“Atisha told Dromtonpa, until you have clairvoyances you should not nurture a group. A group here means you shouldn’t have students or gather monks and so on. It is like an archer with no eyes/blind. Someone who is blind, shoots an arrow, it is really dangerous because they have no idea where they are shooting it and what it is going to hit.”
“However, those who have very thin obscurations, they immediately know and can feel the ‘energy’ of a person immediately. They have a feeling when they are brought into the presence of someone who has murdered someone. They feel an unease and discomfort with them….In fact, Mikyo Dorje said in one of his songs, the illnesses that deterred elements of my body, was nothing but a fault in my students’ Dharma practice. So when he had ill health or sickness, it was because his students were not acting in accordance with Dharma.” —17th Karmapa (Day 12)
On day 12 of the Spring 2023 teachings, the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa completed the final 33rd Verse of the 8th Karmapa’s Excellent Deeds, which was about the six clairvoyances, including displaying miracles, telepathy and knowing previous lives.
The 17th Karmapa explained how generally, the 8th Karmapa did not show to others he had such clairvoyances but that many people thought he did due to his actions and words. His student, Sangye Peldrup wrote that he did not know for sure if Mikyo Dorje had these powers or not, but that he felt that the 8th Karmapa did not show it for various reasons, mainly because it was not beneficial to do so and also because it might then encourage ‘pretenders’ to show these things.
The 17th Karmapa shared a funny anecdote about Dromtonpa, the Kadampa master and student of Jowo Atisha, who told him not to gather any students without clairvoyances. The reason being a teacher would not know how to benefit students without them, because they would not understand their wishes, tendencies and interests and so on.
Interestingly, the 17th Karmapa explained how the 8th Karmapa felt nauseous and disgusted around his followers who had bad intentions and conduct and that it would even effect his health. That someone with ‘thinner’ obscurations would be more sensitive to another person’s energy and mind, and be able to tell if a person had killed another being, unlike a person with grosser obscurations.
The teaching ended with the 17th Karmapa explaining that he would discuss the Karmapa’s black pills in the next day’s teachings, and possible options for the following year’s Spring teachings, mentioning the great texts by 8th Karmapa and also those on Vajrayana and Secret Mantra such as the 50 Verses of the Guru and the 3rd Karmapa’s Profound Inner Meaning.
The teaching concluded with the 17th Karmapa chanting an exquisite melody the long-life prayer he composed for Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche on May 6th. I have created a Youtube video of the audio together with photos and Tibetan, phonetics and English here.
Compiled and transcribed by Adele Tomlin, 17th May 2023.
Transmission of Long-Life Prayer for Thrangu Rinpoche
“Today, is the second to last day, not sure how to say it in Tibetan, the day before the last day. Before we begin the teaching, the past few days I wrote a long-life prayer for Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche to be free of his illness. I was asked to give the transmission of it, so I will give that. If I have time, then later I will recite it three times.
The other day our teaching was very long and maybe that would give you difficulty in eating supper. So we should take the opportunity today to say is in Nepal we are having the Gangkhyen Thungdrub puja and think that is very good. This is the second year that it has been held, so I would like to take this opportunity to offer some praise to Choje Lama Phuntsog for the puja. He has asked me to speak about the benefits of the puja, but in the time I did not have any chance to make a recording. So later, I will make a recording and send it to you. “
Verse 32 – How the six clairvoyance’s gave him the ability to benefit others
Today, we are speaking about the 33rd of the Excellent Deeds by 8th Karmapa. Now, as I mentioned the other day, there are two manuscripts on Sangye Peldrup’s commentary on the meaning, the Potala and Drepung edition, and there are big differences between the two. Today, we have been taking the outline of the Drepung manuscript. Now in terms of the meaning, I am taking points from both the Potala and Drepung manuscripts and combining them together as I teach. According to the outline from the Drepung manuscript, at this point we are speaking about The three main topics we are on the greater individuals, and the third of the three points, which is how he trained in the precepts of the two types of bodhicitta. Now that has seven sub-topics, and so we have come to the seventh: How the six clairvoyance’s gave him the ability to benefit others. Among the 33 Deeds in the Autobiographical Verses, this is the last of them:
“In the time of the five degenerations, whether you are a lama, a tulku or a Rinpoche or whoever you are, if there is someone who says you are benefiting other beings and if there is someone who is protecting sentient beings, their guardian and protector, most of these people they way they act, what they should be doing, if you want to protect your students from the ocean of samsaric suffering, first you have to teach the student the faults of samsara and the advantages of nirvana. So that they can understand the nature of samsara’s suffering and the nature of nirvana as happiness, and that this is what we should seek. When you have brought them to understand this, then we need to understand the crucial points about happiness and suffering. We want happiness but we don’t want suffering, but we do not practice the causes of happiness and do not give up the causes of suffering. So we need to make people understand these points, what they should do and what they should give up. So we need to have this practice of taking up what needs to be taken up the virtuous roots or gathering accumulations and purifying obscurations . We must use many different methods of bringing them onto the path of gathering accumulations and purifying obscurations. If you do this, then the students within their mind streams, the qualities of faith and so on, will ripen.
