Tibetan, or more specifically, Vajrayana Buddhism, offers the great synthesis of all that has transpired in this series: Ritual prayer to lighten the burden of the Bardo; Dhyana-techniques to bring the effects of karma to their completion; Divine Union with the karma-family and Amoghasiddhi; the Yoga of the Thatness; Dogzchen rigpa and Samantabhadra’s matrix.
The Tibetan people developed a unique road-map of the effects of Dependent Origination, The Wheel of Existence:
In this depiction, the twelve links are shown as part of the wheel or circle of existence, which is held by the Lord of Death, who appears as an ogre. He grips the wheel with the long claws of his front and hind paws, holding it against his belly and chest. The top of the wheel is in his mouth. At the hub are three creatures: a pig, a bird, and a snake, denoting ignorance, desire, and anger, respectively. They are at the center of the wheel because these three main disturbing emotions are the primary causes that keep us in cyclic existence. The snake and the bird seem to be coming out of the pig’s mouth because ignorance is the principal of these three disturbing states of mind.
The wheel is divided into sections of which the three lower ones show the realms of hell beings, hungry spirits, and animals. These segments signify the suffering of pain. There are three upper sections representing the human realm, the abodes of the gods belonging to the desire realm, and those of the gods belonging to the form realm. The first two represent the suffering of change, while the latter represents the pervasive suffering of conditioning.
The different kinds of suffering have been caused by contaminated actions underlain by the disturbing emotions. To show how this happens, the twelve links of dependent arising—ignorance, formative action, consciousness, name and form, the six sources, contact, feeling, craving, grasping, existence, birth, and aging and death—are painted around the rim of the wheel.
(Geshe Sonam Rinchen, How Karma Works: The Twelve Links of Dependent Arising.)
The first depiction of ignorance reveals a blind-person feebly lurking-about the dominion of samsara, unaware of the karmic misfortunes that lie in store for the un-awakened mind.
The second depiction of formative action exhibits a potter producing various works of clay that are representative of all the formative-realms—realms that are littered with phenomenalism of all sizes and shapes.
The third depiction of consciousness is revealed as a monkey peering out six windows of a house—all representing the six faculties through which one experiences the angst of karmic action.
The fourth depiction—name and forms—is revealed as a boatman traversing the various skandhic realms and fully dependent upon the karmic-flow that makes up their Five Aggregates, fully dependent upon all of them for their direction, or rather misdirection leading to great suffering.
The fifth depiction of the six sources representing the inner sense faculties (eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, consciousness.) This is revealed as an empty-house because left to themselves they are empty-of substance, mere psychophysical engines that often run-amok.
The sixth depiction of contact reveal two bodies in the lovers embrace—a sign that perpetual-regenesis is about to commence its diurnal wail.
The seventh depiction, feeling or sensation as revealed by a person with an arrow piercing the eye. One is more often than not pierced and blinded by phenomenal contact, whether of a pleasurable or painful occurrence.
The eighth depiction of craving oftentimes is represented by a drunkard who is never satisfied with their endless cycle of inflicting self-punishment through all measures of negative-karmic-effects that bring misery not only to oneself, but to others as well.
The ninth depiction is that of “grasping”, revealing the monkey-mind mechanism that keeps the karmic wheel spinning. This is the main-culprit whose insatiable grabbing after sensual activity assures the perpetuality of samsara.
The Tenth depiction, existence, reveals a pregnant woman—symbolic of craving and grasping coming home to roost in another womb of re-becoming.
The Eleventh depiction—the mother giving birth to her skandhic-ridden child, whose own karmic seeds will one day ripen giving birth to the cycle all over again.
The Twelfth depiction—old age, misery and death—the inevitable consequences of playing the game of karmic-roulette with seeds of ignorance lying in wait for their next turn on the diurnal-wheel of misery.
Through ritual-actions like reading the Tibetan Book of the Dead over a dying person, the hope is that the next wild spin on samsara can be curtailed via successfully navigating through the Bardos. This is accompanied by sacred mantras and mudras empowering the subject’s spirit to rise above samsara’s wrath.
Even placing sacred-mantras over doorways are said to purify the effects of all karma—like a portal into a dominion of pure and undivided dharma-realms.
There are many benefits also procured through dhyana-techniques such as engaging in Vajrayana-practice wherein one initiates a form of deep-samadhis, visualizing oneself as a sacred Buddha or other Yidam of their choice. Such meditations are found in the blog-series Mystagogia; the following being the first with the Dhyani Buddha Akṣhobhya:
One focuses on the transparent Blue Body [self-empty of all materiality] of Akṣhobhya Buddha. There is a lightness of awareness—just like a balloon that is filled with Pure-Qi; this is a Spirit-Body, transparent with a crystalline hue. One should never condemn the Spirit-Body; it’s not the body consciousness but a very real Supra-Transcendent realization of the Mystical Body of the Tathagata. This is a body that is filtered through the Amala-consciousness—radiating Pure and Luminous Unborn Light. In actuality one is partaking in the Diamond-Mind of Zen.
