‘The Eyes Of Tārā’ by Jonang Ngawang Lodro Dragpa

On the 8th day of the lunar month, Tārā day, I offer a short practice text on Noble Tārā from the Jonang tradition, composed by a twentieth-century Jonang and Rimey master, Khenpo Ngawang Lodro Dragpa, (Ngag-dbang-blo-gros-grags-pa) (1920-1975).  He spent a significant part of his life at one of the main monasteries in Dzamthang, Tsangwa monastery. For more information on Lodro Dragpa’s life, see the Treasury of Lives, which says:

When he was thirteen years old, Lodro Drakpa took the monastic vows and precepts from Ngawang Monlam Zangpo (ngag dbang smon lam bzang po) and was given the name Ngawang Lodro Drakpa. He was then instructed in the three practices of isolation according to the Kālacakra system by Dzamno Dorje before progressing onto the profound path of the completion stage practices. As is typical at this point, he was guided through Tāranātha’s instruction manual on the completion stage six-fold vajrayoga (rdo rje rnal ‘byor yan lag drug) titled, Meaningful to Behold along with its supplemental volume, which he practiced in retreat for three years.

It is said that his yogic experiences deeply enriched his interior life and at the age of fifteen, after receiving a host of tantric empowerments (dbang skur) on various meditation deities, he began to have visions where he would actually encounter these deities, and then spontaneously compose songs of realization to them. At this stage of his life, he was described as being like a vase that was seeking to be filled to the brim with the practical instructions of the magnificent secret Vajrayāna, and who was continually requesting esoteric transmissions, empowerments, and instructions.

Then, during the latter part of his life:

In fact, Khenpo Lodrak wrote on a wide variety of subjects during the latter period of his life. Many of these works were composed in his room at Tsangwa Monastery where he would often dictate his thoughts to his close disciple Yonten Zangpo (yon tan bzang po, 1928-2002) who would then transcribe his words verbatim on to a long black sketch slate. Once the slate was full with words, Yonten Zangpo would write them in cursive script on leaves of paper. Works worth mentioning here include his Great Exposition on Zhentong, History of the Jonang TraditionPresentation of Inner and Outer Philosophical SystemsCondensation of Topics on EpistemologyGuidance Manual on Practicing the Connate Kālacakra DeityBiographies of the Successive Lives of DolpopaA Biography of Padmasambhava, and several works on tantric zhentong.

It is repeated by many who were around him during this period of his life that Khenpo Lodrak would meditate and write throughout the day and night with an incomparable tenacity. Then, during the Cultural Revolution, he was imprisoned for two years. After being released under the condition that he would not stay at the monastery in Dzamtang or wear monk’s robes, Khenpo Lodrak took up residence in a small house about twenty minutes away from Tsangwa Monastery, below the Darnga Hermitage where he was introduced to the Kālacakra as a boy.

Interestingly, one of his teachers was a woman, Kunzang Chokyi Dolma, known also as Shukchung Khandroma (shug chung mkha’ ‘gro ma), indicating a connection to Shukchung Monastery (shug chung dgon pa). What little is known about her life comes from the History of the Jonang Tradition (jo nang chos ‘byung zla ba’i sgron me) by Lodro Dragpa.

The Eyes of Tāra text

In the first English translation of his text, the Tibetan script and phonetics are also included. It is a short Tārā sadhana called The Eyes of Tārā (Drol mai mig gi khor lo’i thab (sgrol ma’i mig gi ‘khor lo’i thabs) a concise yet powerful homage to the ultimate primordial awareness eyes of Tārā. Also recommended by the author to be of benefit for the conventionally existent physical eyes too.  The diagram of her eyes and visualisation are taken from the text itself. I first translated it in 2018, and this second edition is now available here below, or as a downloaded pdf.

This short sadhana was written down by Jonang lama, Khenpo Ngawang Yonten Zangpo (1928-2002). There are three extant editions of it available. First,  an edition published by the Jonang Well-Being Association (2010) (Zhel don chog drig (gnas mchog rdo rje gdan jo nang smon lam chen mo’i skabs kyi zhal ‘don phyogs bsgrigs rdzogs ldan chos kyi sgra dbyangs).  I also checked this against two other editions, and the more accurate edition is from the Dzamthang block print edition. The edition I have used for this translation is from the Dzamthang Samdrub Norbu Ling block print of Lodro Dragpa’s Collected Works (‘Dzam thang ba blo gros grags pa’i gsung ‘bum).

