Reaching the Rainbow with your feet on the Ground: An Essay on the Importance and Special Characteristics of the Yuthok Nyingthik

yuthok nyingthik post

Like all other Buddhist traditions, Vajrayana or tantric Buddhism offers a way out of the terrifying and bewildering morass of human suffering and habitude that is shorthanded as Samsara (འཁོར་བ་ khorwa in Tibetan, or ‘wandering around and around’). What stands out about the tantric path of liberation from suffering, though, is that rather than insisting that we completely reject  or avoid the perceptions and experiences that can easily mire us in suffering, Vajrayana proposes that the quickest and most convenient way out is through.

In my anthropological research on ngakpa/ma, I have written about how Vajrayana provides a unique philosophical framework for thinking about (and experiencing) the relationship between different levels of reality, the ultimate and the relative, inner and outer, mundane and extraordinary, subtle and gross. A large part of what makes tantra interesting is the way in which it plays with, and attempts to resolve the contrasts between more or less subtle levels of perception and activity, between what anthropologist of Buddhism Melford Spiro long ago called ‘nirvanic, karmic, and apotropaic’ levels of Buddhist philosophy and practice (that is, the goal of ultimate liberation, improved karma for better rebirth, and a focus on the conditions of this life here and now, respectively). While the ultimate or ‘extraordinary’ ‘super-power’ in Vajrayana is Buddhahood, tantric experts can (and should) develop all kinds of other abilities along the way so as to help beings. Ngakpa/ma are distinct for how they cultivate the highest view and attainments while apparently remaining firmly grounded in the midst of ‘worldly’ life and its everyday contingencies. Ngakpa/mas double up as both master-meditator yogis cultivating spiritual attainments in retreat at a remove from worldly obligations, and as fully-engaged householders who apply their expertise and the power of their attainments to the needs and problems of their own and others’ daily lives.

Medicine, meditation and yoga, as well as ritual and magic are all distinct yet overlapping domains in Tibetan worlds. Whether or not ngakpa and ngakma are trained in Sowa Rigpa or traditional Tibetan medicine (and they frequently are), the work they do as tantric sorcerers to help manage natural and negative forces means that much of their activities are inevitably curative, protective and restorative in nature. The Yuthok Nyingthik exemplifies this combining and blurring of categories. As a cycle of revealed teachings or ‘treasures’ (གཏེར་མ་ or terma), the Yuthok Nyingthik functions as a comprehensive spiritual complement to the Gyüshi or Root-Tantras of the Tibetan medical tradition. At the same time, much of its contents – its teachings on Creation and Completion Stages, the Six Yogas or Dharmas of Naropa, the Great Perfection and so on, as well as is ritual practices

The Yuthok Nyingthik, ‘The Heart-Essence Drop of Yuthok’ was received through visions by Yuthok the Younger in 12th century Tibet. Yuthok the Younger (1126-1202) was part of a hereditary lineage of traditional Tibetan doctors and ngakpas, and the Yuthok Nyingthik mirrors his own overlapping expertise as a realized tantric sorcerer, yogi, meditation master and physician – as someone who was both a talented clinician and who through the highest practices of Dzogchen or the Great Perfection, attained the so-called rainbow body (འཇའ་ལུས་ ja lü) and dissolved into pure light at the end of his life.

In the essay below, Dr Nida explains the significance of the Yuthok Nyingthik teachings, and addresses twelve special characteristics of the text-cycle. One thing that stands out throughout his expert commentary is how the Yuthok Nyingthik’s textual corpus encompasses the full gamut of Vajrayana practices and philosophy. In many ways the textual-cycle embodies much of the fusion of everyday problems of human survival with the most rarified teachings of Tibetan religion that is captured in the figure of the ngakpa as socially-engaged yogi. Conversely, through the unique perspective of the Yuthok Nyingthik the everyday pragmatic social service of the physician is framed as part of a grander scheme of spiritual relationships and ‘labour’.

