Part II Chapter 4 - The personal Guidance by the Guru
Retchung then said, ‘Master, after hearing the Doctrine, did you immediately go into solitude or did you remain with the lama?’ 

And Mila continued: 
The lama told me to meditate with perseverance. He provided me with ample supplies and directed me to meditate in a cave called Tiger Nak at the Southern Cliffs. Then I filled an altar lamp with butter, lit it, and placed it on my head. I meditated day and night in this way, without moving, until the butter in the lamp was exhausted. 
Eleven months passed. Then the lama and his wife came, bringing me food for a ritual feast. 

The lama exclaimed, ‘Well, my son, to meditate for eleven months without letting your cushion get cold is excellent. Open the entrance to your cell and come home for a rest so that you may talk with me, your old father, about your inner experience.’ 

I thought to myself, ‘It has been peaceful here, but I must go out since it is an order given by the lama.’ 

I began breaking down the entrance. I had hardly begun when I stopped for a moment, not daring to continue further. Just then the lama's wife returned and asked, ‘Are you coming, my son?’ I replied that I dared not break down the wall. The mother said, ‘There is nothing wrong. Such an auspicious event as this meeting with the lama can only have a good result. It is a law of the secret path. Refusing would anger him and spoil the auspicious event, so break open the entrance and come out.’ 

Knowing that the mother spoke the truth, I tore down the wall and came out. 

The lama said, ‘We two, father and son, will meditate together. Mistress, prepare a feast.’ 

As we were making the offering the lama said to me, ‘My son, what definite knowledge have you reaped from my special instructions? Let your mind relax and tell me what perceptive and intuitive experiences and understanding you have achieved.’ 

In an act of faith and ardent veneration toward the lama, I knelt down and joined the palms of my hands. My eyes blurred with tears, I paid homage to him for all that I had understood, and I sang this Song of the Sevenfold Devotions: 

          O Master, who, to the eyes of impure seekers, 
          Appears in diverse forms, 
          And, to the assembly of pure Bodhisattvas, 
          Manifests as Sambhogakaya Buddha, I salute you. 
          Sounding the sixty tones (1) of celestial Brahma, you spoke about 
          The sacred teaching in its eighty-four thousand (2) aspects 
          Which was understood by people each in their own language. 
          I prostrate myself before your speech 
          Which is inseparable from its innate emptiness. 
          In the clear and lucid space of the Dharmakaya 
          There is no defilement of discrimination, 
          Yet it encompasses all knowledge. 
          I salute the mind of the Immutable Dharmakaya. 
          Dwelling in the palace of pure emptiness, 
          Immutable Dakmema, with the body illusory, 
          You are the Mother who bears the Buddhas of the Three Ages. (3) 
          Dakmema, I prostrate myself at your feet. 
          Master, with unfeigned respect, I salute 
          Your spiritual sons whom you have united, 
          The disciples who carry out your commandments, 
          And the multitude of your followers. 
          I offer my body to you 
          And whatever else is worthy of sacrifice 
          In all the realms of the universe. 
          I repent of all my sins, one by one. 
          I delight in the virtuous deeds of others. 
          I implore you to turn the Wheel of the Law far and wide. 
          I pray that the supremely perfect lama may live 
          So long as there are sentient beings enmeshed within samsara. 
          May my spiritual merits benefit all sentient beings. 

‘Having begun in this manner with the Song of the Sevenfold Devotions, I, your humble follower, wish to express my feeble understanding, made possible by the perfect action and power of spiritual influence arisingfrom the boundless compassion of the lama (who is inseparable from the Buddha Vajradhara) together with the mother and son, and the deep gratitude I owe them. 

‘Please listen to me out of the unchanging state of your mind. I have understood that this material body, made of flesh and blood along with mental consciousness, is gathered together by the twelve chains of cause and effect - one of which is volition - originating from ignorance. This body is the blessed vessel for those fortunate beings who wish for freedom, but it also leads sinners into the lower realms. 

‘I understand that in this body lies the vital choice between enormous profit and loss, relating to eternal happiness or misery on the border between good and evil. Relying upon your power of compassion as the venerable guide of sentient beings, I am hopefully endeavoring to achieve liberation from the ocean of existential bondage, from which escape is very difficult. 

‘Having first sought refuge in the Three Jewels (4) and having scrupulously observed the precepts, I understand that the source of all happiness is the lama, and therefore the first principle is to fulfill all his instructions and maintain, unblemished, a spiritual bond with him. 

