Articulated by a Great Jewel, Vajra Master Kongkar Rinpoche, and recorded and translated by disciples Chenming and Shanhsing. For a picture of the flesh relic left by Kongkar Rinpoche see article on SHARIRA.
Utmost tantra has restricted commandants;
Three-secret correspondence is the most important;
Practicing it in a secret manner without revealing it;
Every mantra and every method must start with empowerment;
If the mantra is taught without empowerment, or the mudra or meditation is taught, then the Samaya Commandant is violated, and they will get together inside hell.
Only qualified persons can teach tantra;
Three-category empowerments declare that:
Outer-Tantra Empowerment shows the expression according to its context,
Four Inner-Tantra Empowerments possess boundless power,
Ultimate Supreme-Tantra Empowerment demonstrates miracles,
It is definitely not saint’s teaching without the above;
Bear in mind the qualifications of a master,
One can take a steady pace without entering a wrong path;
Constantly remember that one must understand the sacred article;
Degenerate era is indeed now,
Tantra’s unqualified teachers are everywhere,
Self-claimed Buddhas come to save the world,
Unfortunately they are only regular people;
In order to prevent inaccurate teachings,
Vajra Bodhisattva’s Three-Secret Commentary,
Clearly defines the meanings of tantra,
Must search for the basics according to the tantra,
There exists no other way to explain it,
Then one can meet a great master.
Because Shakyamuni Buddha established Buddhism in this Saha Land (the earth), sentient beings can learn the ultimate dharma like receiving rain after a long drought. Many great virtuous ones (great home practitioners) and Buddhism teachers (monks), following Shakyamuni Buddha, assume the responsibility for teaching sentient beings in order to save them from the sufferings in the six realms. Countless sentient beings in reincarnation have received Buddhas’ and Bodhisattvas’ teaching, followed the articulations and Tripitaka (Buddhism scriptures)—containing Sutras, Vinaya and Abhidharma—to correct their behaviors and thus achieved Nirvana.
Shakyamuni Buddha taught 84,000 branches of dharma in order to provide optimal benefits and teaching methods adapted to the various backgrounds of sentient beings. However, Buddha’s teaching can be separated into an exoteric school (Sutrayana) and an esoteric school (Tantrayana). One of the fundamental differences between the exoteric and esoteric schools is that Sutrayana takes refuge in three jewels, whereas the esoteric teaching takes refuge in four jewels, which includes a Vajra Master in addition to three jewels. Defined by tantra, a Vajra Master represents Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. The esoteric teaching is completely dependent on a Vajra Master; hence, the first guideline of learning tantra is to find a qualified Vajra Master to follow until achievement.
Tantra provides a shortcut for achievement and for the highest level of attainment (that is, for one who practices unexcelled yoga, Supreme Tantra enables one to become a Buddha in the current life, make the whole body transparent, transform miraculously at one’s will and be the same entity as the universe). Hence, many practitioners have devoted their entire life to seeking the utmost tantra since the Adi-Buddha (Adharma Buddha) started teaching tantra. I have studied tantra for decades in Tibet and have seen an enormous amount of tantra—similar to a deep ocean—which is immense, concise and wise. Many great virtuous ones throughout Tibet have achieved Nirvana based on tantra. Consequently, a number of normal Buddhism teachers and false practitioners pretend to be rinpoches or Hutuketus and claim themselves to be Vajra Masters. They teach false tantra. Innumerable innocent people have been deceived and learned nothing but rather wasted time and effort; even worse, some have entered the wrong paths and become the devil’s offspring. Especially during the current degenerate period, it is difficult to distinguish between Buddha and devil, and there are more false masters than can be counted. Sentient beings are easily bewildered by false dharma and deceiving masters.
Because of the causes and conditions of Buddha’s significant event, I particularly break the tradition and address the virtuous practitioners in order to save sentient beings from Samsara’s suffering. Be careful to search for a true master based on the criteria listed in the following table, and follow the master to learn throughout a lifetime. Besides the listed criteria, it is necessary to verify whether the master one follows is adept in both the Outer Tantra and Inner Tantra. If the master is proficient on the Inner Tantra or Supreme Tantra, then he is an ultimate Great Jewel, Vajra Master. If the master that one follows cannot be competent on the Inner Tantra and Supreme Tantra Empowerments, then one must examine an Outer-Tantra master according to the qualification table of a Great Jewel, Vajra Master during the period of selecting a master. Take extra caution to remember it and never overlook this issue.
