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Buddhadharma : Winter 2006
winter 2006| 24 |buddhadharma Khenpo TsulTrim GyamTso rinpoche is a well-Known scholar and yoGi in The KaGyu TradiTion of TibeTan buddhism who has TauGhT exTensively in The wesT for many years. This TeachinG is from a TalK he Gave in halifax, nova scoTia, in sepTember 2005, which was Trans- laTed by ari Goldfield. The sonG The eighT Flash- ing lances was Trans- laTed by Jim scoTT. The Eight Flashing Lances In this commentary on a famed yogi’s spontaneous song of realization, Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso explains why Mahamudra practice makes our view, meditation, and action free and unhindered, like a lance flashing free in the open sky. photographs by richard misrach The Eight Flashing Lances is a song of realiza- tion sung by Gyalwa Gotsangpa (1189–1258), who was renowned as an emanation of the lord of yogis, Milarepa. Born in southern Tibet, Gotsangpa went to central Tibet where he met his two teachers, Drogon Tsangpa Gyare and Sangye On. He wandered then from one mountain retreat to the next, practicing meditation and bringing his realization to perfection. Gotsangpa made a commitment never to medi- tate in the same place twice. If he went somewhere and stayed for a few years, he never returned. He wandered continually to help himself abandon attachment to any particular place. The Homages Namo Ratna Guru Gotsangpa begins the song with the Sanskrit homage Namo Ratna Guru, meaning “I pros- trate” (Namo) to “the precious” (Ratna) “lama” (Guru). With body, speech, and mind filled with great devotion, Gotsangpa prostrates before the precious guru. Next he offers an homage in Tibetan, which when translated into English reads: To that paragon, the dharmakaya, treasure isle And the treasure too, sambhogakaya’s range of forms Who as nirmanakaya fills the needs of beings To the precious lord I bow respectfully (Opposite) Clouds (Cirrostratus Fibratus with Jupiter and Mars), Why 1.26.98 – 1.27.98 6:37 p.m. – 3:07 a.m. In this opening verse, Gotsangpa pays homage to his guru, who is a paragon, a supreme being, an unsurpassable guide. In particular, he pays homage to the guru’s three kayas, his three dimensions of enlightenment. Gotsangpa compares the dharmak- aya to a treasure isle, because the dharmakaya, the enlightened mind itself, is the source of all that one needs and desires. The sambhogakaya, the subtle light-form of a buddha that appears to pure disciples who are noble bodhisattvas, is like the gold, silver, diamonds, and all the other jewels one finds on this treasure island. The nirmanakaya, the buddha’s form that appears to ordinary disciples as well as to noble bodhisattvas, is what fulfills the needs of all wandering sentient beings. To the precious lord who embodies these three kayas, he says, I bow with body, speech, and mind filled with great respect. The dharmakaya is the ultimate dimension of enlightenment, the ultimate kaya. The sambhoga- kaya and the nirmanakaya are the relative dimen- sions, the form kayas. Thus, you can also divide the kayas into two, the dharmakaya and the form kaya. The dharmakaya, the true nature of reality, is inexpressible and inconceivable. The sambhoga- kaya and the nirmanakaya, therefore, are neces- sary because they appear in relative forms to be of benefit to all disciples who have not yet realized the dharmakaya. In this verse, Gyalwa Gotsangpa pays homage to his own root guru, Drogon Tsangpa Gyare, for embodying the three kayas.