Mother Tantra teachings in Lishu
28th October 2016
- Anna-Kaisa Hirvanen
Second year studies in Lishu Insitute consists of Ma Gyud – Mother Tantra teachings. The Mother Tantra presents six great methods: Tummo, Dream Yoga, Chod, Phowa, Bardo and Sleep Yoga.
In this first trimester we have been studying and practicing the teachings on Tummo (Thab Lam Khyer) and Dream Yoga (Mi- Pa Lam Khyer). Our 45-days Tummo retreat started on 12th September, after the initiations of Zhang Zhung Gekhod Duddul Sangwa Dragchen and Sherab Chamma that took place on 9th and 10th September.
The initiation weekend in itself was a great blessing. Traditionally, in order to enter into tantric practice, initiation is very much needed. The purpose of the initiation is to plant a seed experience that will be ripened through the practice. Preparations for the initiations took several days and were performed by five Geshes from Menri monastery. Menri Ponlop Thinley Nyima Rinpoche bestowed the initiations for Lishu teachers, senior Geshes and young monks from Za Mongyal Yungdrung Ling Bon monastery, Lishu students, and other participants. It was very powerful and auspicious start for our retreat.
Preparations for initiations
Geshes preparing tormas (ritual cakes)
Initiation day at Lishu
Student offering a Mandala during initiation
Our teacher Menri Geshe Sherab Lodoe has been skillfully guiding us through our Tummo retreat. As usual, Geshe-La has been teaching in Tibetan and Sangmo-La, our other teacher, has been translating the teachings in English.
Tummo – practice is about working with three aspects of our experience – Tsa, Lung and Thigle, which could be translated as body, energy and mind. Through complex visualizations, we train our mind to identify with the positive aspects of our being. Through breath and energy, we train ourselves to let go of what is not necessary to hold on to and connect to freshness and flexibility. Through body and movement, we can open blocks and pains that are obstructing us to connect more deeply with ourselves.
Ultimately, these practices are leading us to complete liberation from any experience that can cause any kind of harm to anyone. And what is left is complete openness and clarity to be only of benefit to others. But even in our common every-day experience the results of the practice can be apparent, helping us to live with less attachment, aversion and confusion.
Tukje Kundrol, the dakini of Tummo
During the retreat we had four practice sessions in a day of Tummo, including Trul Khor (Tibetan yoga). We started our day every morning at 6am with first practice session, followed by Sang (smoke) offering, which is one of the four practices of generosity.
After breakfast we had one hour class for teachings on Tummo. Besides learning the actual practice of Tummo, we´ve learned about the elements that form our body and energy, about different kinds of channels and about subtle mind that moves in our body together with the subtle winds. The text presents many skillful methods for releasing blockages in the times of imbalance.
Before lunch we had our second practice session. We´ve been learning all of the movements from the two main lineages of Trul Khor in Bon-tradition: Zhang Zhung Nyen Gyud Trul Khor and A-tri Trul Khor, consisting more than 80 movements altogether. Thanks to Indian autumn heat of plus 25 to 30 celsius, our bodies have been constantly warmed up for breathing and moving!
After the lunch break we have been studying the Dream Yoga teachings for one hour, giving our mind an opportunity to get more familiar with the dream-like quality of life. These teachings help us to understand our dreams, the connections with our daytime activities and the subtle mind that is functioning at night-time, and the connections between dreaming and the bardo states. The teachings remind us that we can learn to choose our actions of body, speech and mind with more awareness and learn to change the course of our experiences.
Third session of practice has been before sunset, with Kakyong prayer for protection. After dinner we have had our fourth session of practice, followed by Chod and Sur practices. These two are also part of the four practices of generosity, an offering to all beings that we live with.
Our teachers Geshe-La and Sangmo-La with Sur text
Student performing Sur offering
The second year of studies in Lishu is very much practice –orientated, more experiential and less focused on the philosophical aspects of the teachings. Our retreat has been intensive, joyful, challenging, inspiring and very rich, full of learning. It is a rare chance to practice for a little longer period of time in this quiet environment, where all the conditions for an intensive retreat are provided.
We successfully ended our retreat on 27th October with a small ceremony. On 30th October we´ll be heading for Menri Monastery to participate to the Long-Life ceremony of His Holiness Menri Trizin Lungtok Tenpa Nyima Rinpoche, 33rd abbot of Menri Monastery and the head of the Bon-tradition.
Group photo after the retreat completion ceremony