I hope all of you are doing well. Today is the eighth day of the Aspirations to End Adversity. The texts we will recite together today include White Parasol, the Simhamukha Repulsion, the Dharani of Marichi, and the Prayer That Saved Sakya from Disease.
The White Parasol practice we will recite today is one of Karma Chakme’s thirteen “āḥ Dharmas”—thirteen different sadhanas that all begin with the syllable āḥ. They are also called the “Thirteen Dharmas for Going to Sukhavati.” Included among them is this White Parasol practice, which is entitled The Stallion Garuda King of Birds. Usually when we recite White Parasol in the Karma Kagyu, this is the only one we recite. There is also a custom of appending the repulsion by the Lhodrak mahasiddha Lekyi Dorje, but that is not in the original and is therefore omitted here. This White Parasol practice by Karma Chakme is not only included in Kagyu and Nyingma books; it is also found in texts printed in Mongolia, so I think it must have spread to some degree in the Geluk lineage as well.
In any case, White Parasol is part of the Kriya tantra and within that, the Tathagata family. In the Tibetan Kangyur, there are four different translations of the dharani of White Parasol, including the Great Repulsion, Divine Lands, the Unassailable, and Supreme Accomplishment. There are also a few Sanskrit commentaries and sadhanas for those.
There are Chinese translations of the White Parasol dharani from the Tang and Sung dynasties. But primarily, it was translated into Chinese from Tibetan twice during the Yuan or Mongol dynasty. Moreover, the Mongol emperor Kublai Khan was devoted to Tibetan Buddhism. He followed Drogön Chögyal Pakpa, Karma Pakshi, and many other Tibetan masters as his main gurus. On the instruction of Drogön Chögyal Pakpa and in order to overcome maras and bring happiness to the kingdom, there started the custom of hanging a silk image of White Parasol and the mantra written in gold letters above the emperor’s golden throne. From that time on, there was a great tradition of a White Parasol ceremony every year on the fifteenth day of the second month in the two capitals of Daidu and Shangdu. During the ceremony, a hundred thousand people would stand in welcome as the White Parasol was paraded outside and inside the palace. I think that this is, among the four ritual activities of White Parasol, probably that of raising the banner.
There is also in Chinese Buddhism an extremely well known dharani mantra called the Sutra of Great Ushnisha’s Heroic Stride. Its mantra is almost exactly the same as the dharani mantra of White Parasol, so this dharani mantra is also extremely important from the perspective of Chinese Buddhism. In brief, it is said that White Parasol is the greatest for repulsing spirits, disease, sorcery, and spells.
Regarding Simhamukha, I have not seen anything specifically about her in the Kangyur, but the Nyingma tradition has a large cycle of teachings on her. In the Sarma, there are quite a few Simhamukha practices. The most common include the one by Bari Lotsawa passed down among the Sakyas, the one passed down from Panchen Nakkyi Rinchen, and the terma hidden by Ngulchu Vairo and revealed by the glorious Dusum Khyenpa. The one we will recite today is the repulsion by Mikyö Dorje that is included in Karma Kagyu prayer books. It is the one we always recite. It is said that Simhamukha is supreme for repulsing sorcery, curses, inauspiciousness, bad omens, and obstacles. In the Geluk tradition, at the beginning of teachings on the stages of the path, they recite the Heart Sutra and Simhamukha to quell any obstacles to teaching and listening to the dharma. In brief, White Parasol, the Heart Sutra, and Simhamukha are well known in all dharma lineages.
Third is Marichi. There are many teachings on Marichi in both the Kangyur and the Tengyur, including dharanis, sadhanas, rituals, and so forth. There are probably sixteen sadhanas of Marichi in the Ocean of Sadhanas. There are also sadhanas in the Abhayakara’s three Mala cycles. As for the dharani of Marichi that we will recite today, in the Kangyur, there is the Dharani Called Noble Marichi translated by Bari Lotsawa, but it seemed to me to be somewhat incomplete. So I took this opportunity to translate from Chinese into Tibetan one of the three dharanis of Marichi originally translated into Chinese by the spiritual master Amoghavajra. He was an eighth-century master from Sri Lanka, a great translator, and an upholder of the three pitakas who spread the Secret Mantra teachings in China.
Generally, it is said of Marichi in the Root Tantra of Manjushri that in a degenerate age, siddhi comes fastest through Manjushri among noble beings and Marichi among goddesses. There have been many people with faith and devotion for her not only in Tibet but in China as well. This is not only Buddhists; later the Senshing—an old name for Taoists—also worshipped her as a deity. Historically in Japan, powerful people and high ministers considered her a protector because she is such a powerful goddess. Also, as this goddess has the ability to make herself invisible, the samurai and soldiers had great belief in her, too. Thus she is considered extremely important in Japanese Buddhism.
The goddess Marichi is said to be very beneficial for dispelling the dangers of enemies and bandits, dangers from powerful people such as kings, and enemies when traveling on perilous and frightening roads. In particular, it seemed to me that there were some signs and indications that reciting the Marichi dharani would be beneficial specifically during this epidemic. Therefore I have included it in our prayer book on this occasion.
The Prayer That Saved Sakya from Disease was written by the famous Tibetan siddha Tangtong Gyalpo. The reason he wrote this is that at one time, there was a bad epidemic, and whatever medical treatments and rituals were tried, nothing was of benefit. When the area had been nearly emptied of people, they requested the great siddha to help. He told them to recite manis, the refuge prayer “My mothers, all beings throughout space…,” and this prayer. The histories relate that everyone did as he said and the epidemic subsided. From that time on, whenever an epidemic struck Tibet, people would traditionally recite this prayer. To help inspire you all to recite it, I have made a separate recording of this aspiration with a melody. I hope that this will make it simpler for you to play the recording and listen and easier to recite.