The supreme head of Jonang in Tibet is currently Jigme Dorje Rinpoche, I hope one day I am able to visit the seat of Jonang, Dzamthang monastery there and receive the full transmission of Tāranātha and Kālacakra empowerment and teachings from masters of the tradition there. May all beings realise Tārā and Kālacakra!

Supreme head of Jonang lineage, HH Jigme Dorje Rinpoche

I have also translated another text by Ngawang Lodro Dragpa, a Four-Mandala Offering to Tārā that is regularly practiced within the Jonang tradition today. For those who are interested in a text that combines teachings on both Tārā and Kālacakra, see this text by Jetsun Tāranātha, A Commentary on the Twenty-One  Tāras: The Explicit and Hidden Aspects also published for free download here.  May it be of benefit!

 

The Eyes of Tārā

སྒྲོལ་མའི་མིག་གི་འཁོར་ལོའི་ཐབས།

ངག་དབང་བློ་གྲོས་གྲགས་པ།

by Khenpo Ngawang Lodro Dragpa

རབ་གྲུ་བཞི་སྟེང་འོག་རིང་།  གཡས་གཡོན་ཐུང་བའི་དབུས་གཞི་སེར།འཕགས་མའི་འབྲུ་སྤྱན་དཀྱུས་རིང་ཟུང་།  མཛོད་སྤུ་བཅས་པ་སྤྱན་མདོག་ལྟར།  ཚོན་རིས་ཀྱིས་བྱུགས་སྟེང་འོག་དང་།  གཡས་གཡོན་རྣམས་སུ་སྔག་འདི་འགོད།

Within a four-sided rectangle, surrounding a central golden base, are the seed syllables of Noble Tārā.  Between the two eyes a hair-tuft,[i]similar to the eye colour.  By means of a painting or image, this mantra is arranged above, below and around the sides of the eyes.

ཨོཾ་ཏཱ་རེ་ཏུ་ཏྟཱ་རེ་ཏུ་རེ་ཨཱ་ཀྵ་པྲ་ས་ཀ་མཱ་ཧཱུཾ་ཛྙཱ་ཨཱཿསྭཱ་ཧཱ།

o tāre tuttāre ture āksha prasa kamā hūṃ jñāṇa āh svā hā

ཞེས་པའི་སྔགས་ཡིག་ཉི་ཤུ་པ། སྟེང་གི་ར་བའི་དབུ་ནས་བཙམ། རིམ་པ་བཞིན་དུ་འགོད་པ་སྟེ།  དེ་ཡང་སྟེང་འོག་གཉིས་པོ་ལ།  གཞི་ལྗང་ཕྱོགས་ཀུན་ལེགས་བྱས་དེར།  སྔགས་ཡིག་འབྲུ་ནི་དྲུག་དྲུག་རེ། གཡས་གཡོན་གཉིས་སུ་ཡིག་འབྲུ་ནི།  བཞི་བཞི་རེ་ནི་ཐོབ་པར་བྱ།  དེ་འདྲའི་མིག་འཁོར་ལེགས་གྲུབ་མཐར།

This is known as the twenty-syllable mantra.  Gradually arrange the syllables from the top, clockwise in order around the central enclosure. The outer rim is a beautiful green in all directions. There are six mantric seed syllables above and below the two eyes, and four syllables arranged at the sides of each eye sphere (see picture above). In that way, one perfectly arranges the eyes.

 

རང་ཉིད་འཕག་མ་ལྗང་མོར་གྱུར།

rang nyi phag ma jang mor gyur

One transforms oneself into Green Tārā.

 

ཐུགས་ཀར་ཟླ་སྟེང་ཏཱཾཿ་ཡིག་མཐར།

thug kar da teng TAM yig thar

In her heart, on top of a white moon disc, is the green syllable TAM.

 

སྙིང་པོ་ཡི་གེ་ཉི་ཤུས་བསྐོར།

nying po yi ge nyi shu kor

Around which are the twenty syllables.[ii]

 

དེ་ཡི་འོད་ཀྱིས་བྱིན་གྱིས་རླབས།

de yi öd ki jin gi lab

From her radiant light, blessings emanate.

 

སྒྲོལ་མའི་སྙིང་པོ་འབུམ་ཕྲག་གིས།ཡོངས་སུ་བསྔགས་ལ་དེ་རྗེས་སུ།ནངས་རེ་བཞིན་དུ་ངག་འདོན་ཡང་།

From the heart of Tārā emanates hundreds of thousands of the mantra.  After that:

 

ཏཱཾཿ

TAM

སྟོང་གསལ་རིག་པའི་རང་མདངས་ལས།

tong sel rig pai rang dang le

Out of the empty luminosity of the natural radiance of mind,

 

སྐད་ཅིག་ཉིད་ལ་འཕགས་མར་གསལ།

in an instant, Noble Tāra clearly manifests.