There is some warmth that comes from that as they are gradually ripening, from eliminating obstacles and enhancements. Similarly, if you look at the level of warmth and experience, getting a certain amount of experience, then you need to teach the profound Dharma of vast means that is included in means and wisdom, and make them practice this. This is the way one should ripen and liberate students. If you do this, it is the true way of bringing others to ripening and liberation taught by the Buddhas and the great beings. But in the five degenerate times, everyone who is given the name lama or tulku or spiritual master, do not really understand this point about how they should teach the unmistaken path, and in order to ripen beings the unmistaken method and how to serve them, this important point is not understood.
Even though they do not understand that, due to past karma, there are many people who gather around them. Whether they are gathering because they have qualities of abandonment or realisation, a lot of people gather because of past karma, and these are people who are actually unruly people. Or they have bad characters, they don’t have good intentions or ideas, and their personalities are quite bad. Since many such people gather around them, since they are gathering so many people then based on their own knowledge and schools they give teachings, and vows of refuge, make them study or do meditation. there are many methods. If they listen to what these teachers say and do as they ask then they continue to care for them and foster them, and give them advice. If some do not listen to what they say and do not do as they want them to do, then they discipline them and they act with them more forcefully and wrathfully. In brief, they don’t have any time to sleep at night, or relax during the day. In this way, they do not have true listening, contemplation and meditation, but they pretend to have it really and make a big brouhaha of listening, contemplation and meditation. A lot of noise about this. They are pretending to do such listening, contemplation and meditation, when people look at them they say, ‘oh they are really doing something to benefit sentient beings. They are helping the teachings.” Other people praise them, and they criticise other people they do not like as not being able to do this. So they say this is the real lama, and denigrate the people. They hope that those other people will be criticised, and they are keeping that thought in their heart.
So for Mikyo Dorje himself we could say he did not really have much interest in such people. He did not think the way they acted was good. Not only that did he not see them as good, he also looked at them with nausea and made him feel like vomiting. It is not necessary to say whether he was benefiting others or not truly benefiting others. He understood that important point, that this fake benefiting others has a great danger of carrying intentions and actions that would destroy everyone’s lasting happiness. That is the way he thought about it.
For Mikyo Dorje himself, he was completely enthralled by the authentic ways the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas benefited beings. He thought I really need to benefit beings in the same way they have. He had this very strong feeling and thought he needed to emulate the activity of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to benefit beings in the same way. This is the way he saw things and acted. In particular, in order to be able to benefit beings as they are, and to understand their hopes and thoughts, the most important accordant condition is to accomplish clairvoyant powers. “
A bird cannot fly without two wings – the importance of clairvoyance
For example, it says in the 18 000 Verse Prajnaparamita Sutra, we call it the ‘Mother’:
“A bird cannot fly without wings, Subhuti, likewise a Bodhisattva cannot teach Dharma without clairvoyance Subhuti. Therefore Bodhisattvas should practice transcendent prajna to accomplish the clairvoyance. Thus clairvoyance’s will easily accomplish the benefits they wish to bring sentient beings.”
This is what that says, right? In this way, in the Prajnaparamita Sutras it also says in order to benefit sentient beings, Bodhisattvas need to accomplish clairvoyance. Without that, they will not know how to teach the Dharma that is appropriate for sentient beings’ faculties that is appropriate. If you have clairvoyance you will easily be able to fulfil their wishes and easily be able to teach the Dharma. The same point is also emphasised in the Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment (Jangchub Lamdron) says:
“Just as a bird whose wings aren’t fledged, cannot fly in the sky; without the power of clairvoyance one cannot benefit sentient beings.”
For a bird to fly in the sky you need two wings to fly, if it does not have both wings, or an injury to the wings, it cannot fly. Likewise, if you are going to benefit other beings, if you are going to teach the Dharma that is appropriate for people’s thoughts, capacities and interests, then you need to have the clairvoyance of knowing others’ capacities and abilities.
