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Natural Liberation of the Nature of Mind: The Four-session Yoga of the Preliminary Practice



CONTEXT
In its original Tibetan this preliminary practice is beautifully written in verse. In the monasteries and lay households of the practitioners of this cycle of teachings, it is usually sung melodically in the early morning, before any other practice or activity is begun. Often the young monks sing the opening verses of this poem as they go about their morning duties.
When engaging in a preliminary retreat, it is recommended that this meditation is done every day in four sessions: early morning till dawn, after sunrise until just before noon, from afternoon until just before sunset, and from sunset until late evening.
The practice essentialises the ‘four common or outer preliminaries’ and the ‘five uncommon or inner preliminaries’, which are described in the glossary. It is recommended that the inner preliminary practices are repeated 100,000 times as a prerequisite to receiving instruction on the ‘generation stage’ practices of the Vehicle of Indestructible Reality (VajraySna).
Herein is contained the Natural Liberation of the Nature of Mind: The Four-session Yoga which is a Spiritual Practice of the Vehicle of Indestructible Reality, the Way of Secret Mantras,1 an extract from the Peaceful and Wrathful Deities: A Profound Sacred Teaching, [entitled] Natural Liberation through [Recognition of] Enlightened Intention.2
It would be excellent if one were to train one’s mental continuum according to the [following] preliminary practices which are based on the Peaceful and Wrathful Deities: A Profound Sacred Teaching, [entitled] Natural Liberation through [Recognition of] Enlightened Intention.
COMMON PRELIMINARY PRACTICE
O, Alas! Alas! Fortunate Child of Buddha Nature,
Do not be oppressed by the forces of ignorance and delusion!
But rise up now with resolve and courage!
Entranced by ignorance, from beginningless time until now,
You have had [more than] enough time to sleep.
So do not slumber any longer, but strive after virtue with body, speech and mind!
Are you oblivious to the sufferings of birth, old age, sickness and death?
There is no guarantee that you will survive, even past this very day!
The time has come [for you] to develop perseverance in [your] practice.
For, at this singular opportunity, you could attain the everlasting bliss [of nirvana].
So now is [certainly] not the time to sit idly,
But, starting with [the reflection on] death, you should bring your practice to completion!3
The moments of our life are not expendable, And the [possible] circumstances of death are beyond imagination.
If you do not achieve an undaunted confident security now, What point is there in your being alive, O living creature?
All phenomena are [ultimately] selfless, empty, and free from conceptual elaboration.
In their dynamic they resemble an illusion, mirage, dream, or reflected image,
A celestial city, an echo, a reflection of the moon in water, a bubble, an optical illusion, or an intangible emanation.
You should know that all things of cyclic existence and nirvana
Accord [in nature] with these ten similes of illusory phenomena.
All phenomena are naturally uncreated.
They neither abide nor cease, neither come nor go.
They are without objective referent, signless, ineffable, and free from thought.4
The time has come for this truth to be realised!
Homage to the spiritual teachers!
Homage to the meditational deities!
Homage to the dakinls!
O, Alas! Alas! How needing of compassion are those living beings, tortured by their past actions,
[Who are drowning] in this deep chasm, the engulfing ocean of their past actions!
Such is the nature of fluctuating cyclic existence!
Grant your blessing, so that this ocean of sufferings may run dry!
How needing of compassion are those who are skill-less,5
Those who are tortured by ignorance and past actions,
Those who indulge in actions conducive to suffering –
Even though they desire happiness!
Grant your blessing, so that the obscuration of dissonant mental states and past actions may be purified!
How needing of compassion are the ignorant and the deluded,
[Bound] in this confining dungeon of egotistical attachment and the subject-object dichotomy,
Who, like wild game, are trapped in this snare, time after time!
Grant your blessing, so that cyclic existence may be stirred to its depths!
How needing of compassion are those beings who endlessly revolve [in the cycle of existence],
As if [circling] perpetually [on] the rim of a water-wheel,
In this six-dimensional city of imprisoning past actions!
