The Purpose of Thogal Practice

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The Purpose of Thogal Practice

Postby MalaBeads » Wed May 22, 2013 10:11 pm

Immediate disclaimer: I am not asking about how to practice Thogal.

I am asking however what is the purpose of doing so? My understanding is that Thogal is only found in Dzogchen teachings (not for instance in Mahamudra or Zen). Why does one practice it?

Generalities like "to benefit all beings" are not helpful. That is my assumption about all practices.
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Re: The Purpose of Thogal Practice

Postby tomamundsen » Wed May 22, 2013 10:29 pm

MalaBeads wrote:Immediate disclaimer: I am not asking about how to practice Thogal.

I am asking however what is the purpose of doing so? My understanding is that Thogal is only found in Dzogchen teachings (not for instance in Mahamudra or Zen). Why does one practice it?

Generalities like "to benefit all beings" are not helpful. That is my assumption about all practices.

My rudimentary understanding is that thodgal reveals visions and is how a practitioner achieves the kayas.
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Re: The Purpose of Thogal Practice

Postby asunthatneversets » Wed May 22, 2013 10:51 pm

Thögal is (using the term 'process' loosely) the process of reverting the five elements into their natural state as the five wisdom lights.
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Re: The Purpose of Thogal Practice

Postby mutsuk » Thu May 23, 2013 7:40 am

The purpose of Thogal is to reach a full or complete familiarization with Rigpa.
Rigpa has two aspects: one "knowledge aspect" (shes-cha) and one "visionary aspect" (snang cha). One becomes familiar with the first through Trekcho practice and with both of them through Thogel practice. In this perspective, the four "visions" (snang ba bzhi) arise in reverse order in Trekcho (even though they are called "visions" (snang ba), they are not really visions in the context of Trekcho) and in "standard" order in Thogal.
In Thogel instructions, sometimes superiorities (khyad 'phags) of Thogal over Trekcho are explained. One of these (in general there are 7 and sometimes 10 of these superiorities) concerns the fact that through Thogal, Rigpa is "seen" or contemplated in a manifest way (mngon sum du) which is not possible with Trekcho (due to lack of related key points). This point (i.e. the manifest aspect) is heavily stressed by Vimalamitra at the beginning of his commentary on the sGra-thal-'gyur.
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Re: The Purpose of Thogal Practice

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Thu May 23, 2013 9:59 am

:good:
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Re: The Purpose of Thogal Practice

Postby MalaBeads » Thu May 23, 2013 10:10 am

mutsuk wrote:The purpose of Thogal is to reach a full or complete familiarization with Rigpa.
Rigpa has two aspects: one "knowledge aspect" (shes-cha) and one "visionary aspect" (snang cha). One becomes familiar with the first through Trekcho practice and with both of them through Thogel practice. In this perspective, the four "visions" (snang ba bzhi) arise in reverse order in Trekcho (even though they are called "visions" (snang ba), they are not really visions in the context of Trekcho) and in "standard" order in Thogal.
In Thogel instructions, sometimes superiorities (khyad 'phags) of Thogal over Trekcho are explained. One of these (in general there are 7 and sometimes 10 of these superiorities) concerns the fact that through Thogal, Rigpa is "seen" or contemplated in a manifest way (mngon sum du) which is not possible with Trekcho (due to lack of related key points). This point (i.e. the manifest aspect) is heavily stressed by Vimalamitra at the beginning of his commentary on the sGra-thal-'gyur.



Thank you.

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Re: The Purpose of Thogal Practice

Postby oldbob » Thu May 23, 2013 2:34 pm

:namaste:

All excellent postings!!!~ :good: :good: :good:

My 2 cents.

While I certainly have no experience of such things, (if I did I would not, and could not, say anything). Since I don’t have any experience, I can only give my intellectual imputations (“knowledge aspect”) of why we might practice Togal. Because we are all limited in time, it is sincerely hoped that maybe this simple-minded explanation might encourage someone to practice. Homage to my Teachers, who gave me permission to practice Togal: Ven. Chatral Rinpoche, Ven. Do Drupchen Rinpoche and Ven. ChNNR, may they forgive the echoing barks of an old dog.