Atisha’s teaching to Dromtonpa – do not gather students without the clairvoyances
There was one time when Atisha said to Dromptonpa, who was said to Atisha’s main student and one of the best Kadampas. He normally called Dromtonpa Upāsaka, which means someone who holds the lay precepts, because Dromtonpa was an upāsaka who held the lay precepts. In those days, laypeople mainly had long hair. So one time, one of the monasteries, Sera or Drepung, there was a foreigner who came and was a bit older and they gave him an introduction to all of the statues, describing which was which. When they got to Dromtonpa, he pointed at it and said this is Dromptonpa, and the foreigner asked, is it a he or a she? Because he had a long hair, he said it is a woman/she, because the shrine keeper did not understand and thought it also was a female because it had long hair. Sometimes, people with long hair you cannot tell if they are male or female.
Anyway, Dromtonpa was called Upāsaka by Atisha. He told him that Upāsaka, until you have clairvoyance you should not nurture a group. A group here means you shouldn’t have students or gather monks and so on. It is like an archer with no eyes/blind. Someone who is blind, shoots an arrow, it is really dangerous because they have no idea where they are shooting it and what it is going to hit. It is like that. Like shooting an arrow in the dark when there is no light, then you have no idea who it will hit. It might hit your friend, maybe it will hit your friends or your relatives. In the same way, if you do not have clairvoyance you should not gather any students, sangha or monks. It is like a blind person shooting an arrow.
First, Mikyo Dorje for himself whoever the disciple was would first directly perceive directly the student’s capacities and elements and latencies. When he understood their faculties and tendencies, meaning their habits and interests. It is difficult for someone else to know others wishes and capacities. Sometimes we do not even know them in ourselves. we do not really know what we long for. In English, we talk about talents, when one has a natural capacity for something. For example, some people have a lot of talent for arts, they have these particular tendencies. Some people have great talent for science or maths, right? Sometimes you don’t really know it though, it is possible everyone has these but sometimes if they do not arise then you might not realise that you have such a natural intelligence and might not know that your entire life.
So when someone looks with clairvoyant powers they can see the capacities and latent talents they have that is not at all manifest, perhaps something the person themselves does not really know. Like knowing in a profound way the capacities of intelligence of that beings, he would know this and when he did he would teach Dharma that was appropriate for them and perform some kind of activity. To do that, one has to have clairvoyance.
Two types of clairvoyances: worldly and supra-mundane and causes of attaining undefiled clairvoyance – following infinite teachings and teachers
Among the clairvoyances there are two: worldly/mundane ones, and the supra-mundane ones. Worldly ones are not able to bring people onto the path of great awakening. Merely knowing or having the power to know someone else’s mind but that worldly clairvoyance is not able to bring students onto the path, because in order to be able to bring students onto the path of great enlightenment. It is something a bit beyond your own level. To do that one has to attain the supermundane clairvoyance of knowing the extinction of defilements. If you have that clairvoyance then you can bring students to the path of great enlightenment.
As it says in the root text, Mikyo Dorje took all the virtue that he accumulated in his own life and dedicated it so that he could achieve undefiled clairvoyance. It is not saying that he has it, but he says he would like to benefit all sentient beings. In order to do that, I need to get this undefiled clairvoyance. So to attain that I am dedicating all my roots of virtue that I have accumulated.
There are many causes for attaining undefiled clairvoyance. The main one is to follow and rely on the Mahayana teacher or spiritual friend, to follow an infinite number of teachers and study the Dharma with them through listening, contemplation and meditation. To do this in a limitless way. For example, there are stories of Bodhisattvas who follow and incredible number of teachers. One example is the Bodhisattva, Norsang. We often speak about him as an example of how we should follow many different teachers.
Thus, to attain the undefiled clairvoyance we should not just follow one or two Mahayana teachers, but infinite numbers of them. We need to engage in listening and contemplation not just a little bit but an infinite amount from infinite teachers to accomplished undefiled clairvoyance. For this reason, it says in the Noble Aspiration For Excellent Conduct:
“I will purify completely oceans of realms and liberate completely oceans of beings. I will completely see the oceans of Dharma, and totally realise the oceans of wisdom. I will purify completely oceans of conduct and perfect completely oceans of aspirations, offer completely to the oceans of Buddhas and act for oceans of eons undiscouraged.”
Thus, Sangye Peldrup, the author of the commentary on Mikyo Dorje’s Excellent Deeds, said that, Mikyo Dorje had his own thoughts. He had the hope for the people who praised him and sought the Mahayana from him, who depended on him or placed their hopes in him, Mikyo Dorje, he tried and cared for them. A I said before in the Aspiration for Excellent Conduct, due to that, I think he had the undefiled clairvoyance, I had the feeling he had it, even if he did not have it, he must have had something similar to it. This is a bit of a presumption, or a feeling or hope. It is possible and he had a hope it was like that.