By virtue of the Yuthok Nyingthik’s focus on practicality, we can also appreciate just how much diversity there is in Tibetan organizational schemes and applications for the foundational components of tantric practice. While some people sometimes treat ngöndro (སྔོན་འགྲོ) or the preliminary practices that purify and prepare one’s body, speech, and mind for the main tantric yoga practices as a kind of generic obligation to be completed before moving onto the ‘real’ meat of meditative self-transformation, here we can plainly see that there are many different levels and styles of ngöndro that are specific to particular text-cycles and lineages, and which can be approached in different ways and may be just as profound as the ‘main event’. Likewise, in typical terma revelation fashion, the text-cycle is diverse and complex enough to allow the individual practitioner to engage with the teachings in a number of ways, as suits their needs, capacities, and ingenuity.

My homage to Yuthok and thanks to Dr Nida la. Even though this is not a very good translation, I hope it will at least encourage those who are interested to explore the complex and rich traditions of Sowa Rigpa and ngakpa lineages further.

Here follows the translation of Dr Nida’s essay:

The Importance of the Yuthok Nyingthik, or its twelve uncommon and special characteristics

Published 21 April 2015, by the Tibetan Traditional Medical Association (Tibetan Sorig Khang)

I prostrate, give offerings, and go for refuge to the King of Medicine, Yuthok!

The Yuthok Nyingthig (The Heart-Essence of Yuthok) was taught to Yuthok Yönten Gonpo in the twelfth century by the Queen of (Wisdom) Dakinis Palden Treng (‘Glorious Garland/Rosary’). Yuthok’s heart-son Sumtön Yeshe then made notes based on Yuthok’s direct oral instruction after which Yuthok edited these himself and they came to comprise a complete Dharma-cycle. The text’s full name is “The Heart Essence of Yuthok, the Dharma Cycle of the Blessings of the Guru Sadhanas, the Sunlight of Compassion that eliminates the Darkness of Suffering”. These days, the Yuthok Guru sadhana cycle is widely known for its inclusion in the ‘Nectar of Good Qualities’ from the Mahayoga cycle of teachings in the Rinchen Terdzoe [the ‘Treasury of Precious Termas’, the collection of revealed scriptures assembled by Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche in the late 19th century]. The entire Dharma-cycle of all of the assorted rites or letsok ritual procedures, medicine empowerment rites, Creation and Completion stage and Great Perfection practices is also included as part of the original block-prints from Chagpori (‘Iron Mountain’), Drophen Ling [‘The Center for Benefiting Beings’, the traditional Tibetan medical institute established in Lhasa by the regent of the Great Fifth Dalai Lama, Sangye Gyatso in 1696]. In accordance with the wishes of the great medical professor Gojo Wangdu, and after obtaining authorization from the great and esteemed scholar Troru Tsenam, the Ngakmang Shipjook Khang or Tantric Community Research Institute typed up copies of the Chagpori set for the first time and everyone was able to see these.

In Y.uthok’s heart-son Sumton Yeshe’s hymn or words of offering we read:

“This guru sadhana that encapsulates the truest, most ultimate meaning of the Highest (Yoga) Tantras, the oral lineage endowed with empowering blessing that is not known to all, the swift and convenient path that bestows Buddhahood in one lifetime, unsullied by any admixture of individual fabrications or intellectual assumptions.”

I will explain the uncommon significance or twelve special characteristics of this oral lineage, which Sumton Yeshe describes as ‘the guru sadhana which encapsulates the real meaning of the Highest Yoga Tantras” as follows:

1) Swift blessings (i.e. it brings blessings quickly)

2) It’s easy to accomplish

3) It’s simple and convenient

4) It’s comprehensive (i.e. it includes all the essential points)

5) It’s connected with medicine

6) Its sequence of practice is clear

7) It’s non-sectarian in its doctrine

8) It’s of an appropriate or convenient length

9) It’s timely or in keeping with the times

10) It ‘tames’ whoever/whatever however they need to be tamed (i.e. it transforms or benefits practitioners according to their specific needs)

11) It’s a set of instructions unlike any other

12) It condenses the ultimate meaning and all of the essential points of the Buddha’s teachings

These points will be explained a little below.

