Verfasst von: Enrico Kosmus | 8. Februar 2019

Khandro Thugthig – the heart-essence of the Dakini

The heart essence of Dakinis is a complete cycle of teachings. On the outer level it is the female Buddha or deity Yeshe Tsogyal, on the inner level it is Kurukulle, on the secret level around Simhamukha, the lion-headed Dakini and on the most secret level is Throma Nagmo.

In the terms of empowerments, the heart essence of the Dakinis begins with vase empowerment and the corresponding practice is the creation phase of meditation. The second empowerment, which is the secret empowerment, corresponds to the exercises of the channels and wind energies, the third empowerment, which is the empowerment of the supreme insight and wisdom, corresponds with the exercises of the path of the skillful means and the fourth empowerment, which the precious word empowerment is equivalent to the path of the Great Perfection – Dzogchen, both the severing (Trekcho) and the traversing (Thogal). The heart essence of Dakinis includes all of these deities, empowerments and exercises. And among all these, which we have in this text, are the foundational practices, or literally from the Tibetan, the preceding exercises, which are, so to speak, the first step on this path. „Everyone starts here.“ says Lama Tharchin Rinpoche about the approach and the meaning of Khandro Thugthig.

The syllabus of the heart essence of the Dakini

The cycle of Khandro Thugthig contains the three stages of Mahayoga, Anuyoga and Atiyoga. At the Mahayoga stage there are the basic exercises (Ngondro), instructions to Ngondro, invocation of the lineage, then the short sadhanas of Yeshe Tsogyal (outer), Kurukulle (inner), Simhamukha (secret) and the Throma Nagmo (innermost secret). Finally, there is the sadhana of the Vajra Varahi – the Dakini with the pig head – as a meditation deity in this cycle. Furthermore, this first level of the Mahayoga stage includes the practice of severing (Chod) as well as the short feast offering (ganachakra) and prayers.

The second stage of the Mahayoga includes the empowerment of Yeshe Tsogyal and the long-life empowerment. Additionally, there is a Torma initiation in the lion-headed Dakini – in the Simhamukha. In addition to a longer lineage prayer, there is the long sadhana on Yeshe Tsogyal as Yidam and the longevity practice. The cycle also includes instructions on Yidam practice and the manual for meditation on the two phases (kyerim and dzogrim). Finally, at this level is the practice of Phowa – the transmission of consciousness at the time of death, as well as a short protector practice and the Torma offering to Mamo Ekajati, the Mantra Protector of this cycle. Furthermore to several fire pujas and complementary prayers for the feast offering, the practice of self-initiation (dagjug) is also included here. In general, the practice is such that after completing Ngondro and the shorter Dakini Sadhana, you practice the Phowa, then complete the Yidam practice and complete it with a fire puja.

At the third level of the Mahayoga level are various liturgies of activity rituals, such as for an elimination of impurities, purification and cleansing of transgressions, averting of negative forces, rituals for blessing and consecration, a guiding of the dead, the redemption of the spirits, averting the death and the plea for permanent stay of the Lama – a longevity practice for the teacher, called Tenzhug. Furthermore, at a fourth level of the Mahayoga level, there are practices for making treasure vases and pacifing disorders, various activity practices (peaceful, increasing), preparing medicine pills (amrita), and growing plants and crops.

The stage of Anuyoga includes the six yogas of inner heat (gtum mo or chandali), the illusion body (gyud lu), dream yoga (mi lam), clear light (‚od gsal), transmission of consciousness (‚pho wa), and the intermediate state yoga (bar do). This is divided into the instructions of the yogic tradition and the manual for the meditation of the two phases. Furthermore, one can still find core instructions for the Mudra practice.

The stage of Atiyoga consists of the practices of severing (Trekcho) and leaping (Thogal). For this there is the handbook for the meditation of the two phases in the cycle.

How to approach and practice

How do you approach practice through this cycle? The transmission of the cycle Khandro Thugthig begins with the inauguration (wang), followed by the read text transmission (lung) and the practical instructions (tri). These three steps are important in themselves for a beneficial and successful practice. In exceptional cases, when no Lama is present for a transmission, one can practice, as in other lineages, the so-called „Dakini Transmission“ (see Karma Chagme’s Richö, Vol. 2) or simply rely on Khandro Thugthig with the basic practices. Start with the the first Mahayoga level and take the empowerment at the appropriate time.

