Choose an auspicious day to end your retreat. In the last session of the day, before you plan to leave the retreat, begin by setting out a fresh offering torma along with other excellent offerings, such as the materials needed for a gathering offering. Following this, perform an extensive gathering offering, fulfillment and confessions, and other such rituals. In the early morning session on the following day, get up early and perform
the ritual as it is laid out in the text you are using. Next, perform a gathering offering, fulfillment ceremony, and dedication of the torma. Then take the Dharma protector torma that you have been using on a daily basis and either burn it or take it to a clean place and perform the covenant proclamation and Tenma goddess offerings, along with the dance of Hayagriva.
When taking the spiritual accomplishments, replenish the offerings and place a kapala filled with fermented liquor, Dharma medicine, and dairy products on the shrine. Then light the offering lamp that you use on a daily basis. Dedicate a torma to the obstructing forces and, after they have been expelled, visualize a stable protective dome, consecrate the offerings, and perform the descent of blessings. Once these steps are
complete, imagine that all the spiritual accomplishments of the enlightened body, speech, and mind of the victorious ones throughout the ten directions and their heirs coalesce in the form of the three syllables and white, red, and dark-blue nectar, which rain down upon the torma and nectar, dissolving into them.
Next, recite the approach mantras of the main deity and the entire retinue and recite an appropriate addendum to the mantra, such as KA YA VAKA CITTA SARVA SIDDHI PHALA HUM. At the break of day, instantaneously visualize the old offering tormas as the deity. Alternatively, in this context you may also separate the wisdom mandala from the samaya being and merge it indivisibly with the torma.
With the knowledge that the torma is the deity, think of it as the source from which you receive empowerment and spiritual accomplishments. To begin, present offerings and praise, and perform general confessions, such as the “Supreme Wisdom Form,” along with the confession liturgy from the text you are using.
Following these steps, purify whatever enmity may be present by reciting the hundred-syllable mantra twenty-one times and confess any impaired or broken samaya vows, thereby purifying your mind-stream and making it a fit receptacle for spiritual accomplishments.
Next, recite an appropriate supplication prayer to invoke the enlightened mind of the deity. Hold the torma in your hands and recite the liturgy for invoking the spiritual accomplishments. Then offer the following prayer with intense devotion:
Supreme deity, I have shared a connection with you in my previous lives. Now, once again, I have completed the samaya vows of approach and accomplishment. I have completed the proper number of days and, with daybreak near, now the time to bestow the spiritual accomplishments has arrived. In accordance with the pledges you have made in the past, please pacify adverse conditions and hostile forces with the boundless
blessings of your wisdom, love, and power. Please cause all positive qualities to develop fully and grant me mastery over the splendor and riches of samsara and nirvana. Please vanquish all harmful forces, enemies, obstructive forces, and demonic beings. Please bestow upon me the common spiritual accomplishments, including the unobstructed accomplishment of the infinite activities subsumed within the four forms of
enlightened activity. In particular, please grant my main objective: the fruit of the culmination of abandonment and realization, the embodiment of the spontaneously accomplished twofold benefit, the unsurpassed spiritual accomplishment of the Great Seal, the union of bliss and emptiness, inseparable in essence from your own vajra body, speech, and mind, supreme yidam deity! Please bestow these upon me this very moment, without delay!
With these words, imagine that all the supreme and ordinary spiritual accomplishments emerge in the form of rays of light from the three places of the assembly of deities. Dissolving into your own three places, the
light rays bring you all the spiritual accomplishments you desire. Touch the torma to your three places and take the four empowerments. Imagining that the torma deity then dissolves into light and becomes nectar, dip the material torma into the nectar and drink the nectar with the conviction that you are equal in status to the yidam deity.
Alternatively, when there is a frontal visualization, there is no need to separate the wisdom being of the self-visualization. In such cases you should hold up the substances of the spiritual accomplishments with your hands. Invoked by the blissful sounds of the passionate union of the assembly of deities
visualized in front of you, all the victorious ones throughout space gather and their bodhicitta, transforming into the essence of nectar, rains down. The nectar completely fills up the bodies of the deities in front and their bodies begin to emit the common and supreme spiritual accomplishments.
The spiritual accomplishments of enlightened form emerge as deities, enlightened speech as seed syllables, enlightened mind as symbolic implements, and their bodhicitta, the nature of pristine great bliss, takes the form of five-colored rainbow light. Inseparable from the torma, all of these dissolve into
Following this, present offerings and songs of gratitude and, in this particular context, offer a peaceful fire puja offering to make up for any omissions or additions made during the recitation. Offer the substances using only the primary mantra. To petition for the retreat, recite the following:
In this way, ten percent of the recitation should be performed as a fire puja offering that utilizes substances and mantra. Since fire puja offerings are praised in all the higher and lower classes of tantra as important for the development of your practice, the fire puja offering must not be dispensed with.
