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You are here : Home > Reading Room > Guhyagarbha Tantra : An Introduction [Part 3]
Guhyagarbha Tantra : An Introduction [Part 3]

This article is the third of a six part series which brings you Gyurme Dorje's extensive and remarkable introuduction to the Guhyagarbha Tantra, the flagship tantra of the Nyingma School of the Tibetan Buddhism.

CHAPTER FOUR: CYCLICAL ARRAY OF THE GARLAND OF SYLLABLES

The purpose of this and the following chapter is to show how the compassionate spirituality of the buddha-body of emanation manifests externally, out of emptiness, in form of the seed-syllables, the significance being that it is from these vibrant seed-syllables that the fully manifest visualisations of buddha-mind, mantra sounds of buddha-speech and sealing hand-emblems indicative of buddha-body all subsequently emerge.

Introduction

Through the enlightened intention of all the tathńgatas, a cyclical garland of seed-syllables emerges from the indestructible buddha-body, -speech and -mind in order to reveal the sameness and great perfection of actual reality (v.1).

The commentator, Longchen Rabjampa, at this point elucidates the general significance of the garland of syllables. The Sanskrit akŕara (syllable) is defined as the "unchanging essence" or the "true nature of mind", which sustains the buddha-body, -speech and -mind within the energy channels of the subtle body. The basic Sanskrit syllables comprise sixteen vowels and thirty-four consonants. However in the context of the present ma˘šala, one hundred and three seed-syllables are enumerated, namely those of the forty-two peaceful deities which are located in the heart, those of the fifty-eight wrathful deities which are located in the skull, and the seed-syllables OĂ, ─ , H▄Ă, which are respectively located in the crown, throat and heart centres and which have the function of purifying the six mundane seed-syllables that generate birth among the six classes of living beings. All one hundred and three seed-syllables of this garland emanate from the uncreated syllable A and emerge as a cloud-mass from which the ma˘šala is visually generated. Yet they abide naturally within all sentient beings.

Apart from their natural occurence within the subtle physical body, these seed-syllables are also associated with the diverse meditational deities of the ma˘šala, visualised within their celestial palaces, because it is from these seed-syllables that the fully manifest forms of the deities emerge during the generation and perfection stages of meditation. Then, from another perspective, the seed-syllables are considered to be miraculous emanations in the ma˘šalas of the buddha-body of perfect resource (sambhogakńya), purposefully acting on behalf of sentient beings, and also phonic syllables that are intoned in the course of mantra recitation, which purposefully effects the spiritual accomplishment of the secret mantras.

Content

The cyclical garland of syllables is presented initially as an object of meditation from the standpoint of both the generation and perfection stages, as well as from that of the ensuing four rites of enlightened activity. All spiritual accomplishments are said to derive from this cyclical garland of syllables because they are the causal basis of the pristine cognition of buddha-mind (vv.2-3). At this point, the actual emanation of the garland of syllables occurs, beginning with the syllable A, and it visibly resonates throughout the world-systems of living beings (vv.4-5).

The tathńgatas then expound the inner meaning of the syllables, referring to the uncreated syllable A on the level of the buddha-body of reality, to the forty-two syllables which emerge in conjunction with it on the level of the buddha-body of perfect resource, and to the words and letters which they form on the level of the buddha-body of emanation (vv.6-10). The ma˘šalas of buddha-body, -speech and -mind are all gathered in the forty-five syllables, ie. the forty-two seed-syllables of the peaceful deities combined with their three punctuation marks (v.11). The true nature of mind is successively identified with the uncreated syllable A, with the spontaneously present forty-two syllables and with their symbolic written forms in which there is no duality of appearance and emptiness, corresponding respectively to the three buddha-bodies (vv.12-14)

Then there follows a detailed analysis of each seed-syllable in turn, preceded by the three punctuation symbols which demaracate the seed-syllables (v.15). The forty-two seed-syllables in this context actually become manifest in the following sequence: That of Samantabhadr´ (v.16), those of the five male buddhas beginning with Vairocana (v.17), those of the five female buddhas beginning with ─kńÔadhńtviÔvar´ (v.18), those of the inner male bodhisattvas, beginning with Kŕitigarbha and ending with the gatekeeper Yamńntaka (v.19), those of the inner female bodhisattvas beginning with Lńsyń and ending with the gatekeeper Mahńbala (v.20), those of the outer male bodhisattvas beginning with Maitreya and ending with the gatekeeper Hayagr´va (v.21), those of the outer female bodhisattvas and female gatekeepers beginning with DhŘpń (v.22), those of Samantabhadra and the six sages (v.23), and finally those of Am÷taku˘šalin and the glow of the wrathful deities (v.24). However, it is emphasised that this cyclical mass of syllables abides primordially as the essence of buddha-body and pristine cognition (v.25).

Finally, there is a summary which interprets the emergence of the wheel of syllables as an expression of the buddhas' emanational nature, as a presence within the subtle physical body, where they are the causal basis for the attainment of buddhahood, and as objects of meditation according to the paths of liberation and skilful means (vv.26-27).

CHAPTER FIVE: MEDITATIVE STABILITY THAT ATTAINS THE MAGICAL NET

The purpose of this chapter is to disclose how spiritual attainments emerge from the cyclical garland of syllables.

Introduction

At this juncture, the ma˘šala of meditational deities inherent in the seed-syllables is described as a magical emanation (sgyu 'phrul), in which skilful means and discriminative awareness are without duality, and the sequence of meditative attainments corresponding to this cloud-mass of syllables is then presented (v.1).

Content

Spiritual accomplishments are to be attained in the following sequence: The true nature of mind is revealed as the basis of spiritual accomplishment (v.2); the supreme accomplishment of buddhahood is perfectly present in all ma˘šalas because they unite the ma˘šala of magical emanation (sgyu 'phrul) or seed-syllables in the ma˘šala of the net (drva ba) or discriminative awareness (v.3); the ordinary spiritual attainments are associated with the four rites of enlightened activity (v.4); the attainment known as the consummation of the five elements then ensues (v.5); along with the eight lesser rituals, including exorcism and attraction (v.6). All these meditative attainments are said to emerge in the manner of light from darkness, like the alchemical transmutation of iron into gold, or like the cure of an efficacious medication (v.7).

Now, there are five prerequisites for yogins seeking this spiritual attainment that accords with the cloud-mass of syllables: They are required to make offerings to their spiritual teacher, to clearly realise the meditations pertaining to the deities and their seed-syllables, to undertake the corresponding commitments, to recite the corresponding mantras correctly, and to securely seal the practice by enacting the corresponding hand-gestures (v.8). Thereby the essence of spiritual accomplishment will be attained (v.9).

