‘A CANOPY OF FRESH SKY FLOWERS’, 15th KARMAPA’S SONG FOR HIS STUDENT (AND GURU) 1st JAMGON KONGTRUL from THE OCEAN OF KAGYU SONGS (KAGYU GURTSO): Birthday offering for 4th Jamgon Kongtrul

“Here is a little song called ”A Canopy of Fresh Sky Flowers.”  It shows my own faults and puts into words whatever has been remembered by a dry understanding that merely dances on books.”

“Although I wear saffron robes, I am an ordinary man.
Although I have a bodhisattva name, I am filled with passion and aggression.
Although I have entered into the profound mantrayana, my view and actions are perverted. 
As my mind has not been tamed by renunciation
And I do not trust in karma. and its result,
Samaya and vows are left in the realm of theory.
Subduing enemies, protecting relatives, accumulating and hoarding riches, and so on, 
Such useless occupations enslave me.
Although I violate the Sugata’s commands,
I pride myself on being a follower of the Buddha.
Enslaved by the mara of kleshas
I am a stubborn, rotten son of the father Kagyus. 
Now when I look at my own behavior, utter depression anses. 
Father Jetsun, please think of me and look upon me with kindness.”
–15th Karmapa, Khakyab Dorje, excerpt from songs about 1st Jamgon Kongtrul

“These songs should not be regarded as ordinary poetry, as a purely literary endeavor. They are the insight of our forefathers, conceived, described, and proclaimed. The reason we refer to them as songs is because they are based on the melody of circumstance, and on meditative experience. They are cosmic onomatopoeia, the best expression of sanity.”
–11th Chogyam Trungpa in ‘Rain of Wisdom: Kagyu Vajra Songs’
 
4th Jamgon Kongtrul – 26th birthday, 26 November 2021

Today, for the 26th birthday of the 4th Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche, Lodro Choyki Nyima Tenpey Dronme, I offer a short post relating to a song I offer a short post relating to a song ‘A Canopy of Sky Flowers’ written by Fifteenth Karmapa, Khakyab Dorje (karma pa 15, 1871–1922 or 1870–1921)for Jamgon Kongtrul the First (ʽjam mgon kong sprul blo gros mthaʽ yas, 1813–1899), which was translated and published for the first time in English by the Nalanda Translation Committee, under the guidance of Chogyam Trungpa in The Rain of Wisdom: The Vajra Songs of the Kagyu Gurus (Shambhala Publications (1980:102-111).

Before re-producing the song here below, I discuss a little about the relationship between 15th Karmapa and Jamgon Kongtrul.

15th Karmapa and 1st Jamgon Kongtrul  
15th Karmapa, Khakyab Dorje (1871-1922)

The fifteenth Karmapa, Khakyab Dorje (1871-1922) was born in Shelkor, a village in the Tsang province in central Tibet. It is said that right after his birth, he spoke the mantra of Chenrezig. At the age of five he was able to read the scriptures. At the age of six he was recognized as the Karmapa reincarnation and enthroned by the ninth Kyabgon Drukchen.

Khakyab Dorje studied with the abbot of Palpung monastery, Khenchen Tashi Ozer, and went to see Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye in Palpung monastery. From him he received the entire transmission of the Kagyu teachings, including the instructions of the Five Treasures that Kongtrul had compiled in over one hundred volumes, presenting religious thought and practice from the Rimé perspective. Kongtrul Rinpoche also gave Khakyab Dorje the Bodhisattva Vow. Khakhyab Dorje also went to see Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche in Dzongsar to receive teachings and transmissions from him.

In 1898 Khakhyap Dorje travelled to Bhutan where he bestowed many transmissions. On his return to Tibet, he took several consorts. Female wisdom and inspiration are necessary to find the hidden teachings of Guru Rinpoche and Yeshe Tsogyal known as termas. At the time of Guru Rinpoche, Karmapa was one of 25 of his main students, with the name Gyalwa Choyang. Khakyab Dorje married Dāki Wangmo, bore three sons, one of whom, Khyentsé Özer, was recognised as the Second Jamgon Kongtrul and another, Jamyang Rinpoché, an unrecognised Shamarpa. He composed a special text explaining how to return one’s vows.

