White Dakini Phowa


The Buddhist Yogi C. M. Chen

This Dakini has many different names. She is called Dorje Palmo in the Kargyupa school, while the Yogini Dakini is the Sanskrit equivalent, and Khadroma is the Tibetan translation. All mean "She Who Walks in the Sky of Sunyata." The form of Khadroma used in all the Tibetan schools is more or less the same except for her form as the White Dakini of the Shambakagyu Sect.

The Kargyupa School has four major divisions and eight minor ones. The Shambakagyu [ed note: Shangpa Kagyu] is a distant relative and does not belong to any of the twelve divisions. It was founded by Chunpolongo [ed note: Khyungpo Naljor] with headquarters in Shamba, hence the name Shambakagyu.

The Shambakagyu has both the Red and White Dakini; the Red Dakini is equivalent to Dorje Palmo, but the White Dakini is very different from any other Khadroma.. Rarely can one even find a picture of her in Tibet.

It is very painful for me to talk about this illustrious school since it is almost extinct today. In this Kali Age, the deep Dharma is very difficult to find. In the entire world there is only one Lama who is able to impart the Shambakagyu Dharma. Even the Dalai Lama and Karmapa Rinpoche want the initiations from him; to find out about these, they must pay great respect to the Venerable Kalu Rinpoche.

Even in Tibet before Maoist control this school was nearly non-existent except for Kalu Rinpoche, so it is a very fine and delicate thread which connects us with such a great Dharma. The reason is as follows:

Before Chunpolongo entered his Parinirvana, he instructed his disciples not to cremate his body and not to divide his relics among one another. He instructed that his body was to remain intact. If these instructions were followed, his Dharma would flourish into the future; if not, it would practically die out. Unfortunately, the disciples were very selfish and cremated the body and divided all the relics among one another. They had no faith in their Guru's seemingly meaningless advice. This is just like today where the quantity of students that a Guru has is supposed by fools to represent the depth of his wisdom. Sometimes this is the case, but usually it is just the opposite. The fewer the students the deeper the quality of Dharma. We should not let ourselves be seduced by majority rule.

The Shambakagyu doctrine is known as the Golden Dharma, very simple yet very precious. I lived with Kalu Rinpoche for one month in his hermitage in the Papong Temple [ed note: Palpung Monastery] and translated the few volumes of the Golden Dharma into Chinese. Unfortunately, these Chinese works were destroyed during the Second World War. The Second World War burned up all my books but it did not burn up all my remembrance of this Golden Dharma. Therefore I am very happy to speak to you about the Shambakagyu Golden Dharma. But I do not give its initiations even though I was qualified by Kalu Rinpoche to do so. He is so humble and does not impart it to the common person. I hope that he begins to impart it so that it does not become extinct. But so far he teaches only the methods of the major Kargyupa Schools.

In Papong, Kalu Rinpoche was the Loben Lama (Acarya) at a Shambakagyu hermitage. Here he instructed the young Lamas during their 3 year and 3 month retreat. Because the Karma-Kagyu School was the majority rule in power, he did not wish to compete with it, so he humbly taught the Karma-Kagyu doctrine. He never told the truth that the Shambakagyu dharma was much better but just humbly taught the Karma-Kagyu to avoid competition with the majority. In Kalimpong he followed this same style, outwardly teaching Karma-Kagyu but inwardly remaining Shambakagyu.

Even though he escaped from the Maoists many years before the Dalai Lama and Karmapa Rinpoche, wherever he went he founded Kargyupa hermitages, rather than his own Shambakagyu ones. The reason was that since he was the only Shambakagyu Lama remaining, it would be easier for his disciples not to quarrel with the major Kargyupa schools. So he just keeps this precious Dharma inside himself. Even if you asked for the Shambakagyu dharma, he would only teach the common doctrines of the other schools, like the Avalokitesvara and Amitabha initiations. As far as I know he has not imparted the Shambakagyu dharma to any non-Tibetan except me. So today I feel very sad that I also cannot impart it very widely. But I do not keep it secret.

I hate those students of Chunpolongo very much who did not follow the founder's instructions and burned his body. They should have kept his whole body so that his Dharma might flourish. Chunpolongo had many, many students. but he disliked those who talked much and practiced little. He would hide himself in a small bottle used for initiations and when he came out he just gave advice about practicing more often.

A Tantric guru should choose students who are at least not selfish. They must thoroughly know the non-self of personality and be free from selfishness. If Chunpolongo had been more selective, his Dharma would still be flourishing today.

Many of Milarepa's songs are still sung by the beggars of Tibet and sung by the Dakinis. The number of his songs in printed form are not very many, but the largest collection was in Karmapa's monastery in Dolung Zihpo (ed note: Dolung Tsurphu), two days journey from Lhasa. Still the Dakinis have recorded them all in the Dharmakaya. But the practical, simple, essential, and effective Dharma of Chunpolongo must be written down or kept in the heart, for it is not like the song which can pervade everywhere.

So do not necessarily think that the Guru who has the most followers is the best one. Usually the more essential Dharmas are learned only by a few. Is not there much more sand than gold? You can find sand on every beach, but the Golden Dharma is very, very rare and precious in this Kali Age. The Kali Age only emphasizes war and in a few moments an atomic bomb can kill great numbers, but the Dharma is not for fighting, so do not be fooled by political spiritualism.

Next I will give the general outline of the Shambakagyu Golden Dharma. About 800 years ago there were two variations of the Six Doctrines. The first and most widely propagated one was called Naro Chudru. It was founded by Naropa and is still widely propagated by the Kargyupa sect today. The second was founded by Naropa's sister Luguma [ed note: Niguma], and was only taught by the Shambakagyu sect. It is called the Lugu Chudru. Naropa suffered the 24 hardship experiences to which his Guru Tilopa subjected him. It is quite difficult to develop a complete resentment for Samsara. The great yogi Milarepa was a prime example of this tradition working with his Guru Marpa.