After taking refuge in the master, learning the tantra begins with practicing the four preliminaries according to the master’s teaching in order to remove the practitioner’s karma and to train one’s will. After the completion of the four preliminaries, a disciple can receive empowerment in order to practice tantra.
The term of empowerment is well known by everybody—including tantra disciples and regular people—in the Tibet area. It can be found that Great Rinpoches, Rinpoches and Hutuketus hold the majestic empowerment ceremonies for disciples everywhere.
Disciples usually contribute everything in order to receive one empowerment from a rinpoche. Since this kind of ceremony existed for a long time, people visualize the empowerment as that of a master who sits on a sacred rostrum, recites something, holds and waves a sacred implement and vessel, or puts a Five-Dhyani-Buddha hat on a disciple’s head. After taking a long time in the ceremony, even if the students did not see any miracle, the master still mystically declared, “Tantra is the utmost Bodhisattva dharma. I have empowered you today, planted a Vajra seed and you will receive a blessing after today. You will not fall into hell and will become a Buddha in this lifetime.”
After listening to the master, misguided disciples usually think that they have received empowerment as well as a grand tantra and obtained the permission and blessing from Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Hence, they spend all their time trying to cultivate themselves after empowerment but cannot achieve anything; thus, they waste this lifetime.
This kind of empowerment is false. I spent dozens of years studying in Tibet and saw many false Rinpoches and Hutuketus as well as countless false empowerments. Oftentimes local government heads and princes pretend to be rinpoches to perform empowerment, but they do not know the tantra rite at all and never have the correct lineage from teachers. They can only read the mantra and explain things from a book; hence, disciples cannot learn anything. I want to sincerely tell all of the virtuous practitioners in this Saha Land that all tantra empowerments must have the real expression and if a disciple does not see the real expression in a mandala, then it is not a true empowerment. Therefore, to assess whether a master has the qualifications for empowerment, one must see the real tantra expression. However, tantra is practiced by the great Bodhisattvas, and the knowledgeable and virtuous people; normal people do not deserve to know. As a result of the limitations of the commandment, the true expression cannot be described in detail here. Please forgive me, and allow me to briefly state only part of the true expression.
Tantra is roughly summarized in the qualification table of a Great Jewel, Vajra Master and can be collectively categorized into the three major categories: Outer, Inner and Supreme Tantra. Empowerment is correspondingly divided into the Outer, Inner and Supreme categories. Vajrasattva separated the turning of the dharma wheel into three times and that is the dharma of three-category empowerments. Practitioners who obtain any empowerment among the three-category empowerments can all gain blessings and beneficial effects, further correspond the three karmas, cultivate themselves accordingly, and thus, achieve the way of Bodhi Vajra.
Because each category of tantra has a different dharma, the qualification of a master for teaching that category of tantra is accordingly different and the corresponding expression in a mandala is quite distinct. Consequently, the beneficial effects received by a disciple are quite different and the achievement of a disciple also has distinct variations. The Outer Empowerment means that a master accepts a disciple based on one’s affinity, and Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and dharma protecting deities do not personally come to the mandala. Therefore, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas do not confirm it in the mandala. Afterwards, practitioners who received the Outer Empowerment, cultivate themselves accordingly and will obtain the fruit that they wish to obtain after 16, 7 or 3 lifetimes.
In contrast, for the Inner Empowerment, Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and dharma protecting deities personally come to a mandala, view a disciple’s underlying causes and conditions and reduce the negative karma. If everything matches the dharma, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas demonstrate the dharma expression and confirm the empowerment in the mandala. After a practitioner receives the empowerment, dharma protecting deities guard this one anytime and help this one to remove any demonic barrier. A disciple who practices accordingly can achieve the desired fruit in the current lifetime.
