The Garuda Practice

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Chogyal Namkhai Norbu



Shang Shung Edizioni

This publication is intended for those who have already received transmission from the Master of the practices it contains. We strongly urge you not to circulate it outside that group of people and to treat it with the utmost respect.

Edited by Nina Robinson and Igor Legati Cover by Paolo Fassoli and Fulvio Ferrari Drawings by Paola Minelli

© 2000 Associazione CuJturale Comunita Dzogchen Shang Shung Edizioni 58031 Arcidosso - Italy Tel: 0564966039 E-mail: [email protected] All rights of translation, reproduction and partial or total use in any form whatsoever are reserved in any countries.

IPC - 082ENOO - Approved by the International Publications Committee of the Dzogchen Community founded by Chogyal Namkhai Norbu


THE GARUDA PRACTICE Transcription from teachings given in Amsterdam (Holland), November 1986, Merigar (Italy), Apri/1985 and August 1986, Nea Macri (Greece), January 1987.


This Garuda practice is linked to the Anuyoga system which is a method of instantaneous transformation. Garuda is a manifestation which is very useful in general. It is used for many ritual practices, but in particular for healing. In Tibetan medicine there are many mantras and rituals for curing certain diseases linked with negative energy provocations. In most of these cases, we use the visualisation and practice of Garuda. The Garuda practice is widely diffused both in the Bon tradition and in Buddhism. But it is more likely that this method of Garuda originated in the Bon tradition. Garuda is the name used in the Oddiyana language as well as in Sanskrit. In Buddhist texts, such as the Sutras, it's called Namkha Ding in Tibetan. Namkha is space and Ding means flying. That is one name ofGaruda, but in the ancient language of Tibet, Garuda is called Khyung. Also the practice we find in Tantrism is called Khyung in Tibetan. So we have two names in Tibetan, Khyung and Namkha Ding. In the original Sutra texts like the Kanjur and the Tenjur you will always find the word Namkha Ding and you will not be able to find this word Khyung. Khyung is the name used for the manifestation in this practice. There are many different colours of the manifestation of Garuda: for example, blue Garuda in Tibetan is Khyunggon, and white, Khyungkar and red, Khyungmar. The colour changes but the name is always K.hyung, as Khyung is Garuda. In the language of Shang Shung, the source of Boopo, in the name of the kingdom of Shang Shung, Shung means Khyung, and K.hyung means Garuda. Also, near 5

Manasarovar Lake, there is a countryside called Khyung Lung: Khyung is Garuda and Lung is valley- Garuda Valley - one of the most important places of the kings of Shang Shung. There have been many kings of Khyung Lung. So in the Bonpo tradition, the figure of Khyung, or Garuda, is a very important deity and practice. For example, in the Bonpo tradition the functioning of energy is principally explained with the four or five elements, in particular the elements of earth, water, fire and air. These elements are very similar to those in Chinese and Tibetan astrology systems. Five main animal symbols are found in Tibet. In the four comers of the flags printed with mantras, called lungta, there are four animals representing the four elements and in the centre there is a horse with jewels. The horse represents the continuous flow of an individual's energy. In ancient times the horse was a symbol of swift movement. You can reach somewhere very quickly on a horse, so our forward movement, the continuity of our energy is represented by the horse. The 'ta' oflungta means horse, and in this case 'lung' means our energy. In general lung means vital energy. So in the four comers of the lungta there are four animals: a lion (the Tibetan sort oflion), a tiger, a garuda (khyung), and a dragon. These represent the four elements. The lion represents earth, the dragon water, the tiger air, and the garuda frre. Why? Because the principle of Bonpo is different from Buddhism. For example, in astrology, we have five elements: wood, iron (or metal), fire, earth and water. In essence metal is part of the element earth, and wood is the element of air, because by wood we mean something like a tree, something growing, moving, which represents the element of air. In the Bonpo tradition the elements in astrology are symbolised by animals which represent the dimension in which they live. The


animals represent real movement - something living and moving. For example, in general the tiger can be found in a forest. The forest is a dimension of trees and wood, but in that dimension we can also find movement, something living, and that energy is represented by an anima) - the tiger. The lion represents earth. For Tibetans, the lion is similar to a small Tibetan dog -it is a snow lion. Snow can be found on Everest, on Kailash - that kind of place - very high, rocky places. That represents the essence or more concentrated form of the earth element, the material earth element which, therefore, is not represented with a mountain or snow, or something rocky, but instead, since in that dimension there exists a moving, living animal, a lion, the earth element is represented by a lion. The dragon is considered to be an animal that exists in the water dimension, even if we believe it doesn't exist, that's the idea. And then we have the Garuda. The Garuda represents fire, because in the Bonpo tradition the Garuda is one ofthe most important deities and represents the power of energy. In general, energy is represented by fire. For example, when we do visualisation with mantras, we do visualisation of a red colour like frre and it means energy. In the Bonpo tradition a series of rites exists called Wal and Tso. Wal is a word in the Shang Shung language, and really means flames; and Tso means something like the essence of fire, something like liquid fire, if that existed. There are many kinds of these practices in the Bonpo tradition. Fire is considered a very important symbol of energy. For example, when we do rituals, we always use a lamp. Many people think that the lamp is only for light. That's true, in general, if we can't see. But in rituals, the lamp also represents fire, or flame, and that is more important than light. Some people say: ''Tibetans use butter lamps in a temples and so on. But today it's better and


