BUDDHAFIELD OF AWAKENED MIND

In INNER KNOWLEDGE by Erik Pema Kunsang5 Comments

When people with a Western critical-minded education hear that the Lotus-Born master of Uddiyana not only appeared from within a lotus flower in Lake Dhanakosha, without a father or mother, but was magically emanated from the heart of Buddha Amitabha, many balk at the idea or pretend they didn’t hear it. That particular detail of Padmasambhava’s biography is often brushed aside as folklore and superstition. Can we get to the real instructions, now please!

Having received teachings on Amitabha’s pure land Sukhavati and how to realize its outer and inner meaning from both Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, who are counted among the greatest Dzogchen masters of our time, and who were not blind believers, I want to shed more light on this topic: the source of a true avatar. Even though some Sanskrit words will be used now, please bear it. Their meaning behind the words is wonderful.

The incarnation of the most sublime type, a nirmanakaya, is not a Tibetan invention. Rather, it belongs to the domain of enlightenment and what happens after enlightenment. The ultimate source of all nirmanakayas is the awakened mind of the buddhas, known as dharmakaya, the infinite space of wakeful knowing that is the body of sublime dharmas, the qualities of enlightenment. Tulku Urgyen often used the example of nirmanakayas being like rainbows on the sky that appear when there is sunlight, moisture and shade from cloud cover.

Between the avatar and dharmakaya there is a level which called sambhogakaya, the form of perfect enjoyment, and Buddha Amitabha’s realm resembles that, as you will read below. The text is the very first chapter in the Golden Garland Cronicles, the extensive version of Padmasambhava’s biography. Please read through the entire chapter to savor the meaning in full. The master told and sang it to his chief disciple, the Lady of Kharchen, who became the most famous yogini in Tibet. You know her by the name Yeshe Tsogyal, Vicorious Ocean of Wakefulness.

Each feature of Buddha Amitabha’s buddhafield is linked back to one of the aspects of dharmakaya, because every part of the scenery is pure display, a manifestation of awakened mind. The pure land of Amitabha is a perfect bridge between nondual awareness and our ordinary dualistic concepts. We are all welcome to travel on that bridge to realize the original pure land that is the nature of our mind. We can do so by chanting the Sukhavati Sutra with pious, simple-minded faith, collecting the four causes the sutra mentions, the foremost of which is compassion for all beings. We can combine it with Amitabha sadhana, the practice of visualizing the Buddha of Boundless Light and his buddhafield with our creative imagination. We can deepen it with training in phowa, so we can eject consciousness at the moment of death with the assurance of experience continuing from within a lotus flower in the presence of Amitabha, hear teachings and progress on the path to complete enlightenment. There is also the practice of leaping into the heart of Buddha Amitabha in a single instant all ready now by realizing that dharmakaya is and always was the very nature of this perceiving mind, situated right in the center of your own heart. All these levels of practice are effective, wonderful and should never, never be rejected. Please enjoy the precious opportunity we have in this short human life. Now to Padmasambhava’s beautiful description of Sukhavati.

Buddha Amitabha, the awakened state of boundless light.

Buddha Amitabha, the awakened state of boundless light.

 

In the direction west of here lies the realm Arrayed in Lotus Flowers
The ground of which is formed in checkered designs of gold,
So words for ordinary earth and land, or stone and mountain, are never heard,
And even they be sought, nowhere can they be found.

Its flowers and the fruit of bodhi trees are in the fullest bloom,
So words for ordinary plants and trees are never heard,
And even they be sought, nowhere can they be found.

Here flow samadhi streams endowed with eightfold aspects,
So words for ordinary types of water they are never heard,
And even they be sought, nowhere can they be found.

Its natural flames of wakeful knowing are ablaze,
So words for ordinary types of fire are never heard,
And even they be sought, nowhere can they be found.

Fragrant essences of utter purity are carried on the breeze,
So words for ordinary air are never heard,
And even they be sought, nowhere can they be found.

Its basic space is all-pervasive and transcends all partiality,
So words for element of space are never heard,
And even they be sought, nowhere can they be found.

The lucid parasol of space and wakeful knowing is pervasive,
So words for sun and moon are never heard,
And even they be sought, nowhere can they be found.

It is ablaze with fivefold natural lights of the noble conquerors,
So words for day and night are never heard,
And even they be sought, nowhere can they be found.

This Dharma kingdom most sublime is ruled through self-arising self-dissolving,
So words for king and ministers are never heard,
And even they be sought, nowhere can they be found.