Supreme Tantra Empowerment is superior to others. If one can obtain the ultimate, Great Jewel, Vajra Master’s Supreme Tantra Empowerment, the practitioner possesses the superb affinity with the Buddhas. If this person can further make one’s three karma correspond with the teachings of the master, follow the ultimate, Great Jewel, Vajra Master to practice in this lifetime, then one can become a Buddha in this lifetime and will be declared such at the right time.
Practitioners must remember that the three-category empowerments have quite distinct expressions, but all of the three-category empowerments are fixed, unchangeable dharma expressions and represent a master’s merit that touches Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and Personal Deities (Yidams). Furthermore, tantra defines the necessary expression. Hence, one must respect any category of true empowerment.
The master who can confer the Outer Empowerment must command the sutras and tantra and be thoroughly conversant in five sciences (or fields of studies), practice perfectly and receive the Vajra Acarya Empowerment. A person who lacks even a single criterion is not the best teacher for Outer Tantra. Two expressions of Outer Empowerment are:
· Cast a sharpened stick to a designated one out of a plateful of green fruits as a sign to determine the underlying causes and conditions.
· Place auspicious grass under a pillow to see the corresponding dream as the sign of empowerment.
These are defined in the tantra and cannot be modified. The ratio of current masters and rinpoches vs. the ones who are qualified for the above criteria for the Outer Empowerment is approximately 1000:1 or 1000:2. However, clearly stated, if a rinpoche or master is not thoroughly conversant in five sciences and cannot command the sutras and tantra, but has an accurate, clear teaching lineage and there is no better masters within a 1000-mile area, or if there is a master capable of publicly conducting “Namo Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva Blessing Dharma Assemblies” to invite Buddhas and Bodhisattvas so that people can see, then the disciples can follow these individuals and ask for the Outer Empowerment. Disciples can also obtain beneficial effects and achieve success but cannot achieve the highest fruit and cannot do so quickly. However, even this kind of master must be approved as an Acarya by his Vajra Master in order to enter a mandala and to perform empowerment for disciples.
The masters for the Inner Empowerment must possess four divisions of empowerments in addition to the above criteria. The four divisions of empowerments are:
· The Vajra Samaya Empowerment
· The Auspicious Selection Empowerment (Selection Empowerment of Inner Tantra has 4 kinds of expressions whereas the Supreme Tantra has only two different expressions.)
· If a Gadanchiba (Dharma King) holds the mandala, he must possess the Dharma Wheel Empowerment. In the tantra rite, a dharma wheel is the lineage emblem and a Dharma King’s dharma wheel has a great deal of miraculous transforming capabilities, including automatic walking, selecting all underlying causes and conditions and demonstrating majestic power. Besides a Gadanchiba, any Great Rinpoche does not have this dharma wheel; however, a Great Rinpoche may have a regular dharma wheel without any power.
· The Buddha Bestowed Nectar Empowerment: clearly pointing out here that Buddha Bestowed Nectar Empowerment belongs to the ultimate Inner Tantra and the profound Supreme Tantra, as well as the connecting utmost dharma between Vajrasattva’s turning the dharma wheel for teaching the Inner and Supreme Tantra.
Supreme Tantra is the highest profound dharma in Tantrayana and covers all dharma. If one can master the Supreme Tantra, then one has perfectly covered all the dharma listed in the qualification table. Supreme Tantra defines two divisions of true empowerment: Supreme Tantra Selection and Buddha Bestowed Nectar with different expressions. There is no other tantra other than that listed above and practitioners must be careful to clearly understand this important point.
The Supreme Tantra Selection Empowerment’s first division is the Petition Selection Empowerment. This empowerment is quite different from the Document Cause Selection Empowerment that is one of the Auspicious Selection Empowerments in the Inner Tantra Empowerment. In the Document Cause Selection Empowerment, after the document is sealed, unrelated documents are removed by the power of mantra and wind and the related document naturally remains in the mandala. This expression points out the related causes and demonstrates the supernatural power.
