TRANSCRIPT – Lama Tsongkhapa (24th July 2008)
Lama Tsongkhapa has written voluminous, tremendous amount of work and it is still existing today. And the reason why so many people have faith in Lama Tsongkhapa is not because the Tibetans say that he is the Buddha, it is because of his works, his writings, his teachings and the results people have by practicing his teachings. Then they have faith in Tsongkhapa.
Like that, we have faith in the branding company when we see a client become famous. Similarly, because Gaden exists and so many great masters, Sera, Drepung, Gyuto, Gyume, Namgyal, Dalai Lama, Panchen Lama, Trijang Rinpoche, Zong Rinpoche, etc exist solely because of Lord Tsongkhapa, because they are so great… Imagine the Dalai Lama, the way he is today, how he is one of the greatest statesmen in the world. He can teach Dharma, he can become your level, he is scientific, he is intelligent, he can filter into any society. If Dalai Lama is like that, imagine his Guru Tsongkhapa, how he must have been. So when you meditate on these points, faith in Lord Tsongkhapa becomes stronger and stronger.
Not simply because the Tibetans say he is the Buddha and then he is the Buddha and then you must believe. So, in the beginning you believe, you like the personality of the teacher. The teacher speaks well, but after a while you lose confidence and faith in the teacher. Why? Because it is blind faith. Blind faith. So if you meditate on Gaden, you meditate how it spanned for six hundred years and kept the Dharma alive for six hundred years. Even when Tibet fell, Gaden still kept Dharma alive. That is over fifteen thousand scholars and masters, monks and Geshes and reincarnated Lamas. All that because of Lama Tsongkhapa. So when we meditate on that, we should have no doubts in practicing Dharma, we should have no doubts in Lama Tsongkhapa. And how fortunate for us to meet Lama Tsongkhapa’s tradition.
And if we have faith and confidence and respect for our own teacher, that itself arises from Lama Tsongkhapa again. So everything, even us being together, even us having a purpose in life, even us doing something worth while, even us having more confidence that when we die, things will become better is because of Lama Tsongkhapa’s kindness right now. Even some of us in this room transforming, thinking about transforming or considering transforming or have transformed is due to Lama Tsongkhapa’s kindness at this moment. Everything arises from Lord Tsongkhapa for us in our lives.
So if we think about it that way, you should be very proud, you should be very, very fortunate and think how meritorious you are to be a Liaison of Lama Tsongkhapa and if you think otherwise you should meditate on these points again in more detail. Then whatever you see, whatever you hear, negative or positive doesn’t affect you. So when we have complete confidence in the Three Jewels, Lord Tsongkhapa, Dharma and the Sangha by virtue of their work, by virtue of their result, by virtue of what we see right in front of us, this is the direct kindness of them.
Whatever we experience will not depress us, bring us down, bring us up… we will work consistently for the Dharma. Having faith that is consistent, based on knowledge is an attainment. One of the highest attainments. That confidence comes from within as you have meditated on the kindness of Lama Tsongkhapa. And when you have meditated on the kindness of Lama Tsongkhapa in your individual lives directly, it’s not like saying god bless you. It’s much deeper, then you will gain strength from inside. Nothing disappoints you. Nothing makes you sad.
One of the great works that Lama Tsongkhapa wrote was on the Six Yogas of Naropa. The Six Yogas of Naropa are teachings given by the Mahasiddha Naropa, which is the originator of our Vajrayogini lineage. Naropa had direct visions of Vajrayogini from his Guru, Tilopa, and he practiced and he had visions within six months. Why? Because for twelve years he practiced with his Guru and he surrendered his ego completely. Before he even met his Guru, he realized the senselessness of his life and he developed faith in a Guru completely, not because of the Guru. When he met his Guru, he committed to his Guru one hundred percent and trained for twelve intense years and I am talking about intense. When he himself had vision of Vajrayogini, Vajrayogini appeared in the form that we pray and practice now. And when he practiced this form of Vajrayogini, he gave it to his disciple and his disciple and his disciple unbroken until now, to us. And within Vajrayogini’s practice and Heruka’s practice is the special more, even more secret practice, that is even more not told, which is called the Six Yogas of Naropa. And those are very special for developing psychic powers.