Characteristic One – Speedy or Swift Blessings

One can enter into the blessings of the lineage merely by practicing the guru-sadhanas for seven days. As is clearly stated in the King of Medicine Yuthok’s song of realization:

“If you are able to have confidence in yourself, if you are able to pray with single-pointed focus, if you are able to cast off doubts and uncertainties, if you hope for an object of Refuge in this very lifetime, then the two obscurations (i.e. of afflictive emotions and cognition) will immediately be weakened. You will meet me in actuality, in meditative visions or in dreams, and I will reveal the supreme path of temporary and ultimate attainment.”

Likewise, as Kongtrul Yonten Gyatso explains in his commentary, “The Source of all Qualities – Notes on the Practices of the Outer, Inner, and Secret Guru Yogas of ‘The Blessings of the Guru Sadhana, the Sunlight of Compassion that Eliminates the Darkness of Suffering’”:

“As Yuthok taught:

“There’s greater merit in praying to me for one year than in praying to other gurus for a whole lifetime; there’s more merit in praying to me for a month than in praying to others for a whole year. Rather than praying to others for a whole month, by praying to me for just a day, one minute, or a mere instant, blessings will come quickly. If this isn’t true, for having deceived sentient beings, may all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the ten directions smash my skull into pieces like shattered plaster.”

Thus, by virtue of the magical power of his prayers of aspiration in general and the especially noble compassion and blessings of this holy master for us beings that need to be tamed in these degenerate times, the blessing-powers of his guru sadhana in particular are extremely fast-acting.

As he himself says:

“Not having the blessing that allows them to accomplish at the same time that they practice, beings in the degenerate times will be impatient and have little follow-through, and won’t be able to practice for long periods of time – thus, if individuals with faith practice this sadhana which is my own life-force without distraction for seven days, I promise that I will hold to these instructions and will reveal myself thoroughly to them: for the greater practitioner in actual life, for the average one through meditative visions, and for the lesser one through dreams.”

This extremely quick (accomplishment) of blessings was clearly explained in the true, unerring teachings, the great roar of the lion:

“If with belief that is free of doubts, greater practitioners promise to commit themselves to practice of the Creation and Completion stage, average practitioners to the approaching-accomplishing recitation-meditation practices, and the lesser practitioners to the daily yoga(s) which establish a connection with the guru and lineage, they will spontaneously accomplish the two kinds of benefit (i.e. the benefit for others and for themselves), without any effort at all.”

In the history called the ‘Iron Hook of Virtue’ [composed by Sumtön Yeshe Zung] it says that after he had finished writing the four Root Tantras of the Tibetan medicine (the Gyushi), looking directly upon the Lord of the Three Families (i.e. the Sugata, Vajra and Lotus family beings), (Sumtön) stated:

“Any being, whoever they may be, who sees, hears, is mindful of or touches you, all beings who have faith in you, all those who hate you – you will bring them from bliss to bliss [from ordinary happiness to the highest bliss]. Because you are the inheritor of the lineages of all the Sugatas, regardless of whether they will imagine you above the crown of their heads or in the centre of their hearts, the very instant they do, the blessing-current of all the Buddhas of the ten directions will surely enter into their mind-streams”

Thus, from these extensive prophecies, we can see without error the swiftness of Venerable Yuthok’s blessings.