May this writing bring all who read this to enlightenment
May this writing bring all who don’t read this to enlightenment.

We practice Togal to realize.

You can call this, "full or complete familiarization with Rigpa."

The way it works is the same as Yangtig, the dark retreat.

The key point is that your mind sees visions (“visionary aspect”) that you see as real, just like ordinary reality. But these visions originate from internal reality and you see them informed by this non-intellectual Awareness.

The “leap over” Awareness, then non-intellectually arises, that ALL display of reality is exactly the same as this naturally, spontaneously and instantaneously arising, internally / externally generated reality, whether or not there are external sense objects to fasten the senses to. Informed by this "limit of understanding", the intellectual mind relaxes beyond understanding into the Natural Mind of Awareness.

Informed by this Awareness, ALL manifestations, (“manifest way”) whether internally or externally originated are released / put to rest, without attachment or aversion arising.

There is absolutely no difference between something occurring internally or externally.

There is no way to tell, in the moment of occurrence, if something is occurring internally or externally.

Informed by this impossibility, Awareness rests in its own Nature, not avoiding or seeking anything.

Yes, it is "like that."

The "like that" is stated, because these are words, and the experience of relaxing into Rigpa is not of the dimension of words.

You can parse the experience into the various lamps, or just consider it a unified flow, until the karmic winds exhaust, and the mind simply rests in itself.

Having a visceral, non-intellectual, understanding of the emptiness of all manifestations, your body (and all external reality) is imbued with the Natural Light of Awareness, as you have no confidence in any physical manifestation existing as separate from internal experience. All internal and external reality is imbued with the Natural Light of Awareness. This is not an intentional action, but just an unimportant show, or quality, of the Natural Mind.

You can then spontaneously help others, as the occasion arises, though there is NO conception of you, or others, or any action of helping. Everything is seen as an unimportant (luminous) display of the Natural Mind. Not helping others, is exactly the same as helping others, yet you still appear to help others. You don't have the capacity to say if anything is substantial or non-substantial. Amazing!

Parsing the results of practice into paths and bhumis (as well as all intellectual pursuits) is no longer of interest or relevant. :smile: This is one of the reasons that Togal is normally taught after Tregchod. (The Payul lineage appears to reverse this.)

Togal and Yangtig are short path practices that allow for realization in one life-time (“superiorities”).

Now you know my 2 cent blah blah as to why we practice Togal and Yangtig.

If you want to practice these paths, you can seek instruction from a realized Master who Teaches these most special and rare practices. My heartfelt advice is that you do not attempt to practice these powerfully transformational practices on your own, but if a lazy old foggy like me can get permission, and do a little practice, maybe you can too. It is not difficult at all! :smile:

Please do not take offense if I am giving the appearance that I have any experience of what I am writing here. (We can talk about how I am greedy for fame after 100 years have past.) I am just a simple-minded parrot mimicking what I have heard and read.

May all realize, who read this.
May all realize, who don’t read this.
May these wishes be as large as the universe.

Hope this helps.

Homage to the Dzogchen Masters. May they live long, in good health, and with success in all things.

:heart:
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Re: The Purpose of Thogal Practice

Postby MalaBeads » Thu May 23, 2013 4:33 pm

It does help.

TY.

:namaste:
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Re: The Purpose of Thogal Practice

Postby Yeti » Fri May 24, 2013 4:51 am

I am neither knowledgeable or have practice experience of thogal, but one of my teachers did give some overview of thogal when giving some instruction on 3 kaya mandala practice, where some overview of thogal was essential.

I don't know whether I heard it during these teachings per se, or from one of the senior students, but it was said that even if a master/practitioner has the ability to attain the rainbow body at death, if they have established a lot of karmic connection through teaching they won't manifest this method of parting, as the karmic connections through teaching inhibit this way of passing. (I really haven't verified this, but it seems to make sense to me).

During the above teachings on thogal the Rinpoche said that there is special effects on samsaric beings that help release them from karmic bonds and fetters that effect their liberation that come with manifesting the rainbow body of a practitioner. This Rinpoche said it not only has a profound effect on beings in the bardo, but also on all beings connected with the one who attains the rainbow body, and all those encapsulated in their prayers.

