Wheel of Sharp Weapons | Notes


Wheel of Sharp Weapons
Notes by
Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey

Yamāntaka is the wrathful or forceful aspect of Mañjuśrī, the emanation of the wisdom of the Buddhas:

Yamāntaka’s wrath is directed against selfishness, self-cherishing attitudes, ego-grasping and grasping for true independent existence:

These ignorant attitudes take the life of our chance to gain Enlightenment, and thus Yamāntaka’s wrath is opposed to the great Lord of Death.

Bodhisattvas, or brave ones, the spiritual offspring of the Buddhas, are those beings who have the Enlightening attitude (Bodhichitta) to work toward the attainment of Buddhahood, that is, Enlightenment, for the sake of all beings.

There are 5 points of similarity between Bodhisattvas and peacocks:

Just as the colours of the peacocks’ feathers grow more radiantly brilliant when they eat plants that are poisonous to other animals,

Bodhisattvas shine with blissful happiness by making use of such poisonous delusions as desire and attachment for the benefit of others.

Just as peacocks have 5 crown feathers,
Bodhisattvas have the attainment of the 5 graded paths for Enlightenment.

Just as the sight of a peacock’s colourful display gives us great pleasure,
the sight of a Bodhisattva uplifts our mind because of his Bodhichitta.

Just as peacocks live mostly on poisonous plants and never eat insects or cause others harm,
Bodhisattvas never cause even the slightest harm to other sentient beings.

Just as peacocks eat poisonous plants with pleasure,

when Bodhisattvas are offered sensory objects, although they have no attachment to these objects, they accept them with pleasure to allow the donor to gain merit from his offering.

There are 3 levels of training the mind according to the 3 scopes of motivation outlined in the lam-rim teaching of the graded course to Enlightenment:

1) With an initial scope motivation, we work to attain a better future rebirth.

2) With an intermediate scope, we work to attain Liberation (Nirvāṇa) from the vicious circle of rebirth (Saṁsāra) for ourselves alone.

3) With an advance scope, as a follower of the Mahāyāna path with Bodhichitta motivation, we work to attain the full Enlightenment of Buddhahood for the benefit of all beings.

The word now in the text indicates the importance of practicing the teachings with an advanced scope of motivation, having previously trained our mind along the lam-rim graded course.

With an advanced scope motivation, there are 2 ways in which we can follow the Mahāyāna path:

1) By following the Perfection Vehicle (Pāramitā yāna), it may take many lifetimes before we reach our goal of Enlightenment.

2) By following the Tantra Vehicle (Vajrayāna), however, we may attain Enlightenment within one human lifetime.

The word here in the text indicates the immediacy of practicing the Tantra Path with an especially strong Bodhichitta motivation.

The Tantra system teaches many methods for the speedy attainment of Enlightenment. Included among them is the use as a path the normally poisonous delusions:

In order to use delusions, such as lustful desire, as a path, however, we must first be devoid of the self-cherishing attitude, that is the greedy attachment to our own self-interest.

In addition, we must have a sound understanding of Voidness – the fact that all things, including ourselves, lack a truly independent manner of existence.

To use delusions as a path without these 2 prerequisites is extremely dangerous and, far from achieving our intended goal, we may completely destroy our chance for attaining Enlightenment.

Any of the delusions may be used in the Tantra system as an actual path to Enlightenment:

In the Perfection Vehicle, the delusions may only be used as a method for directly benefiting others when the circumstances demand it. They may not, however, be practiced as an actual path.

The Three Jewels of Refuge are

1. Buddha,
2. his teachings (Dharma), and
3. the monastic community (Saṅgha) of those who understand and practice these teachings.

The Three Jewels of Refuge are also referred to in English as the Three Precious Gems, the Three Supreme Gems, or the Triple Gem.

The practice of Tantra requires receiving initiations:

These entail the taking of vows concerning moral conduct and the giving of your sacred word of honour to follow the tantric practices in the prescribed manner.

Cause and effect describes the universal law of Karma
whereby virtuous actions result in happiness and non-virtuous actions in suffering.

Images of Buddha and the various meditational deities representing different aspects of a Buddha’s Enlightenment have an important use in both the Perfection and Tantra Vehicles:

They are used as meditative aids for developing single-minded concentration (samādhi). By using such images as objects of devotion, we collect the merit to attain the physical body of a Buddha.

It is never possible for us to experience the consequences of the non-virtuous actions of others. Whatever suffering we have must be the result of non-virtuous actions we ourselves have committed in the past.

The 6 realms of existence are divided into the 3 higher and the 3 lower states:

The 3 lower unfortunate states of rebirth are those of
the 1) hell creatures, 2) hungry ghosts (pretas), and 3) animals.

The 3 higher fortunate states of rebirth are those of
the 1) gods, 2) anti-gods (asuras), and 3) humans.

We request Yamāntaka to turn the wheel of sharp weapons 3 times. These 3 refer to

(1) the conventional or relative level of truth on which conventional Bodhichitta operates as the means for leading both self and others to Enlightenment;

(2) the ultimate level of truth on which ultimate Bodhichitta functions as the wisdom understanding voidness, and

(3) these 2 levels or grades of truth realized together.

The 4 great opponents eliminate the necessity for us to experience the unfortunate consequences of our previously committed non-virtuous actions. These 4 are

(1) feeling regret and disgust with our non-virtue;
(2) taking refuge in the Three Jewels of Refuge and meditating on Bodhichitta;
(3) offering our promise never to commit such non-virtue again, and
(4) performing and dedicating the merit of virtuous actions for the benefit of all sentient beings.

Mantras are words of power, combinations of Sanskrit syllables used as invocations.

Hum, dza and phat are mantric seed syllables:

The first repetition of each is for conventional Bodhichitta, the opponent for our self-cherishing attitude. The second repetition is for ultimate Bodhichitta, which destroys our ego-grasping.

The sack of our body is filled with the 5 poisonous delusions of:

1) longing desire,
2) fearful and angered repulsion,
3) closed-minded ignorance,
4) arrogant pride, and
5) jealousy.

The Three Baskets (Tripiṭaka) of Buddha’s teachings concern:

1) disciplined morality (Vinaya),
2) discourses on meditation (Sūtra), and
3) philosophy and metaphysics (Abhidharma).

We request Yamāntaka to swing 3 times round his head his skull- headed bludgeon -

- representing both the wisdom of ego-lessness, common to both the Perfection and Tantra Vehicles, as well as the non-dual wisdom of voidness and bliss:

The 3 times he swings this bludgeon destroy

(1) ego-grasping,
(2) our self-cherishing attitude, and
(3) our defiled bodies of delusion produced by these two types of ignorance.

The 3 kinds of wisdom can refer either to the wisdoms of listening, thinking, meditating, or to intellectual, conceptual, and non-conceptual wisdoms.