Characteristic Two: Ease of Accomplishment

Both the preliminaries and the main practices of the Yuthok Nyinthik are described as easy to accomplish. The method for accomplishing the preliminaries that is taught in the root-text has two aspects: the ‘nyen (i.e. recitation/visualization practices) of time’ and ‘the nyen of signs’. Of these, the nyen of time is the accomplishing of the uncommon preliminaries as well as all of the guru-sadhanas within seven whole days or a week. Yuthok himself states that “(you will) attain at the same time as practicing”, and Kongtrul Yonten Gyatso says that to establish a connection and enter into a relationship with the guru and lineage, that one is even allowed to just do the preliminaries over four days and the guru-sadhana over three [as part of a week of retreat].

Regarding the Guru Yoga sadhanas, Kongtrul  also says:

“There is the Outer sadhana which is a form of Guru Yoga, the Inner sadhana which is a complete Creation and Completion Stage practice of Medicine Buddha, the Secret sadhana, which is the Mandala that embodies all the Three Roots, and the Condensed Sadhana which is a regular or daily practice. Each of these is also a stand-alone practice.”

This shows how, as both a (complete) four-fold system and as individual stand-alone practices, the Guru sadhanas are easy to perform or accomplish.

Characteristic Three: Convenience and Simplicity

As Venerable Yuthok says: “If one’s compassion is great, whatever one does will be Dharma.” If one makes loving-kindness one’s primary foundation, any medical undertakings and altruistic actions for the benefit of others that one might accomplish will also become Dharma. For this reason, the ‘routine ngondro’ of the Yuthok Nyingthik are those things that are done with compassion to nurture and benefit others. These can be seen as convenient applications (of the teachings) in the midst of our daily lives. No matter what sadhana one is doing, they only have a few chants and prayers and so on, and all of the medicine empowerment  cycles are convenient (to perform).

This wonderful convenience can be seen, for example, in Yuthok’s teachings on Phowa, or the Yoga of the Transference of Consciousness. The preliminary Phowa recitations, the main yogic practices, and the different ritual applications of Phowa for others, are laid out in their entirety on a single page. The seven physical ‘magic wheel’ or trulkhor exercises that are part of the channel and wind practices of Tummo, or Inner Heat Yoga – the first two of which purify stale wind in the channels, and the remaining five which are for unblocking the five channel-wheels or chakras – are also laid out simply and with great precision, in a way that really drives home the essential points. (The various aspects of) the Great Seal or Mahamudra too – mental stability, mental agitation, resting in the natural state, and the basic essence – are also extremely condensed and are explained in an easy and convenient way.

Characteristic Four: Comprehensiveness (includes all the essential points of practice)

All of the essential points of the path of Vajrayana are contained within the thirty-five sections of teachings within the single volume of the Yuthok Nyingthik. Its practices include the preliminaries (ngondro) that are the root of Mahayana; Guru yoga; Creation Stage practices; Creation Stages practices combined with Completion stage ones; the Approaching-Accomplishing (nyendroop, i.e. visualization and recitation) sadhana practices of the Three Roots of Guru, Deva, and Dakini, as well as geksel practices for resolving obstacles; Completion stage practices; tsaloong Channel-Wind and trulkhor Magic Wheel practices; the ‘Path of Skilful Means’ Karmamudra or physical consort practices; and Mahamudra and Dzogchen practices. Its collected ritual procedures or letsok include mendroop or medicine empowerment or ‘accomplishment’ rites, srung khor or protection-circles/charms, jinsek or fire offering ceremonies, sadhanas for the Dharma-protectors, the root goddesses, sages and so on, practices for calling down pra or special spirits for mirror-divination, the ‘signs on the path’ practices for the resolving of mental obstacles, and medical texts on the resolving of physical or bodily gek or obstacles, and so on. In short, it teaches all of the most important elements of Vajrayana in their entirety.

