(2.18) I offer to those with the nature of compassion
A celestial palace resounding with heavenly praise
And hung with beautiful pearls and jeweled ornaments
Whose infinite radiance illuminates space.
(2.19) Eternally I will offer to the Able Ones
Exquisite jewelled parasols held aloft,
With pleasing shapes, handles of gold,
And rims embellished with beautiful ornaments.
With these two verses, we offer to our Spiritual Guide and all the Buddhas the supreme abode, the celestial mansion of Heruka in Keajra. Of all the palaces in the universe, none are more sublime nor meaningful than the celestial palace of Heruka. People all over the world fantastize about living in their dream home, but the celestial mansion of Heruka is the greatest home of all. If we have wisdom, there is no place we would want to call home more. By offering this heavenly seat that is the envy of all the Chakravatin kings of the three times, we create the causes to one day take up residence in this most sacred and holy of places.
What makes Heruka’s palace so special? It is located at the top of Mount Meru, the king of mountains, and the center of the Buddhist cosmos. Buddhist cosmology is incredibly vast. The universe as we know it is known as a single world. There are the one thousand worlds, which correspond to 1,000 such universes. The two thousand worlds are 1,000 one thousand worlds, in other words one million universes. And the three thousand worlds are 1,000 of the two thousand worlds, in other words one billion universes. In reality, there are countless different world systems, but they are referred to as the three thousand worlds. This is not different than modern scientific cosmological theories that we live in an n-dimensional multi-verse. While of course it is just mental imputation and not meant to be a geographical description, in order to visualize and conceive of the three thousand worlds, we say that they are located on four continents surrounding Mount Meru. Around each continent are two sub-continents. These continents can be thought of in modern scientific terms as universal clusters. Just as there are superclusters of galaxies, so too there are superclusters of universes. These superclusters are the four continents. Mount Meru itself is actually a successive progression of pure lands corresponding with the different deities and spiritual traditions the world over, including the Land of the 33 Heavens, Tara’s pure land, and one can say the Christian heaven. On the top of Mount Meru is Heruka’s celestial mansion. This entire collection of the four continents and Mount Meru collectively is Keajra, or Heruka’s pure land. According to Vajrayogini practice, Keajra has a different conventional appearance, but the meaning is exactly the same.
Heruka’s palace physically is square in shape, with four doors in each of the cardinal directions. Inside, it is simultaneously as vast as the universe, yet still feels as cozy as Grandma’s home. For those who have had the good fortune to visit a Kadampa temple, such as the one in the Ulverston, New York or Brazil, the physical aspect is quite similar. We can find a complete description of his palace in Essence of Vajrayana and we can find images of it on-line. Everything within the temple is made of wisdom light that radiates translucently from within. It is sublime beyond description.
Just as certain functions are accomplished in the major buildings of the world, so too certain functions are accomplished in Heruka’s celestial mansion. The two main functions are first, beings who enter it continuously receive flawless explanations of Dharma individually tailored to their specific needs and circumstance. Second, the body mandala deities of Heruka bless and heal the subtle bodies of all beings, enabling all of their inner winds and drops to flow without obstruction into their central channel at their heart. This enables them to effortlessly generate the mind of clear light bliss and emptiness. With this concentration, they can quickly purify all of the contaminated karmic obstructions on their mind. When the two obstructions have been completely purified, they attain enlightenment.
Venerable Tharchin explains that the location of mind is at the object of cognition. The meaning is our mind literally goes to its object. If we think of the moon, our mind literally goes there. Because we naturally impute our “I” onto our mind, wherever our mind goes, our “I” goes with it. If we can absorb 100% of our mind into our object, we will literally feel as if we are transported to its location (which is ultimately within our mind anyways). If the object of our cognition is Heruka’s celestial mansion, our mind literally goes there. If we can absorb 100% of our mind there, our “I” will naturally follow and it will quite literally feel as if we have gone to the pure land. This is the experience of many Tantric meditators.
Understanding this, we should make a point of going to Heruka’s holy temple as often as possible. When we go into meditation, we should feel as if we are leaving this world and actually transporting ourself into his home. Once there, we can then ask questions directly of Heruka that he reveal to us what we should do to resolve particular problems in our lives or practice. Religious people around the world go on great pilgrimages to visit the holy sites of this world to seek inspiration and advice, but the experienced Tantric meditator does so daily. The celestial mansion becomes our refuge, our home, our Dharma center, our temple. We can receive perfectly reliable teachings and heal ourselves there. Kadam Bjorn explains that all physical illness comes from delusions, and all delusions come from imbalances or blockages within our subtle body. By healing and restoring balance to our subtle body through the blessings of the body mandala deities, our delusions will gradually subside and with them our body will become healed. There is actually no limit to how far this process can go. While our ordinary human bodies may die, our personal experience will be of gradually appropriating the immortal body of an enlightened being. All of this we can do inside Heruka’s abode.
When we die, we want to do so inside Heruka’s celestial mansion. The friends and relatives we leave behind might see us in our hospital bed, but within our mind we are in Heruka’s palace, surrounded by the Heroes and Heroines singing vajra songs, showering us with pure offerings and providing eloquent explanations of Dharma. Ideally, we would want to die within the definitive palace of Heruka, the clear light Dharmakaya. But if our practice is not yet sufficiently developed for that, it suffices to believe with faith that we are in the living presence of our Guru Heruka, and he will lead us through the death process to rejoin him for eternity. This is our good fortune. In order to make this our reality at the time of our death, we are well advised to train in this way every time we go to sleep.
5 thoughts on “Modern Bodhisattva’s Way of Life: A dream home”
What a profound teaching! Thank you, Kadampa Ryan.
Thanks! It is similar to the practice for rebirth in Sukhavati, except that in Sukhavati, strong faith, aspirations and unceasing calling of Amitabha name translate into certainty of one’s rebirth there.
Thank you for this useful commentary. May I ask what Kadampa tradition you practice within, if any?
I have been a student of Geshe Kelsang for about 25 years.