Sacred Texts

The Windhorse

Tsog Song

The following talk was given by Chagdud Rinpoche at the Dzogchen Retreat of 1993 at Rigdzin Gatsal. On that occasion, Rinpoche's students offered him a tanzhug ceremony to create auspicious interdependence for extending his life. During the celebration of the tsog feast that was part of this ceremony, Rinpoche elaborated on his view of the tsog.

Throughout my life, I have been forced by many different circumstances to go to places where I didn't understand the language and had no idea what the culture or the people were like. But regardless of the fact that I had no idea what situations I would find myself in, my underlying commitment was always to gather the accumulations of merit and awareness and help others to gather them as well. So the tsog song that I now offer to you is the song of what tsog means to me.

When I was young, I had the great good fortune to study the text known as the Bodhicaryavatara by Shantideva with a magnificent scholar whose name was Khanpo T'hubga. So deeply moved was I by his teachings that I developed the bodhicitta aspiration to truly benefit others. In my experience this aspiration has been like a container; my practice of the six perfections, especially that of being generous in any way that I could, whether in a material sense or through the power of mind has been like the inner contents of that vessel. The fact that I was able to meet such inspiring teachers and all circumstances that thus came about is part of my enjoyment of the tsog.

Due to the power of these teachings on a relative level, I have come to understand to some degree the fundamental nature of all phenomena as a freedom from all extremes and conceptual elaborations. Yet at the same time I have come to appreciate that the interdependent connection among phenomena on a relative level is infallible and that the ultimate and relative nature of reality are in no way mutually exclusive. Through study, practice and realization in the course of cultivating the enlightening attitude of bodhicitta, I feel that I have accomplished some small measure of this attitude as my siddhi. I don't claim to be a buddha or a great mahasiddha, but the ordinary bonds of selfishness and self-grasping have decreased somewhat. When I was four years old I was graced with a vision of P'hadampa Sang-gyay who revealed to me the fundamental nature of the Great Perfection.

From that time on I wasn't very inspired to practice any other path. So, from a very early age I was not particularly interested in mahayoga practice which emphasizes the stage of development and visualization. Nevertheless, through my study and practice of this level of the teachings, I have come to appreciate that this entire world in which we live is by its very nature the basic space of the mother consorts, a state of equalness and purity. I have appreciated the nondual nature of this inherent purity of the phenomenal world. With this understanding I see how the five skandhas - the five ordinary aggregates of mind and body - can arise as the masculine buddhas of the five families; the elements as the feminine buddhas; one's sensory faculties and the sensory objects of one's perception as the masculine and feminine bodhisattvas; and one's limbs as the masculine and feminine wrathful deities. And so I appreciate how this mandala of purity is perfect and complete in the world around us, atemporally and pristinely. This is another aspect of experiencing the tsogexperiencing form and the inherent emptiness of that form, understanding how our experience of form and sound and thought is essentially the nature of vajra form, vajra speech and vajra mind.

I don't claim to have made any great efforts to realize this or to attain mastery over the various levels of enlightened activity that come with Mahayana practice, but to some small degree I have experienced pacifying activity, the pacification of the effects of harmful actions and obscurations. Likewise I have experienced enriching activity, the increase of the positive qualities of pristine awareness. I have experienced the activity of power in that I have found that it is possible not to fall helplessly under the influence of afflictive emotions, but instead to free all of the confused thought patterns of ordinary mind in the vast expanse of intrinsic awareness. And I have experienced the wrathful activity of freeing within the nondual expanse of basic space the enemies and hindrances, that is, liberating dualistic thought and grasping at subject-object. So another aspect of my enjoyment of the tsog feast is whatever ability I have gained to exercise these various kinds of enlightened activity.

Through the great kindness of my stepfather, Sogda, I was introduced to the anuyoga level of practice concerning the subtle body, the structure of the subtle channels, the motile aspect of subtle energy moving through them, and the configuration of t'higle within these chakras and channels. Again, I wasn't so motivated to accomplish this level of practice, but I did attain some ability in what is termed tsa-lung, the more advanced yogas. Because my primary motivation has always been one of looking beyond such mental constructs and because I did not feel that they ultimately would lead to buddhahood, I was not as diligent as I might have been in this level of practice. Nevertheless, my experience was significant to me, in that I accomplished in some measure what are termed the "three blazings"of bliss blazing in the body, power blazing in the speech, realization blazing in the mind. As a result of these three blazings, I have also experienced to some small degree the three gatherings that are a result of these three blazings. This, too, is part of my enjoyment of the tsog feast.

At a certain point in my earlier life I was taken under the compassionate guidance of Zhechen Kongtrul Rinpoche, who introduced me to the path of mahamudra and directly introduced to me the fact that mind at rest is dharmakaya, mind in motion is the sambhogakaya, and the aspect of cognition is nirmanakaya. Having been introduced directly to the three kayas as the nature of mind, I practiced this path to the point where I gained some significant sign of shamatha or calm abiding, and some understanding of mahamudra, the supreme seal, directly recognizing that all phenomena manifest within the seal of transcendent knowledge. This is the mahamudra aspect of my tsog feast.

ęchagdud gonpa foundation


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