As far as the actual meditative stability or skilful means which brings about such attainments is concerned: initially there is the meditative stability in the cyclical garland of seed-syllables (v.10). This entails meditation on discriminative awareness which cultivates the non-referential ultimate truth and non-dual pristine cognition associated with the buddha-body of reality (vv.11-12) and meditation on skilful means which cultivates the generation and perfection stages associated with the buddha-body of form, securely sealing the display of pristine cognition in the seal of primordial buddhahood (v.13). By way of a synopsis, the text emphasises that supreme accomplishment, the nature of Samantabhadra, is attained through these meditative stabilities and through their ancillary applications of mantra recitation and sealing hand-gestures (v.14).

CHAPTER SIX: EMERGENCE OF THE MA˛ăALA

The purpose of this and the following two chapters is to project the ma˘šala of buddha-mind that is visualised through meditative stability as emerging from the cyclical garland of seed-syllables, along with its aspects- the ma˘šalas of buddha-speech and buddha-body, which are symbolised respectively by mantra recitation and sealing hand-gestures.

Introduction

The focus here is on the emergence of the ma˘šala of meditational deities who are to be visualised by means of meditative stability that accords with the volition of the tathńgatas (v.1).

The commentator, Longchen Rabjampa, at this point includes an extensive overview concerning the term ma˘šala. The Sanskrit ma˘šala is generally defined as a central deity encircled by a retinue, but more specifically classified according to the ma˘šalas of the ground, path and result. The ma˘šala of the ground is the atemporal presence of the mundane world and its inhabitants as primordial buddhahood. The ma˘šala of the path includes those symbolic ma˘šalas which are drawn on cotton, or with coloured powders, or laid out schematically with focal points and flower-clusters prominent. Yet it also refers to the ma˘šalas of genuine buddha-body, -speech and -mind which are to be attained through meditative stability, as well as those of the supporting celestial palace, the meditational deities supported within it, and their non-dual pristine cognition. The ma˘šala of the result comprises the effortless, spontaneous presence of the five ma˘šalas of buddha-body, -speech, -mind, -attributes and -activities.

Content

The ma˘šalas of ground, path and result all emanate from the cyclical garland of seed-syllables. Among them, the natural and spontaneous ma˘šala of the ground is that in which the elements, psycho-physical components and dissonant mental states of unenlightened beings are primordially present as the female buddhas, the male buddhas and the pristine cognitions respectively (v.2).
The ma˘šala of the path which is the focus of the yogin's meditative stability comprises the actual ma˘šala with its celestial palace (v.3), ornaments (v.4), teaching-thrones (v.5), and meditational deities (vv.6-7), along with their symbolic hand-held implements (v.8), body-colours (v.9), and general appearance (v.10), as well as the efulgence of light rays that they emit (v.11). Yet it also refers to the fruitional result that is achieved through this attainment, namely, the resultant buddha-body of form (rŘpakńya) which arises from the body of reality (v.12) and the consequent illusion-like enlightened activity (v.13) which it perfoms on behalf of ordinary beings, pious attendants, hermit buddhas, and bodhisattvas (vv.14-17). Consequently, living beings are liberated, either through the causal paths which gradually refine obscurations (v.18), or through the resultant paths and levels associated with the indivisibility and sponteneity of the five buddha-bodies (vv.19-22). In this way, the ma˘šala of the path radiantly emanates throughout all world-systems (v.23).

The ma˘šala of the result is then described as the non-dual pristine cognition without objective or subjective referent, which emerges fully manifest and radiant in the context of this ma˘šala of meditative stability (vv. 24-25). The final verse may also be interpreted from the standpoints of ground, path or result individually.

CHAPTER SEVEN: ABSORPTION OF THE MA˛ăALA AND THE SECRET MANTRAS

The purpose of this chapter is to present the ma˘šala of the secret mantras of buddha-speech, which is an aspect of the aforementioned ma˘šala of meditative stability. Once the visualised ma˘šala has been emanated through meditative stability, the secret mantras then emerge from the indestructible buddha-body, -speech and -mind of all the tathńgatas in order to disclose the ma˘šala of buddha-speech (v.1).

Content

First, there is a description of the actual syllables and words forming the secret mantras of the forty-two peaceful deities in the order in which they emerge, followed by the mantras that confer empowerment and blessing.

The actual mantras are enunciated in the following sequence: Those which visually generate the ma˘šala palace (v.2) and the meditational deities within it (vv.3-8), followed by those which invite and absorb the genuine deities into the visualisation (v.9), and make offerings to them (v.10). A prayer for spiritual accomplishment ensues (v.11). Consequently, the mantra syllables resonate throughout the world-systems (v.12).

Next, there are the mantras which confer empowerment through the five pristine cognitions and the five enlightened families (vv.13-15). These, in turn, give rise to a blessing which dissolves indivisibly with the mundane body, speech and mind of trainee practitioners, transforming the mundane world and its inhabitants into the ma˘šala of deities (v.16).

More generally, the inner significance of buddha-speech is then clarified and established through an exposition of its inexpressible essence (v.17), its inconceivability (v.18), its originally pure abiding nature (v.19), its apparitional nature (v.20), and its non-deviation from the expanse of actual reality despite its diverse manifestations as the teachings of the nine vehicles (v.21). In fact, the indestructible buddha-speech discernibly manifests through its disposition of compassionate spirituality for the sake of living beings (v.22), but there is a paradox: it remains essentially unspoken while being ostensibly spoken (v.23).

CHAPTER EIGHT: CONSECRATION OF ALL LIMBS OF THE BODY AS THE MA˛ăALA AND EMERGENCE OF THE GESTURES OF SEALING

The purpose of this chapter is to disclose the ma˘šala of the hand-gestures of sealing and their symbolic hand-held emblems, which are indicative of buddha-body. This, like the previous chapter, is considered to be an aspect of the aforementioned ma˘šala of meditative stability. At the outset then, the tathńgatas, having divulged the ma˘šala of secret mantras and its blessings, consecrate the limbs of the body as a ma˘šala of meditational deities (v.1).

