Monday, December 14, 2009

Rechungpa and Physical Immortality

The following is from A SPIRITUAL BIOGRAPHY OF RECHUNGPA by Thrangu Rinpoche, translated by Peter Roberts, based on THE RADIANCE OF WISDOM: THE LIFE AND LIBERATION OF THE VENERABLE RECHUNG DORJE DRAK, ISBN 81-7030-699-X, Sri Satguru Publications, Delhi, India, 2001, pages 14-16:

One day Tibupa told Rechungpa that he should into town and take a look around. So Rechungpa went off to see what this town was like. On the way he passed a very tall, thin yogi who took a very good look at Rechungpa and then said, "What a sweet handsome youhng Tibetan you are, but it is a shame you've got seven days to live." This gave Rechungpa a fright and he thought, "I've got only seven days left, what am I going to do?" He went running straight back to Tibupa and told him, "I've just met a yogi in the street and he's told me I've only got a week to live. What shall I do?" Tibupa asked Rechungpa, "Are you afraid of dying?" and Rechungpa replied, "Well, actually I'm not very frightened of dying, but I've gone though a lot of trouble to come down to India and receive these teachings of the formless dakinis. If I die here, it will all be completely meaningless. I've got to take these teachings back to Tibet and give them to Milarepa." Tibupa then said, "Actually I knew you didn't have very long to live, so I told you that so that you would go into town. I knew you would meet this person who told you that you didn't have long to live. But there's no need to be afraid of dying because there is a woman called Machig Drupijalmo (which means "one mother, queen of accomplishment") living in a cave. Machig Drupijalmo has achieved the practice of long life and is five hundred years old, but she looks like a sixteen year old girl." He told Rechungpa to go see her and so Rechungpa went to her cave, met her, gave offerings, and prostrated to her. She said, "Well, what do you want?" He said, "I've been to town and I've met this yogi who told me I only had a week to live. So please give me the siddhi of long life." Then Machig Drupijalmo asked Rechungpa, "Can you do without sleep for a week?" and he replied, "Yes, I can." She then gave him this long-life practice to do and he did it continuously night and day for seven days. At the end of the seven days, he had a vision of Amitayus who taught him the long life sadhana in a long form, a middle form, and a short form. After this Machig Drupijalmo asked him how long he wanted to live and Rechungpa replied, "I want to live until I don't want to live anymore." She asked how old he was now and he said he was forty-two. She said, "You wicked Tibetan with such a great desire to live so long. Your teacher Milarepa is now eighty-three and is gong to live until his eighty-fourth year so you can do the same." Then Rechungpa received from Drupijalmo the empowerment and transmission and instructions of Jina Sumudra of Gyalwa Gyamtso (red Chenresig). One night after receiving this empowerment he had many dreams and of these dreams was a pundita dancing in the sky. Then it began to rain flowers and in the midst of this rain of flowers were dakinis who said that he had received a very good empowerment and practiced well. They then sang a song to him. Rechungpa thought the song sounded so beautiful and he paid very close attention to the wonderful melody. When he woke up, he realized that he didn't know what the words of the song were. All he could remember was just one line and this line had been written on Tibupa's doorway.

Rechungpa received many other instructions from Tibupa and Machig Drupijalmo and these teachings were translated into Tibetan. But Tibupa said that the translation was not perfect and he didn't really know how to translate it completely correctly, but made the prophecy that it didn't matter because in the future other people would go through and remove the mistakes in the translation.

This ends the third chapter in this section of the second original text.

I wanted to add more and more bibliographical footnotes into the blog. This is partly so that those reading these blogs can understand that Amritayana Buddhism, while representing an evolution of the Buddhist spiritual teachings, has its precedents in previous versions of Buddhism and the many teachers who came before. The passage is interesting, because it reports of historical events during what I call "the great Dakini period" which was roughly 1,000 years ago. It is clear that the dakini who initiates Rechungpa is very advanced. She shows the sign of accomplishment by being 500 years old at the time of meeting Rechungpa. She also looks like a 16 year girl. My sense of this other sign is that 16 years old in this harsh climate region of the world at that time would be equivalent of about 25 years old in 21st century America. It would be full maturity before the aging process starts to happen.