A few things I came to conclusion from this teachings (rightly or wrongly) is that, this Rinpoche was actually encouraging us ordinary practitioners to follow the path of the hidden yogi and try and attain realisation via this path as it actually had a huge effect on liberating beings, a path that was not accessible to manifest as some of our most revered teachers.

(I was reluctant to share this as I haven't checked it, it was a long time ago, but felt that it was worth sharing, and if someone wants to check it, correct it, or tear it down, then that will be good as it will be checked with a qualified teacher and not just be the hearsay of some fool who didn't hear the teachings correctly)
"When a Dzogchen Yogi hears Shakyamuni Buddha turning the Wheel of the Dharma of the Four Noble Truths he hears Samathabhadra proclaiming the most profound Dzogpachenpo." - Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche
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Re: The Purpose of Thogal Practice

Postby mutsuk » Fri May 24, 2013 8:16 am

Yeti wrote:I don't know whether I heard it during these teachings per se, or from one of the senior students, but it was said that even if a master/practitioner has the ability to attain the rainbow body at death, if they have established a lot of karmic connection through teaching they won't manifest this method of parting, as the karmic connections through teaching inhibit this way of passing. (I really haven't verified this, but it seems to make sense to me).

Sounds like one of those delusional legends surroundings Thogel practice according to Lopon Tenzin Namdak. There are numerous examples of the contrary: Nyagla Pema Dudul had a lot of disciples and did Rainbow Body; Shardza Rinpoche had even more disciples and did Rainbow Body; Tokden Rinpoche Drime Yungdrung (Ragshi Tokden) did Rainbow Body in 2002 and had a flock of thousands of disciples (tibetan, chinese, westerners, etc.). I haven't seen this legend written anywhere so far. Lopon says it's a justification for the low results reached by practitioners (lamas, etc.) who do not spend enough time practicing Thogel in retreat. To be fair, I heard that "legend" a lot throughout the past 30 years but never read it in original works I read on the subject.

During the above teachings on thogal the Rinpoche said that there is special effects on samsaric beings that help release them from karmic bonds and fetters that effect their liberation that come with manifesting the rainbow body of a practitioner. This Rinpoche said it not only has a profound effect on beings in the bardo, but also on all beings connected with the one who attains the rainbow body, and all those encapsulated in their prayers.

This refers to the obtainment of power over birth (skye ba la dbang thob pa), one of the two obtainments (the second is "entrance", 'jug-pa) reached at the end of the Thogel practice. This has become very rare. So far (but this should be checked with Yongdzin Rinpoche who keeps details about the recent Rainbow Bodies), none of those who recently manifested Rainbow Body displayed that capacity in an visible manner (in the past 40 years, the last was I think in the 1970s, so that's 40+ years ago). ANd it used to have a "visible manner", like in the case of Kunzang Namkhai Nyingpo who instantaneously liberated 3000 sheep (that were to be slaughtered) when he manifested his Rainbow Body. This was in the 1940s... Not so far. However, it seems there's no such details available for the Rainbow Bodies that occurred since then.

A few things I came to conclusion from this teachings (rightly or wrongly) is that, this Rinpoche was actually encouraging us ordinary practitioners to follow the path of the hidden yogi and try and attain realisation via this path as it actually had a huge effect on liberating beings, a path that was not accessible to manifest as some of our most revered teachers.

This is a pretty good advice. Hidden yogi path = more time spent in retreat (Thogel is retreat only) and less distractions.
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Re: The Purpose of Thogal Practice

Postby Yeti » Fri May 24, 2013 10:45 am

mutsuk wrote:
Yeti wrote:I don't know whether I heard it during these teachings per se, or from one of the senior students, but it was said that even if a master/practitioner has the ability to attain the rainbow body at death, if they have established a lot of karmic connection through teaching they won't manifest this method of parting, as the karmic connections through teaching inhibit this way of passing. (I really haven't verified this, but it seems to make sense to me).