Among his closest students were the 11th Tai Situpa, whom Karmapa recognised as the Situpa reincarnation, Karma Jamyang Khyentse Özer and the First Beru Khyentse.

For more research and translations on the 15th Karmapa, see here. For more on Jamgon Kongtrul, see here.

The Canopy of Flowers – Song by 15th Karmapa

The song by 15th Karmapa to the 1st Jamgon Kongtrul is one of intense longing and supplication, but also full of self-deprecation and disgust with his own laziness, lack of understanding, faults and worldly ways. The 15th Karmapa introduces his song with the following:

Here is a little song called ”A Canopy of Fresh Sky Flowers.”  It shows my own faults and puts into words whatever has been remembered by a dry understanding that merely dances on books.

And ends it with more 

Moreover, thinking that it could not be wrong if it became the occasion for counseling myself, for improving the minds of others of similar fortune, and for increasing devotion, this lazy one known as Khakhyap Dorje, pretending to be a master for this dark age, put into a garland of letters whatever came to his mind. “

In the second song, “The Song of Devotion and Longing” the Karmapa states that:

At the Karma Vihara of Akanishta, the great dharma palace of the Buddha Karmapa, in the year of the Iron Tiger called Vikrta, I offered this song with great devotion of body, speech, and mind at the feet of the omniscient Jetsun, the king of dharma. This counsel to myself and supplication urging the kindness of the guru is called “The Song of Devotion and Longing.”

This song is also full of self-deprecation:

“Although I wear saffron robes, I am an ordinary man.
Although I have a bodhisattva name, I am filled with passion and aggression.
Although I have entered into the profound mantrayana, my view and actions are perverted. 
As my mind has not been tamed by renunciation
And I do not trust in karma. and its result,
Samaya and vows are left in the realm of theory.
Subduing enemies, protecting relatives, accumulating and hoarding riches, and so on, 
Such useless occupations enslave me.
Although I violate the Sugata’s commands,
I pride myself on being a follower of the Buddha.
Enslaved by the mara of kleshas
I am a stubborn, rotten son of the father Kagyus. 
Now when I look at my own behavior, utter depression anses. 
Father Jetsun, please think of me and look upon me with kindness.”

 

The 15th Karmapa also wrote a five-mandala guru puja focusing on Jamgon Kongtrul and his retinue, written in 1921 at Tsurphu Monastery, Tibet ( ‘jam mgon blo gros mtha’ yas kyis dkyil ‘khor chen po mchod sgrub, Volume 96 of TBRC W3PD1288).

The Rain of Wisdom -Ocean of  Kagyu Vajra Songs – Kagyu Gurtso
11th Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

In terms of the song by the 15th Karmapa, and the Kagyu songs in general, the 11th Chogyam Trungpa had this to say in his Introduction to the remarkable book of the Kagyu Vajra Songs, The Rain of Wisdom:

The sense of dedication and exertion that is expressed in the life examples and songs of our Kagyu forefathers is something one can never forget. The Practice Lineage of the Kagyu tradition inspires one to become fully involved in a heartfelt connection with the teachings. From my childhood until the present day, each time I open The Rain of Wisdom and read a few passages it makes me appreciate the hardships that our forefathers endured for the sake of future generations such as ourselves.

The Kagyu tradition is said to be the most stubborn and honest in following its heritage. We take delight in our heritage. Doubt, challenge, hesitation-in brief, any form of second thoughts-are not regarded as obstacles, but rather as fuel to push us further and cause our devotion and heartfelt longing to blaze, to increase our intense desire to’ follow the example of our forefathers. So we, as Kagyus, have thrived on the transmissions of our forefathers, and sustained and nourished ourselves in reading and reciting their vajra songs along with their life stories. As for myself, the older I get, the more of a Kagyu person I become. Aging in this way is wonderful. My thanks and appreciation to the forefathers….

