“First, the bliss [of the union] that arises comes from desire, the desirous bliss arises, and that has to arise first. However, once it has arisen, then you should look into it, where is that bliss? That feeling of bliss, that feeling of bliss is actually within your own mind, it is the natural state of your own mind. It is the state of mind that is free of all thoughts and it begins with the blissful experience of shamatha. As you continue to practice it becomes increasingly clearer and clearer. Gradually you will then also recognize the four levels of joy.”
“Then, in your day-to-day life, in your normal practice, if you have a partner, it is very important that you see each other in a pure way. If you’re male, then you should see your partner as Vajrayogini, if you’re female you should see your partner as Heruka Chakrasamvara, and that is actually a part of the samaya that we receive. We should not see each other as ordinary. This is how it is taught in the samaya that we receive. If you do not have a partner, for example, if you are an ordained monk or nun, then you should visualize and think that the deity comes as your companion/friend. So there is quite a difference there. Especially if you are a layperson, then that really is a samaya and if you hold this samaya, then the blessings of the practice will be so much greater.”
—HE 8th Garchen Rinpoche (Chakrasamvara teachings, 2018)
For the super flower blood moon and Buddhist Vesak (Buddha’s Birth) Day today (or tomorrow depending on which timezone/calendar you are using!), am happy to offer a new and first translation of a very concise daily practice text called Direct Realisation of Five Deity Chakrasamvara, written by either the 3rd or 2nd Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje[i]. It is available for free download only on request here for anyone with an empowerment of this form of Chakrasamvara within the Kagyu lineages.
I also offer a partial transcript (published below) of a teaching HE 8th Garchen Rinpoche gave on Chakrasamvara in 2018 regarding the nature and role of bliss and desire in the visualizations of the father and mother consort [Heruka and Vajrayogini] – for teaching video see here.
This newly translated sadhana is ideal for those who do not have much time, and do not feel able to do extensive offerings of tormas and visualizations and so on. It is very simple and involves a simple (outer, inner and secret) offerings section, empowerment, self-visualisation as Chakrasamvara, mantra recitation and completion stage with tummo type meditation. . There is an even shorter daily sadhana text by 8th Karmapa, Mikyo Dorje but this is not as extensive and does not contain the mantra[ii], but I may translate and publish that in the future, for those who wish to do just a short visualization with mantra accumulation.
In the Tibetan Buddhist Tradition the are three traditions/lineages of Chakrasamvara that have become the most well known are called the ‘lu nag dril sum’, meaning the ‘Three [Chakrasamvara] of the Three [Indian Mahasiddhas]:
- Luipa – the ‘fish-gut ‘ eater
- Krishnacharya (Nagpopa) – Black Conduct One
- Ghantapa (Drilbupa) – Bearer of the Bell
For information on the different iconography and three main Indian mahasiddha lineages of Chakrasamvara see here.
I first received the Chakrasamvara empowerment from HH 17th Karmapa, Orgyen Trinley Dorje, in Bodh Gaya, India in 2007. It was the first time the Karmapa gave the empowerment and the first highest yoga tantra empowerment I received.
Since then, I have received the empowerment from HE 8th Garchen Rinpoche and also took this empowerment again from Drigung Kagyu master, Drupon Rinchen Dorje Rinpoche (as well the Vajrayogini empowerment he gave a few days before that). For information about a 45 page pdf transcript of a recent (2021) oral commentary by Drupon Rinchen Dorje on the five deity Chakrasamavara sadhana called Illuminating the Essence (which is much more extensive sadhana), see here. For those with the empowerment, Drupon Rinpoche is currently offering a ‘once every full moon’ online practice session of Chakrasmavara, for details see here.
Music? The Chakrasamvara mantra performed by Garchen Rinpoche and community and for the blissful union…… the stunning ‘Gorecki’ by Lamb, perfect listening for a bright full moon and a dark, starlit sky:
For I’ve never known completeness like being here
Wrapped in the warmth of you, loving every breath of you
Still my heart this moment, oh it might burst
Until the earth stops turning
Wanna love you until the seas run dry
I’ve found the one I’ve waited for
All this time I’ve missed you and searched this human race
Here is true peace here my heart knows calm
Safe in your soul bathed in your sighs
Till the earth stops turning
Gonna love you until the seas run dry
I’ve found the one I’ve waited for, the one I’ve waited for.”
UNION AND THE NATURE OF BLISS IN CHAKRASAMVARA PRACTICE
INSTRUCTIONS BY HE 8th GARCHEN RINPOCHE (2018)
“Look at the image of the deity and have that image appear in your mind, hold that image in your mind and meditate. If you are male, then visualize that Vajrayogini is your consort. If you are female, then think you have a male consort. Meditate in that way and then through such meditation and visualization, bliss arises.
First, the bliss that arises comes from desire, the desirous bliss arises and that has to arise first. However, once it has arisen, then you should look into it, where is that bliss? That feeling of bliss, that feeling of bliss is actually within your own mind, it is the natural state of your own mind. It is the state of mind that is free of all thoughts and it begins with the blissful experience of shamatha/calm abiding and as you continue to practice it becomes increasingly clearer and clearer. Gradually you will then also recognize the four levels of joy.