Sounds like one of those delusional legends surroundings Thogel practice according to Lopon Tenzin Namdak. There are numerous examples of the contrary: Nyagla Pema Dudul had a lot of disciples and did Rainbow Body; Shardza Rinpoche had even more disciples and did Rainbow Body; Tokden Rinpoche Drime Yungdrung (Ragshi Tokden) did Rainbow Body in 2002 and had a flock of thousands of disciples (tibetan, chinese, westerners, etc.). I haven't seen this legend written anywhere so far. Lopon says it's a justification for the low results reached by practitioners (lamas, etc.) who do not spend enough time practicing Thogel in retreat. To be fair, I heard that "legend" a lot throughout the past 30 years but never read it in original works I read on the subject.

During the above teachings on thogal the Rinpoche said that there is special effects on samsaric beings that help release them from karmic bonds and fetters that effect their liberation that come with manifesting the rainbow body of a practitioner. This Rinpoche said it not only has a profound effect on beings in the bardo, but also on all beings connected with the one who attains the rainbow body, and all those encapsulated in their prayers.

This refers to the obtainment of power over birth (skye ba la dbang thob pa), one of the two obtainments (the second is "entrance", 'jug-pa) reached at the end of the Thogel practice. This has become very rare. So far (but this should be checked with Yongdzin Rinpoche who keeps details about the recent Rainbow Bodies), none of those who recently manifested Rainbow Body displayed that capacity in an visible manner (in the past 40 years, the last was I think in the 1970s, so that's 40+ years ago). ANd it used to have a "visible manner", like in the case of Kunzang Namkhai Nyingpo who instantaneously liberated 3000 sheep (that were to be slaughtered) when he manifested his Rainbow Body. This was in the 1940s... Not so far. However, it seems there's no such details available for the Rainbow Bodies that occurred since then.

A few things I came to conclusion from this teachings (rightly or wrongly) is that, this Rinpoche was actually encouraging us ordinary practitioners to follow the path of the hidden yogi and try and attain realisation via this path as it actually had a huge effect on liberating beings, a path that was not accessible to manifest as some of our most revered teachers.

This is a pretty good advice. Hidden yogi path = more time spent in retreat (Thogel is retreat only) and less distractions.

Thanks, :namaste: But if what you say is true, why haven't we seen so many of the great lamas like HH Dudjom Rinpoche, Nyoshul Khenpo, Jigme Phunstok Rinpoche, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Trulshik Rinpoche (who did 35 years of retreat on the Nyingthik Yabshi alone) attain rainbow body? Why don't they display this?

At the Nyingma Kahma/Nyingthik Yabshi transmissions at Shechen in 2004 it was reported that 2 yogis in Tibet attained rainbow body through termas of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.
"When a Dzogchen Yogi hears Shakyamuni Buddha turning the Wheel of the Dharma of the Four Noble Truths he hears Samathabhadra proclaiming the most profound Dzogpachenpo." - Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche
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Re: The Purpose of Thogal Practice

Postby mutsuk » Fri May 24, 2013 11:06 am

Yeti wrote:But if what you say is true,why haven't we seen so many of the great lamas like HH Dudjom Rinpoche, Nyoshul Khenpo, Jigme Phunstok Rinpoche, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Trulshik Rinpoche (who did 35 years of retreat on the Nyingthik Yabshi alone) attain rainbow body? Why don't they display this?

I am just reporting Yongdzin Rinpoche's opinion, which I think is an educated one. He did the funerals of Dilgo Khyentse (at the later's request, before he passed away) and he knew Khyentse pretty well. Maybe Nyingma Lamas spend more time practicing Mahayoga and other things than actual Thogel retreats (this is my opinion, I may be wrong). Unfortunately, Khenpo Jikphun and Nyoshul Khenpo died of illnesses (respectively heart attack and long illness due to poisoning), this interrupted their practice of the Path. I don't know for the others.