Firstly, one intones the mantra with an initial deep-cut accentuation point with the OṀ, and then half-way through the chant one intones Akṣhobhya HŪṀ. This is one continuous breath; after a while one discerns that it is the Tathagatas breathing through you. The rhythm of the mantra becomes effective as the rising kundalini is activated. This is spiritually known as the rising of sambodhi from the Primordial Dragon [Root] Chakra. Next the Central Channel (the nexus in which the energies of the chakras intersect) begins to open midway between the Dragon-Eye of Tathata (center of forehead) Chakra (thus activating the supreme Wisdom Eye of the Tathagatas) and the two nostrils (right and left channels); they in turn inhale primordial Qi as all three of these channels (middle, right/left) curl-up into the Dharmamegha (Crown) Chakra. The pathway then leads down the spine towards the Primordial Dragon (Root) Chakra at the tip of the base. This movement of the “winds” creates a spiraling of light within these three chakra centers.
When they arrive at the tip of the Primordial Dragon Chakra, the generated Qi rises into the Bodhi-Chakra (or the Dantian)—this is four finger-widths below the navel. It helps to visualize the right channel as the Red Dragon and the left channel as the White Dragon. The rising Qi enters into the Bodhi-Chakra—which can be likened to a red inverted triangle with 64 mini-channels emanating from it; these Bodhi-channels in turn lead the Qi upwards to the Self (Heart) Chakra—which is shaped like a Blue Circle with 8 branches pointing downwards toward the Bodhi-Chakra.
Simultaneously there is also interaction between the Dhammasota (Throat) Chakra—which is likened unto a red sphere with 16 branch-channels going upwards into the Dharmamegha Chakra—which is multicolored and triangular in dimension, with 32 branch channels going downwards towards the Dhammasota Chakra.
Breaking this down, all this “Channel” business is really spiritual interaction between Akṣhobhya (Blue, Self Chakra), Amitabha (Red Dhammasota Chakra), and Vairocana (Dharmamegha Chakra) Buddhas.
Meanwhile the circulating sambodhi-energy is initiated by Amoghasiddhi (Primordial Dragon Chakra) Buddha. In a very real sense Amoghasiddhi is the one who keeps the spiritual activation in motion. Perhaps this is why Amoghasiddhi is the most mysterious of all the Dhyani Buddhas. He is the generative force that keeps all the interaction happening.
Lastly, the one who gets to thoroughly enjoy all these energizing events is the Spiritual Bodhichild in the Bodhi-Chakra (Tārā’s Womb)—in particular with the interaction between the upward branches stemming from the Bodhi-Chakra to the downward branches of the Self-Chakra that, in effect, send all the juice back down to the Bodhichild and thus filling Tārā’s Womb with Light. Hence—like the “Inner-Fire” effect—as an inner-warmth literally permeates through every aspect of your entire being. The ensuing inner-bliss is out of this world! To maintain this effect throughout the course of the day one focuses on the Sugata-garbha (belly) Chakra which mystically anchors (through Ratnasambhava—as the Yellow, Sugata-garbha Chakra) the perpetually circulating Qi.
Staying along the line of the Dhyani-Buddhas, Divine Union with the karma-family and Amoghasiddhi assures that negative karma is transformed into positive wisdom.
The following is from the Lankavatarian Book of the Dead:
Meditating as such with Amoghasiddhi, one is fully empowered to “stand-one’s ground”, even in the face of Mara’s most vicious and relentless assaults. Amoghasiddhi thus “stops” and transmutes the violatle Skandha of Volition into the resilient repose of RIGHT ACTION. This is truly a remarkable blessing since “all karmic activity” is annulled as Amoghasiddhi empowers one to step-off the spinning Samsaric and Karmic Wheel and into the waiting arms of deathlessness itself. As Lord of Karma, Amoghasiddhi also has the power to transmute the poisons of envy and jealousy—the energies of the great Titans themselves—into the unequivocal Wisdom of Equanimity. He is also the last great Dhyani Buddha the soujourner will encounter in the Great Bardo of Transformation as one’s former-karma is weighed to determine whether rebirth in the karmadhatu is in order, or whether one makes that final and resolute “turn-about” in the depths of consciousness to embrace the Luminosity of the Dharmadhatu. In this sense he is truly Lord and Master of the “Root” or Primordial Dragon Chakra, as Enlightened-Consciousness or Bodhicitta, now strengthened through sambodhi, fully arises and supplants all defiled seeds from the karmic and alayic receptacle; indeed, Amoghasiddhi is the Primordial Dragon par-excellence.