Some people would say, “Your guru is the Karmapa, right? He is a buddha, so you should not have even the slightest doubt as to whether he has undefiled clairvoyance or not or extinction of defilements, or that maybe he has something similar to that. So as he is the Buddha, there should be no doubt. So the way you speak makes no sense at all. Speaking like “if we look at his liberation-stories, it is possible that he has it.” that kind of talk is not OK.
Some people said this to Sangye Peldrup but he replied that:
“what you are saying is totally true. However, when ordinary beings such as me, Gelong Sangye Peldrup, my guru Mikyo Dorje is well-known that he the Karmapa is the essence of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Likewise, many of the great masters and their students also say this is the Karmapa. But instead from my side, whether he is actually the Karmapa or Buddha, I really do not know for myself. So I have no way of knowing whether he is a Buddha or incarnation of the Karmapa. It is commonly said that he is, and his previous incarnations were recognised as great by his students. they probably are not mistaken and I believe them and so I have some conviction based on that and I say It is the Karmapa but from my own perspective I do not have the power to say that myself.
So when I say that he is the Karmapa I am just following others words, so when I speak about it this way, I am following after the other masters words. Likewise, when I speak about the virtuous signs at his birth and many things about his deeds or accomplishments of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, this comes from a liberation-story called Agu Atra in the 8th Karmapa’s Collected Works, or a life-story by Gampopa Khenpo Shakya Tsangbo, the life-story by Lama Punyi, and also some liberation-stories said to be by Mikyo Dorje himself. I think these are reliable sources, and I have taken these as my basis. So I have written this commentary on the meaning of the Excellent Deeds. Other than that I have not perceived any of his clairvoyance or visions of yidam deities and so on, I do not know. Because I do not have the capacity or level to know.”
8th Karmapa’s thoughts on his own recognition as a tulku and requests to fake it
In addition, not only that Mikyo Dorje also said this. What he said is rather shocking:
“Those who bear the title Karmapa, merely the blessings of the activity of the Karmapa himself. So other than that, I have no thought that I am the re-birth of the Karmapa.”
So what he is saying that all of us who have the title Karmapa are just bearing the blessings from the activities of the previous Karmapas but from his side, he has no thought that he is the re-birth of the Karmapa. No thought like that at all.
“Some say that when I was young, and recognised me as a Karmapa, (people will take some statues and other articles, to show them to the boy to see if they recognise them). They say that I recognised statues and such when I was young and that I took some of them in my hands, some were of the Karmapa, some were not. When they said pick the Karmapa’s statues, sometimes I would pick one that was, sometimes that was not. Most of them were those they told him such, as don’t take that one. Beforehand, tomorrow when they are going to show the statues, choose this one, they would tell me.
This is quite shocking to say[laughs] and if people heard it they will think it strange
“Also, some people would tell me which of these monks is your previous attendant, and they would tell me which objects were of the previous Karmapas. Or they would say: today, say you saw this deity, and tomorrow say that you saw that deity. And if there are people they don’t like or are not harmonious in the entourage, they said, make a prediction these are people that will only be reborn in the lower realms in all their lifetimes.”
“For those, who are close, to say all that are with me are emanations of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. So they told me to say only good things about people they like or get along with, that they were great beings, tulkus or excellent. So I would say that when I was young.
In particular, when I was asked questions about past and future lives, those nearby would write verses about how they are connected to me or I have an emanation. Some would come and ask questions about past and future lives, and the people around me would say, we have to check whether we have connection with them or not. So they would write many things in prose or verse, that they are a tulku or have a connection from a previous life, and get me to give it to them.”
Sometimes, he would first give a bad prediction, then after that the people he was instructing would look at it, and maybe offer some nicer things, then gradually they would change the prediction.
First, they would give the people a bad prediction, right/ Then, after those people gave them something, they would change it and make it better and better. They took Mikyo Dorje’s name to do this and would say “that is what the 8th Karmapa said”. They did all of that using his name as the pretence. So 8th Karmapa says:
“It is all pretence and one cannot believe on my previous liberation-stories.”
So basically, he is saying should not have any confidence or rely on the liberation stories written when I was young, that I was said to have written.
“Some made a comparison of my life-stories with earlier Karmapas. (So previously these was the question of being two Karmapas). In order, to prove I was the Karmapa, they would take examples from the previous life-stories, and write different stories about my life.