The fact remains that this "legend" is contradicted by so many examples that I think it has no basis. I haven't seen any mention in classical texts. Alongside this legend is the one that you can't get Rainbow Body if you have children. Well, Nyagla Changchub Dorje's Rainbow Body contradicts that (not to speak of that of his daughter), among several others.
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Re: The Purpose of Thogal Practice

Postby Yeti » Fri May 24, 2013 12:59 pm

mutsuk wrote:
Yeti wrote:But if what you say is true,why haven't we seen so many of the great lamas like HH Dudjom Rinpoche, Nyoshul Khenpo, Jigme Phunstok Rinpoche, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Trulshik Rinpoche (who did 35 years of retreat on the Nyingthik Yabshi alone) attain rainbow body? Why don't they display this?

I am just reporting Yongdzin Rinpoche's opinion, which I think is an educated one. He did the funerals of Dilgo Khyentse (at the later's request, before he passed away) and he knew Khyentse pretty well. Maybe Nyingma Lamas spend more time practicing Mahayoga and other things than actual Thogel retreats (this is my opinion, I may be wrong). Unfortunately, Khenpo Jikphun and Nyoshul Khenpo died of illnesses (respectively heart attack and long illness due to poisoning), this interrupted their practice of the Path. I don't know for the others.

The fact remains that this "legend" is contradicted by so many examples that I think it has no basis. I haven't seen any mention in classical texts. Alongside this legend is the one that you can't get Rainbow Body if you have children. Well, Nyagla Changchub Dorje's Rainbow Body contradicts that (not to speak of that of his daughter), among several others.

Kyabje Trulshik Rinpoche spent over 60 years in retreat, and 35 of that on the trechod and thogal of the Nyingthik Yabshi. He had also accomplished many other practices, including long life. etc. And Nyoshul Khenpo, if these practitioners hadn't mastered/completed the path of Dzogchen I find that pretty disheartening for myself as a so called practitioner.
"When a Dzogchen Yogi hears Shakyamuni Buddha turning the Wheel of the Dharma of the Four Noble Truths he hears Samathabhadra proclaiming the most profound Dzogpachenpo." - Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche
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Re: The Purpose of Thogal Practice

Postby mutsuk » Fri May 24, 2013 2:54 pm

Yeti wrote:Kyabje Trulshik Rinpoche spent over 60 years in retreat, and 35 of that on the trechod and thogal of the Nyingthik Yabshi. He had also accomplished many other practices, including long life. etc.

There is also a question of personal karma, etc. Look, Longchenpa did not manifest Rainbow Body, nor Jigme Lingpa, nor Khenpo Ngagchung, etc.

And Nyoshul Khenpo, if these practitioners hadn't mastered/completed the path of Dzogchen I find that pretty disheartening for myself as a so called practitioner.

Khenpo Rinpoche got poisoned decades ago and his health has progressively and dramatically deteriorated. This has been a great obstacle for his practice. Thogel demands skills and good health. It's qualified as a 'bad-bcas ("with efforts") practice, as opposed to Trekchö which is a 'bad-med ("without effort") practice. The notion of effort here refers to the application of precise yogic key-points.
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Re: The Purpose of Thogal Practice

Postby Lhug-Pa » Fri May 24, 2013 3:15 pm

If there are great Masters who apparently didn't attain Rainbow or Light Body (I say apparently, because I've read somewhere that Light or Rainbow Body doesn't always necessarily result in the shrinking or disappearing of the physical body), it doesn't mean that us average-at-best practitioners should worry too much:

viewtopic.php?f=48&t=7963#p95111

viewtopic.php?f=48&t=9606&start=20#p119722

We should still be able to benefit sentient beings very much, even through liberation via rebirth in Nirmanakaya Buddhafields.
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Re: The Purpose of Thogal Practice

Postby Pero » Fri May 24, 2013 5:31 pm

mutsuk wrote:Sounds like one of those delusional legends surroundings Thogel practice according to Lopon Tenzin Namdak. There are numerous examples of the contrary: Nyagla Pema Dudul had a lot of disciples and did Rainbow Body; Shardza Rinpoche had even more disciples and did Rainbow Body; Tokden Rinpoche Drime Yungdrung (Ragshi Tokden) did Rainbow Body in 2002 and had a flock of thousands of disciples (tibetan, chinese, westerners, etc.). I haven't seen this legend written anywhere so far. Lopon says it's a justification for the low results reached by practitioners (lamas, etc.) who do not spend enough time practicing Thogel in retreat. To be fair, I heard that "legend" a lot throughout the past 30 years but never read it in original works I read on the subject.