‘Furthermore, a fortunate human existence is a state difficult to acquire. By arousing the mind with great intensity  regarding  impermanence  and  death, the consequences of action, and the pain of samsara, one develops a longing for liberation and must pursue it through the observance of moral precepts. Such is the foundation upon which one must build. 

‘From this point, progressively ascending the Path, it is necessary to observe one's vows as carefully as one guards one's eyes. Even in failure, remedies must be employed. By not seeking one's own liberation on the path of the Lesser Vehicle (5) one develops Bodhichitta (6) (enlightened mind), which seeks to work toward the liberation of all sentient beings. It is my understanding that the development of an enlightened attitude leads one to rededicate, for the good of all, the fruit of one's action, born of love and compassion. 

‘In order to embrace the path of the Greater Vehicle (7), one abandons the path of the Lesser Vehicle. Based upon the foundation of perfect seeing, he enters the supreme path of Vajrayana. 

‘In order to achieve perfect seeing one needs a perfect master who knows how to transmit fully and unerringly the four aspects of initiation (8) and skillfully explain the hidden meaning with compassion. Initiation awakens one to ultimate reality and from then onward one meditates through all the various stages of the Path. Having endeavored to discover the non-selfhood of personality, which is common to all exoteric traditions, one examines the self by means of logic, the teaching, and analogies and, not finding the self, one understands selflessness. One must then bring the mind into a quiet state. When the mind is calmed by means of such reasoning, discriminating thought ceases and mind reaches a non-conceptual state. If one continues in this state for days, months, and years, so oblivious to the passing of time that one needs to be reminded of it by others, one has then achieved tranquillity of mind. 

‘This state of tranquillity is maintained by means of continued attention and awareness, not allowing it to become distracted or to sink into passivity. Intensified by the force of awareness, one experiences pure consciousness without differentiation - naked, vivid, and crisp.  These are the characteristics of tranquillity of mind. 

‘Pure consciousness may be regarded as a flash of perfect insight; individuals do not actually experience it until they reach the first stage of Enlightenment. At this stage, one meditates, visualizing the forms of the yidam. In so doing one may experience visions and forms, but these are devoid of substance and are merely products of meditation. 

‘To sum up: First, a vivid state of mental tranquillity and a sustaining energy together with a discerning intellect are indispensable requirements for attaining perfect insight. They are like the first steps of a staircase. 

‘Second, all meditation, with or without form, must begin from deeply aroused compassion and love. Whatever one does must emerge from a loving attitude for the benefit of others. 

‘Third, through perfect seeing, all discrimination is dissolved into a non-conceptual state. 

‘Finally, with an awareness of the void, one sincerely dedicates the results for the benefit of others.   I have understood this to be the best of all ways. 

‘Just as a starving man cannot be fed by the knowledge of food but needs to eat, so too one needs to experience in meditation the meaning of emptiness. I understand more particularly that in order to arrive at perfect insight it is necessary to practice meritorious deeds and self-purification, without respite, in the intervals between meditations. 

‘In short, I saw that this meditator's understanding of the emptiness of things, of their unity, of their indefinability, and of their non-differentiation corresponds to the four aspects of initiation according to Vajrayana. 

‘In order to make this knowledge manifest in myself, I subdued my body, deprived it of food, harnessed my mind, and achieved equanimity in the face of all circumstances including the danger of death. 

‘I have not come before the lama and the mistress, my father and mother of unsurpassable goodness, to repay them with services and riches. But I offer the best I shall be capable of attaining in my practice of meditation as long as I live, and I ask them to accept the ultimate understanding that I shall attain in the palace of Ogmin: 

          ‘Great lama, who is the Buddha Vajradhara, 
          Mother Dakmema, bearer of Buddhas, 
          And you, sons of the Victorious Ones, 
          Inviting you to listen to these few words 
          Born of understanding and true perception in my mind, 
          I beg you to bear with patience my faults, 
          My ignorance, my wrong understanding, and my errors. 
          Please correct them according to the Dharma. 
          Under the blessing of the burning rays 
          Descending from the sun of your compassion, 
          The lotus of my mind has opened. 
          With this perfume emanating from experience, 
          And possessing nothing equal to my gratitude, 
          To you I render perpetual homage. 
          May the fruits of my meditation be profitable to all beings, 
          In striving toward the limits of perfection. 
          I beg you, listen to the voice of your disciple who dares to beseech you.’ 