Characteristic Five: Connection with Medicine

Pretty much all of the fifteen cases of symptoms and treatments of the three humours of rlung, mkhris, and bad (kan) are taught in the context of the gegs sel or ‘obstacle resolving’ practices of the Yuthok Nyinthik, which in their secret aspect involve the resolving of demonic obstacles, in their inner aspect involve the resolving of obstacles of the mind, and in their outer aspect deal with the resolving obstacles of the body. Even someone who hasn’t trained in Tibetan medicine will benefit greatly from this section of the text. In later times, Zurkhar Nyamnyi Dorje’s volume of extended commentary (on these and the Yuthok Nyingthik), which is known as ‘The Pith Instructions of the Ten Million (Pearl) Relics’ or just ‘The Pearl Relic’ for short, became a pre-eminent part of the medical tradition.

Characteristic Six: Clear Sequence

The stages of practice have been taught clearly and without confusion: first there are the preliminary practices, which purify one’s mind-stream. Then there are the Mahayoga practices which generate the antidote for anger, or the traditional practices of the Creation Stage. (Then comes) Lung Anuyoga which is the antidote for desire, or the Completion Stage teachings, after which comes the Great Perfection Ati Yoga which is the antidote for ignorance.

First, there’s the guru-sadhana, ‘The Condensed Embodiment of the Three Roots’, which has four aspects, the outer, inner, secret, and combined sadhanas. Then, all the main bodies of the teachings on the Six Dharmas of the great saint Naropa are taught in order: The interim Tummo or Inner-Heat channels practice involving the seven-fold loong and trulkhor practices, through which one transforms one’s body into that of the deity through purifying/training the channels. There are the daytime yogas of the fierce breath Tummo, in which one transforms one’s speech/energy into Mantra through the basis of the vajra-recitation and Illusory Body Yoga; the night-time yogas of Dreaming and Clear Light (or deep, dreamless sleep); the purification at the moment of death practices of  Powa or ‘Transference’ yoga known as ‘Buddhahood without meditation’, the Powa practices of inserting one’s consciousness into another body after death, and ‘Self-Liberation into the Dharmata’ Bardo Yoga practices.

Then, refining the thigle or essential ‘drops’ of the mind is taught through the ‘Path of the Great Bliss of the Lower Gates’ of the Karmamudra or sexual yoga with a physical partner and through the ‘Path of the Complete Liberation of the Upper Gates’, the Great Seal of Mahamudra. Then, finally, the Pointing out Great Perfection practices of the Self-Liberation of Samsara-Nirvana are taught fully and extensively. The ripening empowerments and liberating instructions, methods of cultivation, signs of accomplishment on the path, and the resolving of obstacles and hindrances are taught in their entirety and in clear succession with great precision, striking all the essential points.

Characteristic Seven: Non-Sectarian Philosophy

The ‘body-offering’ or Kusali practice that’s taught in the Yuthok Nyingthig Ngondro is a condensed version of the (teachings of the) Zhijé or Pacification and Chöd or Severance (traditions). The Six Dharmas of Naropa are taught fully and in sequence. Likewise, the Path of the Great Bliss of the Lower Gates method of relying on a physical consort, (which is found in) the Kalachakra, Chakrasamvara, and Guhyasamaja systems of Highest Yoga Tantra, is taught in its entirety. Condensed Mahamudra and Dzogchen are also taught. Given this, whatever tradition or philosophical system one happens to study, the Yuthok Nyingthik (remains) authentic.

Characteristic Eight: Appropriate Length

The empowerments, sadhanas, letsok ritual procedures, Guru Yoga practices and so on are all taught skilfully in an unembellished way. As it states in the khajang introduction to the Yuthok Nyingthik:

“‘‘The Vast and All-pervading Expanse of Great Bliss’ empowerment ripens those fortune disciples, the donwang or condensed/essential empowerment summarizes the entire meaning of the teachings for those of limited capacity.”

For complex beings, the Yuthok Nyinthik includes the extensive empowerment of the Vast and All-Pervading Expanse of Great Bliss, and in its ‘unelaborated’ form there is the condensed empowerment of the essential meaning. It includes the two-stage torma empowerment, the four empowerments of the Highest Yoga Tantras, the authorizations of the sages and goddesses, and the life-entrustment rituals of the medical protector Shanglon. All of these are represented in their entirety. All of the guru-sadhanas are also distinguished according to their level of elaboration, and are taught as either outer or secret pith instructions in perfect accordance with each practitioner’s capacity.