On the other hand, the Supreme Tantra’s Petition Selection Empowerment is the distinct expression of dharma reality demonstrated by grand supernatural power and by a heaven dharma protecting deity’s utmost sacred realm. During this empowerment, a disciple prepares four wood pillars and one wood board in advance; Vajra Master tells the disciple to write dozens of documents according to the tantra. Each document, with different content, is sealed with exactly the same envelope, which contains different practicing dharma or empowerments. The document may be a document of petition for a particular division of Vajra Empowerment for a disciple, a document for inspecting one’s date of death, a document for inspecting a particular affinity, a document for dedicating one’s vow, or a document for removing a disciple’s life and death sufferings. The critical part of the Supreme Tantra’s Petition Selection Empowerment is that a disciple has sealed the written documents in a secret place and the master has not seen them. The sealed documents are stored in the center of a mandala dish by the disciple acting alone and are entirely covered by Tibetan red hibiscus flowers, betel nuts or eight jewels. Then, the disciple brings the mandala dish from the secret place, arrives at the center of the mandala and practices by ringing a bell and reciting a mantra at a distance of more than ten feet from the master. The mandala dish is completely covered by the wood board and contains no gaps. At that time, the master, sitting on the sacred throne, invites Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Personal Deities and dharma protecting deities according to tantra and merges into a state of tantra that is perfect, including every little detail. Mahayana’s benevolent person (the master) would see the sacred scene emerging during the ceremony. The disciple picks up the wood board and carefully inspects it. The person who receives the empowerment can see that the documents have vanished through the miraculous powers of the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and dharma protecting deities. Furthermore, the disciple will immediately know which Buddhas and Bodhisattvas have taken it. During the process of sealing the document, covering the dish and reciting the mantra until completing the visualization and inspection, the disciple performs these actions in secret. During this time, the Supreme Tantra Vajra Master sits on a sacred throne dozens of feet away, cannot leave the throne and cannot watch the document sealing and covering processes. If this is not a supernatural power demonstrated by the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, then how are the two documents (the empowerment document and dharma protecting deity document) removed from dozens of documents?
The second division of Supreme Tantra’s Selection Empowerment is the Dharma-Reed-Person-Selection Empowerment. In this case, straw, reed or auspicious grass is tied to form a scarecrow (straw mannequin) that lies on a wood board. A disciple sits, according to tantra, one or two feet away from the wood board, watching the process. The master conducts the empowerment according to tantra without leaving the sacred throne that is dozens of feet away from the wood board. The supernatural power demonstrated is that either a dharma protecting deity or a soul becomes attached to the scarecrow. If this is an empowerment, then a dharma protecting deity, attached to it, becomes a dharma-reed person with boundless supernatural power to stand up from sleeping, stand at the center of the wood board and walk around using the miraculous powers. Mahayana’s benevolent person can see the entire sacred scene and normal practitioners can see the attached scarecrow standing up. If a practitioner faces the disturbing sight of a bloody-light ghost or demon, a Great Jewel, Vajra Master can use this to force the evil soul or bloody-light ghost to enter the scarecrow, which also stands up. If the purpose of this act is to save the soul of a dead person, then the soul is attached to the scarecrow, which stands up and is witnessed by the relatives of the dead, this demonstrating a successful rescuing. All phenomena are demonstrated through supernatural power, not through individual effort. Only Supreme Tantra’s utmost Great Jewel, Vajra Master can conduct this ultimate empowerment.
Using the rescue of the dead as an example, normal rinpoches and monks hold a seven-day cultivation, food-offering assembly or a dharma assembly that offers virtue and merit for sentient beings living in the air, water and land. Those events have some merit but are less important than that of the Supreme Tantra Empowerment’s rescue. Normal rinpoches and monks will not know if the dead is rescued or not during the festival. Only when the Supreme Tantra’s utmost Great Jewel, Vajra Master performs the empowerment for rescuing can the family and relatives of the dead witness the sacred scene.
In the Supreme Tantra’s Buddha Bestowed Nectar Empowerment (that is the connecting utmost dharma between Vajrasattva’s turning the dharma wheel for teaching the Inner and Supreme Tantra), a disciple washes the sacred bowl and puts the cover on it. The master then conducts the invitation dozens of feet away from the disciple. When nectar descends into the sacred bowl in a visible or invisible way, the majestic light and divine power emerge in the sky. Then, the disciple lifts the cover to inspect it. The master cannot get close to the disciple until the disciple detects the bestowed nectar. The nectar is not any material or element known in the Saha Land. If one can obtain the nectar blessing, one’s lifetime can be increased significantly. If one can be empowered by the nectar, one could achieve boundless success. However, for a disciple to obtain the nectar blessing, one must have three virtues:
· The fire offerings by burning the most precious jewels and so on
· Pure morality
· Merit of Perfect deed’s (that is the perfect completion of four preliminaries).