During the dissolution stage, dissolve the visualization beginning with the protective dome and complete the concluding rituals. This comprises the completion of the retreat on an inner level. Next, maintain an uninterrupted schedule of practice sessions for three, seven, or another appropriate number of days. As a gesture of gratitude, perform as many gathering offerings, fulfillment ceremonies, and so forth as you can, along
with dedications, aspiration prayers, and so on. When you physically complete the retreat, arise as the deity in the ensuing attainment, don armor, and protect the body. Go to the boundary of the retreat and set out a white torma and offering cup in front of the poles of each of the guardian kings. Then present offerings and praises of gratitude, request them to depart, and dismantle the poles. You may then proceed to meet a few of
your companions who have received the same teachings and who abide by the samaya vows. These and other such details can be understood according to the system of The Universal Secret. If you are able, you can make offerings, as represented by
presenting “The Smoke Offering to the Kings,” and other such offerings, in an uncovered space to the lords of the four places, in general, or to specific deities, as well as offering alms to the destitute.
In some recitation manuals, it is taught that the substance of the spiritual accomplishments should be divided into four portions and enjoyed by your guru, the knowledge holders, yourself, and companions with whom you share samaya vows. After daybreak, perform the rituals for the daily torma, the torma for the protectors, and so forth.
The residual that has been imprisoned should also be offered here. Of the three portions of the practice torma, one part should be hidden as treasure in the retreat space, one part should be offered as material for the fire puja offering, and one part should be mixed with another torma and left outside. Remind the Tenma of their oath and complete their practice in its entirety, then proceed with the stages of dissolution and so on, up
to the prayer of auspiciousness. Next, perform the amending fire puja, take down the guardian kings’ poles, and present offerings to the local protectors. Though it is taught that you should perform these steps in this order, in practice it suffices to use whichever structure is most convenient.
Concerning the dedication, the unique feature of the skillful means of Secret Mantra is that you accumulate as much merit by performing the ritual one time each session as you would normally accumulate in an entire great eon. For this reason, dedicate all the virtue you have gathered, are gathering, and will gather —as exemplified by the basic virtues you have already accumulated in the past —as causes of enlightenment. To do so
while imbuing the dedication with the knowledge that does not conceptualize the three spheres is the way to dedicate in a completely pure manner. Nevertheless, for beginners it is unlikely that such a dedication free
from poison will occur, so you may also dedicate in a manner that simulates this state, thinking to yourself, “Just as the victorious ones throughout the three times and their heirs dedicated, likewise I now dedicate this merit as well.” Reciting the dedication liturgy with this attitude is a unique method that will ensure that the basic virtues will not go to waste, but instead will develop further and further.
Concerning aspiration prayers, since the enlightened activity that benefits others is the culminating result that you seek through the path of the supreme vehicle, give voice to whatever aspirations you bear in mind. Recite any appropriate aspiration prayers, whether long or short, and attune your mind to the words you chant. With the superior attitude of wishing to benefit the teachings and beings, recite pure aspiration prayers
to ensure that the temporary and ultimate benefit and happiness will be vast and unceasing. It is the unfailing reality of the interdependence of cause and result that whatever aspirations are made will be fulfilled accordingly.
For auspiciousness you may recite words of auspicious interdependence while thinking to yourself, “Through the power of the blessings, compassion, and truth of the host of deities that have been approached and accomplished—the three roots and three jewels—may all harmful and malevolent forces be pacified, may all positive qualities increase and develop, and may the fruits born of this virtue manifest vividly, beautifying
the universe and its inhabitants and bringing the sublime glory and auspiciousness of benefit, happiness, virtue and goodness.” At the same time, imagine that the victorious ones and their heirs appear in the space
above you, proclaiming the auspiciousness with vajra songs and sending down a shower of flowers from all directions. These dissolve into you, your surroundings, your things, and so on, imbuing you with positive qualities and causing your body to take on a radiant glow. Scattering flowers brings virtue, and goodness to all times, places, and situations.
In this way, the basis for purification is your own buddha nature, which is referred to as “potential” and “element.” The objects of purification are all the incidental impurities, while the process of purification is the path that unites the two stages. Following that path, you actualize the result of purification, which refers to all the qualities of the ground.
Moreover, the various forms of absorption serve as a skillful means. When you train in each of these absorptions and subsequendy master them, you will gradually progress through the five practices of the defiled paths of accumulation and joining, as well as the undefiled states of the four knowledge holders. This comprises the definitive perfection, practice through actualization. One who practices in this manner is referred to as a “mature student.”
