The Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation, by W. Y. Evans-Wentz
This is one of 4 books by Evans-Wentz, and is comprised of three sections. Most of the book covers the story of Padmasambhava spreading Buddhism to Bhutan, Tibet, Nepal, Ceylon, etc. The second section is The Profound Doctrine of Self-Liberation of the Mind (through encountering) the Peaceful and Wrathful Dieties. The third section is comprised of selections from '100 Instructions to the People of Tingri/Ding Ri' which makes repeated reference to the power of wisdom and the mind to destroy the demons of death, affliction, and unenlightened states of mind.
R – I was impressed with Mandarava, the princess who wished not to take a husband. She was put into a nunnery and held captive. Then she encountered Padmasambhava, and she willingly married him. It was a bit confusing, because I thought he had taken a vow of celibacy? Then, the King set them on fire because he was angry, but they were untouched by the fire.
J – Yes, there were a lot of cases where he was burned, but survived. It made me realize what a hostile place this planet is, and reminded me of what Rama went through.
R – The biography of Padmasambhava had the flavor of Greek mythology.
J – I agree. I thought of the Odyssey by Homer. But this is not considered mythology by the Tibetans.
R – I didn’t understand how he could live over 3000 years?
J – We see this a lot in the ancient stories. Even in the bible there are references to people living hundreds of years. I’m not sure if there were biological differences that allowed people to live so long, or if time was different. There are also references to the alchemy of longevity, in the book, and divine beings of having mastery over longevity, as well.
On page 101, there is a picture of Padmasambhava in 8 of his aspects. There are both peaceful and wrathful aspects, which presumably, all of us have. He definitely didn’t have a problem with the wrathful sides of his being, which he used for the Dharma.
R – I was actually surprised at the level of violence perpetrated by Padmasambhava. All this killing off of infidels, it sounded like so many other religions. I found it difficult to accept.
J – I guess that subjugating demons is not for the faint of heart. I think it reaffirms the basic premise of the teachings in the book – that all of this is mind created. If you recall the story of the Naga king, he got the local king to disrupt Padma’s meditation. When the king showed up, he saw Garuda in the cave with the tail of a serpent sticking out of his mouth. Through the power of Padmasambhava’s mind, he was destroying the guy. He was clearing the obstacles and opposition to the Dharma, so people can awaken.
M – This reminds me that we all have the capability of shifting our reality. In this last week I had some upsetting dreams. I realized that I needed to meditate more diligently. I decided that with my meditation, I could cleanse my world. I needed to push harder to be responsible for my life in order to dispel the uneasiness. Something needed to be cleansed.
J – We each have responsibility for our little part of the universe, yet that is part of the whole. The cool thing is that potential is within us, but we haven’t harnessed it. It is a great gift, waiting to be unwrapped. Page 214 – The Yoga of Introspection is available to all… look within your mind. There is no middleman – page 253 – the same wisdom realized by the Buddhas could be realized by each of us. At the end of page 94 in the Introduction, it made me think of Rama; “As to the validity of the doctrines presented, the right attitude is that of the rationalist, so well stated by the Buddha when he admonished His disciples not to believe or accept anything, even though contained in Bibles and taught by the Sages, until tested yogically and found to be true.” Take the teachings and apply them. It’s not about a belief system, it’s practical and verifiable.
M – I was wondering, if we have support from these beings on the other side, can our supporters take form? I now have the space to get a dog… that is why I was enquiring.
J – Rama recommended that we get Scottie dogs. They are very hardy and can handle the energy in the life of someone who meditates. He said he had brought in some very high beings to assist us, and told us to go find the dogs.
If you are looking for a dog, find a good breeder and check them out. If you like them, then ask them to let you know when their next puppies arrive. You’ll know when you meet the puppies, which one or ones are for you. I have a brother and a sister.
R – Why does Padmasambhava spend so much time in cemeteries? It seems like this wouldn’t be where you’d find an enlightened master.
J – From my understanding, cemeteries are symbols of the transitory nature of this reality. To live in one is the ultimate symbol of detachment, because you are constantly reminded of your mortality, and presumably, get on with what you came to do in this lifetime. I remember Rama telling us to go visit a cancer ward. It really puts your life in perspective.
From a Buddhist perspective, we’ve all lived thousands of lifetimes, so by the time we get to one, like this, where we get an inkling of clarity about our paths, almost anyone we meet has some kind of relationship to us. A woman who died and was brought to the cemetery where Padmasambhava was hanging out, was pregnant and the baby was a king we hear about later in the story. So many of the people show up in different parts of the story, in different incarnations.
When I was reading that section, I happened to run into a spider twice within a few days. The second time it occurred to me that there was probably some karmic connection with us! (Laughter)
M - Did Rama ever mention a preference of being buried?
J – I don’t recall him specifically addressing this question, but I always felt that cremation was the preferred approach. I do recall him mention the risks of sharing body parts, like through organ donation. There is a part of our consciousness that is stored in our organs. We are trying to refine our consciousness. Being around people has an impact on our consciousness as we become more sensitive, so you can imagine what putting something with their consciousness in it, inside your body might do! You don’t know what you might be dealing with. Of course, I’m not saying don’t get a transplant if you need one, but realize there may be consequences.
R – I know someone who had a heart transplant in his 50’s and received the heart of a teenage boy. He went through puberty all over again, and it took him awhile to figure out what was happening! He had to learn to live with two consciousnesses in his body. He sought spiritual guidance to figure it out.
J – So, did anyone feel like they got an understanding of what the words in the title --‘the Great Liberation’ is?
R – Yes. I understood that if we can meditate well, we can free ourselves from the delusions of the world and realize one mind.
J – Excellent. Through stopping thoughts, we can come to know our mind and the nature of the universe.
The prayer in the 2nd chapter and the final chapter on the final message to the village of Tingri, are very high reading. If you have trouble getting through them, don’t feel that you have to read all the footnotes. Instead, try to feel the place that the words take you. The original author was in a particular state of consciousness that is captured between the words. The footnotes are to enhance, but it is the feeling of that light that we want to experience in reading these books.
Our next call will be on the I-Ching, “The Book of Changes,” translated by Wilhem Baynes. Looking forward to hearing your insights!