The readers of this book should reflect on the value and wisdom which exist in these songs of the lineage in the following ways. First there are the life examples of our forefathers to inspire our devotion. There are songs which help us understand the cause and effect of karma and so illuminate the path to liberation. There are songs which give instruction in relative bodhicitta, so that we can realize the immediacy of our connection to the dharma. Some are songs of mahamudra and transmit how we can actually join together bliss and emptiness through the profound methods of coemergence, melting, and bliss. Other songs show the realization of Buddha in the palm of our hand.

Needless to say, these songs should be regarded as the best of the butter which has been churned from the ocean of milk of the Buddha’s teachings. Reading these songs or even glancing at a paragraph of this literature always brings timely messages of how to conduct oneself, how to discipline oneself, and how to reach accomplishment. Furthermore, these songs are very pithy and direct. Their wisdom is both old and new. It is old because it is a tradition of twenty-five hundred years; it is new because it directs itself to one’s very moment of mind, at this very second.

These songs should not be regarded as ordinary poetry, as a purely literary endeavor. They are the insight of our forefathers, conceived, described, and proclaimed. The reason we refer to them as songs is because they are based on the melody of circumstance, and on meditative experience. They are cosmic onomatopoeia, the best expression of sanity. Traditionally they are known as vajra dohas. These vajra dohas of the Kagyu forefathers are read annually in the celebration of the parinirvana of Milarepa by a group of students who have accomplished the preliminary discipline of entering into Buddhism, taken the vow of benevolence of the bodhisattva path, and also glimpsed the power of vajrayana, so .that they are not fearful, but further inspired. Students are also advised to read this book for instructions when their life is filled with disruption and uncertainty and neurosis. Even reading only one passage is better than going to a psychiatrist or taking a. dose of aspirin. This is not a myth: from my personal experience these songs do provide a kind of staircase of liberation. They actually enable us to interrupt our perpetual subconscious gossip, awaken ourselves on the path, and energize ourselves so that we can help others….

So to begin with, the lineage songs are genuine and precise. Then, because of their genuineness, we find them powerful and helpful. And because we can follow them easily, insight does not come as an unusual climax; it is simply the natural and obvious clarity of wakefulness. In this way the Kagyu dharma is good and genuine.

We are so privileged to be in the world of the Kagyu dharma. I dedicate this book, The Rain of Wisdom, and its translation to all sentient beings without exception. May they benefit by it-those who oppose the Kagyu dharma of Vajradhatu as well as those who join in. Without exception, anyone who has had the slightest contact with our Kagyu dharma, whether with positive or negative reactions, is bound to become liberated. 

HH 16th Gyalwang Karmapa, wrote the foreword to the book (see English and Tibetan below):

Music?  Songs from the Kagyu Gurtso (Rain of Wisdom) recorded at Zurmang Dutsi Til monastery in eastern Tibet in 2010.  Happy Birthday by Stevie Wonder: ‘I just never understood, how a man who died for good, Could not have a day that would be set aside for his recognition.’

Written and compiled by Adele Tomlin, 27th November 2021.

A CANOPY OF FRESH SKY FLOWERS‘ SONG BY 15th KARMAPA, KHAKYAB DORJE FOR JAMGON KONGTRUL

“Here is a little song called ”A Canopy of Fresh Sky Flowers.”  It shows my own faults and puts into words whatever has been remembered by a dry understanding that merely dances on books.

NAMO GURU-VAJRADHARAYA
In the space of mahamudra, unchanging bliss and emptiness, 
By performing the various dances of vajra wisdom, which unify sa.rpsara and nirva~;ta, 
He establishes beings in the great ripening and freeing.
I pay homage at the lotus feet of this vajraholder. 

By the great lion’s roar of the glorious voice of the supreme victorious Adityabandhu, the fourth guide in this good kalpa, Lodro Thaye was proclaimed with praise not merely once in the sutra passages, and was prophesied as a great warrior. In the three times, one better than he has not arisen, does not arise, and will not arise. He is chief of the learned, the highest of siddhas, the lord of the entire teachings, the great jetsun who rules in the holy kingdom of Kagyu Vajradhara. The limits of his kindness are immeasurable. His vajra name is very difficult to utter. 