Grant your blessing, so that the womb entrances to the six classes of existence may be barred!
We who are fearless and hard-hearted, despite having seen so many sufferings of birth, old age, sickness and death,
Are wasting our human lives, endowed with freedom and opportunity,6 on the paths of distraction.
Grant your blessing, so that we may [continuously] remember impermanence and death!
Since we do not recognise that impermanent [things] are unreliable,
Still, even now, we remain attached, clinging to this cycle of existence.
Wishing for happiness, we pass our human lives in suffering.
Grant your blessing, so that attachment to cyclic existence may be reversed!
Our impermanent environment will be destroyed by fire and water,7
The impermanent sentient beings within it will endure the severing of body and mind.
The seasons of the year: summer, winter, autumn and spring, themselves [exemplify] impermanence.
Grant your blessing, so that disillusionment [with conditioned existence] may arise from the depths [of our hearts]!
Last year, this year, the waxing and waning moons,
The days, nights, and indivisible time moments are all impermanent.
If we reflect carefully, we too are face to face with death.
Grant your blessing, so that we may become resolute in our practice!
Though this [body] endowed with freedom and opportunity is extremely hard to find,
When the Lord of Death8 approaches in the semblance of disease,
How needing of compassion are those who, bereft of the [sacred] teachings,
Return empty-handed [from this life]!
Grant your blessing so that [a recognition of] urgency may grow in our minds!
Alas! Alas! O Precious Jewel, embodiment of compassion! Since you, the Conqueror, are endowed with a loving heart, Grant your blessing, so that we and the six classes of beings May be liberated, right now, from the sufferings of cyclic existence!
UNCOMMON PRELIMINARY PRACTICE
Refuge
(Then, the outer, inner, and secret refuges should be adopted in the following way:)
Outer Refuge
I bow down to and take refuge in the spiritual teachers
Whose enlightened intention, throughout the past, present and future,
Is uninterruptedly directed towards living beings, The infinite sentient beings of the three world systems and six classes.
I bow down to and take refuge in the [perfect] buddhas,
The Transcendent Ones Gone to Bliss of the ten directions and four times,
Foremost of humankind, adorned by the major and minor marks,
Whose enlightened activities are inexhaustible, and as vast as space.
I bow down to and take refuge in the sacred teachings, Including the doctrines of the ultimate truth, quiescent and desireless,
The irreversible path9 of the three vehicles,
And the transmissions, esoteric instructions, and treatises
Of the transmitted precepts and treasures.
I bow down to and take refuge in the communities [of monks and nuns],
Who abide on the unerring path, forming a field of all supreme merits,10
Together with the assembly of Sublime Ones, set apart from the stains of dissonant mental states,
And the supreme upholders of the Teaching: bodhisattvas, pious attendants, and hermit buddhas.
Inner Refuge
I bow down to and take refuge in the spiritual teachers,
[Embodying] the essential nature of the buddhas of the three times,
The masters of all the secret and unsurpassed mandalas,
Who guide all living beings with their blessings and compassion.
I bow down to and take refuge in the meditational deities,
Who, even though [they remain unmoving as] the Buddha-body of Reality,
Uncreated and free from the limits of conceptual elaboration,
Emanate in peaceful and wrathful forms for the sake of living beings, And confer the supreme and common accomplishments.
I bow down to and take refuge in the assembly of dakinls,
Who, moving with the energy of compassion through the space of reality,
Grant supreme bliss [as they arisel from their pure abodes,
And bestow accomplishments upon those who keep their commitments.
Secret Refuge
From within a state free from grasping and beyond intellect,
I take refuge in the nature of the great expanse of sameness and perfection,11
Atemporal emptiness, free from conceptual elaboration, Primordially pure in essence, natural expression and compassionate energy.
From within [a state which is] non-conceptual, naturally radiant and stark,
I take refuge in the primordial embodiment of the five buddha-bodies,
Spontaneously and naturally present,
[Abiding] in the mandala of the [unique] seminal point,
Which is [the union of] expanse and awareness, and of radiance and emptiness,
The indestructible chain of inner radiance, that is intrinsic awareness.