Here Mikyo Dorje is speaking about the life-story, the Twelve Ways of Myself (Dagtsul Chunyipa). Here he speaks about the visions he had while he was in the bardo state and what he saw when he entered his mother’s womb. What did he say about these? He said in this lifetime, I did not write such a life-story. However, in order to be able to develop and have the qualities to have such life-stories in future lives, I wrote a prayer to be able to do this. It is not that I am writing an account of something that already existed before.
Also, he says that:
“When recognising the 5th Zhamarpa Konchog Yenlag, when I recognised him it was not via clairvoyant powers, that is not how it was. It was the previous 4th Zhamarpa himself, who had left a testament, so I took that as the basis and recognised him.”
Sometimes Mikyo Dorje would say whatever he thought or wanted. People like that are very rare, especially among lamas [laughs]. So Mikyo Dorje would speak like that. When Mikyo Dorje spoke like that, most people thought Mikyo Dorje does say this but actually he does have clairvoyance, he does remember past lives and so on, but he pretends not to do so. He is just faking it but he does know. So such words like those we just went through are not intended literally, he is not speaking straightforwardly. They think: “Even though he sees, he says he does not see. Even though he has clairvoyance, he pretends not to”. Most people said things like that.
However, Sangye Peldrup’s way of thinking was that Mikyo Dorje was speaking literally and that it was totally true. He did not think it was not true and thought that he may not have had the clairvoyance. The reason for that is that if Mikyo Dorje had transcendent qualities or supreme human qualities, and if he accepted that he had them, then people who had misconceptions in order to prevent that, he would say “I have clairvoyance”.
However, in those days there were no people who had those misconceptions. So there was not need to say something which had the expedient meaning. However, Sangye Peldrup’s thinking was that: “Many people think that my lama, the Karmapa is an emanation of the Buddha and has clairvoyance and so on. Whether or not he has the qualities of the Karmapa, not having clairvoyance and miraculous powers does not mean he is not the Karmapa, having them does not mean he is the Karmapa either.”
The reason for this is that, the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas had many emanations and took different births, and among them like the Buddha, there are many with qualities like remembering past lives and telepathy and so on. Yet, Buddha also emanated forms where they don’t have those qualities, such as when he emanated himself as dogs and pigs. When we look at them, we don’t see them as having the qualities, and when we look at them, we don’t see them radiating light or golden in colour. That is not how we see them. Even though we do not see that, does that mean they are not an emanation of Buddha, we cannot know that. There is the story of seeing Maitreya Buddha as the dog’s corpse. Or there is the story of Asanga seeing Maitreya as a dog. I don’t need to talk about that.
The clairvoyance of miraculous emanations – Shared perceptions of 8th Karmapa’s miraculous powers, like seeing the Karmapa in the sky wearing the black crown
Anyway, whether he remembered past lives, or displayed miracles or not, in any case ordinary people had shared perceptions of his appearances. This did occur. This is not just from experience of realised meditators but the perception of ordinary people.
For example, at that time the last Chinese Emperor of the Ming dynasty. The previous Emperor had invited the Karmapa to visit, and he was unable to go so he sent a lama, Domsa Goshri to China. So at that time, the Emperor said to this lama Goshri, the Karmapa must have been lying when he said you were the envoy of the Karmapa. Then, at that time, Mikyo Dorje came wearing his black crown in the sky and most of the Emperors inside the golden hall saw the Karmapa in the sky. This is a Tibetan story. Probably in the palace in Beijing and at that time, the Emperor and most of the people there say the Karmapa like that. At that time, when Karmapa appeared in the sky with the black hat, two white cranes, long-life birds, were circling the top of the palace spire, which is an auspicious symbol.
Likewise, when the previous Emperor was inviting Mikyo Dorje, he sent Tai Jen and Nyurungpa and others from the palace, and a large army around 10 000 people arrived. They all went to escort the Karmapa from Tibet. The day before this escorting party were going to arrive at the great Karma Kagyu encampment, that morning on their way, there was a snow mountain and above the mountain they saw within rainbows and clouds, the Karmapa waring the black hat with the golden blaze. The Emperor’s envoy and soldiers all saw this directly.
Another time, they were going to Nyarong, there was a river called the Nagchu. If they wanted to cross it, they needed a big boat. They could not agree on a price for the boat man, there were a lot of people, so they were in a dispute about how much they should pay for the ferry. So he would not take them. The entire encampment had been blocked at the river bank.