easier to use electricity, why don't they use electric lights?" This would be true if the purpose were only to have light, but if we have another meaning or sense like the presence of flame, there's a difference between a butter lamp and electricity. The manifestations of Garuda, in general, represent everything within a flaming dimension, so that's why Garuda is considered the principal symbol of the ftre element. This is the idea or viewpoint of the ancient Bonpo tradition, which represented energy in that way. There are also many practices of Garuda in the Buddhist tantras existing today. They are principally used in medicine and healing. There are hundreds of thousands of different mantras and practices with Garuda. They are very useful in general, because we always have physical problems, energy problems. It's easy to have negative provocations from different kinds of beings. When we say negative energy provocation, this does not only mean simple energy. Rather, there is also energy controlled by certain kinds of beings. There are many different kinds of beings. We can understand this also with regards to the level of human beings - we know, for example, that there are people with more capacity and people with less capacity. There are hundreds of thousands, millions of beings, we don't know how many kinds of beings exist. For example, Yamantaka manifested for beings of the Yama classes. So this means that there are also Yama beings with the capacity to have contact with Sambhogakaya manifestations. Many of these kinds of beings exist. Not all beings are always full of compassion and have good characters: in samsara all kinds of beings exist. There are many beings who have the capacity to control energy, but often, being ignorant of them and not knowing what's happening, we provoke them and then we receive many provocations from them. That's the principle: many illnesses are linked with that kind of provocation. 8

Usually what we call 'provocations' refer to the Eight Classes. This does not mean that only Eight Classes exist; it could be that eight hundred or eight million exist. But the most important beings are classified in the Eight Classes. They represent the more powerful beings with different characteristics. But there are many manifestations of enlightened beings who manifest in the form of these kinds of beings, controlling their energy and their negative provocations. Also we refer to the samaya of the Eight Classes because these most important and powerful Eight Classes have samaya. So who are these Eight Classes? In general, we use the mantra A YA MA DU RU TSA SHA NA but there are different explanations. A very interesting explanation I found recently in a text by the very famous terilin, or discoverer of teachings, called Mingyur Dorje. When he was a small boy, eleven or twelve years old, he started to explain many kinds of teachings and had many visions and contacts with the Sambhogakaya dimension. At that time there was a very great lama of the K.agyiidpa tradition, also a great practitioner of Dzogchen, called Araga Ase (or Karma Chagmed). Araga Ase met this small boy and he was very surprised by him, he became a kind of teacher helper to him, and later he became his disciple. Mingyur Dorje started to dictate many teachings when he was eleven years old. There are thirteen principal volumes of teachings that he dictated in those three years, when he was eleven, twelve and thirteen. When I was very young I received all these transmissions of Mingyur Dorje, but I don't remember them, because I was so young and I only received the transmissions. Recently in India a group of Tibetan lamas brought a copy of the original book they had found in Tibet and they reprinted it. I ordered it, received it and read it. I didn't have enough time to read everything,


but I looked at almost all of the book because I had this transmission, so I was interested, and there I found an explanation of the Eight Classes very interesting and unusual. He said that these syllables, A YA MA etc., are all root syllables of the Eight Classes. Why these syllables? Because these represent the root words in their own languages, which is very interesting. For example, A is the syllable for Deva, which means, in general, gods, all the realms of the gods. But they call themselves Anu in their own language. So that explains the A, the root letter of Anu. YA in Sanskrit is the class ofYama, as in Yamantaka, but in the language of the Yamas themselves, they are called Yati, and that's why the root letter-syllable is YA. MA means the Mamo class in Tibetan, the class of Dakinis like Ekajati: the guardian Ekajati is a manifestation in the form of the Mamo class. This is a terrible class, as they provoke wars and illnesses and are very dangerous in general. MA in their own language represents Mabhyo, that is what they call themselves. When we do a practice like Ekajati we use the syllables bhyo bhyo, etc., the origin of bhyo is found in the language of the Mamo class, a very important class. DU stands for the Rudra class in Sanskrit, and Diid in Tibetan. In general we translate this as devils or demons. If the root letter came from the Sanskrit Rudra, it would be Ru. But in the language of the Rudra they call themselves Dutu, and that's why we have the syllable DU. RU is the root syllable of the Tsen class, also a very powerful class, and their provocation leads to illnesses like cancer, etc. They call themselves Rukshi, so their root syllable isRU. TSA is the class of the Gyalpos, very strong and powerful. One of the most famous representatives of the Gyalpo 10