Otherwise, even a qualified master cannot confer the empowerment. This empowerment has enormous miraculous and boundless supernatural power that can only be conferred by Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and grand Dharma Kings, who have the virtue and merit to conduct it for a disciple! Normal rinpoches and Hutuketus cannot conduct it.
The Supreme Tantra’s Selection Empowerment is a tantra defined by Buddhas since the very beginning and there is no alternative way of conducting it. Buddhist disciples must carefully recognize it according to the description above and never rely on any other phenomena to let themselves be cheated.
I have received Zerkuwinpo Hutuketu’s empowerment as described above. However, I have limited wisdom; consequently, I cannot confer the Supreme Tantra Empowerment on disciples. At present, I am still very ashamed but I can control the success of this lifetime and will achieve the Vajra immortal body. Practitioners must know that the Supreme Tantra’s Selection Empowerment belongs to the supernatural power of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and the Outer Tantra’s masters and rinpoches definitely cannot conduct it. False rinpoches and Hutuketus cannot possess the capability to conduct it. There exists only one or two Vajra Masters in the Saha Land that can perform the Inner and Supreme Tantra’s Empowerment. Great Vajra Dharma King Karmapa of the Ming Dynasty prophesized that Mahayana’s virtuous person of the Supreme Tantra’s Selection Empowerment would emerge in the Sara Land when iron birds fly. He will carry on the white-gown dharma king’s crown and behave like Marpa. He will hold a silver dharma wheel, carry the red bowl, which is a lineage emblem, and harmonize the dharma of ingress and outgress of the world. Virtuous practitioners should carefully search and will meet him when the affinity mature. If one can meet the Inner Tantra and Supreme Tantra’s utmost Great Jewel, Vajra Master, then one must have superlative affinity. One who follows this master to learn and practice will achieve great success and even more! I hope fervently that practitioners use great compassion and correct knowledge and understanding to recognize the correct tantra and never search for a master without using what is described above. This is very important. Remember it!
In order for practitioners to clearly understand each category of tantra empowerment, see TABLE 1 .
It is especially important to remind the virtuous practitioners who practice super tantra that they cannot slander other sects of Buddhism such as the Pure Land, Zen and so forth, which are all legitimate sects of Buddhism. Because of the different karma of sentient beings since the transmigration without beginning, everyone has a distinct background. Hence, someone may not have the good fortune of enjoying the super tantra, just as an elementary school student may not necessarily receive a college education. Buddha thus taught 84,000 dharma methods in order to adapt to the various backgrounds of sharp or dull characteristics. All of the teaching can rescue sentient beings from Samsara (or reincarnation). Zen or Pure Land’s disciples can go to the Pure Land (Superlative Joy), and although it takes three Asankhya kalpas (countless eons) of time to constantly cultivate six paramitas, they eventually will achieve the Annutara-samyak-sambodhi (complete perfect realization). Buddha said that all dharma must be suitable for corresponding disciples to practice. To make it clear, none of Mahayana tantra’s practitioners should ever look down upon Hinayana’s practitioners and should influence them based on Bodhicitta since all deeds are carried out for sentient beings. Hence, I clearly point out that if one cannot meet a Tantrayana master, then one must first practice Zen or Pure Land to accumulate merit, cultivate oneself and search for Tantrayana master simultaneously. This describes a path without mistakes. Now, I teach the virtuous practitioners the concise Zen and Pure Land’s cultivating guideline:
Never indulge any bad behavior, whether large or small,
Conduct all virtuous deeds and events,
Six Realm’s sentient beings all can be rescued,
Like the rain of love benefits the Three Realms,
Constantly cultivate the six paramitas,
Steadfastly commit to the four limitless states of mind,
Great compassion similar to Avalokitesvara;
Never acquire and stick to any incorrect thought during the calm,
Never be attached to any illusion during the action;
Let thousands of improper ideas pop out by themselves,
Never follow the ideas falling into reincarnation,
Concentrate on reciting Buddha’s name without any other thought,
Empty the mind when the sacred realm comes,
One and only one idea to go to the Superlative Joy,
Never come and never leave in Samadhi.