Thus I spoke. Then the lama said, ‘My son, I had great hope and my hope has been realized.’ And he was filled with joy. 

The mother said, ‘This son of mine has the strength of mind for great achievement.’ 

After many religious talks, the father and mother returned to their house. As for me, I walled up the entrance to my cell and meditated. 

About this time the lama visited the northern region of U. One evening, after performing a ritual feast at Marpa Golak's house, a dakini explained to Lama Marpa a certain symbolic message given by Naropa which Marpa had not understood. While the lama was contemplating a visit to Naropa, as urged by the dakinis, a young girl appeared to me one night in a dream. She was blue as the sky, and beautiful in her brocade dress and bone ornaments, her eyebrows and lashes sparkling with light. She said to me, ‘My son, you already have the Teaching of the Great Symbol (Mahamudra) (9) and instruction in the Six Esoteric Doctrines. (10) These lead to Supreme Enlightenment through continuous meditation. But you do not have the special teaching concerning the Transference of Consciousness to Dead Bodies, (11) which leads to Buddhahood in one moment of meditation. Ask for it,’ she said, and she disappeared. 

I thought to myself, ‘This young girl was dressed in the costume of the dakinis. Is it a warning from the gods? Is it a demon's trick? I do not know. Whatever it is, my Master, who is a Buddha of the past, present, and future, will surely know. He not only knows one thing but all things, from the means for becoming a Buddha down to the formula for putting together a broken jar. If this is a warning from the gods, I must ask for the Doctrine of the Transference of Consciousness to Dead Bodies.’ 

I broke down the wall of my cell and went before the lama, who cried out, ‘Why have you come out of strict seclusion? This could hinder your progress. Why have you done it?’ 

I described the young girl and what she had said to me in my dream, and I asked, ‘Is it a prophetic call or is it the sign of an obstacle? I do not know. If it is a call, I have come to ask for the Doctrine of the Transference of Consciousness.’ 

The lama reflected a moment and said, ‘It is certainly a warning from the dakinis. Before I started back from India, the Master Naropa spoke about the teaching of the Transference of Consciousness to Dead Bodies. Since I was about to leave, I may not have asked for it. So we must search for it through all the books from India.’ 

We, Master and disciple, searched diligently day and night for the text, Transference of Consciousness to Dead Bodies. We found many works on transference of consciousness, but we did not find the least mention of transference of consciousness to dead bodies. The lama said to me, ‘The sign I received in the north of Central Tibet urged me to make the same request. Since there may be other teachings that I do not know, I will go to Naropa and ask for them.’ 

I reminded him of his age, but did not succeed in dissuading him. He converted his disciples’ gifts into gold, filled a pot with it, and left for India. 

Naropa had gone away to engage in the exercise of great yogic powers. Marpa, wishing to be with him even at the risk of his life, consulted many omens, and it was revealed that he would find him. Praying fervently, he set out to look for him. He met Naropa in a virgin forest and invited him to come to the hermitage of Puhlla Hari. There he asked for instruction in the Transference of Consciousness to Dead Bodies. 

The Master Naropa replied, ‘Did you think of this or did you receive a sign?’ 

‘This did not enter my mind, nor did I have a sign. One of my disciples, Good News, received an exhortation from the dakinis and came to ask me for the teaching.’ 

‘What a marvel!’ cried Naropa. ‘In the dark land of Tibet, this disciple is like the sun rising over the snows.’ 

He raised his joined hands above his head in veneration and said: 

          ‘O disciple called Good News, 
          I prostrate myself before you, 
          Like the sun rising on the snow 
          In the shadows of the somber north.’ 

With these words he closed his eyes and bowed his head three times. And in India the mountains and the trees inclined three times toward Tibet. To this day, the treetops and the mountains of Puhlla Hari bend toward Tibet. Naropa gave Marpa in its entirety the secret teaching transmitted by the dakinis. Then he interpreted certain omens. For example, Marpa’s manner of prostration foretold that his own family line would be short, but that the spiritual lineage molded by the unfolding action of the teaching would be longer than a great river.

Marpa then returned to Tibet. 

