"Merits of Practice" Excerpt from Machig Lapdron's |
TIBETAN SACRED BIOGRAPHY
translated by Tsultrim Allione
When he was sixteen Machig said [to her son Tonyon]: "Now go to practice on the 'Snow Mountain of Sampo' (Shangpo Gangri). You have a good connection with that place."
He left with three friends, and they walked for a month before they arrived. The morning they arrived at Shampo they were making a feast offering and Machig appeared there miraculously. She asked "Are you tired?"
He said: "No, thank you. We are honored by your visit."
Then she gave him the greatest initiation of her lineages and the initiation of the Five Dhyani Buddhas, and the Five Secret Vajra Varahi. The initiations were perfectly performed. She stayed there in the cave for seven days. Many dakas and dakinis* were present. The son saw his mother become Vajra Varahi, and there was a rain of flowers, rainbows and many miraculous signs.
Machig ordered a local guardian called Shambo not to disturb her son's practice and he promised to assist Tonyon. She ordered a Padma Dakini called Drimima, which means "Without Obstacles," to serve Tonyon and provide everything necessary for his retreat. She promised to do this.
Machig said to her son: "Practice for thirteen years and aggregations, manifestations, dimensions in space, objects and subjects of the sense will manifest as mandalas* of the deity. Try to stabilize the pure vision of illumination. Don't worry about your livelihood, there are those who will serve you."
So he entered the cave and made a seat of kusha grass and sat in the position of Vairocana. The door was sealed and no one else entered. Then Machig disappeared into the sky with a retinue of dakinis in the direction of Zangri.
After three months he had a vision of hunger and thirst. He remembered that his mother had said that someone would feed him, but he saw no one who could keep him and feed him. But he thought: "This place has been empowered by my mother. I should be able to remain with just the food of meditation empowered by my mother. It would be impossible for me to die of hunger." A while later a red lady appeared on a ray of sunlight. She was very elegantly dressed and was bringing a bowl of nectar for him to drink. She said: "Practitioner, drink this and reach the depths of your practice."
He drank the bowl full of nectar and it had a wonderful taste, and afterwards bliss spread through his whole body. He lost his desire for worldly food and he thought: "Probably this is the Wisdom Dakini. This is a sign of progress in practice."
Then the dakini said: "I was ordered by Machig to bring you what you need. I am not your teacher, so do not tell me the signs of your progress. Keep it hidden in the space of 'suchness.' You still have the desire to tell everyone the signs of your practice. Observe your mind well. When you have doubts or decisions to make, use your own innate knowledge, do not go to others. Unite your way of seeing with your way of behaving."
As she said this, the [ray of] light stopped shining and disappeared. Every three years she came back and gave him this amrita. After five years Machig sent a yogi to check up on Tonyon and see if he was dead or alive. The yogi arrived outside the cave. "Tonyon!" he called out.
"Ah." was the response.
"Your mother sent me to see if you are hungry or cold. Do you have any difficulties you cannot overcome?"
"Aren't you tired? I am glad to know my mother is alive and well. I am living on the food of meditation -- How could I be hungry? I have the clothes of the internal inner heat, and because of this I have overcome attachment to warm clothes. My visions are great companions, so I do not miss my friends. Everything that I see is full of light, so I have no attachment to places," said Tonyon from inside the cave.
Then the yogi went back and told all of this to Machig. She was happy and she said, "Oh he has this ability."
The disciples of Machig became as limitless as the sky. They came from Central Tibet, Amdo, Kham and even Nepal. Great gurus, scholars, monks, kings, noblemen, ministers, queens, princes, embassadors, common people, lepers and beggars, all went to Machig, bowed and received teaching from her. Eventually her fame spread to India.