Content

The ma˘šala of sealing hand-gestures comprises those of the ground, path and result. The first indicates that all phenomena, manifestly perfect in the Magical Net (sgyu 'phrul drva ba), are sealed primordially and spontaneously by Samantabhadra, in the seal of supreme enlightenment (v.2).
The sealing hand-gestures of the path are then said to emerge in three successive phases: Firstly, the causal basis for their emergence is the hand-gesture known as "the indestructible palms" (rdo rje thal mo), according to which the seed-syllables of the male and female buddhas located respectively on the finger-tips of the right and left hands are joined together, giving rise to the sealing hand-emblems of the various deities (v.3). Secondly, the all-embracing hand-gesture (spyi'i phyag rgya) is executed by joining the index finger of the right hand with the middle finger of the left hand, and the remaining fingers are also joined together in pairs, indicating that the central male and female deities of the ma˘šala are united, along with their surrounding deities, and giving rise to the supreme bliss of spiritual accomplishment (v.4). Thirdly, the various hand-held emblems (phyag mtshan) indicative of the diverse deities of the ma˘šala then become manifest from their respective seed-syllables through the hand-gesture of the "indestructible fist" (rdo rje khu tshur, vv. 5-19).
The sealing hand-gestures of the result refer to the natural seal, which is the trrue nature of mind, the abiding nature of reality (v.20), and to those seals associated with provisional and conclusive results. In the course of meditative experience and feast-offering ceremonies there are provisional hand-gestures of sealing which are made, whereby the limbs of the central deity are emanated as the forty-two peaceful deities (v.21), and subsequently as the thousand buddhas (v.22), twenty-one thousand buddhas (v.23) and even inconceivable buddhas (v.24). By contrast, the conclusive seal of buddha-body securely acts on behalf of living beings through its diverse manifestations (v.25) and the diverse teachings of the nine vehicles (v.26). Though unified in the nature of the body of pristine cognition (v.27), the conclusive seal assumes indefinite appearances for the sake of trainee practitioners (v.28) and it gathers within the abiding nature of reality all physical movements (v.29).

CHAPTER NINE: SECRET COMMITMENTS OF THE INDESTRUCTIBLE ARRAY

The purpose of this chapter is to show how the aforementioned ma˘šala of meditative stability and its aspects of mantra recitation and sealing hand-gestures are made manifest by means of the symbolic ma˘šala of images, enabling empowerments to be conferred.

Introduction

Having revealed the ma˘šala of meditative stability and its aspects, the Great Joyous One (dgyes pa chen po) who is the Supreme Embodiment of Samantabhadra and Samantabhadr´ combined then becomes equipoised in the meditation of "the sequence of empowerments which accord with the various ma˘šalas of images", and reveals the following teaching in order to manifest the aforementioned ma˘šalas for the sake of trainee practitioners (v.1).

Longchen Rabjampa includes a very extensive overview at this juncture, concerning the construction of symbolic ma˘šalas and the conferral of empowerment through them. The discussion refers to the intricate stages of ma˘šala construction, the generation of the deities within the symbolic ma˘šala through meditative stability, and the offerings and mantra recitations which are then to be made. Empowerments are subsequently conferred as follows: After burnt offerings have been performed as a preliminary purification, the student enters the ma˘šala and receives empowerment, thereby undertaking to meditate through the generation and perfection stages until the result known as the rank of the four kinds of awareness-holder (vidyńdhara) is achieved.

Content

This chapter presents the natural ma˘šala of the body of the female and male consorts- in which those of highest potential are empowered, and the symbolic ma˘šala constructed of coloured powders in which those of lower potential are empowered.

As far as the ma˘šala of the female consort is concerned, its location is revealed to be the secret or sexual centre of the female consort (v.2) and this is considered in terms of its dimensions (v.3), the pitching of the ma˘šala lines which purify her mental continuum (v.4), and the celestial palace and symbolic seal which are visualised to be drawn within this ma˘šala (vv.5-6). Offerings are prepared, especially those associated with the female deities of the ma˘šala which generate bliss (v.7). Burnt offerings are made as a preliminary purification (vv.8-9), followed by the relative and ultimate offerings of meditative stability (vv.10-12), and the secret offerings of skilful means and discriminative awareness which generate supreme bliss. Thereby, all the buddhas and sentient beings are provisionally delighted by the display of inner radiance free from conceptual elaboration, and buddhahood is conclusively attained (vv.13-16).

Once the master who confers empowerment has entered the ma˘šala (v.17), the student is urged to enter and receive empowerment with an attitude of total renunciation which purifies broken commitments (vv.18-19). The actual empowerments are then conferred in the following order: the ten empowerments of beneficence (phan pa'i dbang bcu), followed by the five empowerments of ability (nus pa'i dbang lnga), while the three higher empowerments of profundity (zab dbang gsum) are implicit in the disclosure of this very ma˘šala (v.20).

There is also, however, another tradition according to which the higher empowerments are received in the ma˘šala of the secret or sexual centre of the male consort (v. 21).

The symbolic ma˘šala of colour powders, in which those of lower potential are empowered, is materially constructed on a small, intermediate or large scale (vv.22-24). It is actually consecrated through the generation of the visualised form of the meditational deity, known as the Being of Commitment (samayasattva), after which an invitation is made to the actual meditational deity, known as the Being of Pristine Cognition (j˝ńnasattva) to enter, and these two are then absorbed without duality (vv.25-27). Consequently, provisional accomplishments such as the four rites of enlightened activity and the complete array of supreme accomplishments associated with buddha-body, -speech and -mind are attained in order that all beings may benefit (vv.28-30).

Having received empowerment, the trainee will swiftly become accomplished by persevering through skilful means in the five aspects of meditative stability, the five prerequisites for meditation practice and the five aspects of attainment advocated by the mantra-texts (vv.30-31). In these ways he or she will then achieve the provisional results as an awareness-holder (v.32) and the conclusive result of buddhahood (vv.33-36).

The chapter ends with a brief synopsis concerning the nature of the faith or devotion required if those on whom empowerments are conferred are to become accomplished. Conversely, if empowerments are conferred on those lacking faith or those who are degenerate in their commitments, the outcome will be negative (v.37).

CHAPTER TEN: CONFERRAL OF EMPOWERMENTS

The purpose of this chapter is to disclose the actual empowerments that are conferred in respect of the aformentioned ma˘šalas. Having revealed all the ma˘šalas in which empowerment is to be conferred, Samantabhadra, the Great Joyous One, then enters the meditative stability called "the conferral of the king" in order to express the actual empowerments (v.1).

Content

The three empowerments of profundity, namely, those of secrecy (gsang dbang), discriminating pristine cognition (shes rab yes shes kyi dbang) and word and meaning (tshig don gyi dbang), are conferred on the basis of the ma˘šala of the female consort. At the outset, the appropriate visualisations should be made, the master and student should enter into the ma˘šala, the lower empowerments should be successfully conferred, and the female consort should be consecrated in the appropriate manner (v.2).