Within those, Lama Tsongkhapa has mastered all of that. He has mastered it completely. Lama Tsongkhapa had to show that power in him although he was reluctant to at certain times. So people thought that Lama Tsongkhapa was a scholar, that he just wrote books and he was great like a Chinese scholar. So in this book called the Six Yogas of Naropa, I have been going through these few days, written by Tsongkhapa, translated by the great late Lama Yeshe.
In the western academic world, the common interpretation is that Lama Tsongkhapa was just a philosopher. Western academics do not seem to recognize him as a great yogi, a great Tantric practitioner, a Mahasiddha. Actually Lama Tsongkhapa taught and wrote more on Tantra than on Sutra. But because he did not publicly show his Mahasiddha aspect, westerners had the impression that he was merely an intellectual. Some people think that Gelugpas, the followers of Lama Tsongkhapa do not practice non-conceptual meditation. Non-conceptual meditation is meditation that is not based on the text, is based on more abstract things such as the Six Yogas of Naropa.
They think that the other traditions of Tibetan Buddhism meditate in this way but Lama Tsongkhapa negated non-conceptual meditation and taught only intellectual analytical meditation. This is not true. Lama Tsongkhapa was already a great meditator while still a teenager. From then on, he did not experience ordinary sickness. When he had a small health problem, he would cure himself. Also if a flood or avalanche was about to happen, he would say a prayer and disaster would be averted.
If you read Lama Tsongkhapa’s biography, you would think that he was a great Mahasiddha. The Monlam Chenmo, (Monlam means prayer, Chenmo means great prayer festival, Lo is year, Sar is new – new year), the great prayer festival celebrated in Lhasa for two weeks after the Tibetan new year was started by Lama Tsongkhapa. The monks, nuns and lay people all, of all traditions of Tibetan Buddhism came together to make offerings including thousands of butter lamps, to say prayers. The two weeks, instead of going Gong Xi Fa Chai to everybody’s house, they would get together and make tremendous offerings, prostrations, retreats, see their Gurus, go take care of the Sangha. And many people would look for Sangha to sponsor. Why? To collect merit. So during the great prayer festival, people would do virtuous activities. Why? Because it was the beginning of the year and the finish of the old year. It’s more about starting a new year by Dharma, finishing the new year by Dharma. So that was started by the great Lama Tsongkhapa. And that is still happening now.
One day during the first festival, the many thousands of butterlamps in the temple became one huge massive flames. The fire was soon out of control. Terrified that the temple might burn down, people ran to Lama Tsongkhapa for help. He sat down, went into deep meditation and suddenly all the flames were extinguished as if it was blown out by one gust of wind. This was recorded down during his life. That’s why I said, these kind of powers that Lama Tsongkhapa shows, he shows very rarely and he plays it down and doesn’t want people to know because he want you to study. Why does he want you to study? For most people, those kind of powers are not attainable immediately, so if they don’t get that power, they lose faith. Real Gelugpas study the Dharma to understand, examine their lives and what’s wrong so they gain more faith in what the Buddha has taught.
Alright, at certain times, High Gelugpa Lamas like Lama Tsongkhapa must show their power, but that is far and in between because Lama Tsongkhapa forbade it. Lama Tsongkhapa was able to do this through his inner fire meditation. Lama Tsongkhapa didn’t need ordinary fire engines with his inner fire engine, he instantly extinguished the flames. This proves that Lama Tsongkhapa was a powerfully realized being. And that he also had visions of the eighty-four Mahasiddhas perceiving them in the sky above Lhasa.
While he was putting out the fire, doing inner Tummo mediation, he was having visions of the eighty-four Mahasiddhas such as Naropa and Tilopa, Kukuripa etc etc. …and there are students with him, his main disciples who would share the visions with them. So it was not that Lama Tsongkhapa just told them; they would share and confirm with Lama Tsongkhapa. He would nod without giving more details, to his main disciples that were near him. Some of those disciples are alive today and reincarnating and are teaching what he has taught. Example, the great Pabongka Dorje Chang. Example, the great Trijang Dorje Chang. They were the main disciples of Lama Tsongkhapa who were there sharing his visions. They saw directly, simultaneously.
