HUNG bursts out like a shooting star
And merges indistinguishably one with my own mind.
The karma of the “ground of all” and cognitive obscurations are purified,
The blessing of the vajra wisdom pervades me,
The absolute empowerment, symbolized by the Word, is obtained.
I become a receptive vessel for the primordial purity of Dzogpachenpo,
The seed of the “spontaneously accomplished vidyadhara” is sown.
The potential for the svabhavikakaya the final fruition is implanted within me.
After receiving the empowerments through combining the recitation with visualization, the master’s body, speech and mind merge inseparably with your own body, speech and mind (the three doors), and you experience a state of naked awareness and emptiness. Recite the mantra while maintaining this state of “nowness”, and then, as you conclude the session, recite: “When my life is at an end…etc.” and visualize the following dissolution as the perfection stage practice.
As a result of your intense longing for the master, his compassion for you increases, and he smiles and looks at you lovingly. From his heart, a single ray of warm, red light streams out and touches you, Vajrayogini, at your heart, so that your body and mind are instantly overcome by a feeling of bliss.
At the end, you melt into red light, which is of the nature of great bliss, and shrink to a pea-sized sphere of light inner air (prana) and mind indivisible. This sphere then flies up into Guru Rinpoche’s heart like a shooting spark, and there it merges with his wisdom mind. Rest in that state.
I visualize myself clearly as Vajrayogini. From the heart-centre of the lama a beam of light, red and warm, suddenly bursts out and touches my heart. Instantaneously I am transformed into a sphere of red light the size of a pea, which shoots up towards Padmasambhava, like a spark that spits from the fire. It dissolves into Guru Rinpoche’s heart, merges and becomes one with him: one taste.
Arise from the meditation, and, like a fish leaping out of water, visualize yourself in the basic form of the deity, and the environment as a pure realm, just as before.
Glorious tsawé lama, precious one,
Dwell on the lotus-seat in the depth of my heart,
Look upon me with the grace of your great compassion,
Grant me the attainments of body, speech and mind!
Towards the lifestyle and activity of the lama,
May wrong view not arise for even an instant, and
May I see whatever he does as a teaching for me.
Through such devotion, may his blessing inspire and fill my mind!
In all my lives, may I never be separated from the perfect lama;
And having benefited fully from the splendour of the Dharma,
May I perfect the qualities of the five paths and ten bhumis,
And swiftly attain the sublime level of Vajradhara!
Through this merit, may all beings
Complete the accumulations of merit and wisdom,
And so attain the dharmakaya and rupakaya
That come from merit and wisdom.
Through all the merit that beings have—
Whatever they have done, will do and are doing now,
May they attain the very same stages of perfection
As Samantabhadra did.
Just as the bodhisattva Manjushri knew to be the way,
And Samantabhadra too,
I shall follow in the footsteps of all the bodhisattvas,
And make a perfect dedication of these merits.
As all buddhas, past, present and future,
Praise the dedication of merit as supreme,
All my sources of merit I dedicate completely
So that all may perfect Samantabhadra’s “Good Actions”.
In all my lives, wherever I am born,
May I obtain the seven qualities of birth in higher realms.
As soon as I am born, may I meet the Dharma,
And have the freedom to practise it correctly.
Then, may I please the noble lama,
And put the Dharma into action day and night.
May I realize the Dharma, actualize its innermost meaning,
And so cross the ocean of existence in this very life.
May I teach the sacred Dharma to beings wandering in samsara,
And never tire or weary of working to help others.
Through my vast and impartial service to others,
May all beings attain buddhahood together, as one!
Recite additional general prayers of dedication and aspiration, but also the Prayer of Aspiration for the Copper-Coloured Mountain of Glory and the Secret Path to the Mountain of Glory.
In between sessions, the general practice is the yoga of recognizing sights, sounds and thoughts as deity, mantra and wisdom—the so-called “three transformations”—according to the explanation given above (in the section on the visualization for the mantra recitation). In particular, you should offer the first portion of your food and drink, considering that it has the nature of nectar, and any new clothes you may receive, considering them to be made from divine fabric, to the master at the crown of your head. Whatever you perceive through your six senses, good or bad, positive or negative, do not chase after ordinary thoughts, but instead maintain the vivid awareness of deity, mantra and wisdom.
At night, when it is time to sleep, pray for welfare of both yourself and all others, with the Sampa Lhundrupma or the Aspiration Prayer of Training in the Pure Realms of the Three Kayas. At the conclusion, the master descends through your aperture of Brahma and arrives at your heart, which has the form of a four-petalled lotus. He emanates rays of light to fill your whole body, and as you drift into sleep, focusing your attention upon these clear rays, maintain the sense that your mind and the wisdom mind of the master are united inseparably.
Alternatively, the rays of light strike the outer world, visualized clearly as the palace of the deity, which then melts into light like salt dissolving in water. This light dissolves into the inhabitants—all sentient beings—who are visualized as deities. They dissolve into you; you dissolve into the master; and he is purified into non-conceptual clear light. Relax in inner clarity, the union of naked awareness and emptiness, uninterrupted by any other thought. It is a state of dissolution, but not one of dullness.
Should you wake up, cut the momentum of any wild, excited thoughts or dreams; and then by continually maintaining the vivid state of clear light, you will recognize the luminosity of sleep and dream.
Then, when you wake up the next morning, practise the yoga of rising at dawn, and all that has been explained here, in four or however many sessions you prefer.
Moreover, when the time for death approaches, to practise the dissolution visualization of the perfection stage and then rest with your awareness merged into space is considered the king of all phowas, or transference practices. Even if you do not actualize the transference, you may still be liberated in the bardos by remembering the yoga of recognizing form, sound and mental activity as deity, mantra and wisdom mind.
In short, if, with completely pure samaya and devotion, you reach the end of this path of the preliminaries, then without even looking at the main practice, upon your death, you will go directly to the glorious mountain of Ngayab Ling. There, in that pure realm you will surely reach the level of Samantabhadra by completing the path of the four levels of vidyadhara, even more swiftly than the course of the sun or the moon.
If you gain some experience in these methods of the ngöndro practice, then you will gradually be able to enter into the main practice. The path relating to the vase empowerment is the generation stage practice of the peaceful and wrathful vidyadharas. The path relating to the secret empowerment is the practice of controlling the inner air and generating inner heat. The path relating to the transcendent knowledge-wisdom empowerment is the practice of hidden meaning and skilful means. The path of the fourth empowerment is trekchö and tögal. By bringing them all together into an essential practice, and applying yourself to it with diligence, you should attain the level of Vajradhara, the state of primordial union, within this very lifetime!