The lower empowerments which are the first to be conferred comprise those of ability and beneficence. The five inner empowerments of ability are those of the listener, the meditator, enlightened activity, the expositor, and the king of indestructible reality, which are respectively associated with Ratnasambhava, the Central Deity (ie. Vairocana/ Akŕobhya), Amoghasiddhi, Amitńbha, and all five enlightened families together (vv.3-7). Without receiving these, no progression through the secret mantras is possible (v.8).

The ten outer empowerments of beneficence are those of the crown-ornament, the diadem, the rosary, the armour, the victory banner, the seals, the parasol, the vase, food and drink, and the five nectars. These are said to confer excellence, to remove obstacles and to reveal the indivisibility of cyclic existence and nirvń˘a (v. 9).

In brief, those who have received all the empowerments possess the means to achieve swiftly the provisional and conclusive results (v.10).

CHAPTER ELEVEN: MA˛ăALA OF THE FEAST OFFERINGS

The purpose of this and the following two chapters is to present the paths through which the aformentioned ma˘šalas of the ground are to be attained. In particular, chapters eleven and twelve concern the generation stage of meditation (utpattikrama) which reverses common attachments, while chapter thirteen reveals the perfection stage (sampannakrama) in which the essential meaning of the practice is penetrated.

Introduction

Having conferred empowerment in the ma˘šala of the ground, Samantabhadra, the Great Joyous One, then enters the meditative stability called "the king or transformation of the Magical Net", which is the coalescence of skilful means and discriminative awareness, in order to reveal the generation stage of skilful means.

Content

As a preparation, there are four axioms of correct view which clarify the ma˘šala of the spontaneous ground which is to be realised through the generation stage. These are known as single basis, modality of seed-syllables, blessing and direct perception, and they respectively concern the primordial emptiness that gives rise to cyclic existence and nirvń˘a, the indivisibility of appearances and emptiness, the innate purity of all things in the primordial ma˘šala, and the realisation that all phenomena are the deities of the ma˘šala (v.2).

The actual experiential cultivation of the path has two aspects, namely, the discernment that all appearances are pristine cognition and the display of the ma˘šala of feast offerings.
According to the former, all subjective psycho-physical components are discerned as the ma˘šalas of peaceful and wrathful male deities (v.3), all objective elements are discerned as the ma˘šalas of the female consorts of the peaceful and wrathful deities (v.4), and all their offerings, ornaments and so forth are discerned as the ma˘šala of the indivisible display of the male and female deities (v.5). In particular, the indivisibility and natural purity of the paths of skilful means and "liberation", which employ the secret offerings, are discerned as follows:

The path of skilful means (thabs lam) concerns the ma˘šala of great bliss in which sexual union is naturally pure. In general, there are three kinds of mudrń or female yogic partner- the dev´ aged twelve, the nńgin´ aged sixteen and those of inferior genus aged twenty, who are respectively the consorts of buddha-mind, buddha-speech and buddha-body (v.6). In particular there are six types of female yogic partner, known as the lotus, conch, marked, doe, elephant and diverse types, each of which is associated with one of the six different enlightened families and classified according to superior, mediocre and inferior characteristics or signs. The signs are said to be clearest in girls under the age of twenty.

As for the development of pristine cognition in this path of skilful means, there are the preliminary practices, namely: ritual service (bsnyen pa) which induces bliss by means of relaxation, dietetics and medicinal elixirs (rasńyana), massage (bskum nye), conversation and so forth; rites of attainment (sgrub pa) which require the male and female yogins to be visualised as the male and female consorts and to engage in foreplay; and rites of great attainment (sgrub chen) which require the union of the male and female consorts (v.7). The actual foundation or main practice then concerns the four delights (dga' ba bzhi) which are experienced through the descent of seminal energy through the central channel of the subtle body (v.8), and the pristine cognition experienced through the subsequent re-ascending of this seminal energy (v.9). The result of the practice of the path of skilful means includes supreme accomplishments such as the level of Samantabhadra and the buddha-body of indestructible reality, and common accomplishments which are endowed with supernormal cognitive powers (v. 10).

The path of "liberation" (sgrol lam) which forcibly transfers the consciousness of negative beings to a higher realm of rebirth in order to compassionately thwart their negative intent is also discerned to be naturally pure. There are ten objects or "fields of compassion" suitable for the application of such "liberating" techniques, including those who are hostile to the Three Precious Jewels (triratna) and spiritual teachers, those who misinterpret the commitments and those trapped in evil existences (v.11). The actual skilful means which effect this "liberation" are meditative stability, mantra recitation combined with hand-gestures of sealing, and the burnt offering of an effigy, which are respectively for yogins of superior, mediocre and inferior potential (v.12). The benefit of this practice is that beings destined for rebirth in lower realms are "liberated" and transferred to higher realms (v.13).
The paths of skilful means and "liberation" are discerned to be naturally pure because in each case, the ma˘šala of magical pristine cognition is untainted by the defects associated with past actions (karma) (v.14).

Secondly, the experiential cultivation of the generation stage of meditation sets the aforementioned refinements of pure view within the context of the feast offering ceremony. The Sanskrit term ga˘acakra is defined as "a feast or assembly of the extraordinary supports, persons and implements associated with the deliberate practice of the secret mantras". Now, the yogin who discerns through the axioms of the three purities and four samenesses that all phenomena comprising the mundane world and its inhabitants are the feast-offering of Samantabhadra, primordial buddhahood itself, will swiftly attain supreme spiritual accomplishment (v.15-16).
The diverse modes of the feast-offerings which emerge from the feast-offering of Samantabhadra are classified according to the number of participants or the kinds of ma˘šala they form. Those of the peaceful deities may form five, three or a single pair of male and female yogins, while those of the wrathful deities may form their own distinctive clusters. Altogether, there may be a hundred or even a multitude of participating yogins and yogin´s (vv.17-20).

Feast-offerings may also be classified according to the diverse outer, inner and secret hand-implements which the participants hold, the diverse deities who confer accomplishments in the course of the ceremonies, and the provisions of merit and pristine cognition that are gathered within them.

As far as the actual procedures for the performance of the feast offerings associated with the peaceful and wrathful deities are concerned: The participants should enter the assembly according to the correct ritual sequence. This means that the ma˘šala of the single cluster is entered first of all (vv.21-22), followed by the ma˘šala of three clusters (v.23), then the ma˘šala of five clusters (v.24) and then the ma˘šala of indestructible expanse (v.25). On the basis of the symbolic ma˘šala which is constructed in accordance with these clusters, suitable offerings and implements are arrayed and transformed through meditative stability before being offered to the visualised deities and enjoyed by them. The ceremony concludes with the prayers and benedictions which dedicate the merit of the practice for the sake of all beings.