Notes from the Iron Stupa series expounds:
1.0 Amoghasiddhi is the Matrix of Enlightened Action (Karmaprasiddhi)
Freedom from the Karmic-Cycle is through the door of the All-Accomplishing Wisdom, as the Green Light of Amoghasiddhi reveals the Enlightening-Spirit of Bodhi. In such manner are Buddhaic-activities performed.
7.0 Amoghasiddhi’s sacred mudra is the Abhaya (raised-hand) Mudra:
This is highly symbolic of Making FULL STOP to all Karmic-ACTION. It is also a protective stance, in the sense of blocking one whose intent is to inflict harm.
The blog post Amoghasiddhi’s Key offers further mystic strains of becoming immune to karma’s effects:
As was mentioned in our previous blog, Amoghasiddhi rises to the occasion and releases (like that figure of a coiled snake in the base, or root chakra) the Sambodhic-juice that sparks all the other chakras and is always successful in his mission; this is why he is known as the All-Accomplishing Wisdom. Breaking this down even deeper:
One drop of semen creates Oceans of Samsara; the yogic practitioner who can transmute this volitional action by turning the Amoghasiddhic Alchemical key will unlock the code to the Secret Treasury of Buddha-gnosis that frees one from the fetters of samsara. The Bodhi-bindu is the spiritual elixir that houses the Diamond Body. The yogic practice of turning Amoghasiddhi’s Key releases the bindu (spiritual semen) that rises to the very climax of Dharmameghic Ecstasy in the Dharmamegha Chakra (this is known as Vairocana’s enrapturement). The Diamond Body is thus cooked and prepared in this yogic-fire and even the gods themselves stand in awe of this divine banquet. Hence, Vajrasattvas are not associated with any samsaric-seed and are thus immune to the effects of karma; one now moves in the world according only to the Unborn Will.
For the yogin/yogini, this practice of turning Amoghasiddhi’s Key is the ultimate Samādhi. It is a Transcendent Exposure to the very lifeblood of the Tathagatas. Returning from this experience he/she is left with an ineradicable impression on their psyche; it removes any form of samsaric dependence as their outlook is now exclusively Bodhi-centric.
Within the marvelous Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation, Mind Itself is devoid of all Karma in Its Immaculate Thatness; the following is from the W. Y. Evans-Wentz edition:
[THE YOGA OF THE THATNESS]
Quite impossible is it, even though one seek throughout the Three Regions, to find the Buddha elsewhere than in the mind…
Unless one sees the Buddha in one’s mind, Nirvāna is obscured…
The One Mind, omniscient, vacuous, immaculate, eternally, the Unobscured Voidness, void of quality as the sky, self-originated Wisdom, shining clearly, imperishable, is Itself the Thatness…
By controlling and understanding the thought-process in one’s mind, emancipation is attained automatically…
[THE REALIZATION AND THE GREAT LIBERATION]
Nothing save mind is conceivable.
Mind, when uninhibited, conceives all that comes into existence.
That which comes into existence is like the wave of an ocean.
The state of mind transcendent over all dualities brings Liberation.
It matters not what name may carelessly be applied to mind; truly mind is one, and apart from mind there is naught else.
That Unique One Mind is foundationless and rootless.
There is nothing else to be realized.
The Non-Created is the Non-Visible.
By knowing the invisible Voidness and the Clear Light through not seeing them separately—there being no multiplicity in the Voidness—one’s own clear mind may be known, yet the Thatness itself is not knowable.
Mind is beyond nature, but is experienced in bodily forms.
The realization of the One Mind constitutes the All-Deliverance.
Thus, being rootless wherein the Unborn Mind where can the dust of defiled-karma be found?
This series on Karma and Rebirth now concludes with the profound Dogzchen-stance:
Dogzchen rigpa and Samantabhadra’s matrix
Thus there can be no liberation until the drive to attainment is relinquished. In this important sense, every path of religious striving is a dead end and represents a deviation from the natural rigpa of pure mind, “the heart of the matter.” “Nonaction” is the salient key term in the evocation of the reality of natural perfection…
Reality is the light of the mind that shines equally and inescapably in every moment of existence… It is the single most important, unique assumption of Dzogchen that this light is self-existent and self-aware and in fact the sole ingredient of all our experience. This light is the great mystery of nondual mysticism. When we comprehend that Dzogchen is based upon the assumption that all and everything, consciousness and every form of experience, is naturally composed of this light, then we are able to read without let or hindrance the technical exposition of its revelation that allows the light to shine out in all its brilliance. The innate awareness of this pristine nondual brilliance is called rigpa… In the Dzogchen view there is no prescriptive practice in which to engage in order to attain rigpa, and there is nothing that we can do to induce that view.
