17th Gyalwa Karmapa"Buddhism is a way of life through which we develop the qualities of our mind.
This way of life is very unusual, as it is a means to attain happiness without harming others.

THE 17th GYALWA KARMAPA

Teachings

The Lotus Garland


A commentary to the [long] Dewachen wishing prayer
by [Karma] Chagme [Rinpoche] (a)
(The prayer itself is called:)
The wishing prayer of Dewachen, the pure realm of great bliss,
composed by the learned and accomplished Raga Asye (b)

(The prayer starts with the following introduction, which is not mentioned in the commentary:)
Om Ami Deva Hri!
This is the treasury of the heart practice of [Karma] Chagme [Rinpoche]. Considering how great the benefit would be for many beings, I make the effort to write, although my hand is sick.
In the case that someone wishes to copy (study and practise) this text and does not have it himself, please lend it to him. Nothing has greater benefit. There is no dharma teaching more profound than this. It is the root of all dharma (c). Do not fall into indifference, but take up its practice diligently. Since this text belongs to the sutra tradition you may recite it without receiving a ritual reading transmission (lung).

The Four Causes for Rebirth in Dewachen

This wishing prayer of the Land of Great Bliss (d) has been written by the learned and accomplished Karma Chagme in order that immediately after this life all sentient beings which are equal to space (e) will be born in the pure world in the West which is Dewachen and finally obtain the state of Buddhahood.
You are now invited to listen to the commentary named "The Lotus Garland" together with the supplementary gradual explanations that give the exact meaning of the words one after the other.
Following the Amitabha sutra the points which need to be explained are the four causes for rebirth in Dewachen: to remember the Thus-gone-One [Tathagata Amitabha], to develop roots of virtue, to develop bodhicitta, and to make a complete dedication.
The first cause is to keep in mind the outer aspect of the pure land, the second is, to gather a great accumulation of wholesome acts, the third is to develop the mind of enlightenment, and the fourth cause is to make dedications and wishing prayers to be born in the realm of Great Bliss.

The first cause: Keeping in Mind the Outer Aspect of the Pure Land

The passage to be explained starts with "E ma Ho..." and goes down to "...bright yellow colour" (...ser-tem-me):
E ma Ho! means "How wonderful!" and refers to the marvellous beauty of the three-thousandfold world system (f), which is called "The Universe which cannot be found":
From here, in the direction of the setting sun, beyond a multitude of innumerable worlds, slightly elevated, as if a little higher, is the land of the noble beings... (g)
The Buddha Measureless Light (h) was born in a previous time as the King Who has the Wheel with the Spokes (i). At that time, in front of the Victorious One, Buddha Jewel Essence (j), he developed for the first time the mind of supreme enlightenment. From then on, he gathered the accumulations which made it possible to manifest the pure land of Dewachen. [He promised:] "I will only become a buddha, if all those who make the prayer to be born in Dewachen will really be able to take birth there. If however they do not have the capacity to be born there, I will not become a completely perfected one (a buddha)." Saying this he made countless prayers.
Finally he perfectly accomplished the prayers and accumulations, and at that time the former King Who has the Wheel with the Spokes became a buddha called Buddha Amitabha (Measureless Light). Since the wishes of the victorious ones are accomplished for all those who make pure aspiration prayers to be born in Dewachen it is actually possible to be reborn there. This is due to the force of the prayers of victorious ones.
One might ask: "What is his world like?" In general (there are four kinds of worlds:)
If the outer world is pure, made of various jewels, and is inhabited by impure beings with emotions, then it is like the realm of the gods of desire.
If the outer world appears as impure with earth, stones, mountains, rocks, and so on, and is inhabited by a gathering of wisdom holders, then it is like [the land] Shambhala in the north.
If the outer world is of burning iron and so on, and its inhabitants suffer from heat, cold, hunger, and thirst, then both, the container and the contents, are impure, just as in the lower realms.
If however the world which is the outer vessel is pure, a land of jewels, with pure beings as its inhabitants who are noble ones (k), then vessel and contents are [just like] the perfectly pure realm of Dewachen.
Although Dewachen is not visible to our human water bubble like eyes, based on hearing and contemplation it can clearly appear to our mind so that one is quite amazed.
If you wonder who lives there: There resides the Subduer and Victorious One (l) Measureless Light who is of ruby red colour and blazing radiance. He is adorned with the top knot on his head, the wheels on his feet and so on, all parts of his body are completely adorned with the 32 signs of perfection, and he is also adorned and dressed with all the secondary attributes, the 80 minor marks. He has a single face, two arms, his hands in the mudra of equanimity, holding an alms bowl filled with nectar. He wears the three dharma robes: below a shamtab (m), above an upper garment and a gelong zen (n).
With his legs in crossed vajra posture, on a jewel throne outwardly decorated with eight peacocks which are in essence the eight great disciples (o) who offer a seat with their bodies while listening with their ears to the nectar of the Dharma he is seated on an lotus of a thousand petals with a moon disc from which rises a bodhi tree bearing fruits and made of various jewels that serves as a back rest. From far away, from Dewachen which is at a long distance in the western direction, he looks at me with his eyes of compassion.
On his right is the Bodhisattva "Eyes of Compassionate Wisdom" (Avalokiteshvara), of white colour, holding in his left hand a white lotus; and on his left is the Bodhisattva of Great Power (Vajrapani) (p), of blue body colour, holding in his left hand a lotus marked with a vajra. Both of them extend their right hands towards us in the refuge bestowing mudra. In this way, these three main deities appear like Mount Meru, the king of mountains. (q) Radiant in splendour, their body endowed with the marks and signs of a buddha, their speech pouring forth the splendour of the pleasant melodies of Brahma's speech, and their mind illuminating (the world) with the primordial awareness of knowledge and love, they dwell accompanied by their retinue, surrounding them, of a trillion gelong bodhisattvas (r), all of them also of golden colour, adorned with the marks and signs, main divinities as well as retinue dressed in the three dharma robes, of great resplendence.
As if they were actually visible and tangible, with intense devotion and fervour, concentrate your mind on Dewachen as if experiencing it. Imagine that you have already been born there and that your prayers are already fulfilled the very moment you recite them. Develop an exulted mind that very instant.
If you make the Dewachen prayers with an inattentive mind like a shepherd who confuses sheep and children, then obstacles will arise. In that case, at the time of death, instead of taking the path to Dewachen, confused appearances of such a kind will arise that again you will fall back [into Samsara]. For this reason, to say it briefly, you should while doing the Dewachen prayer have this feeling to really see and touch(s) Dewachen, as if you were already born there. You should bring forth great enthusiasm and remain non-distracted.
This was the explanation of the first cause: to keep in mind the thinking outer aspect of the pure realm.