 

མདུན་ཕྱོགས་མིག་གི་འཁོར་ལོ་ཉིད།

dun chog mig gi khor lo nyi

In front, the eye spheres themselves;

 

འཕགས་མའི་ཡེ་ཤེས་སྤྱན་རས་ཟུང་།

phag mai ye she chen re zung

the two primordial-awareness eyes of Noble Tārā.

 

སྨིན་མཚམས་དཀར་གསལ་མཛོད་སྤུ་བཅས།

min tsham kar sel dzö pu che

In the spot between the eyes is a hair-tuft of pure, white, radiant light

 

མངོན་སུམ་ཇི་བཞིན་ལྷང་ངེར་གསལ།

ngön sum ji zhin lhang nger sel

a brilliant illumination, wide awake, the direct perception of reality itself.

 

རང་བཞིན་དེའི་ངང་གཡོ་མེད་དུ།

rang zhin de’i nang yo me du

From within that nature, with a fixed, unmoving gaze,

 

སྒྲུབ་པོའི་མིག་གིས་རྩེ་གཅིག་པར།

drup po’i mig gi tse chig par

the practitioner focuses one-pointedly,

 

མདུན་གྱུ་ཡེ་ཤེས་འཁོར་ལོར་བལྟ།

dun gyu ye she khor lor ta

on the spheres of primordial-awareness in front.

 

སྤྱན་དང་ཡིག་འབྲུ་རང་གསལ་ངང་།

chen dang yig dru rang sel ngang

Tārā’s eyes and seed syllables are inherently radiant and luminous.

 

འཕག་མའི་གསང་གསུམ་སྒོ་གསུམ་དང་།

phag mai sang sum go sum dang

One should recall with longing, the non-dual, inseparability of

 

གཉིས་སུ་མེད་པར་དྲེན་འདུན་བྱ།

nyi su me par dren dun ja

Noble Tārā’s three vajras[iii] and three doors.

 

Recite the 20 syllable mantra one hundred times.

o tāre tuttāre ture āksha prasa kamā hūṃ jñāṇa āh svā hā

 

གདོད་མ་ཆོས་དབྱིངས་སྐྱེ་མེད་དུ།

dö ma chö ying kye me du

The unborn face of the Dharmadhātu,

 

བདག་མདུན་འོད་གསལ་ངང་དུ་ཐིམ།

dag dun ö sel ngang du thim

one dissolves into that luminous state in front.

 

དགེ་འདིས་རིང་མིན་འཕགས་མའི་སྐུ།

ge di ring min phag mai ku

By this merit, may we quickly attain the body of Noble Tārā!

 

བྱང་ཆུབ་མཆོག་ལ་གཞོལ་གྱུར་ཅིག

jang chub chog la zhol gyur chig

May we dedicate ourselves to the supreme state of awakening!

 

ཅེས་པའི་བཟླ་ཉིན་རེ་བཞིན།  རྒྱུན་མ་ཆད་པའི་རྣལ་འབྱོར་གྱིས།  རྟག་ཏུ་ཉམས་ལེན་ལ་འབད་ན་ཆུ་བུར་མིག་ལ་ངེས་པར་ཕན།

Recite this daily.  If one continually strives to practice, with this uninterrupted yoga, it will definitely be of benefit to one’s physical eyes.

 

ཡིག་རིས་རིག་གནས་ཕུལ་བྱུང་བ།  ཀུན་དགའ་མཆོག་ལ་མཁོ་བའི་སླད།  མ་ཏིས་ཤར་མར་སྤེལ་བ་ལས།  མཆེད་ཀྱིས་ཡིག་རིས་སུ་ཕབས་དགེ

This written composition was requested by Kunga Chog, composed by Mati Sharma, [Ngawang Lodro Dragpa], and written down by the Dharma friend [Lama Yonten Zangpo].

[i]The circle/ringlet of hair between the eyebrows [one of the {skyes bu chen po’i mthan sum bcu rtsa gnyis} the thirty major marks of a great being) Urna (buddha) hair-tuft.

[ii] These are also green in colour.

[iii]The three vajras is an English rendering of gsang ba gsum; which has been variously translated as: three Secrets, three Mysteries, three Seats, three Doors and three gateways.  The full Tibetan title may be rendered into English as ‘the three secrets of the noble ones’ (phags pa’i gsang ba gsum) which are: body (lus and sku); voice/speech (gsung) and mind (thugs).

Translated and edited by Adele Tomlin (Dakini Publications, 2020).

 

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