Some time later the monks and disciples were commemorating the anniversary of the death of Marpa's son, Darma Doday, which had taken place as foretold by the omen. When all were assembled for that occasion, the disciples asked Marpa, ‘Lama Rimpoche, your son was like a Buddha of the Three Ages. Now our best hope has gone, and you are no longer young. How will the precious Kagyu Doctrine be transmitted? Tell us what our discipline and our task should be.’ 

The lama answered, ‘I, and all the descendants of the Master Naropa, have the power to prophesy through dreams. Naropa has delivered a good prophecy regarding the Kagyii Doctrine. Chief disciples, go now and await your dreams.’ 

Later, the disciples related their dreams. Even though all had happy dreams, they were unable to extract a premonitory sign. I had a dream of four pillars which I told in the presence of the lama: 

          ‘Following the instruction of the Lama Buddha Vajradhara, 
          Last night I dreamed a dream. 
          I tell its story to the lama. 
          Please lend ear to it. 
          I dreamed that in the vast North of the world 
          A majestic snow-clad mountain arose, 
          Its white peak touching the sky. 
          Around it turned the sun and moon, 
          Its light filled the whole of space, 
          And its base covered the entire Earth. 
          Rivers descended in the four cardinal directions, 
          Quenching the thirst of all sentient beings, 
          And all these waters rushed into the sea. 
          A myriad of flowers sparkled. 
          Such in general was the dream I had. 
          I tell this to the Lama Buddha of the Three Ages. 
          I dreamed that to the East beyond this high majestic mountain 
          A colossal pillar was standing. 
          At the top crouched a great lion. 
          His mane of turquoise flowing everywhere, 
          He spread his claws upon the snow, 
          His eyes gazed upward, 
          And he roamed proudly on the vast whiteness. 
          I tell this to the Lama Buddha of the Three Ages. 
          I dreamed that to the South a great pillar was raised. 
          At the top of this pillar a tigress roared, 
          Bristling hair covered her whole body. 
          She smiled three times, 
          She spread her claws over the forest, 
          Her eyes gazed upward, 
          And she floated proudly above the dense woods. 
          The cedars of the forest were thickly tangled. 
          I tell this to the Lama Buddha of the Three Ages. 
          I dreamed that to the West a great pillar was raised. 
          At the top of this pillar soared a giant garuda. (12) 
          The garuda's wings were spread, 
          Its horns rose toward the heavens, 
          Its eyes gazed upward. 
          I tell this to the Lama Buddha of the Three Ages. 
          I dreamed that to the North a great pillar was raised. 
          At the top of this pillar soared a vulture, 
          Its pointed wings were spread, 
          Its nest perched on a crag. 
          This vulture had a fledgling 
          And the sky was full of little birds. 
          The vulture gazed upward 
          And impelled itself through space. 
          I tell this to the Lama Buddha of the Three Ages. 
          I took it as a happy omen 
          And rejoiced at this good fortune. 
          I wish you to tell me its meaning.’ 

I spoke thus, and the lama joyfully answered, ‘This dream is a happy dream! Mistress, prepare a ritual feast.’ 
The mother brought the necessary things and, when she had done so, the disciples and spiritual sons gathered for the feast. 

The lama said to them, ‘What a marvelous dream Mila Vajra Banner-of-Victory has had!’ 

The chief disciples asked, ‘Since you know how to unravel the portent of dreams, please tell us what this one foretells.’ 

Then the lama, perfect Master and great Translator, sang this song, which unveiled the dream to the disciples: 