Lama Tsongkhapa also had no shortage of telepathic powers. For example, he was once staying in a small retreat hut somewhere thirty minutes walk from the place he later advised Sera Monastery to be built. He advised Sera to be built! Thirty minutes away in his retreat hut, suddenly one day he disappeared and nobody knew why. Later that same day, a delegation from the Emperor of China arrived. The emperor had heard of Lama Tsongkhapa’s fame and wished to invite him to come to China but he was no where to be found. No one knew the delegation was coming that day but Lama Tsongkhapa knew and he escaped over the mountains. This shows Lama Tsongkhapa’s telepathic powers but also a good example of his perfect renunciation. He vomited at the thought of worldly pleasure. Can you imagine us in that situation?
Although Lama Tsongkhapa was incredibly famous, he never went to distracting places but preferred to stay in isolated places in the mountains. On the other hand, we go to the most confused places which shows our renunciation is not yet perfect. So Lama Tsongkhapa is showing you his powers, he knew that the emissaries of the emperor of China were coming to receive him, to request him to come to China to be the Guru of the emperor of China. He knew and he knew that if he went there, it would be great prestige, great power, great wealth, dominion over all of China on a spiritual level and Tibet. But because he has renounced worldly power, he did not go and he in fact ran away.
Even during Lama Tsongkhapa’s time, he avoided wealth. He avoided wealthy sponsors, even the king of China. Make sure you are renounced, because when you are around these people, you can corrupt yourself. They cannot corrupt you, you corrupt yourself. But when you are ready…they are ready to get close to you. When they are ready because they know who you are, then you may get close.
Lama Je Tsongkhapa had many thousands of disciples all over Tibet and constantly received offerings. Constantly. But he had no bank account. No house. Not even one piece of land in which to grow his food. He gave away everything he received and stayed clean clear. Gave away everything. Lama Tsongkhapa was the head of Gaden, a monastery he founded. But he stayed there as if he was simply a guest. He would arrive, received offerings, give them away and leave with nothing. Lama Tsongkhapa is a perfect example of someone living in accordance with the Dharma.
Lama Tsongkhapa’s death also reveals that he was a Mahasiddha. From his childhood, Lama Tsongkhapa had a special relationship with Buddha Manjushri and received teachings directly from Manjushri. Two or three years before Lama Tsongkhapa died, Manjushri told him that he was about to die. Suddenly, countless Buddhas appeared. They requested Lama Tsongkhapa not to die and gave him initiation of Boundless energy so that he can live longer. They gave him the initiation of Amitayus, immediately, directly to request him to life long. The initiation of Namgyalma. The initiation of White Tara. Manjushri then told him that his lifespan had been extended and predicted the new time of death. Manjushri predicted the new time of death for Lama Tsongkhapa.
Shortly before Lama Tsongkhapa died, one of his teeth fell out and everybody saw that it emitted a rainbow light. He gave the tooth to Khedrub Je, one of his heart sons. But this disappointed his other disciples who asked if they could have some of the tooth. Lama Tsongkhapa told Khedrub Je to place the tooth in a box on the altar where radiant rainbow light continued to emanate from it and everyone prayed and meditated. A week later when Lama Tsongkhapa opened the box, the tooth had transformed into a tiny Tara image surrounded by relic pills. Lama Tsongkhapa gave the Tara statue to Khedrub Je and the relic pills to all the other disciples. He also predicted that after five hundred years, the relics will be brought to Bodhgaya in India. This prediction was accurate – although the Chinese communists destroyed what remained of Lama Tsongkhapa’s body, some of the relics was saved and taken to Bodhgaya by the Tibetans fleeing into exile into India.
Not just the tooth, many of Lama Tsongkhapa’s relics were saved from the fire and taken into India and saved in Gaden or with His Holiness now. Lama Tsongkhapa already predicted this. “My relics will go to India after five hundred years.” When Lama Tsongkhapa finally died, he died perfectly. First, he put everything in order, next he asked one of his disciples to bring his skull cup. He then performed the inner meditation on the thirty-two steps and took thirty-two sips of the inner offering, a sign inside, that he was Guhyasamaja deity. Guhyasamaja has thirty-two deities including himself. When a High Lama makes inner offerings to himself and inner offerings to others, he is not making inner offerings to himself and drinking the alcohol as a person. He has manifested as a Yidam and drinking the alcohol doesn’t affect him. It shows you the power of his meditation to transform from ordinary view to pure view. So when you do Yamantaka, it will be thirteen. When you do Vajrayogini, it will be thirty-two. When you do Guhyasamaja, it will be thirty-two. When you do Heruka, it will be sixty-two. So Lama Tsongkhapa perfected all Tantric practice. To summarise it, He was making offerings to the thirty-two deities of the Guhyasamaja Mandala, that already abide within him. It means he has already become Guhyasamaja.