That evening, the Nagchu river froze over immediately, and became covered with thick ice. So then they could walk across it and the following morning the whole encampment were able to walk across it on the ice. Once they had got to the other side, then the ice immediately broke up and melted. At that time, many people from Nyarong felt that Karmapa, Mikyo Dorje was flying in the space just above the water. Many of them had this perception.
Likewise, when Mikyo Dorje was going to Kham, Kongpo or other regions, he would leave many handprints, or footprints in the ground or stone. In previous times, there was also a tradition of sprinkling barley from their hands. For example, previously travelling was not easy. So when there was a new Mani building or temple or statue to consecrate, he would not be able to go. But people said please give the consecration, even from far away. There was that kind of tradition then. At that time, when doing the consecration, it was like rain falling on the area. There is an area from Kongpo to Tsogtsang, and it completely covered that area on the exact day that he had told them he would do the consecration. It was real barley that fell, he would toss it where he was, and this barley showered like rain in that area at that same time. Not only did these fall like rain, but these all became seeds, and the seeds all sprouted in the summer. When he was consecrating a thangka painting, then the barley would not fall flat down on the ground but stay remaining in front of the painting for many days. There were many incredible instances like that. Even his horses and mules and dogs were able to leave footprints. Also, when they died, their bones would emanate piles of relics and radiate light. There were many such amazing signs.
However, Sangye Peldrup does say here, and he does speak frankly, there are those foot and handprints which Mikyo Dorje actually left, but some could have been made by the people, and people carved them into rocks. So Sangye Peldrup is asking them: “whether Mikyo Dorje has qualities or not, if you make false or fake things for people to gather accumulations with, and by doing accumulate such misdeeds, that is not good.” There are some that are true, but many people who want to get benefit who do many fake things, right? So this is about the question of whether he has the clairvoyance of producing miracles.
Clairvoyance of telepathy and ‘calling a spade a spade’ – feeling sick and unwell around those with huge afflictions and never being fooled by external appearances
Now, as for the clairvoyance of telepathy, Sangye Peldrup says that: ” I do not know if he has that kind of telepathy because I am not at that level. However, many people who have faith when they came into his presence, most would say, he knows I had such a thought or was doing that activity exactly.” Sangye Peldrup said many people told him this. Some of these people who said that wanted to boast to others that Mikyo Dorje is caring for them and showing them attention, but we do not know. However, some of them were probably telling the truth. There were quite a few that were true.
In general, Mikyo Dorje would tell things as they are, not necessarily that he had only clairvoyance. but because Mikyo Dorje had incredibly great intelligence and a very sharp mind. Because of this when he looked at how people did things, their expressions, he could basically know how that person is. For that reason, Mikyo Dorje would say jokingly:
“I do know a little bit about how people think and what they say but that is not clairvoyance, it is because I know it from observation. You can observe it. If you look at that person’s tongue you can know. So guard your tongue, I will be looking at it. If you look at a person’s eyes and tongue then you know immediately how they are thinking. So guard your tongue or I will see it.”
He would jest like that. For that reason, Mikyo Dorje when they came to him people said you should not dare to think even a bad thought when you meet him. Many people felt that. Anyway, Mikyo Dorje himself was really clever and intelligent. So no one could fool or lie to him and get away with it. He would directly see what was being done secretly. If someone said something false, he immediately knew. He did not need to examine it, he knew already.
For example, sometimes, when people went to see him, they thought probably Mikyo Dorje knows this event so I am not going to say anything about it. They would go to him, and he would show the clear expression that he knew about it, but he would not say anything about it at all. He would seem to clearly know but not say much about it. Sometimes, people would think I need to tell him clearly about the event, and go and see him. Yet before they could ask him, he would tell them what had happened. before you could tell him he would tell you.
Also, when meeting the 8th Karmapa, if you had a good or a bad thought, or variation in that, up and down, he immediately from the way his eyes looked, and his expression you could see how having a good or bad thought changed the way he looked and thought. Like he was scanning you, about what you are thinking and the way he looked at you became different.
Sometimes, when people had extreme affliction, he could immediately know how strong your afflictions were and faith. In particular, the people who had murdered others, he felt the contamination of them. It is like a contamination right, their energy, right? In Tibetan we call it jib, an energy but most of us do not really know it. However, those who have very thin obscurations, they immediately know, they can feel it immediately. They have a feeling when they are brought into the presence of someone who has murdered or killed someone. They feel an unease and discomfort with them. Some people think they can spend their entire life, wherever they go, and think if one goes to meet a Buddha or Bodhisattva it is all the same. There is no particular feeling about any of them.
