In INSIGHTS by Erik Pema Kunsang10 Comments

It is no longer a secret in our global community, that there is a more subtle body inside our psychical form. We hear about it, we have seen diagrams or paintings of the ethereal form of a human with a column in the center and five wheels from which subtle channels extend out and connect with every pore in the body, 21.000 all together to be exact. These channels are a network of light, like a metropolis, a supercomputer, where traffic moves through day and night. It is so whether we have heard about it or not, whether we see it or not and whether we believe it or not.

Some spiritual traditions teach this and the methods based on it openly, some keep it as a closely guarded secret. It is called the subtle body, the ethereal form, and the exact numbers of channels in each wheel, their colors, their sounds and vibrations differ from one spiritual tradition to another. But they all agree on one point: there is much more magic and mystery in us than meet the eye.

Vajrasattva, the buddha of the indestructible nature.

Ayurveda, the ancient medical system of healing from India and its equivalent transmitted and kept alive in Tibet give us a tremendous amount of details on how health, psychology and the subtle body are interconnected. The yoga systems in both of these countries have enriched the human civilization with hundreds of precious methods that go far beyond healing and psychological well-being. We can learn ways to transcend the ordinary aims of domestic life and become independent of clothes, food, transportation and much more. But, to attain true freedom and enlightenment the systems of inner yoga must be combined with a living tradition of realization, a know-how of freeing the mind totally.

Inside the bodily form of a truly and completely awakened buddha these wheels and channels, energy currents and their vital essences, transcend the set-up of the normal human body, in a way that its almost unbelievable. Each chakra-wheel is an infinite city with billions of universes. Each pore on the skin on a buddha’s body contains billions of realms inside of which there are billions of worlds each with billions of buddhas teaching billions of sentient beings. At the same time, rays of light extend from the center of each chakra into an infinite number of universes, where a holographic living replica of the buddha is present in every other buddha’s realm. This is indeed a magical net that totally blows the lid of an ordinary dualistic mind. Enlightened practitioners have seen this with their mind’s eye, not as imagination and not as visualization, but as a grand magical illusion, that is the domain of the awakened ones.

Today the tradition of imitating this, while yet not being there for real, is taught as a skillful means to transform our incomplete way of seeing ourselves, our life and world, so that we become able to perceive the grand vista in actuality. This method is called the sadhana of the magical net, Mayajala. The most famous is based on the tantra entitled the Magical Net of Vajrasattva, the buddha of the indestructible nature. May everyone connect with its meaning and realize it, truly and completely.

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.

Featured image by Kohji Asakawa, Japan.

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  2. Sonia Gomes

    What an amazing article Erik! Thank you so much for sharing 🙏🏻

  3. Avatar

    Wow, every read delivers a different experience! Thank you so much

  4. martha boyden

    the self-uncoiling snake of awareness clarity
    blessings of all the messengers, translators and enlightened ones who manifest the unfathomable

  5. Avatar

    Eric, this is a beautiful and concise presentation of a deep practice that leads to realization. I seem to have difficulty with why it is called an “illusion”, while it seems to be a grand non-dual realization? “Enlightened practitioners have seen this with their mind’s eye, not as imagination and not as visualization, but as a grand magical illusion, that is the domain of the awakened ones.”

    Sarva mangalam

    1. Erik Pema Kunsang Author

      Hi Shakti, I’ve also wondered a lot about that. I found out that the word Maya has so many levels of meaning and context. The Tibetan translation into gyutrul drawa means web or network of magical illusion. This phrase covers all the aspects of post-enlightenment: it’s nature, beyond both oneness and nonduality, realization and myriad types of display that are experienced by others, as well as all the ways in which people can connect. My plan is to study this more, for several lives. 🙂

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        Thanks Eric, that helps. I’ve seen it translated as the Net of Magical Display, Since my Tibetan is ashamedly almost nil, I wonder if there is a Sanskrit equivalent or rather is the word, Maya, the accurate source word? In Kashmir Saivism Maya is said to both hide and disclose the fundamental reality, which it seems likely to be pointing to the correct understanding of pratityasamutpada in Buddhism where relative truth (form) discloses ultimate truth (sunyata) as an inseparable whole? To my limited understanding this appears very similar to what is called Maha Madhyamaka as referenced by HH Dudjom Rinpoche and Taranatha; albeit the practice is experiential. In that sense Maya is not just Maya but a tantric instructor?

        “Lord Maitreya said:

        If one understands non-existent emptiness, and likewise existent emptiness, as well as ultimate emptiness, it is said that one understands emptiness.”

        —Jetsun Taranatha, Maha Madhyamaka

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            So many valuable translations, thank you. I wish that they were available in English 50 years ago. It would have saved a lot of time, I think.
            “Ignorance, the five poisons, doubt and dualistic clinging are the roots of samsara, and the sufferings of the three realms. To this there is one antidote that removes or “liberates” everything in a single stroke. It is spontaneous wisdom, the primal wisdom of awareness. Be confident, therefore, in the generation stage: appearances, sounds and thoughts are but the primordial display of deity, mantra and primal wisdom. Then settle in the “subsequent” (anuyoga) path of the three specific perceptions, the perfection stage, the state of bliss and emptiness.

            Take your stand on the ultimate practice of the Heart Essence—samsara and nirvana are the display of awareness. Without distraction, without meditation, in a state of natural relaxation, constantly remain in the pure, all-penetrating nakedness of ultimate reality.”

            ~ Dudjom Jigdral Yeshe Dorje
            Translated by Erik Pema Kunsang

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