In the outer sadhana, ‘The Wish-Fulfilling Jewel’, the way in which one meditates on the outer mandala encircled by the four classes of Yuthok goddesses is fairly extensive. If one can’t manage that though, one has the much simpler option of meditating on the guru in one’s heart-center and reciting/visualizing the short mantra there.

The inner sadhana, ‘The Oral Advice, or Pool of Siddhis (Spiritual Attainments)’ is a combination of Creation and Completion stage practices of the Medicine Buddha. With this, all the essential points are summarized – one meditates on the five Buddha-families in the five chakras and one realizes the essential meaning of the Four Medical Tantras of the glorious Gyushi. Even though the visualizations of (the tantric meditational deities) Hayagriva and Vajravarahi found in the secret sadhana, ‘The Swift Guide for Fortunate Individuals’ are somewhat extensive, and although it’s taught that one should do 100, 000 visualizations and recitations, in the ‘Esteemed Oral Advice of the Path of Bliss’ the meditational deities, chakras, and mantra-syllables are all taught in a really condensed way. As such, one can see that the sadhanas of the Yuthok Nyingthik are extremely moderate in length.

Characteristic Nine: Timeliness

By virtue of his clairvoyant perception of the future, Yuthok stated the following, which is his vajra-oath:

“Not having the blessing that allows them to accomplish at the same time that they practice, beings in the degenerate times will be impatient and have little follow-through, and won’t be able to practice for long periods of time – thus, if individuals with faith practice this sadhana which is my own life-force without distraction for seven days, I promise that I will hold to these instructions and will reveal myself thoroughly to them: for the greater practitioner in actual life, for the average one through meditative visions, and for the lesser one through dreams.”

Given that most of the Six Dharma/Yoga practices are also done during seven day long retreats, the Yuthok Nyingthik’s practices are in accordance with the psychology of today’s super-stressed and busy individual, and even those doctors that are mostly focused on somewhat more superficial activities can put its teachings into practice.

Characteristic Ten: ‘Tames’ or Transforms Whoever/Whatever However Necessary

The Yuthok Nyingthik has medical teachings, accomplishing medicine empowerments, and medicine/medical elixir offerings required by doctors; it has letsok ritual procedures, kangso deity propitiation rites, and srungkhor protective charms needed by ngakpas; sadhana practices for acquiring divinatory powers (i.e. calling down pra familiar spirits) needed by astrologers and diviners, the tsaloong trulkhor or ‘magic wheel’ exercises (for working with) the channels and winds needed by yogis; it has the Path or Means of Great Bliss (i.e. sexual yoga) needed by people who are filled with desire; it has the Mahamudra or Great Seal, the Path of Complete liberation needed by the disciplined; the pointing out instructions of the Great Perfection that are absolutely indispensable to Dzogchen practitioners; the tsewang longevity empowerments or life-enhancing sadhanas needed by the sick; the three rites of pressing down, burning, and casting out that are indispensable to great sorcerers; the wrathful mantras of the protector dieties that guard the teachings that are truly needed by the protectors of the Buddhist teachings; and the medicine empowerments and fire offerings of the four tantric activities that are needed by everybody. People with discernment can thus grasp that, the guru-sadhana that establishes a connection with the lineage and all these other practices are supreme and extremely precious teachings that can point out the path in whatever way is necessary for practitioners of any doctrine of the Secret Mantra.