The chapter ends with a synopsis of the basic elements necessary for attainment through the feast-offerings, namely meditative stability (v.26), the appropriate location and implements (v.27), and the specific time for its performance (v.28).

CHAPTER TWELVE: ATTAINMENT OF THE FEAST OFFERINGS

The purpose of this chapter is to disclose the particular aspects of the ma˘šala of feast-offerings, namely, the meditative stabilities associated with the visualised deities and offerings, and the attainments of the awareness-holders which ensue.

Introduction

Having explained the ma˘šala of feast-offerings, Samantabhadra, the Great Joyous One, then enters the meditative stability of "the array of ornaments", which are enjoyed by buddhas and sentient beings and are laid out within the ma˘šala of feast-offerings (v.1).

Content

This chapter begins with a general discussion of the meditative stabilities connected with the feast-offerings and their beneficial attributes: Spiritual accomplishments are achieved through the various meditative stabilities which percieve all things as the Magical Net (v.2). These include: the meditative stability focussing on the meditational deities' dance-steps and hand-gestures, which confer the benefit of unimpeded motion (v.3), the meditative stability focussing on the seals of their songs, which confer the benefit of unimpeded sound (v.4), the meditative stability focussing on the seals of their ornaments and raiment, which confer the benefit of protection, along with the major and minor physical marks of the buddha-body (v.5), the meditative stability focussing on their food and drink which confers the benefit of buddha-body and the nectar of buddha-speech (v.6), and the meditative stability focussing on the seals of sexual yoga and forceful "liberation", which confer all accomplishments and enlightened activities (v.7).

By retaining the correct view concerning the coalescence of appearance and emptinesss, and practising the generation and perfection stages of meditation, the yogin will gradually attain the mature status of an awareness-holder and then be confirmed on the buddha-level (vv.8-9). Thus, the results achieved through the performance of the feast-offerings and their meditative stabilities are known as the attainment of the four classes of awareness-holder, which are to be differentiated in terms of their emanational birth, and their association with provisional results and levels, including the ten transcendent perfections (vv.10-11), and with the conclusive attainment of the buddha-levels (v.12).

The chapter ends with a synopsis describing the all-embracing ma˘šala which supports the feast-offerings: By visualising and meditating on Samantabhadra and Samantabhadr´ in union, which is the true nature of mind, the yogin comes to meditate on all ma˘šalas (vv.13-14), and thereby attain the accomplishemt of all ma˘šalas (v.15). Understanding all things to be the true nature of mind, there will be no defect with respect to the result, whatever the yogin's degree of proficiency in the generation stage (v.16).

CHAPTER THIRTEEN: NUCLEUS OF MOST SECRET ESOTERIC INSTRUCTIONS

This chapter expounds the perfection stage of the path, including the Great Perfection of inner radiance, which is the culmination of experiential cultivation, bringing about the result of perfect buddhahood.

Introduction

Having revealed the generation stage of the path of meditation, Samantabhadra, the Great Joyous One, then enters the meditative stability which is "the cloud-like array of the nucleus of most secret commitment", in order to reveal the perfection stage. Accordingly, all things are revealed to be spontaneously present in the primordial Great Perfection (v.1).

Content

There are two aspects to the exposition of the perfection stage- the first concerning the manner in which the secret truth abides in the mind of the spiritual master of the tantras (vajrńcńrya), and the second concerning the natural Great Perfection itself. Now, this secret truth abides in the minds of the diverse spiritual teachers (v.2), whose teaching may partake of diverse views, encompasing those non-Buddhists whose views are held to harbour no understanding and wrong understanding, as well as the adherents of the H´nayńna who have partial understanding, the followers of the Mahńyńna causal vehicles whose understanding approaches completion, and the adepts of Kriyń, Caryń, Yoga and Mahńyoga tantra who maintain distinct understandings. However all these teachings culminate in the natural secret truth which is the Magical Net. In brief, this secret truth is fully present in the syllables and sounds of the Guhyagarbha Tantra itself (v.3), and its concealed and hidden meanings are revealed by the vajrńcńrya (v.4).

The exposition of the three aspects of the natural Great Perfection which follows is given in the form of a brief outline and then as an extensive exegesis. The former comprises: the generation stage of skilful means (v.5), the perfection stage of discriminative awareness (v.6), and the stage of inner radiance which is without duality (v.7).

As for the latter, the extensive exegesis of these three stages: The outer generation stage is that in which all phenomena, psycho-physical components and so forth are visualised as the ma˘šala of meditational deities (v.8). The inner perfection stage concerns the meditations on bliss and emptiness, along with their result (vv.9-10); while the secret stage of inner radiance concerns the Great Perfection and entails the recognition of inner radiance as the ground (v.11), the recognition of the appearance of pristine cognition in meditative stability as the path (v.12), and recognition of the supreme spiritual accomplishment of buddhahood as the result (v.13).

The commentator, having already expounded the outer generation stage, at this juncture provides extensive overviews concerning the inner perfection stage and the secret stage of inner radiance, which is the Great Perfection. The former includes both the path of skilful means and the path of liberation.

In the context of this perfection stage, the path of skilful means comprises the control of vital energy with respect to the yogin's subtle body and also when in union with a yogic partner. In the first case, the yogin utilises the four energy centres, the seventy-two thousand energy channels and twenty-one thousand six hundred vital energies within the subtle body. The purpose of this training is to transform the coarse vital energy associated with past actions into vital energy of pristine cognition, within the central channel, where it transforms the energy centres into globes of light and thence into the meditational deities of the enlightened families. This practice brings about provisional results such as the supernormal cognitive powers and the conclusive result of the buddha-level.
The purpose of the second kind of training which refines the movement of seminal energy when the yogin is in union with a yogic partner, is to transform dissonant mental states into the path of purification. There are four kinds of delight experienced by the yogin during this practice, and these are differentiated through the degrees to which conceptions are renounced and bliss is present, as well as by their locations within the subtle body. This generation of bliss is activated by the downward movement of seminal energy, which gives rise to the perfection of the causal paths and levels, along with the transcendent perfections, while the upward movement of seminal fluids in reverse gives rise to the resultant paths and levels, along with the six supernormal cognitive powers and the major and minor marks of the buddha-body. This practice results in the attainment of both supreme and common spiritual accomplishments.