She works on the arrogance of Rechungpa. The Buddha had taught that you first weaken the three poisons of craving, negativity, and delusion, and then you work with arrogance and sensual craving, and then pass on to a certain level of being enlightened. Rechungpa is working on this level. His teachers work on his arrogance which is a block to his being able to extend his life beyond 84 years. The text shows that the right motivation is needed to successfully engage in long life practice. Rechungpa already does not seek long life out of fear of death. This is a correct motivation. Fear tends to manifest what we are afraid of and therefore is not the right motivation to succeed in living a long life. However, arrogance, trying to be better than another person, cannot be the right motivation either. The text does indirectly link aging and death with a karma that can be psychically read by advanced meditators. This karma, however, is workable rather than inevitable.

Rechungpa is given a special initiation that involves not sleeping for one week and which leads to a dreamtime initiation into three practices connected with Amitayus Buddha, who governs health and long life. The long form may have been connected with the seven days practice that he is initiated into. The middle form is a probably a visualization process involving Amitayus pouring elixir into the soft spot at the top of the head and nourish the pituitary/pineal gland with HGH, releasing negative energies projected into us from others, gathering back our intrinsic life force from people who have taken it from us, and then forming a protective bubble to seal out these kinds of energy events from happening to us. The short form would be to chant the mantra of Amitayus Buddha to enliven our energies after we have practiced the long form once, the middle form for 21 days, and then the short form until the whole process fully integrates. By practicing during sleep time, the practice involves the subconscious mind and makes changes there.


  1. Rechungpa and Physical Immortality interesting. About 3/4 way through the post a rush of energy came up with my breath. It can be repeated even now if I try. I want to live a long life so I can (keep the knowledge and ability to) help others and life is intresting. My mind wants assurances and road maps. My intellect is ok with living now and seeing what progresses. Is this like my buried anger and I have placed one reasoning on top of another? Is the death urge, why I want potato chips insted of a steamed potato?

  2. Dear Deb, Thank you for your comment. Yes, the "death urge" is a mass of personality energy which is the sum total of all the thoughts that make life not feel worth living. All these thoughts, based on the Buddha's insight into interdependence, have corresponding postures, movements, sensations, and emotions associated with them, like our hunching over, and like craving potato chips. Rebirthing Breathing, a technology discovered and evolved by Leonard Orr, Jim Leonard, and Diane Hinterman (who had the first insight into breathing and the rebirth experience, before then the method was to go into a hot tub with the water as hot as you could tolerate), worked out that releasing this energy mass is the key to healing. It is roughly equivalent to the "pain body" of Tolle, the Chief Feature of Gurdjieff, the "ahamkara" of Hinduism, and the "self" of Buddhism. There is something deeper, too, in your response, the Dakini Machig Drupijalmo is still alive and can still initiate people even remotely, when desire, receptiveness, and willingness to commit are present. Just through her name and her story we can get a telepathic link with her that will allow this. There are blessed stories like this in the Tibetan Buddhist canon of teachings. I am happy that you got the connection through the story even when I did not name that it was possible to do so. Hreeh, Will

  3. More on how to become Immortal... can physical immortality be gained in human form... how dominating kundalini shakti and practicing celibacy human beings finally reached stage of enlightenment (kaivalya jnana)... became immortal... gained omniscience for all practical purposes!

    Who becomes immortal? One who after intense meditation is able to live longer compared to a normal human being or one, who does not have to manifest a body again and again and rests in peace in kingdom of god (termed Baikuntha in Hinduism)... not kingdom of heaven! Negating karma forever is reaching stage of immortality in human form!

  4. Dear "godrealized", thank you for your comment. I do feel that "kundalini" holds one of the keys to attaining physical immortality. There does seem to be a celibate path to its attainment, though I feel Padmasambhava and Mandarava demonstrated that celibacy is not necessary for this attainment. Some right use of sexual energy does seem to be important in any case.

    The phrase "kingdom of god" and "kingdom of heaven" are really synonyms in the New Testament. The phrase "kingdom of heaven" appears in Matthew, with "kingdom of god" appears in the other gospels. The reason why Matthew differs has to do with Matthew having the Jewish reluctance to speak the most sacred name of god, considering it too holy to be uttered. Many Jews and Rabbis often use the convention, "G_d" to symbolize this, removing the vowel, the core sound, so that it is, in a sense, still not spoken. Matthew chose to substitute the word "heaven" rather than "god" out of respect for this tradition. The kingdom of heaven and heaven are, of course, different, because the kingdom of heaven is almost always described in the present tense, "at hand" (within reach), "within you", and "around you". Heaven is usually considered a place you go to after you die which is pleasant and often considered a reward for being faithful and/or righteous. I have not heard the term "Baikuntha" before (thank you for naming this). But I have heard of "Kaivalya" and found it was often associated with "sacred aloneness" (free from outflows and attachments to anything outside oneself).