But Mikyo Dorje was not like that and he was very sensitive and if people had strong afflictions he would immediately sense it and feel physical discomfort or unhealthy. In fact, Mikyo Dorje said in one of his songs:
“The illnesses that deterred elements of my body were nothing but a fault in my students’ Dharma practice.”
So when he had ill health or sickness, it was because his students were not acting in accordance with Dharma. Due to that energy, he would become physically unwell. Opposite to that, when people with few afflictions and great faith and devotion came to see him. He would immediately seem pleased and in better physical health and would speak.
So Sangye Peldrup thought that “if you want the guru to always be healthy and not to get sick the main thing is for the students themselves must make sure their mind streams are not affected by faults, wrong views and so on. Likewise, you must have devotion that is free of boasting and sectarianism and you have to supplicate the guru and invoke their blessings and so on. That was his way of thinking about it.
Likewise, Mikyo Dorje sometimes they would go to places, not like these days where we have phones, internet and so on. Tibet is a huge place and going to some remote place you don’t know, if you don’t know it well, you have no idea what is going on there, thieving or robbery and so on. However, Mikyo Dorje always knew about this better than anyone else. He knew more about it than his friends and people around him.
For example, some people if you look at them would seem to be well-behaved but actually their intentions are bad. They could never deceive Mikyo Dorje. Sometimes, some have inner intentions that are good but on outside it looks like they are acting on the afflictions and behaving badly, but Mikyo Dorje would regard them with affection and love. Also, obstinate fools and braggarts and he would tell them your situation is like this clearly and directly. He would show them directly.
To give an example, there was a Lowo Togden, everyone said he was a great Mahasiddha, he became well-known. Then one time, Mikyo Dorje came and he said:
“You are not a Mahasiddha, you have not achieved siddhi and you have been blessed by ghosts and demons”.
He said it directly to him. So Lowo Togden was someone who said everyone was a siddha but Mikyo Dorje was not hesitant in saying he was not. When he said things like this, when it was the right time he would say it without hesitation, but he did not say such things all the time.
In brief, when we look at Mikyo Dorje’s deeds and example, it seems there is nothing he did not know about the way other people thought about their intentions and how they behaved, and their situations. Yet, Mikyo Dorje had no wish for material things and fame. In a degenerate age many people say they have clairvoyance and miraculous powers, but he never acted as those people do. Normally, he would spend his time as if he had none. The danger is that if you say something directly from clairvoyance in front of many people about their faults, they might become very embarrassed. Or some if you tell them it would just make them angry and not help them change in any way. There was no purpose in saying it. Also, if you show the appearance of having clairvoyance then people will make projections and exaggerations about it. So Mikyo Dorje acted like an ordinary being with no clairvoyance at all, so that is what he did.
Mo divinations and prophesies are not necessarily telepathy or clarivoyance
For example, in later times, a lot of people from Kham and U-tsang came to ask Mikyo Dorje for Mo divinations. These days people ask for them. When such people asked him, Mikyo Dorje would say: “I don’t do divinations, I do not know how to do them.”
As it says in the 25 000 line Prajnaparamita Sutra: “Do not say if they are going to have a son or a daughter who will live long.” There are many quotes like that. He said don’t make predictions. As it says in the Prajnaparamita, if someone is pregnant and asks will it be a boy or a girl, you should not make a prediction it says.
So as this is said, in the beginning he probably did make some predictions, but later, he did not. Sometimes, people with a lot of faith, when their parents had passed away and asked where were they born, and their eyes were filled with tears and they were insistent. When that happened he really had compassion and was afraid to refuse them, and if he did not it would be difficult. So he would write the names of the six realms and put them in balls of dough, then whichever one they picked that was the realm they were born in. He never pretended he had any clairvoyance. That is one example.
When we take the mo divinations. Sometimes the mo can be good because of the way it is done. It is not clairvoyance, we do the mo divinations in a certain way, and if you know how to do it, you don’t need clairvoyance because you can do the divinations without them.
So many great beings do divinations and the reason for that is that if they pretended that they had clairvoyance and sat there and did not do any divinations then they are showing they have clairvoyance. When you show that, then people might have all sorts of ideas about that and in a degenerate time there would be many who would fake it and pretend to have clairvoyance. So in order to prevent that it was important not to show it. So if you do divinations like mo and so on and in astrology, it is important to do it in the way people see things.
Clairvoyance of remembering past lives
I have already spoken about Mikyo Dorje’s telepathic powers. Now, I will speak about clairvoyance of remembering past lives. In the liberation stories of the previous Karmapas they speak of how, most Indian and Tibetan siddhas and scholars were the same mind stream as the Karmapa, or the previous six lifetimes of the previous incarnations of the Karmapa. When Mikyo Dorje spoke about these, as said in the life-stories of previous Karmapas, most people who listened to him must know that this is his previous birth. They think that Mikyo Dorje speaking about his own personal re-birth.