Interesting. I heard this from Norbu Rinpoche although it wasn't the fact that someone has many students per se but because of the consequential more broken samaya. He refered to Longde and how at first practitioners achieved rainbow bodies when there were few students (I think it was one on one) but then after Dzin Dharmabhodi who had hundreds of students they didn't manifest anymore. Also about Nyagla Pema Duddul he said that he didn't have that many students originaly and wasn't famous but after he achieved rainbow body he became famous and suddenly had lots of students.
Whichever the case may be though, Rinpoche's advice also is that if we want to achieve rainbow body we shouldn't be like him travelling the world and teaching constantly but be more like his uncle Togden and spend our lives in retreat.

During the above teachings on thogal the Rinpoche said that there is special effects on samsaric beings that help release them from karmic bonds and fetters that effect their liberation that come with manifesting the rainbow body of a practitioner. This Rinpoche said it not only has a profound effect on beings in the bardo, but also on all beings connected with the one who attains the rainbow body, and all those encapsulated in their prayers.

This refers to the obtainment of power over birth (skye ba la dbang thob pa), one of the two obtainments (the second is "entrance", 'jug-pa) reached at the end of the Thogel practice. This has become very rare. So far (but this should be checked with Yongdzin Rinpoche who keeps details about the recent Rainbow Bodies), none of those who recently manifested Rainbow Body displayed that capacity in an visible manner (in the past 40 years, the last was I think in the 1970s, so that's 40+ years ago). ANd it used to have a "visible manner", like in the case of Kunzang Namkhai Nyingpo who instantaneously liberated 3000 sheep (that were to be slaughtered) when he manifested his Rainbow Body. This was in the 1940s... Not so far. However, it seems there's no such details available for the Rainbow Bodies that occurred since then.

See this is what I don't get. How can someone else liberate you? This doesn't compute no matter how I look at it, rainbow body or no. Or does "liberation" mean something else in this case? Like being born in a realm with the teachings and set on the path?
Although many individuals in this age appear to be merely indulging their worldly desires, one does not have the capacity to judge them, so it is best to train in pure vision.
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Re: The Purpose of Thogal Practice

Postby dzogchungpa » Fri May 24, 2013 5:47 pm

mutsuk wrote:
Yeti wrote:I don't know whether I heard it during these teachings per se, or from one of the senior students, but it was said that even if a master/practitioner has the ability to attain the rainbow body at death, if they have established a lot of karmic connection through teaching they won't manifest this method of parting, as the karmic connections through teaching inhibit this way of passing. (I really haven't verified this, but it seems to make sense to me).

Sounds like one of those delusional legends surroundings Thogel practice according to Lopon Tenzin Namdak.

It could also just be a pious way of referring to the fact that masters with many responsibilities may not have as much time to do retreat as they might like, and this would make it less likely that they would attain rainbow body.
ཨོཾ་མ་ཧཱ་ཤུནྱ་ཏཱ་ཛྙཱ་ན་བཛྲ་སྭཱ་བྷཱ་བ་ཨཱཏྨ་ཀོ་྅ཧཾ༔

The thousands of lines of the Prajnaparamita can be summed up in the following two sentences:
1) One should become a Bodhisattva (or, Buddha-to-be), i.e. one who is content with nothing less than all-knowledge attained through the perfection of wisdom for the sake of all beings.
2) There is no such thing as a Bodhisattva, or as all-knowledge, or as a ‘being’, or as the perfection of wisdom, or as an attainment.
To accept both these contradictory facts is to be perfect.
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Re: The Purpose of Thogal Practice

Postby pemachophel » Fri May 24, 2013 7:53 pm

The way my Teacher explained this was not simply karmic connections but broken samaya. The more students you have, the more likely that some of them have broken samaya with the Teacher. I've heard it said that the reason H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche's kudung didn't disappear altogether was due to student's samaya problems. However, that's only hearsay. Definitely my Teacher said that the more students one has, the harder it is to accomplish the Rainbow Body. (He did not say "impossible.")