    It seems that a lot of people feel meditation is an intense process and often talk about it as a conscious struggle. I felt it was this way when I had started my daily meditation practice. But at some point I saw that struggle was not necessary. Meditation is now more about a return to natural mind, and about letting go, allowing, and relaxing. When meditation is only an effort, then the results of the effort sometimes fade away when the effort ends, and needs more effort to sustain. But when we let go, allow, and relax into something, then it can stay. It seems, practically, that some efforting is necessary at times, though, sometimes to overcome an unwholesome habit or establish some discipline or "riding the rapids" (an intense emotional activation). But even here, I find that pain goes away when I relax into it and allow it to dissolve. Meditation seems to be about concentration, relaxation, and attention. Later on, it is about "abiding in awareness as awareness" and learning how to be present. I love Kundalini Yoga, though, and some of the practices do use intense effort, like holding a challenging asana and doing breath of fire. Even here, though, the deep total letting go in Shivasana at the end of practice seems to be where the results of the efforting are integrated. I tend to see "kundalini shakti" as wise energy that we need to surrender to and allow to rise up our spines, letting the energy do the work for us, and surrendering to the healing process that gets activated.

  5. Extra note: I am a little puzzled by the phrase "dominating kundalini shakti" (because I tend to see the energy as something we surrender to, rather than dominate), but assume that it is just a language thing, unless it refers to some struggle to overcome sexual temptation. In Tantric Buddhism, there is a bindu exercise where you visualize a white dot at the third eye and a red dot at the sacrum, and then mix them into a silvery blue elixir in the heart. This heals the core urge behind the sex drive, without having to struggle with temptation. While sexual indulgence can wear a person out and exhaust sex as creative energy from rising up the spine for evolution, sexual repression that comes from merely resisting temptation can also lock the energy up at the L4-L5 spinal vertebral junction and make raising it more challenging. I do not recommend setting up this struggle inside oneself. Some sexual restraint is often necessary in life, but there is a way of internally completing the energies that will not form a karmaic backlash later on. There have been a number of Hindu and Buddhist masters who have succumbed to sexual temptation after living a long celibate life, which means that they did not resolve the issue at its core. For me, I was happy to have lived a celibate life and was guided to let it go. I did enter into a tantric partnership with someone and learned an enormous amount during this time. I am basically celibate again, but with a different perspective. It is now more of a willingness to not be sexual unless the right conditions appear so that sex is evolutionary. I personally feel that being in a loving partnership is actually a little more natural than celibacy, but both can arrive at deep enlightenment. I think the dual vehicle is more thorough going than celibacy, because while I was celibate my enlightenment was not challenged in a certain way and my emotional growth never deeply comprehended a lot of things about how to be present for and with another being.

  6. Will... domination of kundalini shakti is necessitated as real self of us... our soul atman... the spirit within is absolute master and controller of human body and not vice versa! Our soul atman... the spirit within manifests human body to work out its karma (remove dross impurities within)! Awakening of kundalini shakti is the process... path towards gaining enlightenment!

    For full awakening of kundalini shakti... practice of absolute celibacy for a minimum period of 12 years in continuation is necessitated! Celibacy simply does not mean abstention from sex! Physical celibacy constitutes hardly 10% of full practice of celibacy! The remaining 90% celibacy needs to be practiced mentally... negating invocation of negative thoughts in their roots!

    By invoking pure thoughts all the time human beings finally dominated practice of celibacy! Our soul atman since it started its cosmic journey is surrounded with impurities similar as one KG of gold embedded in 100 KG lump of gold ore! For removing these 99% impurities one needs practicing absolute celibacy for full awakening of kundalini... simultaneously practicing Neti (not this, not this) via path of Shavasana yoga!

    The doctrine of Neti was best practiced and advocated by Maharishi Ramana... a sure shot method for reaching stage of enlightenment! The correct method of meditation entails understanding what meditation is all about! Most human beings world over indulged in meditation never understanding what meditation truly meant!

