Day Five: The Initiations of ‘Knowing One Frees All’ - Wisdom and Compassion - Manjushri and Avalokiteshvara
Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya
24 December, 2014
This fifth day of the empowerments was filled with blessings of various forms of Manjushri, the embodiment of wisdom. The Karmapa also added one of the deities from the following morning as the empowerment then would take some time.
The torma of Manjushri is a special one: the square base comprises sixteen volumes of long, rectangle-shaped texts stacked four by four. They include the twelve volumes of the Prajna Paramita (Perfection of Wisdom) sutras from the words of the Buddha (the Kangyur). The double flaps on the ends of the texts (for writing the titles) create lively rows of squares in brilliant, variegated color.The texts are surmounted by flowers and a pair of doves while above them rises the blue finial of an upright sword, the emblem of Manjushri. The same torma will be used for all of the Manjushri initiations.
17. White Manjushri ('Jam dbyangs dkar po)
The Karmapa explained that there are many different types of wisdom―profound, vast, swift, and great wisdom. He had heard that white Manjushri is the best for developing swift wisdom.The story connected with this deity relates to a master named Jetari Draley Namgyal who had actually seen Manjushri, received teachings from him, and achieved siddhis. One time Manjushri came to him and said, "You are eighty years old now and have only ten years of life left. You need to find a student who is a proper vessel for your teachings."
With his miraculous powers, Jetari looked around in all directions for a suitable disciple, but could not find one. Finally, he returned to Magadha and there saw a man who was tending water buffaloes. He was seventy years old and decrepit, but Jetari saw that he was worthy, and said to him, "You should come with me and enter the gate of the Dharma."
The old man replied, "I'm already old and don’t even know how to read. How can I study the Dharma? It'd be better if I became your disciple in the next life. I'm basically finished with this one." Jetari answered, "No problem. I have a sadhana that will work for you." He gave the old man the sadhana of Manjushri. After only five days of this practice, the man became a scholar called Mati who knew all the Dharma and traveled to Nalanda where he became a monk. He was also called Norbulingpa.
He said to Jetari, "It was kind of you to take me in as a student, but now I am old and I don't have any time to teach the Dharma. It would be better for me to practice meditation."
Jetari replied, "You still have ten years of life left. Manjushri predicted that I would have another ten years of life. Two of those have passed, so I'll give you the remaining eight years. Now you'll have a total of eighteen years to teach the Dharma and benefit beings. If you pray to your special deity, you could live even longer than that." Jetari then passed away and his pandita student spent many years teaching.
As for the lineage of the practice, the pandita gave these instructions to a student who gave them to the great pandita Shakya Shri,who came to Tibet at the invitation of the translator Tropu Lotsawa. At that time, the Tibetans thought that all Indians were very wise and that it was impossible for the Tibetans to compare with them in terms of wisdom.So the Translator Tropu asked Shakya Shri to give instructions that would increase wisdom. Shakya Shri replied that he had an ocean of instructions and among them was a special one called the “Chapter on Manjushri”.The translator requested the instruction, but Shakya Shri said, "I must now go to Nepal. If you come along with me,I'll give you the teaching."So they went together to Nepal where Tropu Lotsawa received the instructions on Manjushri. Thus the lineage comes from Manjushri to Jetari, to Pandita Mati, to the Junior Norbu Lingka, to Shakya Shri and on to the Ninth Karmapa.
18. Namasangiti Manjushri, Reciting the Names of Manjushri ('Jam pal mtshan yang dag par brjod pa)
When the Buddha taught the Dharma wheels of the secret mantravajrayana, he taught many Dharmas. This form of Manjushri is from the unexcelled yoga tantra, which is divided into mother, father, and non-dual tantras. Reciting the Names of Manjushri belongs to the father tantra, which emphasizes skillful means, and within the six families of the father tantras― Akshobhya, Vairocana, Amoghasiddhi, Amitabha, Ratnasambhava, and Vajradhara―it belongs to the family of Vairocana. Within this family, there are two divisions: Mayajala (Net of Illusion) and Yamantaka, and this text belongs to the former. The root text of Mayajala is in sixty thousand verses, and one of its chapters is known as ”The Net of Samadhi”, within which we find “Reciting the Names of Manjushri”.