           ‘Lord Buddha of the Three Ages, 
          Master Naropa, I prostrate myself at your feet. 
          All disciples seated in this place, 
          Listen to the astonishing omens of the future 
          Made known by the dream 
          That I, your old Father, am going to tell you. 
          The northern land of the world is Tibet 
          Where the Doctrine of Buddha will spread. 
          This snow-clad mountain 
          Is the old Translator Marpa 
          And the Kagyu teaching. 
          The summit of snow which touched the sky 
          Is matchless insight without equal. 
          The sun and moon turning around its peak 
          Are meditation radiating wisdom and compassion. 
          The light filling space 
          Is compassion dispelling the darkness of ignorance. 
          Its base covering the whole earth 
          Is the pervasive action of the teaching as it unfolds. 
          The four rivers flowing in the four directions 
          Are the four aspects of initiation and instruction. 
          These rivers quenching the thirst of all beings 
          Are for the development and liberation of seekers. 
          All these waters flowing into the sea 
          Are the reunion of mother awareness and daughter awareness. 
          All the varied flowers which sparkled 
          Are the enjoyment of fruit without blemish. 
          The dream in general is not ill-fated. It is favorable, 
          O monks and disciples assembled in this place. 
          The great pillar rising to the East 
          On this high majestic mountain of snow 
          Is Tshurton Ouangnge of Dol. 
          The lion dominating the summit of this pillar 
          Means that Tshurton has the nature of a lion. 
          Its flowing mane of turquoise 
          Is the realization of secret instruction. 
          Its four claws spread out upon the snow 
          Are the possession of the Four Infinite Attributes. (13) 
          Its gaze turned toward the sky 
          Is the parting from the world of birth and death. 
          Its proud roaming on the whiteness of the snow 
          Is the arrival in the realm of liberation. 
          The dream of the East is not ill-fated. It is favorable, 
          O monks and disciples assembled in this place. 
          The great pillar rising to the South 
          Is Ngokton Chodor of Shung. 
          The tigress roaring on the pillar's top 
          Means that Ngokton has the nature of a tiger. 
          Its hair bristling on its whole body 
          Is the realization of secret instruction. 
          The three times it smiled 
          Is knowledge of the Trikaya. 
          Its four claws spread over the forest 
          Are the accomplishment of the four unfolding actions. 
          Its gaze turned upward 
          Is a parting from the world of birth and death. 
          Its proud walk above the dense forest 
          Is the arrival in the realm of liberation. 
          The cedars of the forest thickly tangled 
          Signify a line of heirs and grandsons. 
          The dream of the South is not ill-fated. It is favorable, 
          O monks and disciples assembled in this place. 
          The great pillar rising where the sun sets 
          Is Great Meton of Tsangrong. 
          The giant garuda which soared above the pillar 
          Means that Meton has the nature of a garuda. 
          Its wings widespread 
          Are the realization of the secret instruction. 
          Its horns raised toward the sky 
          Signify perfection in meditation and insight. 
          Its gaze turned toward the heights 
          Is a parting from the world of birth and death. 
          Its flight across the immensity of space 
          Is the arrival in the realm of liberation. 
          The dream of the West is not ill-fated. It is favorable, 
          O monks and disciples assembled in this place. 
          The great pillar rising to the North 
          Is Milarepa of Gungthang. 
          The vulture which hovered over the pillar 
          Means that Mila is like unto the vulture. 
          Its pointed wings outspread. 
          Are the realization of the secret instruction. 
          Its eyrie in the cliff 
          Means that his life will be harder than the rock. 
          The fledgling born of this vulture 
          Means that he will be without rival. 
          The small birds filling space 
          Signify the propagation of the Kagyu Doctrine. 
          Its gaze turned toward the heights 
          Is a parting from the world of birth and death. 
          Its flight toward the immensity of space 
          Is the arrival in the realm of liberation. 
          The dream of the North is not ill-fated. It is favorable, 
          O monks and disciples assembled in this place. 
          The work of the old one is finished. 
          For you, disciples, your hour has come. 
          If the word of this old man is prophetic, 
          The perfect teaching, transmitted, 
          Will spread far and wide in the future.’ 

So he spoke. Then all those present were filled with joy. The lama revealed to his chief disciples the treasure of the Doctrine and the special instruction. He instructed us in them by day, and at night we joyfully meditated on them. 

One evening, when he was giving the Initiation of Anatmata, (14) the lama began to ponder on what particular instruction he should give to each of his disciples destined to fulfill the task of spreading the teaching. He decided to consult the omens of the dawn. 

The next day, in the light of dawn, he saw his chief disciples. Ngokton Chodor of Shung was commenting on the text of the Yidam Hevajra. Tshurton Ouangnge of Dol was meditating on the Transference of Consciousness. Great Meton of Tsangrong was meditating on Purity of Awareness. (15) As for me, I was meditating on the fire of Tummo. Thus the lama knew what the special task was for each of us. 

He then entrusted Ngokpa with the transmission of the six modes and the four methods (16) of explaining the Secret Teaching which set the teaching out like a row of fine pearls, and gave him the six jewels of Naropa, his rosary of rubies, a sacrificial spoon and strainer, and the Sanskrit commentary on the Hevajra Tantra. Then he said to him, ‘Work for the good of all beings by giving discourses on the teaching.’ 