[Thus, no striving, no methods—inclusion mine]
From Longchenpa’s The Treasury of Natural Perfection:
The actual essence, pristine rigpa,
cannot be improved upon, so virtue is profitless,
and it cannot be impaired, so vice is harmless;
in its absence of karma there is no ripening of pleasure or pain;
in its absence of judgment, no preference for samsara or nirvana;
in its absence of articulation, it has no dimension;
in its absence of past and future, rebirth is an empty notion:
who is there to transmigrate? and how to wander?
what is karma and how can it mature?
Contemplate the reality that is like the clear sky!
(From the commentary) As it is said:
Gaze persistently at actual rigpa
and are there any ten virtues there to practice?
Is there any samaya commitment to observe
any view, meditation, conduct, or goal to realize?
Is there any maturation, karma, or hell?
The profound significance of the absence of moral causality and conditioning is the lack of any distinction between past, present, and future. Insofar as we may repeatedly seek the inside, outside, and middle of rigpa and find no distinction, and insofar as we cannot find an iota or particle of solid matter in the universe, and insofar as we search for a discrete moment of the pure mind of rigpa and find nothing, and insofar as we fail to separate past, present, and future because the past has gone, the future never comes, and the present is lost in between, so far we can find no karma, no process of karmic maturation, and no moral conditioning.
The idea of karma is tied up with our conventional notions of time and space, and causality…
Karma does not even exist on its own low level of existential understanding. It is part of the universal delusion, maya, self-delusion. Not even a crutch, it is always a glitch. Karma is not something to be tolerated provisionally; it is something of the order of the snake that is delusively projected upon the proverbial rope.
The dynamic of Samantabhadra is his intention or “pure will,” his thoughtless thought or buddha-thought. lt is revealed in the timeless point-instant beyond karmic conditioning in the transparent immediacy of the moment. It is pure meaning intrinsic to awareness as the spontaneity of empty light. The key to effortless nonaction, this dynamic is actuated in the absence of personal will, karma, or life-force. It is the actual emptiness of free will and intention, inevitably binding all temporal experience to absence. It is a continuum of spontaneous creativity and synchronicity, prelinguistic intent and meaning, the beginning and end of all and everything. It is the thoughtless space of pure being where all is one as the zing of reality, precluding the four extreme ontological postures of existence, nonexistence, both, and neither.
Deliberate action deceives-look at treacherous samsara!
Diligence corrupts-consider the vicious cycle of suffering!
Neither virtue nor vice can stop the turning of the wheel,
and accumulated karmic propensity may lead up or down
but it gives no chance of release from existence.
Whatever physical, verbal, and mental agenda we follow, we are cheated of rigpa by the ignorance evinced by the multifarious delusive appearances of the moment that are the product of past lives. Whatever effort we make obscures the essence of rigpa, and reborn as a denizen of hell, a hungry ghost, an animal, or such, through the karma of goal-directed striving-behold the changes of samsara! Even engagement in a virtuous program can only lead to a divine or human body with their attendant pleasures, with subsequent changes. Vice matures into the woes of the three lower types of existence, where we must return again and again without chance of release.
In all experience of samsara and nirvana, inner and outer, convinced of the absence of both delusion and freedom from delusion, we do not seek to abandon samsara to attain nirvana; with conviction in the absence of birth and birthlessness, belief in life and death, existence and nonexistence, is suspended; with conviction in the absence of right and wrong, there is equanimity in the absence of value judgment, and all experience is resolved in Samantabhadra’s matrix.
From the perspective of pristine awareness there is no objective field to investigate. Nothing has ever happened, nothing will ever happen, and nothing is happening just now. There is no karma and no latent tendencies (no susceptibility or proclivity) and no ignorance. There is no mind, no intellect, and no insight. There is no samsara, no nirvana, nor even rigpa. Nothing at all appears in pristine awareness. Beware! Self-sprung awareness has no life-force, so morality is superseded. Be careful! Beware! No one is doing anything, so there is no outer field of activity and no inner mind!
[All the above on Dogzchen taken from Keith Dowman’s, Natural Perfection, Longchenpa’s Radical Dzogchen]
I feel like offering a little paraphrase here coming from Rod Serling’s closing comment on a Twilight Episode Entitled, “It’s a Good Life”, starring a very young Billy Mumy…
No comment here, no comment at all. We only wanted to introduce you to one of our very special citizens in Unborn Mind Zen, Longchenpa and his Radical Dzogchen, who lives nowhere and everywhere and [no-where anywhere-in-between], who once lived in a small village named Gra-phu stod-gron in a place that used to be Central Tibet. And if by some strange chance you should run across him, you had best think only good thoughts—or better yet, no-thoughts. Anything less than that is handled at your own risk, because if you do meet Longchenpa, you can be sure of one thing: you have entered The Unborn Zone.