:namaste:
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Re: The Purpose of Thogal Practice

Postby mutsuk » Fri May 24, 2013 9:04 pm

Pero wrote:Interesting. I heard this from Norbu Rinpoche although it wasn't the fact that someone has many students per se but because of the consequential more broken samaya.

This is indeed a question of samaya, not of number of students. But it also requires travelling the entire Path of the 4 Visions and not all Lamas, even big names, succeeded in that.

Also about Nyagla Pema Duddul he said that he didn't have that many students originaly and wasn't famous but after he achieved rainbow body he became famous and suddenly had lots of students.

He had quite a number of students during his lifetime. He did Rainbow Body at the time of death, having after that a lot of students does not make any sense. He had a lot of students in the later part of his life and did Rainbow Body at the time of death.

Whichever the case may be though, Rinpoche's advice also is that if we want to achieve rainbow body we shouldn't be like him travelling the world and teaching constantly but be more like his uncle Togden and spend our lives in retreat.

It took Tapihritsa 9 continuous years in total retreat without seeing anybody to reach the Rainbow Body. He had all transmissions and explanations of how to perform the practice, boost it (bog 'don-pa) and overcome all obstacles. This is not an easy Path. It requires a lot of skills.

See this is what I don't get. How can someone else liberate you?

This is a "forceful" liberation.

This doesn't compute no matter how I look at it, rainbow body or no.

No, it perfectly makes sense BECAUSE of the Rainbow Body. When reaching the last visions you get the two obtainments (thob pa gnyis): power over birth (skye ba) and power over entrance ('jug pa). You only reach these if you complete the Path of Thogel. These are extraordinary (thun mon ma yin pa) features of Thogel.

Or does "liberation" mean something else in this case? Like being born in a realm with the teachings and set on the path?


There are several ways of explaining this power over birth. Some say it concerns two things: 1. for oneself and 2. for others. For oneself, it means you manifest the Great Transfer (or, according to some sources, at least the Great Rainbow Body) and does not manifest death at all; you disappear and reappear as you want, etc. For others, it means that you master that extraordinary feature of the two obtainments and through your concentration you can take with you up to 3000 beings in Rainbow Body. Sources vary as to what kind of beings. Some say human beings only, others say any kind of being; still others say only beings you have a deep karmic/spiritual connection with (like your own faithful disciples, etc.). To give you an example of what the texts says :

Longchenpa says in his Tsikdön dzö (translating back into English from JL’s French translation) :
"— Third, as to the obtainment, at the time of the exhaustion (the 4th vision), the two obtainments occur : 1. with the obtainment of power over birth, one arises in the (Body of the) Great Transfer and one accomplishes the welfare of beings ; in particular, one acts to liberate without remainder (up to) three thousands beings having obtained a human body ; 2. with the obtainment over entrance, etc....."

He says something different in his Thekchok dzö (translating again back into English from JL’s French translation) :

" — At the time of entering in the inner Space, by focussing your Awareness on three thousands beings you obtain the great power of liberating them all instantaneously, and even insects will dissolve into lights. By obtaining power over birth, you can emanate as you please and perform spontaneously the benefit of sentient beings."
mutsuk
 
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Re: The Purpose of Thogal Practice

Postby mutsuk » Fri May 24, 2013 9:08 pm

dzogchungpa wrote:It could also just be a pious way of referring to the fact that masters with many responsibilities may not have as much time to do retreat as they might like, and this would make it less likely that they would attain rainbow body.

Possible. The fact remains that Thogel demands a lot of time in strict retreats, and it's true that many lamas spend more time in their centers or traveling instead of locking them up in retreats. But Shardza Rinpoche had a lot of responsibilities too and nevertheless reached Rainbow Body. He however took time to do specific retreats and showed the right path to his disciples. Many people in his entourage did Rainbow Body too (rGyal tshab Blo gros rgya mtsho, Kun bzang nam mkha'i snying po, Byang chub rdo rje, etc.).
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