Characteristic Eleven: Unparalleled Instruction (A Teaching like No Other)

Sadhanas like those found in the Yuthok Nyingthik tradition for acquiring divinatory powers or pra spirits that are sought out by Buddhist doctors and astrologer-diviners are hard to find anywhere else. The instructions given in the inner guru-sadhana, or ‘The Oral Advice, the Pool of Siddhis’ that allow one to realize the meaning of the Gyushi or Four Medical Tantras through the power of meditation, are also clearly quite amazing and unique. Furthermore, as the great Sumton put it:

“This oral lineage endowed with empowering blessings that is not known to all, is the swift and convenient path that bestows Buddhahood in one lifetime”

If one examines the Yuthok Nyingthik corpus carefully, (one will realize) that one isn’t likely to see the essential points of meditative cultivation taught so clearly anywhere else. For example, in the context of the practices of Tummo that transform one’s body into the form of a deity through training and purifing the channels, there is the teaching where, once one has had some meditative experiences from this practice, one does vajra-recitation/breathing for seven days as part of a darkness retreat, as part of transforming one’s speech-energy or winds into Mantra. This teaching is an uncommon oral-lineage darkness-retreat practice.

The experiences of non-conceptuality and of bliss-and-clarity that emerge during meditation as signs of achievement on the path of the guru-sadhana and Completion stage practices, the ten signs of attainment of the Completion stage, and in particular, the direct perception of Samsara as the seminal-drops of light, are taught in an extremely clear way and are unlike any other teaching. In terms of the ‘Path of Skilful Means’ of the Great Bliss of the Lower Gates (i.e. the Karmamudra teachings), the Yuthok Nyingthik distinguishes between two categories of yogi and yogini: ‘those who are trained in and those who aren’t trained in (rtsa) rlung or the subtle channels-and-winds practices’. The thablam teachings that are given for the latter, for those people who haven’t trained in the subtle-wind practices, are really unique instructions that aren’t taught anywhere else. It’s clear too that the teachings on achieving the rainbow-body by relying on the path of the Great Bliss of the Lower Gates and a physical consort are really unique as well.

Characteristic Twelve: The Importance of the Teachings

According to Yuthok’s oral-lineage biography, the Yuthok Nyingthik was first taught in the pure-land of Tanaduk by the Medicine Buddha. In the interim, it was taught in Oddiyana by the Lotus-Born Master Padmasambhava, where it was requested by Yuthok the Elder, after which it was finally taught to Yuthok Yonten Gonpo the Younger by the wisdom-dakini Palden Trengwa, through which it became known as the profound, pure-vision Dharma-cycle (it is today).

The main teachings of Sowa Rigpa appeared in history through Yuthok the Younger’s great compassion:

“Resolving the 404 kinds of illness that torment this precious human body, which is made up of the three poisons and five elements can be understood as the single most important dimension of the medical treatments of Sowa Rigpa. For this reason, the generation of pure and authentic bodhicitta in every possible way is taught as the single and foremost remedy. No other thing in existence has been taught as more primary.”

From this we can see that maintaining the welfare of sick beings as one’s primary aim is the sign of extensive and authentic bodhicitta, and is the achievement of mastery as a Bodhisattva. From this profound path, Yuthok the Elder achieved in his lifetime the state of an Awareness-Holder or Vidyadhara – he lived until the age of 125, and then along with his wife and all of his holdings, achieved the Great Transference of the rainbow-body. And in the twelfth century, in front of many attendants, Yuthok the Younger passed into the rainbow-body of the Great Transference without any obstacles as well. So there can be no doubt at all of the great significance of the guru-lineage of the Yuthok Nyingthik.

If one were to summarize all of the essential points, most of the special features mentioned above can be gleaned from the prophetic introduction to the guru-sadhana The prophetic introduction form the Yuthok Nyingthik’s guru-sadhana of the blessings goes as follows:

“EMAHO! How wonderful! The single embodiment of the compassion of the Buddhas of all the times and directions! The glory of the beings of the Land of Snows, the most supreme of the five locations!

Great Guna, the consummation of future generations, who is inseparable from the Medicine Buddha who cures every ill of the three poisons and Samantabhadra!