Finally sitting in meditation in his full robes, he died. These are the actions that distinguish a Mahasiddha from an ordinary being. An accomplished master doesn’t have to announce that I am a master. His actions will prove it.
When we die, we leave a mess. It says on page thirty-three, can you imagine being able to die deliberately clean clear. Can you imagine, we can die deliberately clean and clear. That means, die clean and clear meaning no attachments and you didn’t create problems for anybody else. The next page, when we die, we leave a mess. We make people fight over our money. We make our children hate each other and not talk. We make people confused. We create disharmony. We make people sad and when we die, its just a death of another animal because no one is inspired by our death. No one is moved by our death. Another wasted life.
We should motivate and pray that we will die as Lama Tsongkhapa did. This is our human plight, pray that instead of dying in a depressed, miserable state, you will die blissfully. Make the resolution, when I die, I will control my emotions and die peacefully just as Lama Tsongkhapa did. You must motivate because motivation has power. When the time of your death comes, you will remember your resolution. If you have prepared yourself beforehand, you will remember what to do at the time of death.
At one point after Lama Tsongkhapa had passed away, Khedrub Je was sad because Lama Tsongkhapa’s teachings were disappearing. Lama Tsongkhapa had explained the entire path to enlightenment thoroughly from beginning to end, from Hinayana to Paramitayana and Tantrayana and thousands upon thousands of people had meditated on his teachings and achieved realization. However, Khedrub Je taught that Lama Je Tsongkhapa’s teachings seemed like a mirage. Unfortunately, the Tibetan people were degenerating. He taught them not to cling to desires of the sensory world. Yet people have more grasping and more desire than ever, even more materialistic.
Khedrub Je felt very sad, he cried and cried. He then prayed and offered a Mandala. Suddenly Lama Tsongkhapa appeared to him in a vision, he was in the youthful aspect seated on a jeweled throne surrounded by deities, dakas and dakinis. He said to Khedrub Je, my son, you shouldn’t cry. My principle message is to practice the Tantric path. Do this and then transmit the teachings to qualified disciples. Instead of crying, you should help to do this as much as possible and then you will make me very happy.
At another time, Khedrub Je had another technical question on Tantric practice. He could not find anyone who could answer them. Again he burst into tears, his heart was breaking because Khedrub Je at that time was the highest Lama in the land. He was the throne holder, he had no one else to ask, his Guru had passed.
When he prayed strongly and offered a Mandala, Lama Tsongkhapa again manifested in a vision and gave him many teachings and initiations. At another time, Khedrub Je cried so hard and prayed so much, Lama Tsongkhapa manifested in an aspect of a Mahasiddha, reddish in color holding a sword and a skull cup and riding on a tiger. He also manifested to Khedrub Je in the form of Manjushri and another time in his usual form riding on a white elephant. Five visions appeared when for different reasons, Khedrub Je cried and prayed to Lama Tsongkhapa.
Why do I tell you these stories, it is inspiring to know that Lama Je Tsongkhapa was without a doubt a great yogi, a Mahasiddha and that Khedrub Je had such inner realizations that Lama Tsongkhapa can manifest when he simply called upon him. You should also understand that Lama Tsongkhapa’s principle field was Tantra. Even though we are degenerate, we are fortunate to have the chance to hear Lama Tsongkhapa’s way of explaining the Tantra path and trying to actualize it. Even if we do not know very much about Buddhist teachings, if we practice what we do know, Lama Tsongkhapa will be happy with us.
I thought I would start today’s meeting with Dharma and about Lama Tsongkhapa and something great about him to increase your faith so that you, yourself can transform. So you, yourself can have faith in yourself.
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