Venerable Lama Tenpa Gyamtso
Practitioners who have faith and devotion in their Lama receive the blessing of the Samadhi empowerment from him and this takes place in the mind of a dedicated disciple. Disciples request from their Lama the empowerment into the Yidam that they wish to meditate. Before giving the empowerment of Noble Sukhasiddhi that is called an Initiation with substances," I wish to ask you to really practice calm abiding meditation diligently.
It's important for beginners to practice calm abiding meditation regularly and often for a short period of time and not for hours and hours in one session. Having gained experience and having slowly become more and more proficient, one can increase the period of time that one abides in the calm of one's mind. It's also very important to cultivate faith and devotion in one's Lama, to pray to him, and to personally receive the initiation from him so that one can engage in the practices of Mahamudra.
When practitioners experience abiding in the calm of their mind, then compassion naturally arises in them for those who are entangled in the delusion that characterizes samsara. Aware of the empty nature of all things, dedicated disciples are also aware of the empty nature of compassion, so they are engaged in practicing meditating both emptiness and their mind's clarity, which is compassion, together.
It's possible to practice Mahamudra any time, i.e., to turn one's attention inwards and to look at one's own mind in any situation. Sometimes one has problems and difficulties in daily life, sometimes one is sick, but one can experience great joy in those situations if one abides in the present moment of one's mind.
Great Indian Mahasiddhas set examples that it is possible to attain realization of Mahamudra while working for their living. For example, Mahasiddha Tilopa practiced Mahamudra while pounding sesame seeds. You can read their hagiographies or see the murals and paintings that depict the various kinds of lives that the Great Forefathers of the Kagyü Lineage led. Some Mahasiddhas are shown meditating, others are depicted working, and yet others were rulers of a kingdom. All Mahasiddhas remained irreversibly united with their meditation practice and never forfeited it. There are many Tibetan Mahasiddhas who have not become renowned. At Karma Kagyü Ling, H.H. the Dalai Lama mentioned that three-year-retreatants are very diligent, but when they have finished, they are finished. He continued and told us, "That's not how one's practice should be - it should be like the current of a continuously flowing river."
The Shangpa Kagyü Lineage was founded by Mahasiddha Khyungpo Näljor in the eleventh century. From among his many teachers, one of his main teachers was Dakini Sukhasiddhi; his other main teacher was Dakini Niguma, who is said to have been the sister of Mahapandita Naropa.
Sukhasiddi was born in Khache, the Tibetan term for Kashmir. She married and gave birth to six children. Because of her immense compassion, she was actually a Dakini. An epidemic broke out in her home-town. Having become impoverished as a result, Sukhasiddhi's husband and children had to go out in all directions to beg for food, leaving her a bowl of rice. In the meantime, a noble monk came begging for food at her door. She offered him the rice. Unable to get any food, her family returned home and they asked her for the rice that they had left with her. She told them that she had given it away. They became furious, didn't want to live with her anymore, and kicked her out of the house.
Sukhasiddhi asked people she met on the road where she should go. Someone advised that she should go to Oddiyana, situated farther west, a prosperous Land in which all men were Dakas and all women were Dakinis. He gave her grain with which to brew beer so that she could earn a living. A woman dropped by her little stand every day to buy the beer that she brewed and sold. Sukhasiddhi asked this woman, whose name was Avadhutima, why she did this. Avadhutima replied that a realized Siddha, whose name was Virupa, was living in the forest nearby and that she brought him the beer everyday. When Sukhasiddhi heard this, she said, "I do not want to take money from you, but want to give the Lama this beer. Please give it to him." Avadhutima did. One day Mahasiddha Virupa asked her, "Why don't you have to pay for the beer anymore?" She answered, "The old lady who sells this beer wants to give it to you." Virupa said, "I want to meet her." The next day Avadhutima, who was a Dakini, asked Sukhasiddhi to escort her to meet Virupa. Sukhasiddhi poured lots of beer into her flagon and packed a huge portion of pork into her pouch to bring to Virupa.