In addition, there are subsidiary instructions concerning the generation of inner heat (gtum mo), which assists the practitioner on the path of skilful means. During the meditation on the ca˘šńli energy channel which connects with the heart centre of the subtle body, the syllable A, located below the navel centre, is visualised as if blazing on fire, in consequence of which it melts the syllable HAĂ located in the crown centre, thereby generating an inner heat within the body. This warmth gives rise to the pristine cognition of bliss and emptiness, which acts as an aid to the two aforementioned kinds of training.

The path of liberation includes meditative stability on the apparitional meditational deities which transforms all conceptualisation into the ma˘šala, and meditative stability on emptiness or actual reality which integrates the practices of tranquility (zhi gnas) and higher insight (lhag mthong) during periods of meditation and post-meditation. As a result, both provisional and conclusive enlightened attributes are accomplished.

The secret inner radiance of the Great Perfection is then considered in three phases: Firstly, the inner radiance of the ma˘šala of the ground is present within the heart and crown centres of the subtle body in form of the clusters of peaceful and wrathful deities respectively, and yet these are concealed in the form of glowing seeds or seminal points which only become fully manifested through the generation and perfection stage practices when attained by the four kinds of awareness-holder.

Secondly, when pristine cognition is recognised as the path through the yogin's experiential cultivation, this refers to darkness meditation during which the yogin assumes the so-called seven postures of Vairocana and expriences the various signs of inner radiance, and to daylight meditation during which he or she is absorbed in a non-referential meditative equipoise. The fusion of these two coalesces tranquility and higher insight, and brings about the cessation of coarse vital energy and the manifestation of the vital energy of pristine cognition, resulting in the attainment of the four kinds of awareness-holder (rig 'dzin rnam bzhi) and the buddha-level.

This manifestation of pristine cognition occurs through four successive visionary appearances (snang ba bzhi), each of which has its own internal and external signs. In the first, the mundane body, speech and mind become blissful, radiant and non-conceptual. In the second, all things become apparition-like forms. In the third, all appearances manifest naturally as ma˘šalas of deities, and in the fourth, liberation from the snare of the physical body and its appearance is achieved, along with the twenty-five resultant realities of the buddha-level. These instructions of the Great Perfection are potently combined with bar do instructions to effect liberation in the intermediate state after death.
In brief, the atemporal ma˘šala of buddha-body and pristine cognition is obtained in a spontaneously present manner through study, reflection, and meditation (v.14).

The text then analyses the superiority of the natural Great Perfection over other teachings, and the worthy recipients to whom it should be given. The superiority of Atiyoga is known through the greatness of the individuals who accomplish it (v.15), and through the greatness of the path of Atiyoga, which is the result of all paths (v.16), traversed by all the buddhas (v.17), through which all yogins accomplish the conclusive result (v.18) and which is superior to that of the causal vehicles (v.19). In brief, there are no paths superior to this (v.20).

The worthy recipients to whom it should be given should be endowed with discriminative awareness born of study, reflection and meditation, and noble in their attributes of spiritual wealth. They should not fear the profound meanings, they should have renounced evil through their virtuous and noble aspirations, and be steadfast in their faith. Such individuals should offer their body, speech and mind to the spiritual teacher and the sacred teachings (v.21). On the other hand, the Great Perfection should not be given to unworthy recipients who would misunderstand it, act erroneously, or deviate in their vows and commitments, in their practice of the generation and perfection stages, or from the accumulation of the two provisions (tshogs gnyis). In such cases retributions are severe (v.22).

CHAPTER FOURTEEN: THE PLEASING EULOGY

Following the continuum of the ground and the continuum of the path, which have been revealed in the previous chapters in respect of the peaceful deities, the continuum of the result is now presented in the form of a eulogy to the resultant buddha-body and pristine cognition, in the fully manifest ma˘šala of the peaceful deities.

Introduction

Having divulged the ma˘šalas of the generation and perfection stages of the path, Samantabhadra, the Great Joyous One, sings the following eulogy to the fruitional ma˘šala of the result, which coalesces buddha-body and pristine cognition (v.1).

Content

This chapter contains a general eulogy in five verses to the buddhas of the five enlightened families and the five pristine cognitions, which are also identified respectively with buddha-body, -speech, -mind, -attributes and -activities (vv.2-6). It concludes with a particular eulogy to the Supreme Embodiment of Samantabhadra and Samantabhadr´ in union (v.7).


CHAPTER FIFTEEN: CLOUD-LIKE EMERGENCE OF THE NATURAL MA˛ăALA OF WRATHFUL DEITIES.

The purpose of this chapter is to explain the natural spontaneous presence of the wrathful deities within the primorially pure ground, the enlightened intention that gives rise to their manifestation, and the modality of their ma˘šala array.

Introduction

Having revealed the ma˘šala of peaceful deities, Samantabhadra, the Supreme Embodiment, then manifests as the primordial buddha-body of perfect resource in the ma˘šala of naturally manifesting wrathful deities, which is their emanational basis (v.1).

There are therefore two major aspects to the emergence of the ma˘šala of wrathful deities which Longchen Rabjampa discusses in an extensive overview, namely, the spontaneous presence of the wrathful deities in the ground and the consequent emanation of the wrathful deities, including Rudra, from the ground.

At the outset, the Sanskrit term krodha is defined as a deity "triumphant over disharmony and acting on behalf of living beings through the enlightened activity of wrath". There are three types of wrathful deity, corresponding to the three buddha-bodies, and these are said to have four attributes through which their wrath is forcefully expressed, ie. their reality cannot be symbolised, their pristine cognition is undeluded, their deeds are effortless, and their enlightened activity is ostensibly wrathful for the sake of those beings who are dominated by anger or hatred and its concomitant self-cherishing pride or envy. This prevalence of anger, pride or envy is said to occur owning to a disproportionate excess of energy emitted by the wrathful ma˘šala, which abides naturally within the skull of the subtle body. In terms of the ground therefore, wrathful deities are primordially present as the ma˘šala of blood-drinkers in the crown-centre of the subtle body. In terms of the path, they are visually generated through meditation, and in terms of the result, they are spontaneously and fully manifest in the GhanavyŘha realm.

As far as the emanation of the wrathful deities from the spontaneous ground is concerned: The ma˘šala of wrathful deities is recognised to be both natural and emanational without contradiction because there is a movement from its natural manifestation in the crown centre to its extraneous manifestation in the world. Through the energy of the natural ma˘šala of wrathful deities, Rudra, the archetype of rampant egohood, emerges to display unenlightned wrath and the wrathful deities of pristine cognition emerge to subdue him. Although Rudra and his followers appear to have mundane forms and powers, and in the context of a narrative are said to be subdued by Heruka and placed around him in the ma˘šala, actually Rudra is a contrivance of the wrathful deities for didactic purposes and not an individual living being who experiences suffering. Fundamentally, Rudra is atemporally and naturally manifest as Samantabhadra, and his taming indicates the reversal of the sufferings of cyclic existence through the reversal of rampant egotism.