Throughout the three times, beginningless and endless,
I take refuge in the Compassionate Ones,
Unimpeded, naturally expressive, and all-pervasive,
The unimpededly arising and subsiding rays of light,
Which emanate through the expressive power of awareness,
Dispelling, non-conceptually, the darkness in the minds of living beings.
The Generation of an Altruistic Intention
(Then, the altruistic intention of the Greater Vehicle should be generated in the following way:)
Even though all phenomena are empty and selfless,
Sentient beings fail to realise this. Alas! How needing of compassion are they!
So that all those who are the focus of our compassion may attain enlightenment,
I must rouse my body, speech and mind to [the practice of] virtue!
For the benefit of all sentient beings of the six classes,
From now until enlightenment is attained,
Not just for my own sake but for the benefit of all,
I must generate the mind [aspiring] to supreme enlightenment!
How needing of compassion are those bereft of the [sacred] teachings,
Who have ensnared themselves within the unfathomable ocean of suffering.
So that all those who are the focus of our compassion may be established in happiness,
I must generate the mind [aspiring] to supreme enlightenment!
I myself and all infinite sentient beings
Are primordially of the nature of buddhahood.
So that we may [all] become supreme embodiments, who know this to be so,
I must generate the mind [aspiring] to supreme enlightenment!
The ocean of mundane cyclic existence is like an illusion. All compounded things lack permanence. Their essence is empty and selfless,
But these naive beings [right here] who do not realise this to be so
Roam through cyclic existence, [driven on] by the twelve links of dependent origination.
So that all beings gripped in this quagmire of name and form may attain buddhahood,12
I must rouse my body, speech, and mind to [the practice of] virtue!
I take refuge [from now] until enlightenment,
In the Buddha, the [sacred] teachings and supreme assembly.
Through the merit of practising generosity and the other [perfections],
May I attain buddhahood for the sake of [all] living beings!
May I become a spiritual teacher, [able to] guide infinite sentient beings,
As many as there are, without exception!
(Then, one should meditate on the four immeasurable aspirations as follows:)
May all sentient beings be endowed with happiness!
May they all be separated from suffering and its causes!
May they be endowed with joy, free from suffering!
May they abide in equanimity, free from attachment or aversion!
Purification of Negativity and Obscuration through
the Repeated Recitation of the Hundred-syllable
Mantra [of Vajrasattva]
(This should be done in the context of the following visualisation:)
At the crown of my head, on a lotus moon cushion,
Is my spiritual teacher, [resplendent] in the form of Vajrasattva.
His body is translucent, like crystal, and at his heart,
[Resting] on a moon-disc, is a syllable hum, surrounded by the Hundred-syllable Mantra.13
A stream of nectar then descends through my crown fontanelle,14
Purifying my violations [of the commitments], my negativities and obscurations.
May Vajrasattva, glorious transcendent one,
Anoint me at this very moment
With the nectar stream of pristine cognition,
So that the negativities and obscurations
Of myself and all sentient beings, without exception, are purified.
OM VAJRASATTVA SAMAYAMANUPALAYA VAJRASATTVA
TVENOPATISTHA DRDHO ME BHAVA SUPOSYO ME BHAVA
SUTOSYO ME BHAVA ANURAKTO ME BHAVA SARVASIDDHIM
ME PRAYACCHA SARVAKARMASU CA ME CITTAM SREYAH
KURU HUM HAHAHAHA HO BHAGAVAN SARVA TATHAGATA
VAJRA MA ME MUNCA VAJRABHAVA MAHASAMAYASATTVA
AH15
Owing to my ignorance, delusion, and confusion,
I have transgressed the boundaries of the commitments,
which I should have guarded.
O my protector and spiritual teacher, be my refuge!
You who are the supreme and glorious Vajra-holder,16
Embodying great compassion and love, O Foremost of beings, be our refuge.