Mahasiddha Virupa presented teachings and meditation instructions to Sukhasiddhi, who was 61 years-old at that time. Having practiced, she attained realization that very same evening and, as a result, was able to continue living as though she were a young girl. She became the teacher of Khyungpo Näljor, who, as mentioned, founded the Kagyü Shangpa Lineage that is known for its transmission of the "The Six Dharmas of Sukhasiddhi," which is different than "The Six Doctrines of Niguma" and "The Six Yogas of Naropa," but the subjects are the same and practicing the one or the other leads to the same result. The Lineage-holder who realized and then passed on the specific meditation instructions of "The Six Dharmas of Sukhasiddhi" to his heart-son was Mokchokpa Rinchen Tsöndru. He also attained a rainbow body in that life - his present Tulku now lives in Marseille. The Mahasiddhas who followed in the succession of the Shangpa Transmission and became Lineage-holders were Kyergang-pa Chökyi Senge, Rigong-pa Sangye Nyentön, and Sangye Tönpa. The Lineage later included the Glorious Karmapas, Tangtong Gyalpo, Taranata, and Jamgon Kongtrul Lodrö Thaye the Great.
There was a realized Tibetan Mahasiddha whose name was Potongpa. Due to his high realization, he met Dakini Niguma, Dakini Sukhasiddhi, and many other Dakinis when he was only 10 years old. He became the Kagyü Shangpa Lineage-holder of the short transmission.
It's very important for disciples to receive long-life initiations, because they grant a long life and freedom from sicknesses, thus enabling us to accumulate more merit and wisdom in this life. Dakini Sukhasiddhi is also holder of the Chöd Transmission-Lineage that was founded by Machig Labdrön. The blessings that Dakinis impart are very beneficial, and it is possible to quickly and easily attain realization due to their blessings.
It has been a great pleasure for me to be at Chang Chub Choephel Ling in Heidelberg that is dedicated to the Seventeenth Gyalwa Karmapa, to spend time with Lama Dorothea Nett, and to speak to you. This is one of the oldest Dharma centers in Europe and has benefited many people. Having such a sacred center is essential. It was founded with the pure intention to help many living beings. Many Lamas have visited and presented teachings here. I am very happy about this center.
Everybody who is able to visit this center can be very happy, because where else can one get together with people and practice? So it would be good if those who care support and help maintain the center as best as they possibly can. I do want everybody who helps to know that your contributions to the center of the Gyalwa Karmapa are wonderful and very meritorious. You have Bodhicitta, the good heart to care and help others. By helping and practicing here, your precious human life will become like an invaluable jewel. But the jewel needs to be treasured and polished.
We are practitioners of Mahayana, and there are so very many living beings in the world. We always need to be aware of the prayer that we recite, "May peace and happiness fully arise for beings as limitless in number as space is vast in its extent." More and more tragedies occur in the world - violence and wars are increasing. Everybody is endowed with the Buddha nature, which is the wish-fulfilling gem. Please help as best as you can and polish your true and pure nature by practicing for the benefit of all living beings. Thank you very much.
Through this goodness may omniscience be attained
And thereby may every enemy (mental defilement) be overcome.
May beings be liberated from the ocean of samsara
That is troubled by waves of birth, old age, sickness, and death.
May the life of the Glorious Lama remain steadfast and firm.
May peace and happiness fully arise for beings as limitless in number as space is vast in its
Having accumulated merit and purified negativities, may I and all living beings without exception
Swiftly establish the levels and grounds of Buddhahood.
Presented at Karma Chang Chub Choephel Ling in Heidelberg in September 2008. Sincere gratitude to Bärbel Reinschmidt for having translated into German; translated into English by Gaby Hollmann, solely responsible for all mistakes. We wish to make readers of this article aware of "Timeless Rapture. Inspired Verse of the Shangpa Masters, compiled by Jamgon Kongtrul," translated and introduced by Ngawang Zangpo, Snow Lion Publications, Ithaca, New York, Boulder, Colorado, 2003, specifically pages 49 & 235-240. May virtue and goodliness increase!