The Six Syllables in the Vajrakīlaya and the Inscription for the Deceased Practices
Taught by H.E. Garchen Rinpoche
Date: Nov 2017
Location: Garchen Buddhist Institute, Arizona, USA
My Dharma friends, there are many questions about the practices of the Inscription for the Deceased and Vajrakīlaya. For instance, “What is the benefit of the Inscription practice?” While they possess buddha-nature, in the impure state of the mind-streams of sentient beings, there are the five afflictive emotions. They are like the seeds of a flower. How did the mind become impure? The six afflictive emotions develop from self-grasping, and from them, the six classes of beings develop. However many beings there are, their afflictive emotions are the same in essence. If they become purified through bodhicitta, in the context of the Individual Liberation and the Bodhisattva vehicles, they will ripen into the six paramitās. Having ripened into the six paramitās, they will further ripen into the five kinds of primordial wisdom, like the seed of a flower ripening into a flower.
The practice of the Inscription for the Deceased, for example, is related to this because the six afflictive emotions are what cause the sentient beings of the three worlds to wander in samsara. Combined, the six syllables represent the essence of the six afflictive emotions. In the Inscription practice they are represented by the six inscription syllables. Because the basis of samsara is self-grasping, the one performing the Inscription practice must seal the practice with altruism. Of the six paramitās, the practices of generosity, ethical discipline, and patience will result in attaining the temporary happiness of the higher realms—such as birth in the perfect body of a human. The practices of meditative absorption and wisdom will become the cause of ultimately attaining buddhahood. In the Path to Enlightenment it says: “I will free those who are not free.” This means the sentient beings of the three lower realms are sent up into the three higher realms. How are they sent up? You have to send them up with your mind. Sealing your mind with the six paramitās— with bodhicitta—you gather the six afflictive emotions into the six syllables. When the mind is sealed with bodhicitta, whatever you do becomes the six paramitās. These seeds of the six realms of samsara, which are the six afflictive emotions, are in an unripe state. When they ripen, they become the five wisdoms, because attachment and stinginess, and pride and ignorance combine.
So we have the five wisdoms. Even if a thousand people, for example, practice the Inscription Puja, the afflictive emotions are all exactly the same. The afflictive emotions of a thousand people are gathered into those six syllables. The six syllables transform the six afflictive emotions into the essence of the six paramitās: generosity, ethical discipline, patience, diligence, meditative absorption, and wisdom. This is what happens when we cleanse the mirror with the vase water. The water of the six paramitās cleanses the stains of the six afflictive emotions. We say elsewhere, “This water has the nature of generosity, purifying the stains of stinginess; with water well infused with the fragrance of giving, I rinse, which cleanses well.” In this way, the water of each of the six paramitās cleanses self-grasping and transforms it into bodhicitta. The mind of bodhicitta is the cause of temporarily taking birth in the three higher realms, and ultimately attaining enlightenment. Ultimately, one enters the Secret Mantra. For those who have taken birth in the human world, the prayer says, “I will liberate those not liberated.” So all those who have obtained a body in the human world become established on the path to enlightenment. “I will liberate those not liberated,” refers to those who are able to receive the refuge vow; those who have taken the refuge vow can attain the level of a bodhisattva. So it is gradual. First, “I will free those who are not free,” [then,] “I will liberate those not liberated.” And, “I will lift up those who are discouraged.” Of those who are on the path to enlightenment, those who are on the path of Individual Liberation become established on the bodhisattva path. Step by step, beings are raised higher and higher. What raises them is mainly the mind; it lifts them out of the six afflictive emotions. On this chart, the six afflictions are condensed into three groups of two. DU is the hell realm and SU is the demi-god realm. In those places, the main afflictive emotion is hatred. The hell and demi-god realms are combined. The hungry spirits and humans are the groups where attachment and stinginess are linked.
