Thursday, January 28, 2010

Mahakala Rumtek Sikkim

Mahakala wrathful and protecting deity. At Rumtek Monastery Sikkim, Indian seat of The Karmapas the last two weeks of this lunar month before the new year (Losar) it is customary for a continuous Mahakala Puja to take place with all instruments for reasons touched on below.

Khenpo Karthar reminds us ("Relating to the Mahakala Practice," Densal:

"Mahakala is seen standing on the corpse of two human bodies, thus symbolizing the death of negativities and the complete uprooting of negative patterns to such a point that, like a dead body, they will not come to life".
It is very important that we know these symbols of Mahakala because many times we have mistaken notions that he may be a clinging spirit or harmful, evil being, perhaps even the Lord of Death ready to devour and attack. One would find great difficulty in relating to the various symbols without understanding that our awakened compassion is the essential quality of the being of Mahakala.

Mahakala has never been known to harm one being, even in the slightest manner, because he is constantly benefiting beings through the continuous play of the enlightened mind."

Very briefly, according to Vajrayana, protectors should never be seen as something separate from oneself. Protectors actually have two levels which we can relate with. On the relative level, there are protectors like Mahakala, Palden Lhamo, Dorje Lekpa or Ekazati.
There are numerous sadhanas (practices) associated with these protectors. But ultimately, it is our own rigpa (the natural mind which is empty, spacious and open) that is the protector. The sadhanas usually have a structure where the meditator visualizes him or herself as a particular protector. The meditator is reminded again and again that his or her own nature is never separate from the protectors'. Some teachers further explain that in a way, these protectors are simply our own awareness and mindfulness. Because we are beings with both body and mind, it is easier in the beginning for us to focus on some being with a form - the various protectors. By meditating on their enlightened form - the various attributes and
ornaments (these are related to different enlightened qualities and activities), one is to actualize these same enlightened qualities in oneself. In a sense, we can say that the protectors are our own awareness and mindfulness appearing in enlightened forms. With right awareness and mindfulness, we will be able to relate to things as they truly are (the wisdom aspect) and carry out the bodhisattva activities (the compassionate aspect). Therefore, the effectiveness of these protectors are directly related to our own level of awareness and mindfulness. A teacher explaining that the law of karma is the real protector. Here, he means that if one were to truly understand cause and effect, one will then abstain from performing any negative actions but instead only cultivate good.
"Protectors, like other Buddhas and deities related to one's practice, should NEVER be seen as separate from one's natural mind, one's rigpa. And to be mindful at all times of cause and effect is perhaps the most direct protector one can get."

At 7000+ft on the edge of temperate rain forest in Sikkim North India stand New and Old Rumtek Monasteries. Gangtok, the Capital, lies across the mile deep valley shrouded by cloud.

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