There is no contradiction between the tantras which describe this subjugation in beginningless time and those sŘtras which ostensibly refer to the subjugation of Rudra in a specific temporal setting; nor is there a fundamental distinction between Heruka who tames Rudra in the tantras and Guhyapati who does so in the sŘtras because these are respectively inner or natural and outer or emanational aspects of the same wrathful ma˘šala.

Content

This chapter concerns the emergence of mundane wrathful deities, endowed with the chronic patterns of corrupt past actions, such as Rudra, and their consequent subjugation by the wrathful deities of pristine cognition.

As to the former: On account of egotism and having violated their former tantric commitments (vv.2-3), beings are reborn in unbearable hellish domains (v.4) and then as tormented spirits (v.5). Then, once their coarse obscurations have diminished, they are consequently born in a monstrous ogre-like form which is harmful to others, on the basis of the subtle obscurations of having perversely meditated in the past on a wrathful deity and misinterpreted the correct conduct of the secret mantras. In this guise, they then come to dominate the mundane world-systems of desire and form, terrifying their inhabitants (v.6).

The subjugation of such negative forces by the wrathful deities of pristine cognition emerges as follows: Samantabhadra in the form of Heruka observes Rudra and his activities (v.7) and, to bring about their subjugation, he assumes the meditative stability of the "kingly Magical Net of wrathful deities" (v.8). The actual subjugation is carried out in four steps by means of the "four miracles": First, Samantabhadra and Samantabhadr´ appear in union as Krodh´Ôvara and Krodh´Ôvar´ (v.9). Second, through their enlightened intention they emanate a cloud of seminal energy (v.10). Third, the ma˘šala of wrathful deities, vast as the world-systems, is emanated therefrom (v.11). Fourth, this ma˘šala then generates fifteen great signs, indicating how cyclic existence is liberated in actual reality, in order to conquer Rudra and his acolytes (v.12).

Once subjugated, Rudra is wrathfully eradicated in the following manner: Samantabhadra transforms into the three-headed Mahottara or Buddha Heruka (v.13), with a retinue comprising the Herukas of the four other enlightened families (vv.14-15). Then, responding to the ferocious reaction of Rudra and his twenty-eight followers (v.16), the nine-headed form of Mahottara manifests in order to "liberate" them by wrathful sorcery (vv.17-18) and to gather together their twenty-eight consorts, the ÝÔvar´, through which he absorbs the entire mundane world and its inhabitants (vv.19-20). Through further meditative stability, the five Herukas then reappear to enter into non-dual union with these consorts (vv.21-23), and from their wombs, the retinue of the wrathful MńtaraŰ, PiÔńc´ and Female Gatekeepers emanates (vv.24-27), taking their places along with them on the periphery of the ma˘šala (v.28).

Rudra and the proud malign forces who follow him are then revived and granted ablution, after which they are placed within the ma˘šala on the seats of the Herukas and come to acquire a certain vision of the pure ma˘šala (vv.29-31). Following their subjugation, which occurs simultaneously throughout the chiliocosms of the universe (v.32), they are accepted as retainers after taking an oath of allegiance. Their former consorts, the ÝÔvar´, also request the conferral of the various rites that they might obey (vv.33-35), in response to which they are granted empowerments and injunctions (v.37).

CHAPTER SIXTEEN: EMERGENCE OF THE MA˛ăALA OF BUDDHA-SPEECH OF THE GREAT ASSEMBLY OF WRATHFUL DEITIES

The purpose of this and the succeeding four chapters is to present the continuum of the path through which the natural ma˘šala of the wrathful deities is actually attained. In sequence, these chapters present the wrathful mantras which arouse the continuum of buddha-mind (Ch.16), the ma˘šala of images to be visualised through meditative stability (Ch.17), the offerings which are then made to this ma˘šala (Ch.18), the corresponding commitments which practitioners are encouraged to adopt (Ch.19) and the ensuing enlightened activities which are performed (Ch.20). Practically, this implies that on the basis of the three kinds of meditative stability the celestial palace and deities of the wrathful ma˘šala are visually generated. Then, the genuine beings of wrathful pristine cognition are invited and supplicated with the clasped flowers, symbolic of the yogin's awareness. Dissolving into the visualised ma˘šala, they confer commitments and are pleased by the feast-offerings, which are made in conjunction with the recitation of mantras and clear visualisation of the deities.

Consequently, enlightened activities are performed, along with concluding rituals of benediction and dedication of merit.

Introduction

Having arrayed the natural ma˘šala of the wrathful deities, Samantabhadra, the Great Joyous One, then brings forth their ma˘šala of buddha-speech, the wrathful mantras, in order that this naturally manifesting array might be perceived externally by bodhisattvas and accomplished by yogins (v.1).

Content

This chapter presents the five categories of mantras through which the wrathful ma˘šala is activated or energised. There are mantras which visually generate the fifty-eight wrathful deities (vv.2-5), mantras which invite the Beings of Pristine Cognition (j˝ńnasattva) corresponding to those deities (v.6), mantras which scatter the flowers of the yogin's awareness as a request for commitments to be imparted (v.7), mantras in the form of a prayer for spiritual accomplishment and the conferral of commitments (v.8), and mantras through which torma-offerings are made for the sake of enlightened activity (v.9).

Finally, as an extraordinary sign of the efficaciousness of these mantras, all non-virtuous acts of body, speech and mind are incinerated and the purified body, speech and mind then blaze forth as buddha-body, -speech and -mind. The entirety of space is filled with the ma˘šalas of buddha-body, -speech and -mind.

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN: REVELATION OF THE MA˛ăALA OF WRATHFUL DEITIES

Samantabhadra, the Great Joyous One, then presents the ma˘šala of images, visualised through meditative stability, which are the necessary supports clarifying the forms assumed by those wrathful deities, along with their mantras (v.1).

Content

This chapter describes the supporting celestial palace and the ma˘šala of wrathful deities within it. The palace (v.2) is adorned with ornaments of skulls, snakes, corpses and light (v.3) and seats in the form of bull, buffalo, leopard, tiger and bear, surmounted in turn by the proud malign forces who were subjugated (v.4). Therein, the five Heruka are present (v.5), with their diverse ornaments and thundrous roars (v.6), hand-held emblems and queens (v.7). The retinue surrounding them includes the twenty female wrathful deities, ie. the MńtaraŰ, PiÔńc´, and Gatekeepers (v.8), along with the twenty-eight ÝÔvar´ (v.9).