After receiving the verbal instructions for the basic exercises, you practice each section 100,000 times, with 10,000 additional times for any omissions, defects, etc. accumulated. However, one does not need to count specifically for this, as this results from the design of the mala (buddhist rosary), which is usually made of 108 beads plus three beads to mark the section. However, accumulate the mantra for guru yoga ten times more then the others, that is, 1,000,000 (plus 10% for omissions). However, if you have already completely accumulated a Ngondro before, then you can accumulate at the same line (Nyingma) only 10% of the required number or at other line 25% – 30%. However, one is required to continue practicing the foundational exercises on a daily basis in small numbers. If you are not able to do the prostrations, then you can also replace yourself with circumbulations, but here don’t count the recitations but the circumbulations.

After completing the Ngondro, you just keep practicing it in small numbers and focus on the practice of yidam. In general, the practice of yidam is performed in a closed retreat, with special instructions from a qualified teacher. As complementary practices in this retreat, in addition to the Ngondro, one can also perform Chod, Phowa, and Torma offerings to the protectors, in addition to the feast offering (ganachakra), either daily or at least on the feast days (8th, 10th, 15th, 25th day of the lunar month). The retreat is either divided into at least four sessions. Further detailed instructions and, if necessary, additional practices should be discussed with the respective teacher. The number of accumulations is here between 400,000 to 1,500,000 mantra accumulations, where also detailed instructions of the teacher are necessary. However, you do not necessarily have to practice approach, completion and activity to a certain number of mantra, but then you should make a commitment on time, which is also an estimate time of at least two to three months. If this is not possible due to the circumstances of life, of course you can also practice the entire yidam practice without retreat and follow your daily duties. However, then a much larger mantra accumulation or practice time must be considered. The end of the Yidam practice marks a fire puja in which the Vajra master purifies the mistakes and faults which was done by the student during the practice.

Upon successful completion of the Yidam practice, one continues with the practice of Anuyoga and requests the teachings and detailed instructions for the gymnastics exercises (trulkhor) and the practice of the inner heat. After the tsalung exercises the other yogas are practiced under the guidance of the teacher until a proper realization has been achieved.

Following this, one requests the introduction to the nature of mind and practices Trekcho and Thogal.

Collection and accomplishment

Like the great masters of the past, the Mahasiddhas, Yogis, and Yoginis, who have demonstrated, by devotion and faith, by the right effort and diligence by these practices, liberation can be achieved in a single lifetime. If that is not possible, then at least at the time of death one realizes the state of the clear light – the nature of the mind. Even if this is not possible due to lacks in practice, then one recognizes, at least in the intermediate state, the emergent phenomena as projections of one’s own mind. If one has practiced, but yet accumulated only a little and therefore lacks the necessary ability, then at least a favorable rebirth can be obtained.

For some, practicing such a cycle may seem like an unimaginable endeavor, but remember the words of the Buddha: „It is not the first drop and it is not the last drop that fills a barrel.“ Some practitioner may not find the excellent circumstances to do a retreat or even encounter obstacles several times. However, all that has to be put into practice. It is precisely this that gives rise to the power of practice.

Of course, the numbers and times mentioned above are good guidelines and based on experience and tradition. However, one should not be deterred by this, but gladly request this transmission and practice after hearing and reflection these teachings. Although perhaps one don’t accomplish neither number nor time required, at least the karmic seed is laid. But if not even the karmic seed is laid due, how will you ever meet such precious practices again?

To complete this review in the words of Lama Tharchin Rinpoche: „In accordance with these instructions, in practice, strive to sustain each of the basic stages of accumulation and purification until it is truly accomplished. Especially if you have confidence that the Guru -Yoga is the only extraordinary profound essence of the Vajrayana Path, then you have captured the life force of all practices in the main practices. By practicing with great diligence, by the power of swift blessings, there is no doubt that you will easily attain the two kinds of attainments.

By this, may this exposition be an inspiration for practitioners especially of the Khandro Thugthig and in general for any practice they perform. May all of them in life recognize a true teacher, receive the blessing of the Dakini, and thus realize unparalleled liberation beyond words and imagination.

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