Tshurton Ouangnge of Dol was entrusted with mastery of the Transference of Consciousness, likened to a bird flying through an open skylight; he gave him a lock of Naropa's hair, the fingernails of Naropa, pills (17) of nectar, and a crown called the Five Classes of Buddha. (18) Then he said, ‘Work toward mastery of the Transference of Consciousness.’ 

Great Meton of Tsangrong was entrusted with the mastery of the Purity of Awareness, which is like a fire lighted in the darkness; he gave him the bell and vajra of Naropa, the damaru of Naropa and his kapala (19) lined with mother of pearl. And he said to him, ‘Free yourself from the intermediate state of Bardo.’ 

To me he entrusted the secret oral instruction of the Fire of Tummo, comparable to a well-set wood fire, and gave me the hat of Maitrepa and the garments of Naropa. Then he said. ‘Go and wander in the barren mountains and in the snows, and practice perfect seeing and meditation.’ 

Finally, to all the monks assembled for a ritual feast, he said, ‘Just as I made the gift of my instructions to you, as foretold by the omens, I have entrusted to each of my foremost disciples his respective task as well as the great benefit of my teaching. Because my son, Danna Doday Bum, is no longer here, I have entrusted to you as a paternal heritage the Kagyu Teaching and the transmission of my illuminating energy. Therefore, be full of zeal, and the benefit of all beings will increase.’ Then the chief disciples departed, each to his own region. 

The lama said to me, ‘As for you, stay near me for a few years. I will give you special initiation and instruction. It may be necessary for you to consolidate your inner experience in the presence of your lama. Therefore, remain in complete seclusion.’ 

As prophesied by Naropa, I withdrew to the cave called the Dzangpuhk Drok. The father and mother gave me provisions, including a share of every ritual feast they celebrated. And this they did with great tenderness. 

Thus Milarepa spoke. So ends the fourth chapter, in which Milarepa through meditation, with the lama brings to germination the seed of awakening. 


1. Sixty tones of celestial Brahma refers metaphorically to the sixty supra-mundane qualities. Aspects, and tonal ranges of the Buddha’s voice. Among them is the unique power of the Buddha’s voice or speech is believed to be capable of communicating with each individual in the way he understands best. 

2. Eighty-four thousand aspects. Buddhist scriptures refers to eighty-four thousand aspects of mind’s delusion and defilements and, therefore, the parallel existence of eighty-four thousand remedies of Dharma. The numeral designation seems to be an emphatic indication of the magnitude and diversity of the human mind. The eighty-four thousand aspects are divided into four categories, with twenty-one thousand in each category. All defiliments of mind are therefore summed up in four groupings: (1) delusion, (2) desire, (3) hatred, and (4) the mixture of these three emotions. Similarly, there are four kinds of Dharma remedies represented by the teachings. The first deals with the manner of perceiving reality as shown in Abidharma and Prajna-paramita; the second, with the self-discipline in Vinaya; the third, with quieting the mind’s duality and awakening higher consciousness in Sutra; and the fourth deals with rapidly gaining self-transformation in Tantra. 

3. Buddhas of the Three Ages. There are two aspects to this concept. It refers to the Buddhas of the past in this cosmic aeon, such as Khorwajik, Serthub, and O-sung, and Sakyamuni Buddha of the present five millennia and the remainder of the Thousand Buddhas from Jampa to the last Buddha, Mopa. The concept also refers generally to all those who achieved Buddha-hood in the past and who may achieve it in the present or in the future. 

4. The Three Jewels. Refers the Triple Refuge – Buddha, Dharma, Sangha. (See Note 8, First Part, Chapter 3.) 

5. The Lesser Vehicle: Hinayana Buddhism. 

6. Bodhichitta. This refers to Mahayana’s central principle – Enlightened Mind, a complete and unconditional concern for the liberation of sentient beings from the bondage of samsara. Every follower of the Dharma is required to develop not only great compassion for all sentient beings, but also to achieve a complete awakening to the ultimate level of Bodhichitta. Only then can one achieve enlightenment through the selfless action of compassion and supreme wisdom. 