His subject, nurtured for a long time by his great compassion, I, a bad son, am quite lacking in virtues and hold merely the last seat in the Kagyii line. In the soaring melody of young buzzing bees I offer this little song, a message offering my realization in agreement with my experience of understanding myself. 

NAMO GURU VAJRADHARAYA 

You are the primordial ground, Buddha Vajradhara, 

Unobstructed manifestation, the body of great compassion. 

You possess the kindness that delivers buddha into the palm of one’s hand, 

Please enjoy being an ornament on the top of my head. 

 

Having obtained a human body this one time, 

I was accepted by your great kindness, lord. 

You, the jetsun who makes this free and well-favored birth meaningful, 

Please dwell inseparably in the very center of my heart. 

 

Your son supplicates with devotion and longing; 

Father Rinpoche, please look on me with kindness. 

Lord, by the light rays of your kindness, 

The darkness of confused ego-ftxation has been cleared. 

 

In this song of the realization of the pure ultimate natural state, 

These naive words are like the buzzing of a bee. 

Although they irritate the ears of the father jetsun, 

Your son, with overwhelming longing, 

Offers this song of nonsense words; please think of me with compassion. 

 

In general, this body endowed with the eight freedoms and the ten favorable circumstances 

Is more excellent than the wish-fulfilling gem. 

Obtaining this body, I know it to be the power of unperverted merit. 

Although I have obtained it, it is impermanent, 

And, therefore, the moment of death is unavoidable, as is said. 

Since one never knows when it will come, 

I wonder, “When will death come for me?” 

 

The cause and effect of karma ripens infallibly in everyone 

Just like a seed that has been planted. 

Because of my actions of deceiving myself and others, 

I wonder, “What will my end be like?”

 

 In general, ignorance, the great city of samsara, 

Is filled with endless and strenuous suffering. 

When I think about this, I almost lose my mind. 

Panic-stricken, I wonder, “When will I be liberated?” 

 

My body, blown by the wind of bad karma, 

Falls from the precipice of the wrong path. 

Now I am sunk in the mud of sarpsara; please look on me here! 

 

Kind lord, precious guru, 

Please protect me from this terror. 

Through a break in my evil karma,

I discovered good karma.

 I met the father Jetsun, the excellent true Buddha 

Whose essence is Sri Cakrasamvara. 

The skin of ignorant ego-fixation fell away from me, 

And the great knot tied by passion and aggression was loosened. 

 

As for the klesas, produced by the three poisons, 

The object of their arising, the arising itself, and the one who gives rise to them 

Are all projections of mind. 

Like a reflection in a mirror, 

Their essence is empty. 

Like waves merging with the ocean, 

They subside into empty ineffable space. 

 

External phenomenal objects: forms, sounds, smells, tastes, and objects of touch, 

All these phenomena are no other 

Than the magical tricks of mind. 

Like a child who builds sand castles, 

It is mind that fixates on names. 

Realizing that this is unreal is also mind. 

 

Therefore, nothing exists as separate from mind 

Neither as substance nor as a mark. 

Realizing that everything is the manifestation of mind, 

So-called samsara and nirvana, 

Considered to be bad and good respectively, do not exist. 

Realizing that mind is the manifestation of – dharmakaya, 

The natural state of self-existing mind 

Does not exist as form or substance. 

It completely passes beyond even being shown by analogy. 

 

To say “emptiness” is not total negation; 

Rather, its nature is luminosity, 

All-pervasive like space. 

To.say “existence” is not to establish a reality. 

Just like space, 

It does not exist, but it is very luminous. 

Everything arises from this luminosity. 

Although it arises, it does not exist as separate, 

But is liberated in the essence of this luminosity. 

Like clouds in the sky, 

It arises from space and dissolves into space. 

 

In short, the phenomenal world is mind. 

From the aspect of its luminosity, there is appearance. 

From the aspect of its essence, there is emptiness. 

Neither buddhas nor sentient beings 

Exist as separately established things. 

All the so-called gods and demons do not so exist. 

Everything is mind. 