  7. Dear godrealized, thank you for sharing your thoughts. There are some subtle differences between the Hindu and Buddhist framework in terms of how language is used to describe the process. Some very precise technical terms are used to describe the kundalini activation process. I suspect that you are translating "brahmacharya" as "celibacy". The latter term does mean abstention from sex, usually as a way of life. I prefer the Buddhist phrase "right use of sexual energy," especially in the original, where "samyak" is used. It does not quite mean "right" as in English, but has the meanings of "wholesome, appropriate, and healthy." It means celibacy for monks and nuns, who are totally renouncing the world. It means being loving and faithful to a romantic partner for people who are on the householder path. I would agree that there is a deeper discipline involved about how to be appropriate with a partner, so that real love can flourish between the lovers. It has to do with not making the partner the object of craving, aggression, jealousy, demanding, and possessiveness. In Tantric Buddhism, they came to an understanding that discipline as mental restraint was not enough and can actually hurt a person if it is merely repressive. There is a practice called, "mixing the bindus," which dissolves the tension on a deeper level.

  8. Footnote1: My sense of the practice is that there is an energy that is activated and raises itself up the spine. It is evolutionary in its goal, vastly intelligent, supremely compassionate, and infinitely creative. We are meant to be sensitive to this energy and let it burn away our karmas so that it liberates us completely. The energy is meant to be surrendered to and followed, and not controlled. The thinking mind is meant to be mastered. There is a formula that is simple and that I always liked about this: "Master what is lower, respect what is equal, and surrender to what is higher." I would consider kundalini shakti "what is higher". There are, of course, the five internal pranas that are meant to be mastered.

    The practice of "neti, neti" is a good one. It means negating everything that is "not self" and is what the Sufis would call "nonidentification" (or a practice that helps one to not identify). It involves saying to every experience that arises, "not this, not that". It functions like a mantra to cleanse on the thought level. It is a "meditation with seed" (some subtle thought driving it). There is also a meditation without seed, where you resume awareness and let thoughts float without clinging or resistance. By simply being present and aware, without getting caught in any thought, the mind spontaneously heals itself. There is one step deeper and this is where we "abide in awareness as awareness". There are some some subtle thoughts that can still grip consciousness, which Krishnamurti called "the observer". The most subtle of these thoughts is the "thought of self" which is raised in most of the sentences that we think. This thought is not who we are and does not define us. It is why the Buddha taught that there was no self, even the word "atman" can be a subtle attachment. There is a subtle sadness associated with the thought of self, because the quality of thought self has a sense of isolation from life, a subject/object duality at its heart. This thought can be temporarily suspended by "not thinking". When this happens, the kundalini finds little resistance and launches up the spine very freely, burning subtle karmas along the way. But there is a deeper level, beyond practice, where awareness recognizes itself, beyond subject/object duality, and becomes radiant. It feels like boundaries drop away and the energy flows to infinity in all directions, and even the sense of direction ends, because even that mental reference point ends. There is a feeling of unconditioned freedom that arises. When "returning", matter and material events feel more transparent and their colors more vibrant. I would call this "resuming our innate enlightenment". When this happens, the "practice" is merely abiding in presence as presence. I put "practice" in quotation marks, because it is sometimes called "non-meditation". Practice is "mental and intentional" and this is deeper than that. I remember Ramana Maharshi pointing to this when someone came to him and said, "I am seeking enlightenment" and Ramana said, "Who is seeking enlightenment?". Ramana was teaching the inquiry of asking "who" to everything that arises, like "who is angry", "who is sad", "who is walking", etc. As the who goes deeper it questions even "who is questioning who about everything". The results of this practice are similar to the Buddhist idea of "seeing the selflessness of all phenomena, both internal (thoughts, emotions, and sensations) and external (material events)." It is a noticing that applies to each and every moment until a subtle mental grip or tension is released.

  9. Footnote2: The main thing that I wish to communicate is about "not setting up struggle". The human mind already knows too much struggle and is in a sense, struggling all the time. When the teaching about relaxation and letting go is given, the mind usually first "struggles to relax" rather than actually relaxes. There is an acceptance of "what is" that ends struggle. Paradoxically, this acceptance can even accept all the struggling that we are doing. When this acceptance arises, then all our struggling is accepted (rather than struggling not to struggle), and then it starts to dissolve. The word Buddha used for sorrow, "dukkha", means an action that contradicts itself (du=two, kha=action) and implies a struggle is going on. When I am working with people in my healing practice, I want the mind of the people I am working with to end their sorrow in the very moment we are in. With all the karmas that need to arise and dissolve for supreme perfect enlightenment to appear, I do not want the karma that is arising now to take too long. My sense is that right meditation starts to unburden the mind immediately. There may be some momentum to the causal chain of sorrow, but once the right kind of awareness is present we are not unwittingly feeding new energy into our karmaic patterns.