7. The Greater Vehicle: Mahayana Buddhism. 

8. The four aspects of initiation. This refers to initiation according to the highest order of Vajrayana. The four stages of initiation are as follows: 

  1. The initiation of the vase is the empowerment through manifestation of the yidam, which prepares the initiate for the inward transformation of perceptive forms. 
  2. The initiation of concealed union is the empowerment through the speech of the yidam, which prepares the initiate for the transformation of the energies of body, speech, and sound. 
  3. The initiation of supreme wisdom is the empowerment through the enlightened mind of the yidam, which prepares the initiate for the transformation of consciousness. 
  4. The initiation of indefinable identification is the empowerment trough the ultimate mature of the yidam, which prepares the initiate for Complete Enlightenment. For clarification of the term hidden meaning, see Note 16, below. 

9. Great Symbol (Mahamudra). This refers to an awakened state (described as ‘primal awareness’) which embraces the unfolding unity of highest bliss and its inborn emptiness, signifying enlightened experience and achievement. The meditation of Mahamudra is a means to realize this directly. The great seal is so designated because every initiate who has glimpsed such a state of awareness during the initiation continues to ‘affix the great seal’ of his insight upon all his perceptions of reality. The Kagyupa Order speaks of two traditions of Mahamudra, one according to the Sutras and the other according to Tantra. 
The various school of Tibetan Buddhism offer somewhat differing viewpoints on the doctrine and meditative approach associated with the Mahamudra. 

10. The Six Esoteric Doctrines. This refers to some vital aspects of Buddhist tantric yoga. Sometimes known as the six doctrines of Naropa, they are: 

1) The yoga dealing with the supreme Fire of Tummo. 
2) The yoga of the subtle body. 
3) The yoga of dreams. 
4) The yoga of luminous awareness. 
5) The yoga of the transference of the stream of consciousness. 
6) The yoga of the intermediate state of Bardo. 

11. Transference of Consciousness to Dead Bodies. This practice of transferring the consciousness-stream into a recently dead man or animal is to be distinguished from transference into a chosen realm at the time of death. Marpa brought the former teaching to Tibet and handed it down to Milarepa, and to his own son, Darma Doday. The latter transferred his stream of consciousness into the body of a bird at the moment of his death in a fatal accident. Following Marpa’s instructions, the bird flew to India, where he entered the dead body of a young Brahmin, who subsequently became a teacher known as the Pigeon of the Mysterious Tree. 
12. Garuda. According to ancient mythology, Garuda was a celestial being that had its adobe in the wish-fulfilling tree in the thirty-third heaven. It is considered to be a counterforce against the serpent-gods of the undersea world. In Buddhist tantric tradition there are Garuda-yidams corresponding to the five kinds of Buddha-families. 
13. The Four Infinite Attributes. Love, compassion, goodwill, and equanimity. 

14. Initiation of Anatmata. This refers to Anatama, the consort dakini of Chakrasamvara. 

15. Purity of Awareness. One of the six esoteric doctrines, synonymous with the Luminous Clarity of Awareness. See Note 10, above. 

16. Six modes and the four methods. This refers to the four methods of explanation and the six modes of elucidating the Buddhist tantric doctrine. The four are: (1) the literal meaning, including that of symbolism and mantra; (2) the general meaning; (3) the hidden meaning (allusions to certain omitted crucial explanations); and (4) the ultimate meaning. The six modes are: (1) and (2) teachings given with or without concealed intention or insight; (3) and (4) those that have apparent or ultimate meanings; (5) and (6) those that have literal etymological meanings and those that have a meaning different from the literal. 

17. Pills of nectar. The origin of these pills were the enlightened masters of ancient India and Tibet who had the personal power of esoteric alchemy so that they were able to transform five kinds of flesh and five liquids into ambrosia for the benefit of initiates. At the present time, pills are made out of various herbs and extracts from the remaining ancient pills. They are then consecrated through meditation by the lamas. A human skull, real or artificial, is used as a container. The skull is the symbol of highest awareness encompassing bliss and its emptiness. A yogin practices the complete transformation of the senses into the five aspects of illuminating awareness, this being the complete integration of wisdom’s insight and the sensation of highest bliss. 

18. The Five Classes of Buddha. This refers to Sambhogakaya’s five manifestations: Vajrasattva, Ratnasambhava, Amitaba, Amoghasiddhi, and Vairochana. Each of these embodies specific aspects of enlightened awareness: mirror-like awareness, awareness of equanimity, discriminating awareness, spontaneously fulfilling action, and all-encompassing emptiness. 

19. Damaru and kapala. The damaru is a double drum made from two skull crowns back to back, the kapala is a libation skull, sometimes natural, sometimes fabricated in precious material. 


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