Mind is self-existing luminosity. 

It passes beyond all arising, ceasing, and projecting.

 It is free from dwelling, coming, or going anywhere. 

Other than this ineffable mind, 

There is no Vajradhara. 

Mind is luminous; 

I have confidence in realizing that this is so. 

 

Jetsun, this realization is your kindness. 

Rinpoche, now I remember your kindness. 

 Please look upon me, one of bad karma, with compassion. 

Father Jetsun, ultimate Vajradhara, 

Time and time again I think of you and devotion blazes up; 

With undistracted longing I supplicate you. 

Father, grant your blessings so that we may be beyond meeting and parting. 

This song of experience I offer to your ears, father Jetsun. 

If there has been any stain of error, 

 

Please wash it away with the amrita of loving kindness. 

This son supplicates with one-pointed longing; 

Please accept me with the iron hook of your compassion. “

 

At the Karma Vihara of Akanishta, the great dharma palace of the Buddha Karmapa, in the year of the Iron Tiger called Vikrta, I offered this song with great devotion of body, speech, and mind at the feet of the omniscient jetsun, the king of dharma. This counsel to myself and supplication urging the kindness of the guru is called “The Song of Devotion and Longing.”:

Kye Ia! Jetsun, you are the refuge, the embodiment of all the buddhas. 

Although you attained enlightenment innumerable lives ago, In order to guide those wandering below in samsara 

You have been kind enough to return in human form. 

Father guru, great treasure of kindness, please think of me. 

 

Grant your blessings so that my being may be mixed with the dharma. 

In this lowest of the low times, when the five corruptions are rampant: 

Life is brief like a flash of lightning in the sky. 

Wealth is impermanent like dew on the grass. 

A friend who loves you in the morning hates you by the evening. 

All these are like last night’s dream. 

In general, everything is impermanent, moving and changing. 

Now, cast away all desires of fixation on permanence. 

Father guru, please think of me and look upon me with kindness. 

 

Though I have entered the gate of the teachings of the Practice Lineage, 

And have tried to train my being through the three vows, 

This stubborn one has a mind of misfortune Like a hungry ghost on the shore of the ocean. 

Everything I do passes into the power of the eight worldly dharmas. 

A dharma practitioner who ruins others and destroys himself 

Is like excrement covered with a fine cloth. 

Now the time has come to reveal my own faults. 

Lord guru, please think of me and look upon me with kindness. 

 

Although I wear saffron robes, I am an ordinary man. Although I have a bodhisattva name, I am filled with passion and aggression. 

Although I have entered into the profound mantrayana, my view and actions are perverted. 

As my mind has not been tamed by renunciation 

And I do not trust in karma. and its result, 

Samaya and vows are left in the realm of theory. 

Subduing enemies, protecting relatives, accumulating and hoarding riches, and so on, 

Such useless occupations enslave me. 

Although I violate the Sugata’s commands, 

I pride myself on being a follower of the Buddha. 

Enslaved by the m:lra of kleshas, 

 I am a stubborn, rotten son of the father Kagyus. 

Now when I look at my own behavior, utter depression anses. 

Father jetsun, please think of me and look upon me with kindness. 

 

The refuge jetsun who rarely manifests in the three times

Is wise in the ways of taming savages like myself. 

Your kindness is even greater than the Buddha’s. 

I did not see your kindness; how foolish of me! 

You taught the oral instructions of the dharma through various signs and methods. 

Not understanding this, I looked for the dharma elsewhere, 

And my opportunity for the pure dharma was lost there. 

Now it is time to properly see whatever you do. 

I lean my body, speech, and mind on the guru, 

And the accumulations of many kalpas are perfected and the obscurations are purified. 

I did not know that this would benefit myself. 

When I practiced virtues for my own benefit, 

The fruit of siddhi was destroyed by frost. 

I have been fettered by perverted views, and so I am ashamed. 

Now it is time to see all your words as genuine. I supplicate with overwhelming longing; 

Father, please look on me with kindness and grant your blessings. 

 

Lord, although you are buddha, I took you to be a human. 