(a) Square brackets '[...]' indicate missing words added for the understanding of the text; normal brackets '(...)' indicate additional explanations given by Lama Lhündrub. Everything written in italics belongs to the commentary (small Tibetan script in the original) and everything in normal script is part of the prayer itself (larger Tibetan script).
(b) Raga Asye is another name for Karma Chagme Rinpoche
(c) All dharma or all my dharma teaching, since in one Tibetan version the texts reads: nga-yi chös.
(d) Dewachen in Tibetan is alternatively spelled bde-ba-can or bde-ba-chen and is thus translated either as the Land of Bliss or the Land of Great Bliss.
(e) Equal to space means that sentient beings are countless and that all space of the universe is inhabited by sentient beings.
(f) A three-thousandfold world system, a trichiliocosm, is a universe of 1.000.000.000 planetary systems (one thousand multiplied by one thousand multiplied by one thousand).
(g) In this auto-commentary Karma Chagme Rinpoche gives each word of the whole prayer text (normal script) and interposes his explanations of varying length (italics) while uniting prayer and commentary into one grammatical structure. This is a the traditional Tibetan way of giving a word by word commentary.
(h) The activity of Buddha Measureless Light (Tibetan: Öpame, Sanskrit: Amitabha) is the source and central inspiration of the pure realm called Dewachen.
(i) The King who has the Wheel with the Spokes, Tibetan: Gyalpo Tsib-kyi Mu-khyü-chen.
(j) Buddha Jewel Essence, Tibetan: Rinchen Nyingpo.
(k) Noble ones (Sanskrit: Aryas) refers to realised beings that understand the nature of mind.
(l) Subduer (Sanskrit: Bhagavan), Victorious One (Sanskrit: Jina).
(m) Shamtab: a robe covering the lower part of the body.
(n) Upper garment refers to large saffron yellow cotton cloth wound around the shoulders (a getsul zen, Tibetan: bla-gos), sign of the novice ordination. A gelong zen is an almost identical yellow cloth which is the sign of the full ordination as a buddhist monk (Tibetan: snam-sbyar).
(o) The eight great disciples of Buddha Shakyamuni (Tibetan: nye-bai-sräs-chän-bgyäd) are his most eminent bodhisattva disciples: Manjushri, Vajrapani (Thu-thob-chen), Avalokiteshvara (Chenrezi), Kshitigarbha, Sarvanirvana Viskambhin, Akashagarbha, Maitreya, and Samantabhadra,
(p) Both bodhisattvas are standing next to Amitabha's throne.
(q) To describe them as being like the king of mountains means that they are towering, unshakeable, and indestructible.
(r) Gelong bodhisattvas have taken the full monk or nun vows as an expression of their bodhisattva commitment.
(s) There are two spellings in different Tibetan texts: "reg" meaning to touch, and "rig" meaning to know.
 

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