Nevertheless, even if you have yet to attain stability in meditative absorption, there is also the approach of devoted training. This involves simply meditating on the mere forms of the development stage to the best of your ability. In that way you can complete the preparation, main practice, and concluding activities of the development stage in each session, from the protective sphere to the concluding steps of donning armor and protecting the body.
The Great One of Uddiyâna taught:
The view relates to scripture and reasoning. Meditation relates to experience. Secret Mantra relates to empowerment. Blessings relate to devotion. Experience relates to realization. Conduct relates to time. Spiritual attainments relate to the samaya vows. The fruition relates to benefiting others. Practical instructions relate to the guru. Practice with these nine relationships.
In particular, tantra relates to practice manuals. Practice manuals relate to liturgical arrangement. Liturgical arrangement relates to the practice tradition. The practice tradition relates to the key instructions of the lineage gurus. Accomplishing the yidam deity via these relationships is the very essence of the infinite victorious ones.
Hence, with certainty about these relationships, exert yourself without partiality.
Should you practice many with an attitude of partiality,
You will have accomplished none, and it will wear you out.
In particular, it is important to arouse faith and devotion in the yidam deity. You should not have any doubt that the yidam is, in essence, your own guru, the embodiment of all the buddhas, who has shown you the three forms of kindness. A tantra states:
But the spiritual accomplishments linked to that
Are still imminent for a simpleton who has faith.
That which opens the door to all dharmas,
Clears away adverse circumstances for all practices,
And enhances all the instructions
Is said to be devotion. This you should know.
Generally speaking, the compassion of the buddhas enters sentient beings in a particular manner. First, their compassion is everlasting and continuously unfolds like a flowing river. It is natural and instinctive, occurring
without effort or thought, like sunlight. Still, when aroused and prayed to, their compassion is like the response of a compassionate person to a beggar asking for money and when meeting with an appropriate object—someone in need of guidance—their compassion resembles that of a parent seeing his or her child racing toward a precipice. In this way, it allows for the victorious ones and their heirs to view you as their child
and kin, and for the dakinrs and Dharma protectors to see you as their companion and master, respectively. That provides a unique circumstance for you to receive their blessings. Consequently, if you arouse the compassion of the buddhas and pray to them with intense, heartfelt longing, they will be powerless not to grant you the two spiritual accomplishments, just as the result occurs once the right causes and conditions have come together.
At that point, there are lesser, middling, and great spiritual accomplishments. The lesser spiritual accomplishments are the four enlightened activities: pacifying the eight fears, increasing the six riches, magnetizing based on the four kinds of devotion, and the four types of wrathful activity. The eight fears are those of fire, water, lions, elephants, snakes, flesh-eating demons, shackles, and thieves. Alternatively, the eight fears can be
listed as illness, famine, fire, water, war, weapons, imperial punishment, and untimely death. The six riches are longevity, merit, glory, splendor, retinue, and wealth. The four kinds of devotion are when others feel affection toward you as though seeing you as their parent, respect for you as though seeing you as their guru, fear of you as though seeing you as a king, and love for you as though seeing you as a friend. The four
wrathful activities are to annihilate by wrathfully instilling fear in hordes of enemies, banishing them, killing them, and summoning them. The four enlightened activities, counted together with these four subcategories of wrathful activity, are referred to as the “eight great activities.”
The middling spiritual accomplishments are mentioned in the following song:
Pills, flight, invisibility,
And extracting essences ...
The supreme spiritual accomplishments are the four unique enlightened activities: pacifying the obscurations of karma, the afflictions, and the all ground; increasing the qualities of scripture and realization; magnetizing the wisdom of liberation and omniscience; liberating yourself through realization and others with compassion. It also refers to mastering all the qualities of the paths and levels, such as the powers, clairvoyance,
retention, and eloquence. Moreover, the supreme spiritual accomplishments in the temporary context of the path of joining are to attain the illusory form of the matured knowledge holder; on the path of seeing, to
attain the form of luminosity of the knowledge holder with power over longevity and to attain the unified form of training of the Great Seal knowledge holder. Ultimately, the supreme spiritual accomplishment is to attain the unified form beyond training of the spontaneously present knowledge holder.
The glorious Ngawang Trakpa writes:
At the request of some devoted students, and motivated by the wish to help those with inferior minds like my own, I gathered together these instructions from the recitation manuals of various indisputably learned and accomplished masters, along with the oral instructions of my own supreme and noble guru. I, the ignorant one with the title of tulku, Kunkyen Tenpe Nyima, compiled these notes in my own retreat hut at Ngepa Dongyi Gatsel Chokhor Namgyal Ling. Snyantu. Virtue, virtue, virtue.
5. Author’s note:
6. Author’s note:
7. Author’s note: This does not mean the outer protective dome.