I saw your buddha activity of skillful means as faulty. 

Disbelieving in your vast actions, I did not see the rot inside myself. 

Like a lamp in a picture, 

The faith in which I placed my hope was artificial. 

Now energized with overwhelming devotion, 

 Let me quickly spring out of the mud of perverted views.

 Invigorated by the energy of unfabricated faith, 

Now it is time to rely on the medical treatment of sacred outlook. 

I supplicate from the depths of my heart. 

Father, look on me with kindness and grant your blessings. 

 

When the enemy greatly famed as the Lord of Death approaches, 

It will be too late for regrets. 

From the bed of this dharma person will come an ordinary corpse. 

All men, high and low, will be disgusted and deride me. 

The time will come when I will wander aimlessly in sa.rp.sa.ra. 

Think of this and sharpen your intelligence. 

See all phenomenal appearance as the play of the guru. 

Dissolve this mind into the mind of the lord. 

Supplicate from within this inseparability. 

May the clear sounds of this song of devotion and longing 

Encourage the kindness of this infallible refuge.

 It is time to cultivate the essence o{ this mind. 

Overwhelmed, I supplicate from my heart. 

Father, please look on me with kindness and grant your blessings. 

 

If one is not polluted by ideas of dualistic fixation, 

He who is widely famed as the enlightened one Is inseparable from this self-luminous mind. 

Therefore, abandon the deception of mind-made meditation and rest. 

It is time to see one’s original face of nonaction. 

I supplicate with devotion and longing. 

Father, please look on me with kindness and grant your blessings. 

In general, saipsara and nirvaQ.a, pain and pleasure, 

All these phenomena are the compassion of the lord guru. 

All the happiness and virtue that exists 

Is the inheritance of my refuge, the vajra being. 

Distribute this to all the old mothers. 

The auspicious coincidence of the two accumulations is a great ornament. 

Not fettered by fixation on joy, From within the practice of the union of bliss and emptmess, 

I supplicate with devotion and longing. 

Father, please look on me with kindness and grant your blessings. 

 

All the suffering and undesirable things that exist 

Are the kind buddha activity of the lord guru. 

One should take on the suffering of all the mothers in the six realms. 

This is the wisdom-flame of oral instructions that cleanses obscurations. 

Suffering has no self-nature. 

From within the practice of the union of feeling and emptiness, 

I supplicate with one-pointed longing. 

Father, please look on me with kindness and grant your blessings.

 

In general, without pursuing the illusion of whatever ariSes, 

Rest within the union of appearance and emptiness. 

See the essence which is groundless and rootless. 

The seer and the seen are both empty. In the midst of their nondual union 

Lies the great spectacle of the primordial natural state. 

The face of the guru of my mind is seen 

And I am certain to hold the royal seat of great bliss. 

Therefore, you faithless one with a hard heart, 

Supplicate continually without distraction, 

 And cast away unnecessary activities. 

Father, please know me; knower of the three times, know me. 

 

Trusting that you know best whatever you do, 

With a song of longing through the six periods of day and night, 

Your son supplicates with one-pointed longing. 

Father, please look on me with kindness and grant your blessings.

Unfabricated devotion blazes. 

Please raise the wisdom of the simultaneity of liberation and realization. 

May auspicious coincidence come together for the spontaneous benefit of beings. 

Lord, please make me inseparable from you. 

 

The practitioner, Lama Karma Gyalwang, with an offering of an auspicious scarf and a silver butter lamp urged me to write a supplication that would give birth to unfabricated devotion. There are no supplications greater than the writings of the siddha forefathers. Although what is composed by a lowly one such as myself is meaningless and just makes me weary, still I did not want to refuse the one who encouraged me. Moreover, thinking that it could not be wrong if it became the occasion for counseling myself, for improving the minds of others of similar fortune, and for increasing devotion, this lazy one known as Khakhyap Dorje, pretending to be a master for this dark age, put into a garland of letters whatever came to his mind.”

From ‘The Rain of Wisdom: Ocean of Kagyu Songs’ (Shambhala Publications (1980: 102-111)).

 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s