As a wondrous indication of this visualisation, the blazing ma˘šala of wrathful deities is said to radiate with the apparitions of buddha-body, -speech and -mind (v.10).

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN: REVELATION OF THE SACRED OFFERINGS

Having revealed the wrathful ma˘šala, Samantabhadra, the Great Joyous One, then describes the outer, inner and secret offerings which are designed to please the wrathful ma˘šala through skilful means (v.1).

Content

The secret offerings are associated with the paths of liberation and skilful means. The former includes the authentic offering of the primordially pure true nature of mind and the offering of forceful compassionate "liberation" which benefits the ten kinds of being endowed with negatve attitudes (v.2). The latter refers to the seminal or blissful energy produced by the embrace of the male and female deities (v.3).

The inner and outer offerings are collectively known as the "desirable attributes" of the five senses, which are sacramental substances. The former are the five nectars, namely, excrement, urine, human flesh, blood and semen, through which cyclical existence is identified as nirvń˘a (v.4). The latter are the outer sacraments of food, drink, clothing and all else that possesses the desirable attributes of the senses (v.5). All these sacraments are offered to the deities of pristine cognition (v.6).

The benefits attained through the making of such offerings are the common accomplishments associated with the four rites of enlightened activity (v.7) and the supreme accomplishment of the three buddha-bodies consequent on the practice of symbolic and non-symbolic meditation (v.8). In sum, all worlds are filled with pleasing offerings (v.9).

CHAPTER NINETEEN: COMMITMENTS

Samantabhadra, the Great Joyous One, then divulges the supreme commitments in order that yogins of secret mantra might swiftly accomplish the result to which they aspire (v.1).

Content

This chapter is an exegesis of the commitments associated with the ma˘šala of wrathful deities. The Sanskrit term samaya is defined as " a commitment requiring the taking of a conventional oath of allegiance, which is laid down because benefits are obtained when it is guarded and retribution is exacted when it degenerates".

The essence of the supreme commitments, the hallmark of their superiority, is that dissonant mental states may be engaged without accruing negative acts because the vows maintained by adherents of the lower vehicles are fully integrated with these commitments. Therefore they integrate the lower vows which comprise: the mind-control generated through the seven levels of prńtimokŕa vow taken for the sake of individual peace and happiness; the bodhisattva vows which bind the mind with an altruistic moral discipline to achieve realisation and benefit others; and the vows of the awareness-holders which benefit others by transforming dissonant mental states into pristine cognition. All these three trainings are gathered without contradiction in the commitments of the secret mantra (v.2).
In this integration the most minute defects in the observance of the lower vows are purified (v.3). Even the four inimical defeats- murder, stealing, lying, and sexual misconduct, which pious attendants guard against through the prńtimokŕa vows are not contradicted because phenomena are transformed into the ma˘šala of deities. Similarly, the vows of the bodhisattvas are not contradicted because they are retained by extraordinary compassion and skilful means. The means of gathering all such vows within the commitments of the secret mantras are inherent in the rites of "liberation" and the practices of sexual yoga because mind-control and the three kinds of moral discipline known to bodhisattvas are always present (vv.4-7).

As to the classification of the commitments, five basic and ten ancillary commitments have been enumerated (vv.8-10). The former are the commitments never to abandon the Three Precious Jewels, to venerate the spiritual teacher, not to interrupt the recitation of mantras and securing of the sealing hand-gestures, to have loving kindness for those who enter the genuine path, and not to divulge the secret truths. These are defined as aspects of buddha-body, -speech and -mind to be guarded and attained in order that the seed of buddha nature, latent in all beings, might not be obscured (v.11). The ancillary commitments comprise five dissonant mental states which are not to be abandoned and five nectars which are to be acquired because they assist the observance of the basic commitments (v.12). The benefits which follow from the keeping of commitments are the attainment of buddhahood itself, while the unpleasant results of suffering and lack of accomplishment are the retributions exacted when they are broken (vv.13-16).

While all these commitments are subsumed by the indestructible reality of buddha-body, -speech and -mind (v.17), there is also a more detailed enumeration of three hundred and sixty subdivisions of the basic and ancillary commitments (vv.18-19), and, beyond that, they may even be considered inconceivable in numerical terms, owing to the inconceivable nature of appearance and emptiness (vv.20-21).

Consequent on keeping the commitments, the yogin is venerated by mundane beings (v.22), blessed by sublime beings (v.23), and attains the rank of an awareness-holder within the perceptual range of the buddhas (v.24). He or she integrates all vows and commitments in the aforementioned manner (v.25), and has the ability to restore broken commitments (v.26).

CHAPTER TWENTY: CONSECRATION OF SPONTANEOUS ENLIGHTENED ACTIVITY

Samantabhadra, the Great Joyous One, then becomes absorbed in the meditative stability known as "the consecration of the spontaneous commitment" in order that those who keep the commitments might engage in enlightened activity (v.1).

Content

This chapter begins with an explanation of the four kinds of enlightened activity, symbolised in succession by the shapes of the sacred Sanskrit letters EvaŠ Mayń. These are respectively the rite of wrath (vv.2-4), the rite of subjugation (vv.5-7), the rite of enrichment (vv.8-10), and the rite of pacification (vv.11-13), each of which is presented in three phases, namely the making of a burnt offering, the piercing with the ritual dagger (k´la), and the enactment of the dance-steps that oppress negative forces.

Particular injunctions are subsequently given to those mundane beings on the periphery of the ma˘šala who consume the residual offerings of the feast, exhorting them to maintain the former oaths administered to them by Mahottara Heruka (vv.14-15).

The main part of the enlightened activity of the wrathful ma˘šala however is known as the rite of the dance steps and hand-gestures (v.16). This action, when performed by the five central Heruka and their consorts, brings about the accomplishment of all five kinds of enlightened activity (v.17). When engaged by the eight MńtaraŰ, it brings about subjugation, enrichment and pacification (v.18). When engaged by the eight PiÔńc´ it brings about wrathful destruction (v.19), and when engaged by the twenty-eight ÝÔvar´, it fulfils curses and imprecations (v.20).

Corresponding to the four kinds of enlightened activity, which culminate in the wrathful rite of "liberation" are the places conducive to the attainment of their respective activities, namely, firepits for the rite of wrath, solitary tree-trunks for the rite of subjugation, thickets for the rite of enrichment, and trees or woodland for the rite of pacification. Each of the rites also requires a distinctive meditative stability (v.21). Thereby, all the tathńgatas are trained in the performance of enlightened activities (v.22).

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