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Advice to the Three Fortunate Women - Unchecked

by Sangharakshita

DISCLAIMER - This transcript has not been checked, and may contain mistakes and mishearings.

A3 1 --

THOSE PRESENT: Ven. Sangharakshita; Dharmacharis Sona, Dhammamati, Viramati,
Sthiramati, Vajramati, Roger Jones, Campbell McEwan, Brain Duff, Tony Wharton, John
Wakeman, John Roche.
Sangharakshita; Alright then let's start on the text. This as you can see from your copy is
Canto one hundred and three of "The Life and Liberation of Padmasambhava". This is a
book which has come out only recently published by "Dharma" publishing in the United
States under the direction of Tarthung Tulku. The original Tibetan work is one of a number
of biographies of Padmasambhava. I expect everybody has heard of Padmasambhava Tibet's
great guru Padmasambhava who was mainly responsible for planting the Dharma or
establishing the Dharma in Tibet.
So this is one of the biographies. It was translated some years ago into French. This
version is translated from the French into English but it's been checked and revised in the
light of the Tibetan text by Tarthang Tulku. It's a rather extraordinary story - the life of
Padmasambhava - we're not going into that on this occasion. What we're concerned with is
just this one chapter in which Padmasambhava having established the Dharma in Tibet is
about to take his departure and he is asked by a Tibetan lady, in fact a queen, to give her a
teaching. So the chapter consists of his final teaching to her which gives quite a good
summary of his presentation so to speak of the Dharma, covering quite a lot of topics. So
we're just going to go through this chapter. There's only hardly four pages but I expect we'll
need all our time to get through them because their message is, so to speak very condensed.
So if you'd like to start reading just a sentence at a time. The whole canto is the
advice given to the three fortunate women before the departure, mainly to the queen whom I
mentioned and then there are shorter advices to two other women.
Roger Jones; 'Then Ngang Chung, the glorious noble queen, invited the Guru, that second
Buddha, into the temple of turquoise dedicated to her tutelary deities.'
Well there are several questions that arise here obviously. Can anyone see what they
Brian Duff; What are tutelary deities?
Tutelary deities translates the Tibetan 'yiddam' which is generally considered to be
equivalent to although it isn't a translation of, the Sanskrit Ishtadevata which means so to
speak, chosen deity. You know that ordinarily there are the three refuges Buddha, Dharma
and Sangha - these are sometimes called in the Vajrayana tradition the exoteric refuges. You
also have the esoteric refuges which are the Guru, Yiddam, or tutelary deity and Dakini. So
in what does one arrive at the esoteric refuges so to speak. I spoke about these things at one
of the conventions. I think it was the last oonvention. The line of thought so to speak is like
this. You haven't seen the Buddha. You aren't in direct contact with the Buddha. You've
only heard about the Buddha or you've only read about the Buddha. You've no direct contact,
no personal experience but you do have personal contact with and personal experience of
your own teacher. So therefore it is said
A3 2that the teacher, the guru is the esoteric form of the Buddha refuge. In other words the guru is
the Buddha so far as you are concerned in existential form. In other words for all practical
purposes. The point at which you make contact with something or someone who is so to
speak superior to you is the guru. So in the same way with the dharma. The dharma is very
extensive. There are thousands of teachings, thousands of scriptures. You might not have
read them all. So at what point do you actually make contact with the dharma. You make
contact with the dharma at the point of your own meditative practice and in the Vajrayana
context that means the particular Buddha or Bodhisattva you meditate upon. So that Buddha
or Bodhisattva you meditate upon - your chosen Buddha or chosen Bodhisattva your chosen
deity or tutelary deity, is the esoteric aspect of the dharma. The word esoteric is probably
misleading. It's more like existential. What it means for you in terms of practice. In the same
way with the Sangha. The sangha in principle is all more highly developed followers of the
Buddha throughout the four directions of space and the three periods of time. Obviously you
have no contact with them. But for practical purposes existentially speaking what is the
sangha for you? It's those with whom you actually practise the dharma, with whom you're in
