golden dorje

Extracts from Like An Illusion

- translated from Tibetan by Nicole Riggs -

Lives of the Shangpa Kagyu Masters
(Shangs pa gser 'phreng)

golden dorje

Khyungpo Naljor Meets the Dakini Niguma

With five hundred ounces of gold on him, Khyungpo Naljor traveled
throughout the four corners of India, meeting lamas and asking who
had actually seen the Buddha. All panditas and siddhas said the same
thing: Naropa’s sister Niguma, who dwelt in the three pure states,
had received the Dharma directly from Vajradhara.
They all also said that no matter where one is, if one has sacred
outlook, one will be able to see her face. But if one’s outlook is impure,
she won’t be found no matter how hard one looks. Niguma truly dwelt
in a pure state and possessed the rainbow body. Khyungpo was told
that she could be seen frequently in the great charnel ground of Kosaling
with her entourage. Just hearing the name of the dakini made Khyungpo
weep and his hair stand on end. He felt overwhelmed with devotion
and immediately left for the charnel ground of Kosaling repeating the
mantra Namo Buddha on the way.
Suddenly, the dakini appeared in the sky in front of him, at the height
of about seven palm-trees, her body red-brown in color. She was
wearing bone ornaments. In her hands, she held a skull-cup and hooked
knife. She was dancing and displaying one and many forms.
As soon as he saw her, Khyungpo thought, ‘This is the dakini
Niguma.’ He prostrated and made several circumambulations. Then
he knelt down and asked for the pure oral instructions.
But Niguma shouted: ‘Hey, you, watch out! I am the cannibalistic
flesh-eating dakini. HA! Flee now! As soon as my retinue comes,
we will devour you!’
In response, Khyungpo simply made more prostrations and
circumambulations and once again knelt down, requesting the
secret oral instructions.
Niguma now said: ‘So you really want the mahayana oral
instructions?! Well, you’ll need some gold for that. Have you got any?’
At this, Khyungpo presented his five hundred ounces of gold.
But the dakini grabbed the gold and hurled it in the air, scattering it all
over the forest. Seeing this, Khyungpo thought, ‘Oh, she really must
be a cannibal flesh-eating dakini. She doesn’t even care for my gold!’
The dakini’s eyes darted about left and right, and her immeasurable
retinue of dakas and dakinis appeared from the sky. Some in a flash
created three-tiered heavenly mansions, some built up mandalas of
colored sand, and others gathered the implements for a feast offering.
On the evening of the full moon, the dakini Niguma bestowed upon
Khyungpo the empowerments of dream yoga and illusory body.
Next, she said, ‘Hey, little monk from Tibet, come on up here!’
By means of the dakini’s magical ability, Khyungpo rose in the sky
to a height of about three yojanas. He found himself sitting on a
golden mountain. Above his head, the dakini’s retinue was performing
the mystical dance of the tantric feast, and from the four sides of the
mountain flowed four rivers of gold.
Khyungpo looked down at the streams of gold and asked, 'Does
such a golden mountain really exist in India, or did the dakini make
it appear?’
The dakini sang:

Whirling in the ocean of samsara
Are the myriad thoughts of love and hate.
Once you know they have no nature,
Then everywhere is the land of gold, my child.

If upon all things, like an illusion
One meditates, like an illusion,
True Buddhahood, like an illusion,
Will come to pass, due to devotion.

Now, a dream will come to you through my blessings.

Indeed, Khyungpo had the following lucid dream: He had gone to
the realm of gods and demi-gods. He was being eaten alive by some
large demi-gods when the dakini appeared in the sky saying, ‘O son,
do not wake up.’ At that very instant, he received the instructions on
the six yogas. After he woke up, the dakini appeared and said: ‘No
one else in India has ever received the complete yogas in one session.’

Mokchokpa’s Advice

My practice was culminating in every way: I had many disciples and
was always receiving donations. Yet there were many, such as
Ngomshö Lachö, who didn’t really listen to the teachings. I admonished
him: if he went back home, he would face death at some not-so-distant
point and would not meet with me again. But he did not take my advice
and set out to return to his village. The sight saddened me. I took
Ngomshö’s hand in mine and sang him this song:

The Buddha is the predecessor of all sentient beings,
The holy Dharma is the shared jewel of all sentient beings.
Since all karma is allotted to men and women—
Ignoring one’s inheritance is meaningless.

The root of the Buddhas of the three times
Is the Lama who holds the lineage,
Fulfilling our wishes and desires in this and future lives.
Lacking devotion for him, or her, is meaningless.

For the remainder of this life
Engage fully in practice with undistracted concentration
Rather than trying to benefit the ever-dissatisfied.
Wasting this life is meaningless.

Immature beings with but a twig of awareness
Are incited by the demon of death.
Where they’ll be in the future depends on the karma
they gathered in the past.
Doing evil deeds is meaningless.

In this sorrowful world of contaminated aggregates
We undergo birth, sickness, old age, and death.
To hope that this body-bag, a clay pot of sorts, may last forever—
That is meaningless.

Since food and wealth are in the nature of an illusion,
They do not lead to the benefit of self or others.
Yet you wallow in ingrained miserliness.
Inability to let go is meaningless.

Drawn off the path by the demon of conceptual thought,
You lose sight of reality,
And fear death, the parting of body and mind.
Mental agitation is meaningless.

You fail to seize the opportunities
To meditate undistracted at the four times of day
On the all-accomplishing tantric practices.
Your ceaseless chatter and dwelling on the past is meaningless.

As for this mind, this wish-fulfilling gem:
If you do not meditate on it as inseparable from
the three bodies of enlightenment,
You are just like a deer chasing a mirage.
Pursuing verbal postulates is meaningless.

Failing to take hold of reality itself as your homeland,
You slack in your vigilance about ego clinging: wandering
aimlessly in samsara
While holding on to the illusion of the citadel of the six
classes of beings—
That is meaningless.

Râhula’s Six Verses of Nectar

Râhula came to Cheka, Khyungpo’s monastery in the valley of Penyul.
One day, he sang these six verses of nectar:

The root of suffering
Is clinging to ego.
Therefore, without bias, attachment or aversion,
Rest in the meaning of equanimity.

This present life is impermanent
And the next life is uncertain.
Therefore meditate in accordance with karma and result,
And above all, keep samaya.

Until you achieve stability,
You are harmed by the distractions of the world.
Therefore, like a wounded antelope,
Stay alone, and practice.

Lest anger and jealousy increase,
Whatever talents you may have,
Like a candle inside a flask:
Always keep them secret.

The abiding nature is transcendent union
Therefore meditate on whatever arises as illusion.
Appearances have no inherent existence.
So think this way of your body.

Fulfilling all your needs for this life
And guiding you on the path in future lives
Is the Lama, like a Buddha.
Think of him always.

Then he took in the sky, like a bird.

© Nicole Riggs 1999. Reproduction welcome if not for profit and with full acknowledgment.

Sarva Mangalam!
May all beings be happy!