Homage to Adi-Buddha! Bless all practitioners!
All merit is dedicated to all sentient beings. I Hope fervently that all sentient beings can listen to dharma, meet a true master, get out of reincarnation, be free in the Three Spheres and become a Buddha in this lifetime!
Utmost Great Jewel, Vajra Master Kongkar Rinpoche was a famous Great Rinpoche all over the world and had great supernatural powers and achievements. After his perfect rest, his remains are not only uncorrupted but also shrank to a flesh Vajra relic of a height of 1.44 feet which exits until now. This can be claimed as a rare thing in this world. The flesh Vajra relic is offered in the Kongkar Mountain of China. We, the disciples, received Master Kongar’s articulation of the profound Supreme Tantra but did not receive his Supreme Tantra’s Empowerment. According to what Master Kongkar said, he had received the great Master Zerkuwinpo’s Supreme Tantra Empowerment but could not conduct the Supreme Tantra for disciples and felt shameful as a result. We, the ignorant, think that our master was humble and cautious to tell us this, or our backgrounds were so poor that we were not qualified to receive it. Hence, the master did not empower us to demonstrate the true expressions. Consequently, we cannot know the truth. But Master Kongkar’s achievement can prove that Supreme Tantra is superlative. I hope fervently that subsequent disciples with the opportunity of encountering this utmost tantra could fulfil Mahasattva’s Bodhicitta to rescue all sentient beings in the Six Realms.
All merit of this tantra is dedicated to all sentient beings, so that they may gain control over birth and death and be released from reincarnation. May those with lower qualifications go to the Superlative Joy. May those with mediocre qualifications be free in the Three Spheres and May those with upper qualifications become a Buddha in this lifetime!
Brief Description of the Excellent Realm from the Inner Tantra Empowerment and Supreme Tantra Empowerment
1. The Inner Empowerment:
A disciple that receives an Inner Empowerment can invite the dharma protecting deities, exclude diseases, eliminate barriers in practicing tantra, improve their good fortune and achieve great merit and virtue.
2. The Supreme Tantra Empowerment:
(1) A disciple that receives the Petition Selection Empowerment: Buddhas or Bodhisattvas use the supernatural power to arrive at the mandala and to receive the petition. If the disciple practices accordingly, he or she will gain miraculous powers, obtain control over birth and death, obtain tremendous good fortune and never regress in cultivating dharma.
(2) A disciple that receives the Dharma-Reed-Person-Selection Empowerment: Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and dharma protecting deities demonstrate supernatural power as witnessed. A disciple will be protected by Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and will certainly achieve success. The empowerment for rescuing a soul of the dead can be done in such a way that the soul’s relatives witness the rescue.
(3) A disciple that receives the Buddha Bestowed Nectar Empowerment: one will become a Buddha in this lifetime. Even if one only receives the nectar blessing, one’s lifetime can be extended to 125 years.
Note by Janyang Chingjeng:
The Anonymous Master, holding the realization fruit of Gadanchiba (Dharma King), has another well-known name all over the world. Many years ago, Dharma King Tsungsheng predicted in a hymn of praise that his name will quake all over the world. However, very few people know that he is the Anonymous Master. Since Mahavairocana—the Great Sun Buddha, Supreme Master Tsungsheng—did not clearly point out who that person is, nobody speaks his true name. The sacred bowl (in the picture preserved by me) was handed down by Supreme Master Tsungsheng and was used by the Anonymous Master for my empowerment. The picture of and reprint of the bottom of the bowl are provided for practitioners to assess. I only hope that a virtuous person, who possesses the affinity, will follow him. This bowl has endless supernatural power. Tibetan Wang-Zi Rinpoche had the idea to steal the bowl for one application but failed. Dharma protecting deities pushed him down an abyss; he died and fell into the Vajra hell. If one sees the bowl, one should respect it and as a result will receive boundless merit.