Assist us to purify and cleanse, without exception, this mass of flaws –
Our negativities, obscurations, transgressions, and downfalls.
By this virtuous activity,
May I swiftly attain [the state of] Vajrasattva, now,
And may all sentient beings, without exception,
Be swiftly established in that same state!
May we become exactly like you, Vajrasattva,
Exactly resembling you in body, retinue, lifespan, fields,
And in your supreme and exquisite major marks.17
The Mandala
Offering (Then present the mandala of offerings in the following way:)
OM VAJRA BHOMI AH HOM18
The base transforms into a powerful ground of gold.19
OM VAJRA REKHE AH HOM20
The outer periphery becomes a jewelled fence of iron mountains,
And at the centre is Mount Sumeru, king of mountains,
Majestic and formed from the five precious substances,
Exquisitely beautiful in shape, and delightful to behold,
Encircled by seven [concentric] golden mountain ranges,
And seven [intervening] emanational oceans.
To the east is the continent Viratdeha,
And to the south is Jambudvlpa,
The west is adorned by Aparagodanlya,
And to the north is Uttarakuru.
[To either side of these continents are] the eight subcontinents:
Deha and Videha [to the east],
Camara and Aparacamara [to the south],
Satha and Uttaramantrina [to the west],
And Kurava and Kaurava [to the north].
I offer this [world-system], along with the sun, moon, Rahu, Ketu,21
And the luxuriant resources and riches of gods and humans,
To you, my precious spiritual teachers, and to your retinues.
Through your compassion, please accept them for the benefit of all beings!
om Am MOM22
To my precious spiritual teachers and the fields of the Buddha-body of Emanation,
I offer all the inestimable resources of gods and humans,
Within the immeasurable palace of the animate and inanimate trichiliocosm,
[In the form of] a dense cloud of offerings, as numerous as atomic particles,
Together with Mount Sumeru and its continents.
Please accept [these offerings], with compassion and love!
May all beings be born into the fields of the Buddha-body of Emanation!
OM AH HUM
To my precious spiritual teachers and the fields of the Buddha-body of Perfect Resource,
I offer this perfect purity of the sensory spectra and sensory activity fields,
Adorned by the five sense-faculties, radiant and brilliant,
Within the immeasurable palace of the pure energy channels of my body.
Please accept [these offerings], with compassion and love!
May all beings be born into the fields of the Buddha-body of Perfect Resource!
OM Ah hum
To my precious spiritual teachers and the field of the Buddha-body of Reality,
I offer this primordially pure and innate pristine cognition
That abides within the immeasurable palace of the pure Buddha-body of Reality, which is mind’s actual nature,23
Free from an objective referent, empty, radiant, and free from subjective apprehension.
Please accept [these offerings], with compassion and love!
May all beings be born into the field of the Buddha-body of Reality!
OM AH HUM
By offering this exquisite and pleasing mandala, May no obstacles arise on the path to enlightenment! May the enlightened intention of Those Gone to Bliss, past, present and future, be realised,
May I neither be bewildered in migratory existence,
Nor lulled by the solitary quiescence [of nirvana]!
But may I liberate beings throughout the expanse of space!
OM Ah hum mahA guru deva dAkinI ratna mandala PUJA MEGHA A HUM24
Prayer to the Lineage Teachers
(Then, in order to cultivate union with the spiritual teacher, the prayer to the lineage should be recited as follows:)
I pray to the [direct] intentional lineage of the conquerors:
To Samantabhadra, primordial lord, Buddha-body of Reality,
To the Conqueror Vajradhara, embodiment of the sixth [enlightened family],
And to Vajrasattva, foremost of guides, the supreme buddha-mind.
I pray to the [symbolic] lineage of the awareness holders:
To the awareness holder Prahevajra, supreme among emanations,
To the spiritual teacher Sri Simha, supreme son of the conquerors,
To the undying Padmakara, established in the Buddha-body of Indestructible Reality,
And to the dakini [Yeshe] Tshogyalma, worthy recipient of the secret mantras.