Next we will recite the prayers I have just mentioned. Please focus your mind and join me in reciting them.
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Now our eight-day Aspirations to End Adversity are coming to an end. Next we will close with the dedication of merit and aspirations.
The Seven Points of Mind Training says, “Two activities, one at the beginning and one at the end.” The activity for the beginning is to correct your motivation. No matter what we do, the way we do the task and the steps we follow are important for determining whether its nature or essence becomes virtue or nonvirtue. But primarily it depends upon the motivation that we adopt when we do it. That being the case, before we do any task, it is important to carefully examine our motivations, reasons, and aims for doing it. This is because sometimes a fake motivation not only fools others; it can fool us as well.
The activity for the end is to embrace the task with dedications and aspirations. This means that even when we do a good deed or a vast deed, we should not use its results to make a big deal of it solely for our own sake or use them solely for our own profit. Instead, we should enjoy its fruits together with other people. Mahayana practitioners do not use all their virtue and good deeds only for their own sake but enjoy them together with others, and this is called dedication. There are greater, medium, and lesser dedications. The best is to dedicate virtue to achieving buddhahood, the ultimate happiness. In order to be able to make such a great dedication, we first have to train ourselves gradually in our daily lives. For example, you can give others your favorite food, introduce them to your favorite movies, or connect them with your favorite song. You begin practicing by sharing your absolute favorite thing joyfully and happily with others. Since our current day is the information age, we can enjoy many different things with others on social media and share things with them. This is a good opportunity. I think of this as a tool for practicing dedications and aspirations.
In brief, please dedicate all the virtue of these Aspirations to End Adversity to enlightenment. Also, my sister has started a Hundred Million Tara Society, and many Tibetans at home and abroad, as well as faithful people from the East and West, have recited over 150 million Tara praises. They have asked me to dedicate that virtue at the same time, too. Likewise, we should imbue all the merit that we and all others have done in the past, are currently doing, and will do in the future with our dedications and aspirations. Doing so brings the benefit that the virtue will never be depleted and will instead grow greater and greater.
Now I will recite the Great Aspiration by the Seventh Karmapa Chödrak Gyatso. You do not need to recite along with me. Instead, please pay attention and offer your support. That is much better than reciting the words.
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Now we have completed the Aspirations to End Adversity. I would like to take this opportunity to thank some of the people involved.
First, the Kagyu monasteries and nunneries in India, Nepal, and Bhutan have all been participating. They have made magnificent offerings as carefully as they could, and all the monks and nuns have chanted along together, taken great interest, and made excellent preparations. I would like to thank them all from the bottom of my heart.
Some people have thought that these Aspirations to End Adversity are the Kagyu Monlam. But we have already postponed the 38th annual Kagyu Monlam in Bodhgaya for one year, so this is not the Kagyu Monlam. But the dates when we normally hold the Monlam were then free, so we have used this time to hold these Aspirations to End Adversity. Still, the Kagyu Monlam organization has been very generous and offered support to all the monasteries, and I rejoice in this.
Likewise, tens of thousands of dharma friends from all corners of the earth have participated in this Monlam to pray for happiness in the world and for the teachings to flourish, and I would like to say thank you to all of you. I hope and have the conviction that because of us all joining together to recite these prayers in unison, the coronavirus epidemic may be quickly quelled and we may all enjoy a happy and joyous new life.
During these Aspirations to End Adversity, the ones who have worked hardest have been the translators, the video editors, the people who put together the prayer books, the composers of the music, and the webcast technicians. They have worked day and night without regard for difficulty, and this has allowed us to conclude this program successfully. So I would like to offer them all a heartfelt thank-you.
For my own part, I feel that this opportunity to collaborate with all of you in accomplishing a bit of virtue with our body and speech during these aspirations has been a great good fortune.
Lastly, I would like to make an announcement. Just as I mentioned during the recent teachings on the Four Dharmas of Gampopa, I received a letter from Palpung Yeshe Rabgye nunnery, the organizers of this year’s Arya Kshema Winter Dharma Gathering, asking me to please give teachings. I discussed it with many people and thought about it myself. In the end, I thought I would teach the autobiographical verses of the 8th Karmapa Mikyö Dorje called Good Deeds.
But if I were to comment at any length, it would take a minimum of twenty days. Therefore, I will have to start teaching on the fourth day of the Tibetan New Year and continue for the entire first Tibetan month. You might get scared when I say I’ll teach for a whole month. But you don’t need to panic. We will have a few days off. Otherwise, it would be hard for the teacher and the listeners.
Generally, I don’t have the confidence or courage that I can comment on the autobiographical verses at much length. But because of the epidemic, this is a time when we all have to stay at home, so we have a lot of time on our hands. For me, it is different than usual. I’m not busy and have some time. Also, getting texts and the things I need is a little different for me than for other people, so I thought that if I didn’t teach it now, I would regret it later. So I am giving myself a shove and boldly making an announcement. Actually, I do still have some trepidation; I can feel my heart beating. The detailed schedule will be announced later, so please check the Internet. Thank you.
A blaze of good fortune, the ornament of the world!
In the realm and the kingdom of the land of Tibet,
To the north of the Land of Snows,
May the teachings of the Practice Lineage flourish!
May the world have the good fortune of happiness!
We ask that the world be made happy!