Luguma, on the other hand, accomplished realization immediately and effectively after initiation at birth by the Adi-Buddha, so she never needed any practice. The Shambakagyu follow the simplified techniques of Luguma's experience. No particular amount of great hardship is needed, so we call it the easy way. But do not mistake this to mean that there is no practice necessary. Perhaps it is better to call it the more direct way. Furthermore we should not be overly attracted to a teaching because it is named the easy way since the true easy way is to follow whatever teaching meets our karmic predisposition.

The Shambakagyu Golden Dharma is symbolized by a tree and divided into 5 parts:

The root represents the Chagya Chinpo (great symbol) nearly identical to the Dorje Chang of other Tibetan schools. The trunk denotes the Six Doctrines as taught by Luguma. The trunk separates into three branches: one is Guru-Yoga, one is Yidam-Yoga, one is Maya-Body-Yoga. On the tree there are two flowers, one is the Red Dakini and one is the subject on which I now talk, the White Dakini. Red is for practice of Vajra Love while white is for Phowa. The practitioner may use the White Dakini Phowa to transfer his consciousness to the Ogmin heaven at death. This is the Tantric Palace of Adi-Buddha. Above the two flowers, at the top of the tree, there is the fruit, called Non-Death Yoga (please refer to my Booklet New No. 86). No other schools have the practice of non-death yoga. If practiced correctly, one may attain non-death, or at least get a long life. Many Lamas of this sect lived to be 120 to 150 years old. One of Chunpolongo's disciples named Tonden Japo [ed note: Thangtong Gyalpo] attained the non-death yoga. But his disciples begged him to leave a body behind and not just disappear in the rainbow body of light. As a result he first disappeared in a rainbow body of light then left a body assumed to be made of mud. This mud body can still be found in Lhasa today, thus there are no relics to quarrel over by selfish disciples, just a mass of mud. This is very wonderful. I have practiced the entire doctrine of Shambakagyu and probably I will get a little attainment also.

In the Papong monastery of Dege which I have already mentioned there were two hermitages. One practicing the Phowa of Naro Chudru using the Yidam of Amitabha, the other practicing the Lugu Chudru with the Yidam of the White Dakini. The Tantric palace of the White Dakini is quite different from the Sukhavati Pure Land of Amitabha. To explain the reasons would involve quite a long book; we have no space here to continue about this.

Dege was the center in Tibet for the Dharma. Lhasa was merely a center for politics. If one wanted to learn all the Tantric schools, he would have to go to Dege for in Lhasa you could only learn the Gelugpa teaching. I learned the teachings of seven schools in Dege. There I did thorough investigation as to which Phowa was the most effective and the conclusion was the White Dakini Phowa. Many times after the Phowa of the Kargyupa School was given, the Phowa of the White Dakini was still given in addition. We can conclude that the White Dakini Phowa is more esoteric, more Tantric, and more powerful than that of Amitabha which the exoteric Pure Land School of Mahayana also has. There, by chanting Amitabha's name, the practitioner may reach the first degree of the Pure Land, but not the fourth and final stage reached by the White Dakini Phowa. These two should not be confused. The first degree of the Pure Land is called "The Realm Where Pure and Impure Dwell Together." The second degree is called "The Temporary Realm, Where Arhats and Lower Bodhisattvas Live." The third degree is called "The Realm of Permanent Reward and Freedom, for Highest Bodhisattvas." The fourth and ultimate Pure Land is "The Realm of Eternal Rest and Light, for Buddhas." Although the Amitabha and White Dakini Phowa are identical in respect to deep breathing and wisdom drops shooting, they still have some different viewpoints. In the Amitabha Phowa, you must have a thorough renunciation and hatred for samsara and a total uncompromising surrender to the Western Pure Land Sukhavati. Otherwise, even though you shoot up the wisdom energy, without the total abnegation for samsara you will fall back down. So the Amitabha Phowa is based on negative Dharma. You must pass through the Lotus which is a sign of renunciation upon which Amitabha sits before you can enter his heart and become identified with him.

Total renunciation is very difficult for American practitioners. They cannot leave all their good food, fine clothes, beautiful girls, and exotic entertainment, so how can they use the negative dharma approach of hatred of samsara? So fortunately there is the alternative method of the White Dakini which is based on the positive Dharma of Love.

We especially have love for girls. But the practice of Vajra Love or White Dakini Phowa is not based on the love for worldly girls, where one uses the downward energy and can only fall into lower realms. But rather we love the vagina of the White Dakini which does not touch the lower portion of the median nerve corresponding to the penis, but rather it touches the upper portion of our head. Through our great Love for the White Dakini, with totally exposed vagina above our head, we shoot with the deep breathing wisdom energy and sublimate the semen into the wisdom bodhi along with the life energy to the top of our median nerve (head). Then by great love inspiration we are united with the lower part of her median nerve (vagina). Our life energy with the wisdom bodhi directly shoots into her womb of Mahasukha, and she flies away to the Tantric places where the practitioner is reborn as a Vidyadhara. All the worldly love has been completely sublimated into Vajra Love. This is the positive Dharma of sublimation, as opposed to the negative Dharma of renunciation. But unless one can clearly distinguish Vajra Love from worldly love, he will fall. Hence the renunciation of worldly love should first be practiced.

Editing notes in square brackets added by Stanley Lam Nov 6, 2000.

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