Refuge Tree

Longchen Nyingthig refuge tree

Consider that the place where you are is all a Buddhafield, beautiful and pleasant, made of all sorts of precious substances. The ground is as smooth as the surface of a mirror, without any hills, valleys or irregularities. In the middle, in front of you, grows a wish-fulfilling tree with five great branches spreading from its trunk. Its perfect leaves, flowers and fruit stretch so far to the east, south, west and north that they fill the entire sky, and every branch and twig is hung with a multitude of entrancing jewels and bells of many kinds.

On the central branch is a jewelled throne upheld by eight great lions. Seated upon the throne, on a seat consisting of a multi-coloured lotus, a sun and a moon, is your own glorious root teacher, incomparable source of compassion, embodiment of all past, present and future Buddhas, appearing in the form of the great Vajradhara of Oddiyana. His body is of a compelling white colour with a rosy gleam. He has one face, two arms and two legs and is seated in the royal posture. In his right hand he holds a golden five-pronged vajra with the threatening gesture. In his left hand, which rests in the gesture of meditation, he holds a skull-cup containing a vase filled with the ambrosia of deathless wisdom. The lid of the vase is topped by a wish-fulfilling tree. He wears a brocade cloak, monastic robes and a long sleeved blue tunic, and on his head the lotus hat. Seated in union with him is his consort, the white dakini Yeshe Tsogyal, holding a hooked knife and a skull cup.

Visualize him like this in the space before you, facing toward you. Above his head are all the lamas of the lineage, seated one above the other, each not quite touching the one below. The teachers of the general tantra transmission are innumerable, but here we visualize particularly the main figures of the Heart-essence lineage of the Great Perfection: Samantab- hadra, the dharmakaya; Vajrasattva, the sambhogakaya; Garab Dorje, the nirmanakaya; the master Manjusrimitra; Guru Sri Simha; the learned Jnanasutra; the great pandita, Vimalamitra; Padmasambhava of Oddi¬yana and his three closest disciples, the King, Subject and Consort—the Dharma king Trisongdetsen, the great translator Vairotsana and the dakini Yeshe Tsogyal; the omniscient Longchen Rabjampa; and Rigdzin Jigme Lingpa. Each of them should be visualized with their own particular ornaments and attributes. They are all surrounded by an inconceivable multitude of yidam deities of the four sections of tantra and by dakas and dakinis.

On the front branch is the Buddha, the Conqueror Sakyamuni, sur¬rounded by the thousand and two perfect Buddhas of this Good Kalpa as well as all the other Buddhas of the past, present and future and of the ten directions. All of them are in the supreme nirmanakya form, garbed in monastic robes, bearing all the thirty-two major marks of Buddha- hood—the crown protuberance, the wheels marked on the soles of the feet and so on—and the eighty minor signs. They are seated in the vajra posture. Some are white, some yellow, some red, some green and some blue. Inconceivable rays of light stream forth from their bodies.

On the right-hand branch visualize the eight great Close Sons, headed by the Bodhisattva Protectors of the Three Families—Manjusri, Vajrapani and Avalokitesvara—and surrounded by the whole noble sangha of Bodhisattvas. They are white, yellow, red, green and blue. They all wear the thirteen ornaments of the sambhogakaya, and are standing with both feet together.

On the left-hand branch visualize the two principal sravakas, Sariputra and Maudgalyayana, surrounded by the noble sangha of sravakas and pratyekabuddhas. All are white in colour, and dressed in the three monastic robes. They too are standing, holding their staffs and alms-bowls in their hands.

On the rear branch visualize the Jewel of the Dharma in the form of piles of books. Topmost of them, encased in a lattice of lights, are the six million four hundred thousand tantras of the Great Perfection, the label of each volume facing towards you. All these books appear very clearly and distinctly, and resonate with the spontaneous melody of the vowels and consonants.

Between the branches are all the glorious Dharma-protectors, both the wisdom protectors and the protectors constrained by the effect of their past actions. The male protectors all face outwards; their activity is to prevent outer obstacles from coming in, protecting us from hindrances and conditions unfavourable to practising the Dharma and attaining enlightenment. The female protectors all face inwards; their activity is to keep inner accomplishments from leaking out.

Think of all these figures of refuge, with their immeasurable qualities of knowledge, love and power, leading you as your only great guide.

Patrul Rinpoche

“The Words of My Perfect Teacher”