When someone dies, and thinking about what realm they are re-born in, whether they are in the bardo or not, Mikyo Dorje would say that; “I had a dream about a deceased individual that they had been re-born somewhere”. Otherwise, he would not say anything about it, as his attendants would really exaggerate it and say ‘the Gyalwang Karmapa said he saw the deceased in the bardo state’ and saw that such a being was re-born in this kind of place, so would make a lot of exaggerations to other people.
Clairvoyance of Extinguishing the defilements
In terms of the clairvoyance of extinguishing the defilements whether he had it or not, Sangye Peldrup could not say. However, he did have the prajna of the antidote for what to abandon, and this did not depend on other people’s words. He knew the critical point about what needed to be eliminated and what was an antidote.
Also, he was also able to understand the meaning of the great texts. He was able to understand them directly just by reading them. In particular, he could tell what experience his students had of experience and insight just by looking at them, so he always knew. He never missed the time to give exactly the right and direct instructions on eliminating or enhancing practice. In particular, for the practice of the secret mantra practice of nadis and bindus, if he was giving an empowerment or instruction in the secret mantra, he could see whether it would be beneficial to that other being, and he could clearly know and examine and see.
Also, he could tell if someone’s experience was greater or worse. If they were practising what sort of level of practice they would have. Even if he could not see, he could give these predictions as to what would happen to the person, this happened clearly without impediment. That’s basically that, so maybe that’s enough for today. the remainder I will speak about tomorrow.
Next day’s teaching and future texts and topics for teachings
The day after tomorrow I will speak about the remainder of the Praise He Searched Thoroughly, as well as the remainder on the Excellent Deeds and I may also speak about the black pills as well.
Also, there are over 30 volumes of Mikyo Dorje’s works, and among them, there are some that are very important and necessary, such as the commentary on Abhidharma, the commentary on the Vinaya Sutras, the commentary on Prajnaparamita, and the commentary on the Entering the Middle Way. Among the Karma Kamtsang commentaries on the five great texts, the commentary on epistemology was by the 7th Karmapa. But the person who wrote all the others completely was Mikyo Dorje. This is one of his important deeds. So Mikyo Dorje had a very great influence on all five of these. Due to time, I thought I should introduce each of these, but I have not had time.
So I thought I would also give a brief introduction to the Rest for The Yogis (Sherchin Jetsun Ngelso), the commentary on the Ornament of Clear Realisation. There is not time to speak about others. In the future, if there is time, perhaps I can say a little bit and do something to explain them.
In the future, if we have an opportunity like now, if my health is good then, I would like to be able to teach Mikyo Dorje’s commentaries on the four great texts. Also, the 3rd Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje’s Profound Inner Meaning and so on. I don’t know if I will teach them all from beginning to end, but at least I could teach a few critical points and my opinions on some of them. I think of this as like a service to the teachings, and a service to Mikyo Dorje’s deeds and activities.
In any case, we are completing our Spring teachings this year. Next year, during the Spring teachings, we should think about what I will teach, and it is important for you all to express your opinions on this. There are things I don’t think about, sometimes my own brain does not work properly. So among all us teachers and students, it is good for you to express it directly. All of you from the nunnery shedras and also the people from the monastic shedras, if you could share your opinions that would be good.
My opinion, is that there are the 50 Verses of the Guru. In the past, in the Kamtsang there were vajrayana shedras where they studied mantra and tantras and in these, the first text they taught was the 50 Verses of the Guru. After that, they would speak about the presentation on the downfalls, according to a presentation by 3rd Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje. Then they would speak about the four classes of tantras and the Profound Inner Meaning, the Hevajra Tantra, The Sublime Continuum (uttaratantrashastra) in particular the Profound Inner Meaning and the Hevajra Tantra.
Originally I thought I would teach that in the Summer teaching, but there is a danger that it is going to take another year or two. So I thought perhaps during the Spring teachings I would teach the 50 Verses of the Guru and the Ocean of Samaya. I have been thinking about this, but I have not definitely decided about it. It is important for all of you teachers and students to share your opinions and speak about it freely. Then whether I can finish it or not, I can see, but if you do not share your opinions then I cannot do anything about it. Sometimes, I do not know what to do and what is most beneficial. From one perspective, our Kamtsang tradition of teaching was lost for a while, so we all need to work together to recover and restore them.