Part Three: Mitrayogin's Empowerments and Authorization Rituals for the Six Deities

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Gdams ngag mdzod Shechen PrintingVolume 16Part Three: Mitrayogin's Empowerments and Authorization Rituals for the Six Deities
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The next eight texts all fall into the category of empowerments, although the only detailed empowerment (dbang) in this volume is that of Avalokiteshvara. It includes the preparatory sections concerning the teacher, the vases, and the disciples as well as detailed sections for the vase empowerment. It is followed by a supplement, apparently for use with that empowerment.[1] The remaining texts are authorization rituals (rjes gnang) for the other five of Mitrayogin’s six deities and for Draklha Gönpo, the protector of these teachings. All these rituals were written by Öpak Dorje, with the exception of the Draklha authorization, which was written by Drakpa Rinchen.

   An authorization ritual is a simple form of empowerment, in which the disciples receive the blessings of the teacher and yidam deity that authorize them to practice the related sādhana and recite the mantra. The detailed sections normally found in a full empowerment preparing them to enter the mandala are absent, and the process of conferring the four empowerments (vase, secret, wisdom, and word) is, in these texts, replaced by five stages in which the blessings of the deity’s Body, Speech, Mind, Qualities, and Activities are conferred.

   Mitrayogin was considered to be an emanation of Avalokiteshvara, the buddha of compassion, which perhaps accounts for the fact that both the empowerment and the instructions in the next section are more detailed than those for the other deities whose teachings he received after he had practiced their sādhanas in the Sosaling charnel ground. Each of these deities is generally associated with a specific characteristic and, in this series of practices, with an aspect of enlightenment. Avalokiteshvara, the buddha of compassion, is associated with enlightened speech. Mañjushrī (or Mañjughoṣha) is the buddha of wisdom, associated with the enlightened body. Vajrapāṇi, “bearer of the vajra,” is related to power and enlightened mind. Amitāyus, an aspect of Buddha Amitābha, is the buddha of long life and associated with enlightened qualities. And Green Tārā is the deity who grants protection from fear and danger and is associated with enlightened activities. Finally, there is an authorization ritual for Yellow Jambhala, a wealth deity whose practice bestows every kind of material and spiritual wealth. For Buddhist practitioners, the acquisition of riches by venerating Jambhala is not, of course, an end in itself but a means to ensure suitable conditions in which to further one’s practice for enlightenment, to sponsor projects that accumulate merit and bring benefit to beings, and so forth.

   This series of authorization rituals is supplemented by an authorization to practice the sādhana of Draklha Gönpo (Rock God Protector), the guardian of the teachings related to the aforementioned six deities. This authorization, as the colophon points out, was kept extremely secret until it was written down by Drakpa Rinchen.

   These rituals are all quite similar in presentation. The ritual for Tārā is unusual in that the whole text, including the nonrecited sections in “small writing” (yig chung), has been composed in metered lines. For the sake of clarity, in this translation of what is essentially a series of instructions to a vajra master, no attempt has been made to reproduce the poetry of the original, attractive though it is in the Tibetan.

   Teachers giving such empowerments have necessarily completed the relevant sādhana practices and moreover received specific training in conferring tantric initiations, many of which follow more or less standard ritual procedures. It is not surprising, therefore, that the instructions provided in empowerment texts assume that the reader, in this case the vajra master, already has the required knowledge to understand these instructions despite their often being presented in somewhat cryptic form. It should be borne in mind that certain passages may not make precise sense to most readers and indeed were never intended to do so. Some of the visualizations and prayers that the teacher or disciples need to recite are only indicated by their first lines, either because they are well known and common to such rituals or because the teacher is required to refer to the relevant sādhana texts or to adapt the visualizations provided in the instruction texts. The translations of these empowerment texts have kept as close to the meaning as possible without any attempt to decipher cryptic or ambiguous elements.

  1. Its listing in the Catalog (p. 108) as an authorization ritual is puzzling, as is the title, The Glowing Jewel (Rin chen ’od ’phro), apparently attributed to the empowerment ritual.