The meaning of the Tibetan word ‘blessing’ (jinlab) according to Jonang Bamda Gelek

Blessing (Skt. adhiṣṭhāna; བྱིན་བརླབས་, byin brlabs or byin gyis brlabs).

For Dakini Day today, I thought I would share a tibit of ancient wisdom from one of the greatest Rime and Jonang masters, Bamda Gelek on the meaning of the word, commonly translated as ‘blessing’. In his Kālacakra Six Yogas instruction text, The Chariot That Transports One to the Four Kāyas he states the following:

In terms of [the phrase] ‘bestowing blessing’ (byin brlabs) it means,  ‘bestowing’ (byin) to one’s mindstream, in dependence on the body, speech and mind of the lama, excellent qualities and powers, that enable and empower one to abandon the obscurations. By the strength (stobs) of that bestowal, and strength of that power, one is able to train and transform one’s previous mindstream into meditative absorption (ting nge ‘dzin) and the mind of Bodhicitta; and purify the various obscurations. That is the meaning of ‘blessing’ (brlab).

For this reason, I would assert that the best translation of this word is ‘bestowing power, or inspiration’.

Adhiṣṭhāna(m) is a term with multiple meanings: seat; basis; substratum; ground; support; and abode.

The scholar-translator, Dan Martin asserts that the Chinese term for adhiṣṭhāna influenced the Tibetan:

Byin-rlabs is commonly glossed as ‘gift wave’, but it more properly goes back to a literal translation of a Chinese word which was almost certainly made during the earliest introduction of Buddhism into Tibet in the seventh or eighth centuries. It is not a literal translation of the Sanskrit Buddhists term adhisthana. Its actual, or rather its philologically correct, meaning is ‘received by (way of) giving’.

Also, in one recent teaching the Gyalwang Karmapa (from 53 mins onwards) states it very beautifully and simply. It’s that feeling you get when you’re with someone who loves and cares for you. Like a child sitting next to a loving mother. They make you feel safe, protected, peaceful and calm. They make an agitated and troubled mind feel peaceful and happy. That is a lama’s blessing.

However one defines or translates it, I hope you enjoy this short new translation from Bamda Gelek and may all beings receive lots of blessings (gifts of power) on this Dakini Day!!

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