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The Practice of the Bonpo Deity Walchen Gekhod, also known as Zhang-Zhung Meri - The Practice of Sadhana
Article Index
The Practice of the Bonpo Deity Walchen Gekhod, also known as Zhang-Zhung Meri
Four Classes of Bönpo Tantras
Gekhöd and Meri
Iconography of Zhang-zhung Meri
Iconography of Zhang-zhung Meri 2
The Mantra Recitation for Meri
The Texts for Zhang-zhung Meri
Outline of the Sadhana Text
The Practice of Sadhana
Notes:
All Pages

The Practice of Sadhana

Each Tantra cycle has a chief Yidam meditation deity and each Yidam has its own system of practice. Moreover, each Yidam has a root sadhana (rtsa sgrub) that is necessary for the entering into the cycle of practice. It is said that to realize the fruit of the tree, it is first necessary to sow the proper seed. According to the instructions of Yongdzin Rinpoche, [19] before beginning, it is also necessary to examine and cultivate our motivation for the practice by way of the four meditations that change one’s attitude (blo-ldog rnam-bzhi), and to do so without error or mistake. Then we may engage in realizing the Natural State and compassion. The basic text here is “The Essence of the Mind of Zhang-zhung Meri” (zhang-zhung me-ri snying-thig), which represents the shortest form of the sadhana for Meri. All of the Twenty-Four Masters did the practice of Gekhöd-Meri, but they practiced Tantra largely as a supplement to Dzogchen practice, and did so mainly for the benefit of others. In addition to the root text and the extended texts of the sadhana, there are auxilliary texts for fire puja (me-mchod), protection rites (srung-ba), rites to avert negative influences (zlog-pa), long life practices (tshe grub), propitiation rites (bskang-ba), confession (bshag-pa), empowerments (dbang-bskur), and so on. Detailed instructions describing the procedure for the visualization are given in texts known as Ngöntok (mngon-rtogs), literally “clear understanding.” At the beginning one does homage with one’s body, speech, and mind to the Gönpo Namsum, or Three Lord Protectors, namely, Atimuwer, Kuji Mangke, and Zhang-zhung Meri, and to all the lineage masters. Then we may engage the visualization process, or Kyerim (bskyed-rim). Here, as pointed out previously, the peaceful form in relation to Meri, the sage Sangwa Düpa, is explained first. Then after this peaceful form dissolves into light, the seed syllable HRI in one’s heart center transforms into the wrathful aspect of Zhang-zhung Meri.

First we must purify ourselves and everything else into the Basic Nature in terms of the three samadhis, or contemplations. The Natural State has no beginning and no end; it is not born and it does not die. It is in no way distracted. All visions come from this Nature and, therefore, all phenomena are primordially pure (ka-dag). This Nature represents emptiness, clarity, and their unification. This realization of the state of Shunyata is the first samadhi and we practice until we have become familar with it. Otherwise, if we go on to the second samadhi, which is compassion, there will be no proper result. We do this in terms of cultivating the four immeasurable states (tshad-med bzhi) and reciting the text for this. Thus, we must integrate the Natural State with compassion and these four immeasurable states. We practice them individually at first until we can think compassion without this thought disturbing our Natural State. Thus we integrate them. Then we are ready for beginning the transformation.

When the unification of the Natural State and compassion are clear and stable and do not disturb each other, then we visualize their unification as the seed syllable. Now all phenomena appear from the Nature to be like reflections on the water. Even the mandala and the deities we visualize will be like reflections on the water; they are only empty forms and illusions, having no inherent existence. Therefore in sequence, we practice being in the Natural State, we meditate upon compassion, we integrate them without disturbances, and finally all phenomenal existence appears as empty forms. These all represent preliminaries and the beginning of visualization, according to Yongdzin Rinpoche’s instructions. The details for the visualization process are then found in the various texts of the Ngöntok section.

In terms of Dzogchen, finding oneself in the Natural State represents the principal practice and that is sufficient in itself to attain liberation and enlightenment. However, we also find ourselves in this relative condition in this present life and Tantra provides many practical methods which may prove useful in dealing with our circumstances. From the stand point of Dzogchen, all of these represent secondary practices. But since Dzogchen is without any limitations in itself, it may utilize any of the methods of Sutra and Tantra that would prove useful to the practitioner, such as the invocation of and the meditation upon Zhang-zhung Meri.

[Extracted from The Cult and Practice of the Bönpo Deity Walchen Gekhöd, also known as Zhang-zhung Meri, by John Myrdhin Reynolds, forthcoming.]