Happy Tsog Day: How to Practice the Song of the Spring Queen (part 3)

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 26 of a 44-part series.

HUM All you Tathagatas,
Heroes, Yoginis,
Dakas, and Dakinis,
To all you I make this request:
Like a lotus born from the centre of a swamp,
This method, though born from attachment, is unstained by the faults of attachment.
O Supreme Dakini, through the bliss of your lotus,
Please quickly bring liberation from the bonds of samsara.
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 fifth and sixth lines of this verse emphasize that the spontaneous great joy we generated with the previous verse is by nature completely free from any grasping or attachment. Sexual bliss is very pleasant, but is characterized by a strong grasping at the experience. If we check our mind when we are experiencing sexual bliss it is not a peaceful mind. The great bliss of completion stage is by nature inner peace. Enlightenment is sometimes called the supreme inner peace of enlightenment. Great bliss is an inner peace that is so peaceful it is blissful. It is completely relaxed and spacious without the slightest trace of tension or grasping. It feels as if our mind has settled into a complete stillness and has no need or desire whatsoever to arise from that stillness because any movement would be away from the most pleasant experience possible to something less pleasant. This is why the mind of great bliss is the supreme mind of concentration that far surpasses tranquil abiding. There is no better mind for concentrating on virtue.

In all our tantric practices of transforming pleasant circumstances into the path the procedure is the same. We can take eating ice cream as an example. When we eat ice cream, we generate a pleasant experience on our tongue. Normally we then grasp at the ice cream as an external cause of our pleasant experience and generate attachment for ice cream as a result. But if we were to transform the pleasant experience of eating ice cream into the path using tantric methods, we would then mentally imagine we dissolve both the ice cream and our tongue into their ultimate nature emptiness while retaining the pleasant experience we are enjoying. When we are able to retain the pleasant experience without the appearance of the external object that we mistakenly thought was giving rise to the pleasant experience, we are able to meditate on the union of the pleasant experience and emptiness. Instead of giving rise to attachment, we realize we can generate pleasant experiences from within our mind and hold them regardless of what external objects we are exposed to. In exactly the same way, we can transform any pleasant experience, including the pleasant experiences of sexual activities.

When we recite this verse, we can mentally imagine that we dissolve our self, Vajraygoini, and the entire pure land generated around us into the clear light emptiness while retaining the spontaneous great joy we experienced and generated through the previous verse. This is exactly the same as we would do if we were transforming eating ice cream using tantric methods. This meditation on the experience of spontaneous great joy mixed inseparably with emptiness, like water mixed with water, functions to purify all the contaminated karma on our mind. As explained before, there are two types of obstruction to our enlightenment: delusion obstructions and obstructions to omniscience. Delusion obstructions are the tendencies similar to the cause to generate delusions from our past delusions. Obstructions to omniscience are the effects similar to the cause, environmental effects, and ripened effects of our past deluded actions. Once we have freed our mind from all the delusion obstructions, we attain liberation. This comes first. We then continue to meditate on the union of bliss and emptiness and gradually purify all the obstructions to omniscience. When that happens, we attain full enlightenment. In this verse, we imagine that in dependence upon our experience of the union of spontaneous great joy and emptiness we completely purify all our delusion obstructions and therefore attain liberation. The lotus referred to in the eighth line is once again Vajrayogini’s bhaga.

When we recite the ninth line, we do not directly visualize ourselves engaging in union with Vajrayogini as we have done in the previous verses, rather everything has been dissolved into clear light emptiness. In Understanding the Mind, Geshe-la explains there are two types of object, manifest and hidden. Manifest objects are objects that appear directly to our sense consciousnesses or to our mental consciousness. Hidden objects are objects that do not appear directly but can nonetheless be established through inferential valid cognizers. With this verse, when we recite the ninth line, we imagine that we are focusing on the emptiness of engaging in union with Vajrayogini. It does not appear directly to our mind, but we nonetheless experience its effect of spontaneous great joy. The experience of spontaneous great joy is the valid reason supporting the inferential cognizer establishing that we are engaging in union with Vajrayogini. In this way, we can understand that the meditation on the union of clear light bliss and emptiness is in fact the definitive version of engaging in union with a wisdom mudra. Normally when we talk about Buddhas we say there is the interpretative Buddha and the definitive Buddha. Interpretive Heruka, for example, is the blue deity with four faces and twelve arms. Definitive Heruka is the union of bliss and emptiness. In exactly the same way, interpretive reliance upon a wisdom mudra is everything we have been describing up to this verse, and definitive reliance upon a wisdom mudra is described in this verse.

HUM All you Tathagatas,
Heroes, Yoginis,
Dakas, and Dakinis,
To all you I make this request:
Just as the essence of honey in the honey source
Is drunk by swarms of bees from all directions,
So through your broad lotus with six characteristics
Please bring satisfaction with the taste of great bliss.
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.

With this last verse, we continue to meditate on the union of spontaneous great joy and emptiness as in the previous verse. But here, we purify completely all our obstructions to omniscience. And thereby attain full enlightenment. When we attain enlightenment, we are able to perceive appearance directly as a manifestation of bliss and emptiness. Prior to enlightenment, we can meditate on a direct realization of bliss and emptiness, but when appearances once again appear to our mind, they appear to exist from their own side. When we attain enlightenment, this duality falls away and objects appear to us directly to be manifestations of their underlying bliss and emptiness. One way of thinking about it is we penetrate so deeply into emptiness that we find appearance. This is similar to the meditation on the clarity of mind. Clarity is so clear it can know any form. In the same way, the emptiness we perceive is so empty it can appear as any form. When we recite this verse, we strongly believe that we purify completely all our obstructions to omniscience and, as a result, the mandala of our self-generation as Heruka and Vajrayogini begins to appear directly to our mind as a manifestation of the bliss and emptiness we have been bathing in. We attain the resultant union of appearance and emptiness. We strongly believe that we have attained full enlightenment in dependence upon relying on the wisdom mudra Vajrayogini through the practice of Song of the Spring Queen, and we generate a feeling of profound joy experiencing the entire mandala as our body of great bliss and emptiness.

The fifth through the eighth line of this verse describe the practice of relying upon a wisdom mudra from the perspective of someone who has already attained the union of Heruka or full enlightenment. At present, when we engage in self-generation practice, we first generate the basis of imputation of our self as Heruka in Keajra in union with Vajrayogini. We then imagine that we identify with this Heruka and Vajrayogini as if it was ourselves. Wherever we imagine a Buddha, a Buddha appears. And certainly Heruka and Vajrayogini always abide in their pure land. Now try imagine how our engaging in self-generation practice is experienced from the perspective of Heruka and Vajrayogini in Keajra. From their perspective, it is as if countless tantric practitioners are like a swarm of bees who come and partake of the honey source that is their union of Heruka and Vajrayogini. They allow all living beings to enter into them and they share their great bliss with all of them. Here, when we recite this last verse, we imagine that we are Heruka and Vajrayogini in Keajra and that we invite all living beings to enter into us, like a swarm of bees, to enjoy the honey of great bliss that we are offering to them. In other words, we imagine we are experiencing things exactly as Heruka and Vajrayogini do. This way of practicing is incredibly profound and creates countless causes for us to be able to one day become a Heruka able to do this for others. It also creates the karma for us to more easily engage in the practices described by Song of the Spring Queen ourselves in the future. It is almost impossible to imagine how amazing all this is. We are so fortunate!

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