Also, I mentioned the other day, the six yogas of Naropa, all of that is related to this and the practice of tummo (inner heat). So now it is more for the sake of auspiciousness that we bring all this to mind. First again the bliss arising from desire must arise, and must appear in your mind. Then instantly recognize that feeling of bliss with clear awareness and do not become controlled by the bliss, do not follow it. When the bliss arises, then meditate and visualize the mantra garland circulating between the Yab (father) and the Yum (mother), so when clear awareness recognizes bliss, then this duality of self and other, or Yab and Yum, as being separate all disappears. You recognize that there is just one mind. That is really the actual blessing. There are different levels of blessing, that is the ultimate blessing, it is the non-dual state of Mahamudra that you recognize, that’s the real blessing. When you do not recognize that, when you have not received that blessing, then through not recognizing, what happens is that the bliss that has arisen out of attachment out of desire then becomes samsaric and ordinary. Then you will begin to cling to the other person and you will try to possess each other, hold onto each other and that attachment then gradually leads to anger, jealousy and possessiveness and so forth. So self-grasping perpetuates that way and samsaric activities increase. If you understand non-duality, then actually there is no basis for self-grasping, jealousy or anger to arise. There is no basis for these afflictions to arise. So in brief, when that thought arises thinking that there is a self and other, there is me and another person, then you should look at this mind again and again. Look at that mind and when those thoughts dissolve, look at the thought-free mind. Actually then you will see that there is no duality within the mind. Also that feeling will disappear and in that moment then there’s no more perception in the mind of self and other, or you and your counterpart and so on, you just look directly at the nature of that mind where there are no thoughts and you will seem non-dual primordial wisdom. When there is duality, a perception of duality, that is samsara because then there is duality, and naturally we will grasp at the other and there will be clinging to one another.
Now for the sake of auspiciousness, we will bring to mind what we should actually practice and what should happen in our practice as we progress along the path. So here, just visualize you and your consort and generate the union, which generates bliss that arises first from desire.
Then there is this drop, the bindu that moves up and down in your channels, you recognize that this bliss arises and you look at it, and recognize that it is actually this subtle essence within yourself. That is what really creates that feeling of bliss, not the other person. When you recognize that, then just allow the mind to rest within that state of bliss that is also empty. Without grasping at any reality that this other person really exists, or possesses any characteristics, just rest within that state of meditation. Again, you visualize yourself as Cakrasaṃvara and you visualize the channels and the four chakras, and then you think you have that consort, then you generate this feeling of bliss, then you meditate within that state.
For some people it is difficult to visualize the deity Cakrasaṃvara standing posture. Some people asked if it is okay to visualize him sitting down. In this case, you can also visualize him sitting down, so that the visualization comes to you easier since you’re sitting. Then during the empowerment when you receive the empowerment now this empowerment is the conferral of the consort like on this image just displayed. If you are female then think you now you are receiving a male consort, that you are receiving Cakrasaṃvara, which is a displayed in a form of Heruka. If you are male and the yab consort, then you think that you have received the consort who is actually Vajrayogini. Think that the consort that you receive actually has the essence of our Cakrasaṃvara or Vajrayogini. Visualise in that way.
At the time you received the deity, you think that all the males are Cakrasaṃvara and the females are Vajrayogini and you have received your consort . If you are male you think ‘Vajrayogini has really come to me’, or if you’re female you think, think ‘Cakrasaṃvara has really come to me now’, the wisdom being has really come to you. Then, in your day-to-day life, in your normal practice, if you have a partner, then it is very important that you see each other in a pure way. So if you’re male, then you should see your partner as Vajrayogini, if you’re female you should see your partner as Cakrasaṃvara , and that is actually a part of the samaya that we receive. We should not see each other as ordinary. This is how it is taught in the samaya that we receive. If you do not have a partner, for example, if you are an ordained, a monk or nun, then you should visualize and think that the deity comes as your companion/friend. So there is quite a difference here. Especially now if you are a layperson then that is really a samaya. If you hold this samaya, then the blessings of the practice will be so much greater. Also, if you hold this samaya, then the union also really becomes a feast offering.”
[i]A 2013-edition of the Karmapas’ collected works lists this sādhana under the works of the 1stKarmapa, Dus gsum mkhyen pa, however, the author could be either the 2nd or the 3rd Karmapa, since the 2nd Karmapa’s secret name was rang byung rdo rje and many of his compositions are signed with this name. See Karma pa sku phreng rim byon gyi gsung ʼbum phyogs bsgrigs, vol. 1. dPal brtsegs bod yig dpe rnying zhib ʼjug khang, 2013, pp. 294–300. Buddhist Digital Resource Center (BDRC), http://purl.bdrc.io/resource/MW3PD1288_2D6ABC. For more on the second Karmapa’s secret name, see here.
[ii] For the 8th Karmapa’s short Chakrasamvara sadhana, see: Karma pa 08 mi bskyod rdo rje. “bDe mchog sgrub thabs.” Karma pa sku phreng rim byon gyi gsung ʼbum phyogs bsgrigs, vol. 69, dPal brtsegs bod yig dpe rnying zhib ʼjug khang, 2013, pp. 202–06. Buddhist Digital Resource Center (BDRC), purl.bdrc.io/resource/MW3PD1288_85CE24. [BDRC bdr:MW3PD1288_85CE24].