Lastly, pride and ignorance form a single group. Here, “pride” is the false grasping at a self when there is no self; it is the concept of “I am.” The fruition of pride is a god; and of ignorance, an animal. Ultimately, ignorance, or unawareness, is the concept of “I am.” The ultimate ignorance is to grasp at the existence of an “I.” So, pride corresponds to the god realm. This is an approximate grouping of similar afflictive emotions. Ignorance is the vajra of form [OM], attachment is the vajra of speech [AH], and hatred is the vajra of mind [HUNG]. So in the end, after we have grouped the afflictions into pairs, the main afflictions are three: hatred, attachment, and ignorance. When you realize the view of mahāmudrā, the vajra of form is the empty nature of appearances. You will understand the nondual nature of self and others. When there is no grasping at sound, that is the vajra of speech—the empty nature of sound. So the speech syllable represents the empty nature of sound. The most important one is the vajra of mind: the empty nature of awareness. The buddha-nature of all sentient beings ultimately gathers in HUNG—it becomes HUNG. OM AH HUNG represent the pure fundamental nature of all sentient beings. What is an outer example of this? While they are in the six realms of samsara, sentient beings are like ice-blocks. They became ice-blocks due to self-grasping. If the sun-like altruistic mind melts the ice, they are all buddhas, represented by OM AH HUNG. Ultimately, all that gathers in emptiness, empty awareness—the vajra of mind. Body gathers into speech, and speech gathers into mind—the state of buddhahood. What was unripe is ripened. In the Inscription Puja, the deceased is given empowerment. The empowerment ripens that which is unripe. What actually is to be ripened? To say it in one word: self-grasping—the dwelling-place of the six afflictive emotions. If that is destroyed by bodhicitta, then the six afflictive emotions transform into wisdom. The Inscription Puja and the Kīla Consecration, and the four activities of pacifying, enriching, overpowering, and subduing: these are all methods to liberate sentient beings from samsara. I made this chart. The scholars can have a look at it and see whether they find any discrepancies. In brief, the 84,000 heaps of the Dharma gather into methods to overcome attachment, hatred, and ignorance, all gathering ultimately in overcoming ignorance.
Ultimately, body, speech, and mind gather into the mind. When you realize the nature of the mind, when you understand the nature of mahāmudrā, you realize the indivisible nature of samsara and nirvana. Finally, we have to understand that buddhas and sentient beings are not separate, and this is something we can at least understand. The Buddha said, “All sentient beings are buddhas.” The fundamental nature of sentient beings is Buddha-nature. But then why are there sentient beings?
The Buddha said: “However, they are obscured by adventitious stains.” What are these adventitious stains? They come from believing that there is a self. From that arises the perception of “self” and “other,” and from this, attachment and aversion arise continuously. In brief, once self-grasping has disintegrated, once the ice-blocks have melted, they become the same as the ocean water. Even though the ocean is there, there is no discord. Nāgārjuna said, “When emptiness is possible, everything is possible.” In emptiness there is no contradiction. It is said, “All the buddhas are one within the expanse of primordial wisdom.” At the level of the Buddha, there is no dualistic grasping. A buddha doesn’t see samsaric sentient beings. He sees them as being like temporary waves on water. At the request of lamas and spiritual teachers I am giving this brief outline for the benefit of all, and I made this chart. In the context of Vajrakīlaya practice, these are the six syllables of the Kīla Consecration. It is very important; this chart should definitely be put together with the Vajrakīlaya text when doing the practice. In small print in the Vajrakīlaya sadhana, Jamgön Kongtrül explains the great importance of the Kīla Consecration. All practitioners of Vajrakīlaya should use this for their practice. These practices are methods for liberating all sentient beings from samsara. The wrathful activities are, for instance, the activities of Vajrakīlaya and Yamāntaka. The Inscription Puja is a pacifying activity. Essentially, they all have the same purpose as methods for liberating sentient beings from samsara, for liberating all sentient beings with compassion. In the Vajrakīlaya sadhana it says, “The samaya to liberate with compassion is not ordinary killing.” There are many who think “Oh, this is wrathful, they are killing! Those wrathful deities are no good.” But this is not how it really is. In various practices it says, “Infuriated compassion cuts off hatred.” I don’t know so much about this. But many of you engage in practice, and so out of love for you, I am teaching to the best of my abilities. In the future, you can ask for clarification of my chart from scholars, geshes, lamas, and ngakpas. Whether they are lay ngakpas or ordained teachers upholding the vinaya, you can ask any Buddhist teacher. If there is anything wrong with it, it is okay to change it. It is okay to disagree with me. Since many of you know how to practice, I had this chart made for you. This instruction has turned out slightly disorganized and long-winded, but in brief, in the Vajrakīlaya sadhana it says, “The three poisons are transformed into the enlightened body, speech, and mind.” Also, in the Yamāntaka practice it says, “Ignorance—a mountain of flesh; desire—an ocean of blood; and hatred—heaps of bones.” They really are linked to the body. Ignorance is linked to flesh, desire is linked to blood, and hatred is linked to bones. This is why it is acceptable to offer flesh, blood, and bones. The deity has no selfishness; it has no “self.” So, they are not just flesh, blood, and bones; through them, there is a link to the afflictive emotions. When we offer them, we transform them into the essence of the afflictive emotions. If you know this, then there will be fewer uncertainties and doubts in your mind. Pure view will increase, and you will be able to understand the power and the blessings of the Secret Mantra. This is just my brief instruction on this today. Tashi Delek.
Translated by Ina Trinley Wangmo and edited by Kay Candler in 2018.