As a result of the deterioration of the elemental essences in the degenerate age, beings will burn with the five poisons and indulge in evil conduct and sin!!

Through the gods and demons (lha and srin) being stirred up and disturbed, many different kinds of sickness will arise, beyond imagining and for which people won’t even have a name!།

In order to protect those beings who have no chance for happiness, I [Sumton Yeshe Zung offer] this general history or origin-account, which is ‘the Iron Hook which Definitively Pulls Disciples or Beings-to-tamed [from Samsara]’, which explains the origin of the three aspects of the indispensable quintessence of the oral-lineage of all the main texts and commentaries on the innermost essence of the hundreds and thousands of medical sciences, of the threefold offerings, sadhanas, and praises to the Medicine Buddha, and then of the outer, inner, secret, and innermost secret sadhanas, and of the pith instructions on the common Creation and Completion stage practices and the cycles of  ordinance-protector practices from the “Sunlight of Compassion that Eliminates the Darkness of Suffering”.

‘The Vast and All-pervading Expanse of Great Bliss’ that ripens those who are fortunate, the Donwang or condensed, essential empowerment for those of limited capacity that contains the entire meaning of the teachings,

‘The Vajra-knots of the samaya or tantric vows that are the vital life-force of the Secret Mantra’, the inner, outer, secret, and condensed [Guru Yoga] sadhanas of the Creation Stage, the sadhana for accomplishing each of the Dakinis specifically, the summarized instructions on how to visualize the Five Buddha-Families, the two oral instructions – these are the root of the Secret sadhana.

‘The Supreme and Common Attainments of the Fortunate ones that fulfil all wishes’, the outer torma and medical torma supplementary practices satisfy all kinds of guests and give rise to every attainment.

The most profound Completion Stage practices which are the vital heart-essence of the Dakinis, are the accomplishment of the wish of fortunate disciples to directly attain Buddhahood in one lifetime.

‘The Pointing Out Practice of the Self-Liberation of Samsara-Nirvana’, the ‘Prayer which dissolves all hindrances and resolves all Signs on the Path’ are the entrance into the empowering blessings of the Pith instructions of the common Creation and Completion Stage practices,

The longevity empowerment ‘The Conquering of the Mara Lord of Death’, the supplementary fire offering practices, and the chaplet of srungkhor or protective circle amulets are the pith instructions that extend one’s own and others’ lives, on swift ritual action and which protect from fear.

The practices for obtaining divinatory powers, the authorization rites for the deity practices, and the suppressing rituals for unruly spirits, the two ritual diagrams that delight and enact (wrathful) actions for beings, all the propitiation rites for the protectors, the list of mantras, which are their life-essence are in ‘the Poison-laced Razor like Meteoric Iron’, which is the weapons that liberate enemies of the teachings and gek obstacles.

This is the clear table of contents of the elaborated pith instructions and letsok rites. These are the thirty five sections of teachings from the Sunlight of Compassion, which are the unified life-force of the Three Roots. They are the ultimate consummation of the sokdrup or vital-accomplishment of all the Victorious Buddhas of the three times. Let fortunate karmically endowed disciplies retain this in their hearts!

May the nine categories of oath-bound protectors defend against those masters and disciples who steal the teachings and belittle the kind teacher, who do not uphold the lineage and do not practice, who are unripe or unworthy, who violate their vows and disparage the teachings!”

From this description of the very essence of the thirty-five Dharma sections, we are able to understand every one of the uncommon essential points of the Yuthok Nyingthik completely.

(This commentary) was written in Winterthur, Switzerland on the 3rd of April 2015 by Dr Nida, who received the three-fold empowerment, reading transmission, and oral instruction for this Dharma-cycle and who has absolutely pure, unadulterated faith in it.

9 thoughts on “Reaching the Rainbow with your feet on the Ground: An Essay on the Importance and Special Characteristics of the Yuthok Nyingthik

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