Self and others are but one, neither separate nor two,
So words for fight and strife are never heard,
And even they be sought, nowhere can they be found.

The nourishment of the samadhi food can fully satisfy,
So words for hunger they are never heard,
And even they be sought, nowhere can they be found.

As drink one tastes the streams of wishfulfilling nectar,
So words for thirst are never heard,
And even they be sought, nowhere can they be found.

As clothes one wears pure ethics’ sublime robes,
So words for ordinary dress are never heard,
And even they be sought, nowhere can they be found.

When taking birth each one is born miraculously on a lotus flower,
So words for the four modes of rebirth are never heard,
And even they be sought, nowhere can they be found.

Here there is the mastery of unconditioned vajra life,
So words for aging and decline are never heard,
And even they be sought, nowhere can they be found.

There is complete abiding on the stage beyond both birth and death,
So words for birth and death are never heard,
And even they be sought, nowhere can they be found.

In this sublime realm of all the buddhas of the triple times,
Everyone without exception engage in actions of enlightenment and are born from that.
So words for pain and suffering are never heard,
And even they be sought, nowhere can they be found.

Padmasambhava continues to describe the palace that transcends all dimensions. The scenery and the palace are all the awakened mind, shaped into recognizable forms as if the sky is used as bricks and roof.

Within this utter purity, a buddha realm so vast, there is palace beyond measure that is emptiness in essence. Its nature is endowed with fourfold corners and four gates and four fantastic portals. Its surface, top and base, its walls and its dimensions, all measure to a size of leagues in untold numbers. When looking from the outside the interior is seen and looking from the inside the outside is all clear. It is beyond both inside and an outside; it transcends all category and all dimension.

Within this palace there are windows with the brilliance of dharmadhatu wisdom, and at its highest point extends the canopy of Mahayana teachings. Below this point is formed a throne most radiant, the lotus of that is nonattachment. This palace is designed after the fourfold joyous wakefulness and with the walls of the four boundless qualities. Banners signifying the awakened mind in eightfold aspects fly in both the cardinal and all the intermediate directions.

This mandala is spontaneously perfected since all phenomena are beyond partiality and the state of equality. Its light is brilliant since there’s no duality of hope and fear, accepting or rejecting. The fragrance of flowers and incense issues forth to symbolize the possession of the fragrance of discipline. Not made by anyone, from the very beginning it is self-existing and spontaneously present.

In dharmadhatu’s lucid ocean, the unmoving samadhi of the Buddha, sprung forth a lotus flower, spontaneously perfected as unattached consciousness. Within this utterly pure and vast celestial palace, a mansion beautified with all the adornments of seeing each and every sentient being with impartial compassion, is seated Buddha Amitabha encircled by his retinue, an oceanlike assemblage of conquerors.

This Buddha’s bodily form is adorned by the 32 major marks and the 80 minor marks of excellence. His physical presence is captivating to behold, and the appearance of his body boundlessly adorned in various silken garments and jewel ornaments. The area all around is filled with myriad rays of light and rainbow colors. Manifold white and red beams of compassion radiate into the ten directions.

Endowed with the ten strengths and the fourfold fearlessness, his body, speech, mind, qualities and activities are inexhaustible. Buddhas and bodhisattvas are gathered like banks of clouds. His eyes are unmoving, as his mind remains in the equal state of samadhi. While radiating a multitude of compassionate rays of light into the ten directions, from every single tip of every single ray of light, are sent forth countless, infinite and indescribable numbers of buddha emanations, re-emanations and re-re-emanations and so forth, to accomplish the boundless benefit of beings, and displayed to influence whoever needs in whichever way is necessary. Moreover, everyone living in this buddhafield are not ordinary sentient beings but exclusively noble beings.

This was the first chapter from The Extensively Narrated Lives and Liberating Life-Story of the Lotus-Born Master of Uddiyana; on describing the Blissful Realm in the western direction. Translated by Erik Pema kunsang.

About the Author
Erik Pema Kunsang

Erik Pema Kunsang

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Translator of ancient Buddhist scriptures, author, bridge-builder to modern life, Buddhist teacher & meditation instructor. Board of director at 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha. Founder of Rangjung Yeshe Publications and LEVEKUNST art of life. Other LEVEKUNST articles by the same author. Erik’s website & retreats.

Photos found on the world wide web.

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Comments

  1. Thankyou for making this wonderful land a part of our experience.

  2. Martha Boyden

    Celestial Palace of Our Lady of Immortal Light
    spontaneously graces the hearts of all

    Thank you for this fathomless offering

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