  10. Footnote3: I do appreciate the thoughts of "godrealized", but also wish to invite those who are sharing from substantial philosophical and spiritual systems of thought and meditation to define more of the technical terms used so that everyone reading this blog can follow it without googling too many words to find out what they mean (unless they want to learn further). In my Buddhist studies, I had often ran across many undefined terms that were just assumed to be to already understood. This is partly because in early Buddhism it was mainly an oral transmission and that many early Sutras were more like a discussion outline. It only mattered if the teacher knew what was meant. In later Buddhism, sutras were transcribed by hand and it only mattered that the library as a whole contained the definition. It was a short hand that saved some time. I have more posts in response to what godrealized said because I wanted to make sure that his references were clearer for those who are not familiar with what he is talking about.

  11. Footnote4: Ramana Maharashi had three interlocking methods, (1) inquiry into "who?" mentioned above, (2) chanting "aham" (translation: "I am") to feel "presence", and (3) letting go of the doer (roughly equivalent of the interpreter mentioned in the 12 levels of consciousness article). The doer is the part of ourselves that feels it must do, rather than to relax and trust the process of life. Ramana gave the metaphor of riding a train. No matter what we do on the train, we will arrive at the same destination on time. Whether we relax or worry, we will all arrive, but our present moment is happier without a doer. I find that Ramana's teachings work well with a certain kind of understanding and inquiry becomes alive and is quickened. Then it works very quickly and powerfully. Then one can ask "who is it that is sexually attracted to who?" and have something that can shift our sexual experience. The inquiry dissolves all our mental answers and then becomes a silent, sensitive, and curious looking.


    Dakiny Mandarava
    (tib. man da ra va)

    Mandarava is one of Guru Padmasambhava's two consorts, and a female guru-deity in her own right.
    Born a princess in India, she renounced her royal background to practice the Dharma, and became a great teacher.

    Mandarava is pictured here in deified form as a long-life practice. Here she appears in Sambhogakaya form, her body white with a shade of red, wearing the royal ornaments of a bodhisattva. In her right hand she holds an arrow (a powerful symbol of Dzogchen) adorned with banners and a melong (mirror, representing the clear and reflecting nature of mind). Her left hand holds a long-life vase. She is shown standing in the beautiful dancing position and surrounded by four of her own emanations.
    Above her is Guru Padmasambhava in colorful tigle. Below Mandarava is the main guardian of the teaching wrathful protector Ekajati.

    This thangka was painted according to terma teaching and oral instructions of Chogyal Namkhai Norbu.



    Tib., man da ra ba

    An 8th century princess of Zahor also known simply as the White Princess (Tib., lha lcam dkar mo), Mandarava was one of the five consorts who practiced and studied with Padmasambhava. In terms of historical time, Mandarava was actually the first of these five, chosen and initiated when she was 16 years old (a number symbolizing perfection).

    In due course and by diligent practice, Mandarava attained a degree of mastery equal to that of her consort, a fact given expression in her honorary title of Machig Drupa Gyalmo (ma gcig grub pa'i rgyal mo), Singular Queen Mother of Attainment. Compassionate and loving by nature, she also saved the life of young Kalasiddhi - and helped her grow up - a girl who later became another of Padmasambhava's favorite ladies.

    Her full name, Mandarava Flower (Tib., man da ra ba me tog), refers to one of the five mythical trees said to grow in Sukhavati (Pure Land, Paradise).

    A biography of Mandarava has been published under the title The Lives and Liberation of Princess Mandarava.

    Considering that a Mandarava is also known as one of the Gandharvis, the name appears to have been originally that of an Indian goddess.

  14. From Wikipedia/Mandarava"

    Mandarava is considered a wisdom, knowledge or awareness dakini among whose different names and manifestations are: the yogini Mirukyi Gyenchen "Adorned with Human Bone Ornaments" at the time of Marpa; Risulkyi Naljorma during the time of Nyen Lotsawa; and Drubpey Gyalmo during the time of Rechungpa. Chushingi Nyemachen, the spiritual consort Maitripa, is considered to be none other than Mandarava. The dakini Niguma is also considered to be Mandarava.

    Through practice and diligence, Mandarava realised a degree of spiritual mastery equal to that of Padmasambhava her consort, evidenced in her honorific Machig Drupa Gyalmo (ma gcig grub pa'i rgyal mo), "Singular Queen Mother of Attainment".

  15. I am adding these notes because I got that "Mother Queen of Accomplishment" and the Long Life Dakini Mandarava are the same being.