Some Indian scholars say that this text belongs to the non-dual tantras, where means and wisdom are not separated, because thought resembles that of the Kalachakra, which is categorized as a non-dual tantra. Some explain it in terms of the yoga tantra.”The Treasury of Kagyu Instructions” contains a practice called Jamyang Sungden, which belongs to one of the seven mandala cycles of Ngok Choku Dorje, a disciple of Marpa Lotsawa.
There are many different versions of this practice, and the one being given is from Abhayakara's ”Ocean of Sadhanas”. Taking this as a basis, the Sixth Karmapa Tongwa Dönden composed a practice in which a central Manjushri is surrounded by yidam deities from other families.
19. Manjushri the Lion of Speech ('Jam pal smra seng)
There is no official story for this initiation. The Karmapa believes that it belongs to the same story as that of the Orange Manjushri and the old man from India who put a sword by his pillow and vowed to kill himself if he did not see Manjushri by the morning. These days,it would be difficult to realize Manjushri by just putting a sword by our pillow. Many causes and conditions need to coalesce for realization to happen: we need great capabilities, good fortune, proper instructions, deep faith, and so forth.
In the life stories of realized masters from the past, we find accounts of incredible feats that we cannot imitate. They are quite amazing, like the story of the great siddha Telopa hitting Naropa with his shoe whereby Naropa received the wisdom of the empowerment. These days, we cannot empower people by slapping them with a sandal. There are many politicians who get shoes thrown at them but they do not receive wisdom this way.When we look at the life stories of past masters, we can see the immense efforts they made in practice. If we went through the austerities and made all the effort they did, then if we were hit with a shoe, we might develop the wisdom of the Buddha. But nowadays, we just expect something to be put on top of our heads and thereby receive the empowerment.
The Karmapa concluded by speaking of a meeting with the organizers of Kagyu Monlam the night before. The discussion revolved around how to give the empowerment to everyone on the last day. Should people file by the Karmapa? (What some of the organizers suggested.) Or should he come down from the throne and walk among people? (What he wanted to do.) It has not yet been decided.
20. Manjushri Arapacha (‘Jam dpal A ra pa tsa)
The Gyalwang Karmapa begins the afternoon session with the Manjushri Arapacha empowerment. He explains that Manjushri is the embodiment of the prajna or wisdom of all the buddhas, in the form of a deity.
“If we want to realize the profound meaning of emptiness then it is important for us to request the blessings of Manjushri,” he says.
Actually, when we study texts on the Middle Way, if we want it to be more than just mere letters and words, if we want to actually develop realisation of the meaning of these in our being, then we need to pray to Manjushri. Only then will we be able to develop realisation.
We need these blessings in order to develop quick and sharp prajna. A sharp wisdom which is not just sharp intelligence—rather, this is the sharp discernment that can discriminate among the different types of dharmas. It is Manjushri’s special power and activity to bring us that ability.
The Karmapa continued to say that these days our faculties are getting duller and our thoughts are proliferating. On the outside, it seems as if people are getting smarter. They always have more questions to ask: What's reason? What's the essence? It seems as if they are asking very deep and sharp questions. Yet if we really think about it, we just have more and more thoughts, but we never come to their end and eliminate our doubts. Instead our doubts keep growing and we don’t get to the bottom of anything. It’s just one thought after another.
When we look at people from older times, it might seem as if they don’t know how to do anything. Yet when it comes down to it, they had no doubt about the main points of the view and so they had certain comfort in their mind. But we these days never find that sort of comfort―we are always entertaining doubts and worrying about something.
So we’re just following after the words and thoughts, one leading to the next. We use a lot of logic and never plumb the depths. It’s only if we are able to receive the blessings of our lamas, the buddhas and the bodhisattvas that we can develop loving-kindness, compassion, and devotion―only then will we be able to see the nature of things directly.
21. Manjushri the Lion's Roar (‘Jam dpal senggesgra)
The second empowerment for the afternoon session is Manjushri the Lion's Roar, for which His Holiness does not give an explanation. This empowerment was also passed down by the Indian master Abhayakara.
22. Four-Armed Avalokiteshvara
Originally scheduled for the following day, His Holiness next gives the Four-Armed Avalokiteshvara (Chenrezig) empowerment, an extra addition to the afternoon’s schedule.
“It shouldn’t be necessary to give an introduction to Chenrezig because everyone knows it,” he says. “But this particular practice is one that Padmasambhava hid as a treasure and then was later revealed by the great Mahasiddha Ngodrup. Then it was passed down to the 6th Karmapa, Thongwa Dönden.”