When Jigten Sumgon came Phagmodrupa, he first gave him the guru yoga
practice. Jigten Sumgon said he didn't need any other teaching than
guru yoga to achieve enlightenment. Jigten Sumgon sat meditating on
guru yoga in his home. Before going into retreat Jigten Sumgon made
seven branch offerings from 25 to 100 times before each teaching was
given. Other people said he used to make offerings and now he doesn't
come to teachings at all. So Phagmodrupa told him he had to come to
teachings. Jigten Sumgon came to teaching and Phagmodrupa said the
fivefold mahamudra teachings are the essence of dharma, and Jigten
Sumgon developed great confidence in them. Phagmodrupa said until
achieving enlightenment, do not separate yourself from these five
All the Kagyu traditions have mahamudra. But mahamudra is like a lion. Mahamudra
with the five branch practices is like a lion with eyes. Without these it is
like a blind lion. When Jigten Sumgon meditated on guru yoga he was not doing
guru yoga alone, he was doing the full practice. The fivefold mahamudra
condenses the three baskets of teachings, the four classes of tantra, and the
pith instructions into one teaching. In the Gong Chig it says the 84,000
teachings are the antidotes to the 84,000 afflictive emotions. So we need all
the teachings. However, if when you practice unless you can condense them, you
will not be able to complete the practice. So you have to extract the essence,
like taking butter out of milk.
The first branch of fivefold mahamudra is bodhicitta, which is the essence of
the cause.. The second is the yidam deity, which is the essence of practice. The
third branch is guru yoga, which is the essence of qualities. The fourth branch
is mahamudra, which is the essence of meaning. The fifth branch is dedication,
which is the essence of method. If we look at sutra and tantra, the generation
of bodhicitta and dedication fall into the sutra vehicle. The creation and
completion stages of deity practice. are the essence of tantra, method and
wisdom. Creation stage refers to Chakrasamvara yidam practice and completion
stage refers to mahamudra practice. To meet with success in the path you need
the blessing of guru yoga, so it is like a helper for the four other methods.
If you just meditate on mahamudra, your practice has emptiness but lacks
compassion and will not lead to full enlightenment. If you have compassion
without emptiness you will not gain enlightenment. Emptiness without compassion
will only lead to the fruit of the lower vehicles. So you need to develop both.
We need both method, the creation stage, and wisdom, the completion stage.
Completion stage purifies obscuration of mind and creation stage purifies the
obscuration of appearances.
Bodhicitta is the essence of the Mahayana. Without it all the other branches
cannot lead to full enlightenment. When we do each practice there are many
places where we can get tripped up. To avoid these we need the blessing to
follow the path, which comes from guru yoga. If you want to give rise to
primordial wisdom, you need to see the lama in the form of the dharmakaya. If
you don't enlightenment will not arise in you. All the previous Kagyu masters
have relied on devotion, so if you lack it, you are off the path. When an
ordinary being meets their teacher they cannot see them as other than ordinary.
As we practice, we can see the teacher as Nirmanakaya. As we progress we can see
the teacher as Sambhogakaya. Finally we can see the teacher as dharmakaya. So we
practice visualizing the lama as the four kayas, including Svabhavikaya. You can
understand these as being progressively profound and subtle, the outer, inner,
secret, and essence practices. As you see the lama, you receive the blessings
from the four kayas. Eventually you realize you do not need to look outside
yourself any more.
First there is bodhicitta. Without bodhicitta, practice does not lead to
enlightenment. Why? Because without it you fall into the lower vehicle, because
you only think of your own benefit. Secondly, we have the yidam deity practice.
Without it you cannot overthrow ordinary appearances. Then thirdly, you must
have devotion to the lama to give rise to experience. So it is extremely
important. Fourth is mahamudra. Without it you cannot cut off the root of
existence. The fifth, dedication of merit, is necessary because without it
whatever merit generated will not last. So now if you have all five branches,
all stages of practice are included and you do not need anything else.
We have five afflictive emotions and this practice transforms them. Bodhicitta
transforms hatred. Yidam practice is the antidote to arrogance, the grasping to
a self. Meditating on the lama counteracts jealousy. Mahamudra counteracts
ignorance or delusion. Tilopa said that thousands of eons of darkness can be
vanquished with one lamp. So similarly mahamudra counteracts delusion. Finally
dedication counteracts desire and attachment. Desire is attachment and clinging
and keeps us from giving. So giving counteracts attachment.
So we have five dharmas brought onto the path through the fivefold mahamudra.
These five fruits are relative bodhicitta, which gives rise to absolute
bodhicitta which is mahamudra. Yidam practice exhausts the appearances of
ordinary body, speech and mind. The guru yoga leads to the true nature of mind
itself. When you meditate on your mind as inseparable from the lama's you give
rise to unfabricated devotion and realize the true lama, the nature of your
mind. Practicing the mahamudra leads you to find the Buddha is not outside
yourself and leads beyond hope and fear. Fifth, dedication results in the
accomplishment of your aims without effort.
Next comes how fivefold mahamudra overcomes the five classes of demons.
Bodhicitta overcomes the male demons, which are the result of hatred. Yidam
practice overcomes the spirits of Mara, which are the result of arrogance. Guru
yoga overcomes samaya breaking spirits, the results of jealousy. Mahamudra
overcomes the naga spirits, who take birth as a result of illusion. Dedication
overcomes female evil spirits, who are the embodiment of desire.
Practice overcomes birth in the five realms, which is the result of the five
kleshas. Asuras and humans are grouped as one, so there are five realms instead
of six. Mahamudra also develops the five primordial wisdoms. Each wisdom is the
purification of its corresponding klesha. Bodhicitta leads to mirrorlike wisdom.
Yidam practice leads to the wisdom of equanimity. Guru yoga leads to the all
accomplishing wisdom. Mahamudra leads to the wisdom of the dharmadhatu.
Dedication leads to discriminating wisdom.
When we practice, we should practice all five in a single session. In every
moment we should practice all five. So how do you do this? How do you make sure
you don't leave anything out? If you do Chenrezig practice, you begin with
refuge and generation of the enlightened mind, which is bodhicitta practice.
When you visualize yourself as Chenrezig, that is yidam practice. Visualizing
Amitabha on your crown is the lama practice. Completion stage practice is
mahamudra. At the end is dedication, which is dedication practice. When you eat,
you should meditate on compassion, which is bodhicitta. See your body as the
abode of the deity, which is yidam. Visualize your lama in your throat which is
guru yoga. See everything as a dream, which is mahamudra. And dedicate at the
end of the meal, which is dedication.