For the Benefit
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Om Mani Peme Hung
"For as long as space exists and sentient beings endure,
Guide to a Bodhisattva's Way of Life
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Khenchen Tsewang Gyatso Rinpoche
An empowerment in Tibetan Buddhism, when given by an authentic and qualified lama,
is a ritual that invokes the actual blessing and power of a specific Buddha; along with blessings and
spiritual power of a pure and an unbroken spiritual practice lineage (such as Palyul Nam Chö). In old Tibet,
knowing the lineage and training of a lama was a 'consumer's seal' of quality and authenticity.
In Tibetan Buddhism, it is considered that there is only one Buddha with many aspects. These aspects (called deities)
actually represent aspects of each individual's innate Buddha Nature. The different Buddhas (deities) are understood
to be differing aspects of Buddha Shakyamuni. By concentrating on a specific aspect of the Buddha,
practitioners can begin to develop the qualities of that aspect in themselves.
For example, engaging successfully in the sadhana practice of Avalokitesvara (Buddha of Compassion), guided by an
authentic and qualified lama, can assist practitioners in developing and actualizing their own innate
qualities of compassion and to uncover their primordially pure Buddha Nature.
During an Empowerment, making a Heart connection with the specific Buddha (deity) - and then after the empowerment -
engaging in the accompanying meditational practice (sadhana) of that Buddha is a powerful method for
discovering and uncovering the Buddha Nature that is innately present within each individual.
The empowerment is only one half of a process to actualize the aspects of a specific Buddha.
The other half of the process is sincere and dedicated sadhana practice, guided by an authentic and qualified lama.
The success of sadhana practice for a specific Buddha is entirely dependent upon:
1. Empowerment for that practice/deity from qualified and authentic lama.
2. Successful Ngöndro foundational practice (which purifies the ordinary consciousness and
removes karmic traces and habitual behaviors that obscure innate Buddha Nature).
In the Nyingma tradition, Palyul Nam Chö lineage - practitioners are allowed to engage simultaneously
in Ngöndro practice and the sadhana practice for a specific Buddha (as directed and assisted
by PCD Dallas Spiritual Director, Khenchen Tsewang Gyatso Rinpoche).
Empowerments usually include three parts: the wang. lung and tri. The wang is the actual consecration or dedication of
the student to the practice buddha; the lung is the oral transmission (a recitation of the procedural text or manual;
sometimes in a condensed or speedily-read version,); the tri is the instructions on how to do the practice.
An aspect of Vajrayana Buddhism is the pre-requisite of the empowerment for participating in the meditational practice
(Sanskrit: sadhana) of a buddha or bodhisattva. Empowerment is the process by which a qualified and authentic Lama
with the proper lineage transmissions and experience in the particular practice - confers on others the description,
explanation, visualization and order of that practice, along with the lineage transmission of blessings and energy.
The empowerment grants permission, bestows help with, and gives access to the meditational practice of a
buddha or bodhisattva. Empowerments can be complex or very simple. The empowerment is named from analogy
of a monarch enthroned and invested with right to rule (practice).
If empowerments are given by an unqualified person without the proper training and without an unbroken lineage -
then instead of activating Buddha Nature, the empowerment will contain the flaws and errors from the
ordinary consciousness of the individual giving the empowerment. From a spiritual perspective, receiving
empowerments from unqualified persons is very dangerous and damages any efforts for pure spiritual practice and progress.
From the Dalai Lama: The Meaning of Empowerment
As for empowerment in general, what does the term 'wang', or empowerment, signify?
To begin with, our fundamental nature - what we term 'the buddha nature', or tathagatagarbha, the very nature
of our mind, is inherently present within us as a natural attribute. This mind of ours, the subject at hand, has
been going on throughout beginning-less time, and so has the more subtle nature of that mind. On the basis of
the continuity of that subtle nature of our mind rests the capacity we have to attain enlightenment. This potential
is what we call 'the seed of buddhahood', 'buddha nature', 'the fundamental nature', or tathagatagarbha. We all
have this buddha nature, each and every one of us. For example, this beautiful statue of Lord Buddha here, in
the presence of which we are now sitting, is a representation that honours someone who attained buddhahood. He
awakened into that state of enlightenment because his nature was the buddha nature. Ours is as well, and just as
the Buddha attained enlightenment in the past, so in the future we can become buddhas too.
...In any case, there dwells within us all this potential which allows us to awaken into buddhahood and attain
omniscience. The empowerment process draws that potential out, and allows it to express itself more fully. When
an empowerment is conferred on you, it is the nature of your mind - the buddha nature - that provides a basis
upon which the empowerment can ripen you. Through the empowerment [by a qualified and authentic teacher],
you are empowered into the essence of the buddhas of the five families. In particular, you are 'ripened' within
that particular family through which it is your personal predisposition to attain buddhahood.
So, with these auspicious circumstances established in your mindstream, and when you reflect on what is taking
place and maintain the various visualizations, the conditions are right for the essence of the empowerment to
awaken within you, as a state of wisdom which is blissful yet empty - a very special state that is the inseparability
of basic space and awareness. As you focus your devotion in this way, it allows this special quality of mind,
this new capability, as it were, to awaken.
-- His Holiness the Dalai Lama from Dzogchen: The Heart Essence of the Great Perfection
Question: Should I receive the same empowerment more than once?
The answer: YES! For several reasons.
Each empowerment is an opportunity to encounter your own Buddha Nature. Each empowerment
a student receives, especially from one’s root (main) teacher – deepens the student’s spiritual
maturity and understanding of all spiritual practice (not only the empowerment being received).
Just as the first time one looks at a fine painting – it looks good. Possibly even wonderful!
But upon closer examination, over a period of years, many details become apparent that were not seen,
known, or understood at first viewing.
In the same way, receiving the same empowerment many times is a great blessing and a precious
opportunity for continued spiritual growth.
Palyul Changchub Dargyeling Dallas
Tibetan Buddhist Meditation Study/Practice in the Nyingma Tradition
We are part of a group of centers in the Tibetan Buddhist Nyingma tradition founded by
His Holiness Penor Rinpoche, and under the direction of Khenchen Tsewang Gyatso
Rinpoche. Our goal is to make the teachings of Buddha particularly in the
Palyul Nyingma tradition available to all who wish to follow them.
By clicking on these links, you can find out about the Dallas schedule for meditation practice,
annual US summer retreat, other US events, and our teachers.
Seven Line Prayer and Long Life Prayers for Teachers Link
Venerable Khenchen Tsewang Gyatso Rinpoche
Spiritual Director of Palyul Changchub Dargyeling Dallas
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