I pray to the aural lineage of [authoritative] personages:
To Karma Lingpa, master of the profound treasures,
To the one named [Nyinda] Choje, supreme son of his buddha-mind,
And to the one named Suryacandra [Nyinda Ozer], lord of living beings during this degenerate age.
I pray to the assembled deities of the three roots:
To all the genuine spiritual teachers of the core lineage,
Who form the connecting links [of this transmission],25
To the Peaceful and Wrathful meditational deities, in whom appearance and emptiness are indivisible,
And to the oceanic assembly of dakinls and oath-bound protectors of the [sacred] teachings!
O you spiritual teachers who uphold the lineage of the oral transmission,26
And train each according to his or her needs!
If your teaching were to enter into decline,
The yogins of this era would be [utterly] disheartened.
Please, therefore, continue to guide all beings from this swamp of cyclic existence!
As we call out to you with mournful and tormented cries,
Bring to mind, now, the strict vows which you made in the past!27
Reveal your faces from the expanse of space, endowed with major and minor marks!
Please guide all beings from this swamp of cyclic existence!
Let your Brahma voice reverberate like a thousand peals of thunder!28
Open [wide] the portals to the treasury of your buddha-mind!
Pour out the light rays of your discriminative awareness and compassion!
Please guide all beings from this swamp of cyclic existence!
Liberate now, without exception, all beings of this final era!29
Anoint [us] now with the river of the four pure empowerments!
Liberate now the four continua, bewildered by dissonant mental states!
Please guide all beings from this swamp of cyclic existence!
Grant now the fruitional attainment of the four buddha-bodies of Those Gone to Bliss!
May I become a spiritual teacher, [able] to guide all the infinite sentient beings,
Who have been my parents, throughout space, without exception!
Please guide all beings from this swamp of cyclic existence!
Receiving the Four Empowerments
(Then the meditation to be adopted while receiving the four empowerments should be as follows:30)
From the crown of the spiritual teacher in union with consort,
A white syllable om, [radiating] rays of light,
Descends into the mid-point between my eyebrows,
The vase empowerment is thus received and the obscurations of the body are purified.
Please confer [upon me] the accomplishments of buddha-body!
From the throat of the spiritual teacher in union with consort,
A red syllable Ah, [radiating] rays of light,
Descends into the sense faculty of my tongue,
The secret empowerment is thus received and the obscurations of speech are purified.
Please confer [upon me] the accomplishments of buddha-speech!
From the heart of the spiritual teacher in union with consort,
A blue syllable hum, [radiating] rays of light,
Descends into the centre of my heart,
The empowerment of pristine cognition is thus received, and the obscurations of mind are purified.
Please confer [upon me] the accomplishments of buddha-mind!
From the navel of the spiritual teacher in union with consort,
A red syllable hrIh, [radiating] rays of light,
Descends into the centre of my navel,
The obscurations which [mundanely] differentiate between body, speech and mind are purified,
And the fourth empowerment of indivisible coemergence is received.
O glorious and precious root spiritual teacher!
Be indivisibly present, [seated] on the pistil of a lotus within my heart for ever!
Through your great kindness, favour me with your acceptance,
And please confer [upon me] the accomplishments of buddha-body, speech and mind!
May we become exactly like you, glorious spiritual teacher!
Exactly resembling you in body, retinue, lifespan, fields,
And in your supreme and excellent major marks.
These verses forming the preliminary practice of the Peaceful and Wrathful Deities: A Profound Sacred Teaching, [entitled] Natural Liberation through [Recognition of] Enlightened Intention may be applied as a supplementary method in the context of mental purification.
This spiritual practice of the unsurpassed Greater Vehicle (Mahayana) is an oral teaching of [Nyinda] Choje Lingpa, the eldest son of the treasure-finder Karma Lingpa; and it was committed to writing by Guru Suryacandrarasmi [i.e. Nyinda Ozer].