In order to remember and mark our tsog days, holy days on the Kadampa calendar, I am sharing my understanding of the practice of Offering to the Spiritual Guide with tsog. This is part 24 of a 44-part series.
Song of the Spring Queen
HUM All you Tathagatas,
Dakas, and Dakinis,
To all you I make this request:
O Heruka who delight in great bliss,
You engage in the Union of spontaneous bliss,
By attending the Lady intoxicated with bliss
And enjoying in accordance with the rituals.
AH LA LA, LA LA HO, AH I AH, AH RA LI HO
May the assembly of stainless Dakinis
Look with loving affection and accomplish all deeds.
The Song of the Spring Queen is for many practitioners the highlight of the tsog offering. Not only is the song beautiful and a delight to sing, it also explains how we engage in the practice of relying upon a wisdom mudra according to Highest Yoga Tantra. As explained above, there is a great deal of misunderstanding about the nature of tantric practice. Many people feel it is simply a method for having better worldly sex. The purpose of tantric practice is to explain how to transform pleasant experiences into the path to enlightenment. With our Lojong practice, we learn how to transform unpleasant experiences into the path to enlightenment. By learning both Lojong and tantra, we will be able to transform any experience into the path.
Our ability to engage and qualified Lojong or tantric practice depends upon whether our motivation to progress along the path is stronger than our worldly concerns. For example, if what we wish for is to never experience unpleasant experiences, then our practice of Lojong will lack power because we will not care that it is a cause of our enlightenment, we simply do not want to experience unpleasant things. But if our wish to progress along the path is stronger, then we will be able to accept our unpleasant experiences and use them to advance along the path. The experience will still be unpleasant, but it will no longer be a problem for us. In the same way, if our wish to experience worldly pleasures is stronger than our wish to progress along the path, we will not be able to use tantric technology to transform pleasant experiences into the path. Instead, our experience of pleasant experiences will just fuel our attachment. Thus, our motivation for engaging in tantric practice must be to end our attachment, not use tantra as an excuse to indulge in our attachment. This is very important. We should not underestimate the ability of our mind to hijack our Dharma understandings to do what our delusions want us to do.
The first four lines and the last three lines of each verse of Song of the Spring Queen are the same. The explanation that follows can be applied to every verse. With the first three lines, we recall the visualization of our spiritual guide in the aspect of father Heruka and mother Vajraygoini in union, surrounded by all the deities of Heruka’s body mandala. We likewise recall all the other Buddhas and holy beings filling the ten directions. We recognize all these holy beings as emanations, or limbs, of our principal spiritual guide Heruka. We additionally recall that all these appearances are like waves on the ocean of our definitive spiritual guide, dharmakaya Heruka, which is the nature of indivisible bliss and emptiness. Thus, every holy being is like an aspect of the Truth Body. With the fourth line, we generate a faithful mind requesting all the holy beings to perform the action we are about to describe with the next four lines of the verse.
With the ninth line of every verse, AH LA LA, LA LA HO, AH I AH, AH RA LI HO, we imagine that we are Heruka engaged in union with Vajrayogini who is riding up and down on our vajra. As a result of this movement, we should imagine that Vajrayogini’s pure winds flowing through her central channel enter into our central channel flowing upwards, igniting our inner tummo fire, causing the white bodhicitta at our crown to melt through our central channel giving rise to an experience of great bliss. The great bliss we generate as a result of engaging in union with a wisdom mudra functions to loosen the knots at our heart chakra. When these knots are completely loosened, all our inner winds can enter, absorb, and dissolve into our central channel at our heart, which then gives rise to a direct experience of the eight dissolutions, the last of which is a fully qualified mind of clear light. With this clear light mind, we can then meditate on the emptiness of all phenomena, and in particular of our very subtle mind of the clear light itself. This meditation functions to purify our very subtle mind of all delusion obstructions and obstructions to omniscience. When our mind is completely purified of the two obstructions, we attain enlightenment. Thus, the purpose of this meditation is not to enjoy union with Vajrayogini – though that is certainly a pleasant experience – rather it is to loosen the channel knots at our heart so that we can complete our spiritual training. We must be very clear with our motivation for engaging in this practice. More explanations on how to engage in tummo meditation and how to rely upon wisdom and action mudras can be found in Oral Instructions of Mahamudra, Essence of Vajrayana, Clear Light of Bliss, and Tantric Grounds and Paths. All the explanations explained in these texts can be incorporated into our practice of Song of the Spring Queen.
With the last two lines of each verse, we imagine that all the Tathagatas, heroes, yoginis, Dakas, and Dakinis generate great delight knowing that we will soon attain enlightenment. Everyone is collectively enjoying a festival of great bliss!
The fifth through the eighth line of each verse of Song of the Spring Queen is slightly different, emphasizing different aspects of the practice and calling upon different aspects of the visualization to strengthen our practice of relying upon a wisdom mudra. With the first four verses, we can imagine we generate the four joys in serial order, then with the fifth verse we imagine we attain the union a bliss and emptiness, and finally with the last verse we attain the union of Vajradhara.
With this first verse, we focus on the outer aspects of our self-generated as Heruka and our consort generated as Vajrayogini. We imagine that we are engaging in union with her and that she is completely filled with great bliss, as if her mind has been intoxicated thoroughly by this experience. She then concentrates all her great bliss into her central channel, which she then blows lovingly into our central channel through our engaging in union. “Enjoying in accordance with the rituals” refers to the 64 arts of love which are explained in Great Treasury of Merit. Recalling all this, when we engage in union and ignite the tummo fire, we imagine the white bodhichitta at our crown melts and descends down into our throat chakra where are we experienced the first of the four joys, called joy.