personal contact - direct personal contact. This is what is meant by the dakini. Which doesn't
mean a sort of spiritual girlfriend or pseudo-spiritual girlfriend as I've said, it's someone with
whom you're in very close existential contact and with whom you practise the dharma and
who inspires you. It isn't necessarily just one person. It can be a small number of people with
whom you have that sort of contact. SO in addition therefore to the exoteric refuges you have
these esoteric refuges and the tutelary deities are those on whom you particularly meditate -
who for you embody the dharma in meditative and experiential terms and of course you can
have images of your tutelary deity or deities, you can have a special separate shrine or even a
whole temple. It seems that this is what this particular queen had because she invited the
guru, that second Buddha, into the temple of turquoise dedicated to her tutelary deities.
So this suggests that she was already practising the dharma
- how seriously she was meditating we don't know but being a queen, apparently she had built
this rather lavish temple or perhaps chapel and had installed images of her favourite divinities
and the chapel was decorated with turquoise stones which the Tibetans are very fond of and
which you have an abundance of in Tibet. So it seems at least she had some strong
devotional feelings and therefore she asked the guru for a teaching. So'then Ngang Chung,
the glorious noble queen, invited the guru, that second Buddha, into the temple of turquoise
dedicated to her tutelary deities.' She actually invited him into the temple. So what does that
suggest as it were? It suggests it's a serious occasion. She doesn't just ask him over lunch so
to speak. She invites him into her temple or into her chapel. It suggests that it is a rather
special occasion for her. She wants to ask Padmasambhava for instruction in the right sort of
place with the right sort of atmosphere. This also is important. The beautifully decorated
temple with its images of tutelary deities suggests a sort of heightened more ideal sort of
atmosphere and environment within which it is easier to talk about, to communicate about,
the dharma.
Sona-; Why is Padmasambhava referred to as the second Buddha?
S: Ah that's quite a point, yes. Why do you think he's referred to as the second Buddha? Can
there be a second Buddha?
A3 3Sona; Well it depends really what you mean by Buddha in the first place. Presumably, well
often we take the word Buddha to mean the person who rediscovers the dharma and then
teaches it. Maybe in this sense because he took it to Tibet and they condider him as that.
S: That might well be a popular sort of interpretation but it isn't the real reason why he's
called the second Buddha.
All Tibetans don't agree with this. It's the Nyingmapas who call him the second
Buddha. Some Buddhists in fact would be quite scandalised to hear of a second Buddha
before the sasana as established by Cautama the Buddha had died out. There couldn't be one.
So what does one mean by calling Padmasambhava the second Buddha. Well the Buddha
reveals.... first of all I must say the Nyingmapa teaching isn't completely clear, there are many
different traditions in different sources but, yes first of all the Buddha is someone who
announces something, rediscovers them, which had been lost for some time. So in the case of
Sakyamuni the Buddha it's the teaching in general or the dharma in general. So for
Padmasambhava to be a second Buddha in that sort of sense he would have to announce, he
would have to redisover, he would have to promulgate something which had been lost for
some time. Something which had not in fact been promulgated by Sakyamuni the Buddha.
Do you see what I mean? So what could that be?
Sona; The Tantric tradition.
S: Yes and no. Sometimes it is said that wheras the Buddha taught the sutras
Padmasambhava taught the Tantras, but this is much too broad. This is not in fact quite
correct. The general tradition, even Tibetan tradition is that Sakyamuni, Gautama the Buddha
taught the Hinayana and the Mahayana and the Mantrayana, by that meaning the three
exoteric tantric systems, that is to say the kriya yoga, the upayacharya yoga and the yoga yoga.
These are called the outer tantra. But he did not teach or not reveal the inner tantra. This was
left for Padmasambhava to do and of course also accordiri~ to Tibetan and especially
Nyingmapa sources Padmasambhava came almost immediately after the Buddha which is of
course not correct according to modern historical knowledge. ...

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