class is the guardian of Samye in Tibet. We call it Pehar, but there are hundreds, millions beings in the Gyalpo class. The provocation of this class in general relates to the nervous system. If you have this kind of provocation then you become nervous or sometimes even abnormal. In their own language, they are called Tsati, so that's why the root is TSA. SHA: in Sanskrit there is the class ofYaksha, but inTibetan we say Nodjyin. Yaksha is the land or dimension where we can find Padmasambhava, the continent ofYaksha. And in the language of the Yaksha, they're called Shaksha, that's why their root syllable is SHA. NA represents the Naga class. In Sanskrit it is called the Naga class, in Tibetan it is called Lu. In the language ofthe Nagas, they are called Nagas. That's why we have these eight syllables. All these provocations and powers in general are controlled by manifestations of deities or enlightened beings, and Garuda is considered to be one of the more important of them. Through the practice and mantra of Garuda, all these kinds of problems can be controlled. That's why we use Garuda. There are may kinds of Garuda practices. Here we are using a specific Garuda teaching, a terma which comes from Adzam Drugpa, a great master of the lineage of the Longchen Nyingthig. His master was Patrul Rinpoche. This teaching belongs to the terma Odsal dorje sang zod, which I received twice from my uncle Togden Ogyen Tendzin, who was a disciple of Adzam Drugpa himself. I use this Garuda practice because it has a specific explanation for diseases like cancer. We need its protection, and we also need the mantra and action of this practice when there is a problem. When we have seminars, teachings, or retreats, I always try to give the transmission of Garuda and explain how to practice it.


Maybe people want to have the transmission of this practice and don't know how to ask for it, but I know it's necessary. One day someone might say: "Oh, I have a problem, my friend has a problem, what can I do, what can we do?'' At that moment, if you write a letter to me or call me on the telephone, there's not much I can do, because it's necessary to have had the transmission. So we do the transmission with our awareness when we meet together.



After the usual preliminaries (nine purification breathings, mantra of purification of the elements, Refuge and Bodhichitta), we do the visualisation ofGaruda, transforming ourselves with the syllable KHROM, but in Tibetan we pronounce it as TROM (like in the English word 'tree'). This is the heart syllable. This syllable is a little strange, because in general, in the manifestation of deities in the Tantric system, most heart syllables are linked with one of the five syllables of the five Dhyani Buddhas, but this one doesn't belong to one of these five families; it is characteristic only ofGaruda. This may be because its origin is in Bon and Shang Shung. In any case, K.HROM is the seed syllable for this visualisation*. In an explanation ofMingyur Dotje written when he was twelve years old a Garuda practice is mentioned in which there is also a visualisation for protection: when you need to help someone, you transform into a very gigantic letter KHROM. You are being KHROM.


rEI • According to the explanations given by Coogyal Namkbai Norbu himself on other occasions (for instance Merigar, Italy, August 1986, or Nea Macri, Greece, January 1987), the transformation into Garuda can also be done with the letter A: sounding A we transform into Garuda visualising the syllable KHROM in our heart, and then, whether or not we pronounce KHROM, we perform trondii spreading and receiving light to invite and receive the wisdom of all realized beings.


On top of this KHROM there is a wing similar to the wing of the Garuda, so KHROM represents also your Garuda manifestation. But more than the figure of the Garuda, you are being the letter KHROM, and you are present in the sound of KHROM. It means that not only you are sounding KHROM but you are also being present in that sound. Then you continue in this dimension of sound and of being KHROM. On top of the KHROM there is a circle, that is an M, and when we say KHROM, this is M. In this visualisation you become a very big, gigantic KHROM, so that the circle also becomes big. You imagine that the person you want to help is inside this circle, and you integrate with the sound KHROM. This teaching ofMingyur Dorje is an interesting, very simple way for you to help other people. But here we are talking about the method of Garuda received fromAdzam Drugpa. We start to sound KHROM and, sounding it, we imagine at the same time that we manifest as Garuda. Garuda really means eagle, but this is a special eagle because it has hands similar to human hands. He also has two flaming horns, and in between the horns we can see a sun and a moon. In general in the centre of his head there is also a jewel, sometimes in the shape of three balls surrounded by flames: it represents the capacity to obtain all desires. With his hands and his beak he holds a multicoloured snake which represents the control of the energy of all classes, like the Naga class. And then under his feet there are twelve snakes bound together, representing the twelve interdependences of samsara. The color of this flaming Garuda is dark red, like red-hot iron. In general for the Garuda there are many colours, and which one we use depends on which kind of disease or problem we have. But we can use only the dark red color. So this is how we manifest instantaneously as the flaming Garuda: everything is aflame, his


beak, his claws, and sparks expand out from the feathers of his body. Garuda is standing on a lotus and solar disk. In front of him all beings of the Eight Classes are present and trembling, so we have to present ourselves as a super-powerful Garuda. This is the Anuyoga system, so it is not necessary that you always think, doing a precise visualisation one by one. Instead knowing what the manifestation is, you have the idea and then you feel it: you integrate your idea of the manifestation with your feelings, so that your manifestation becomes more alive. This is the most important point in the method ofAnuyoga. At the centre of your body, on a sun disl4 manifests a dark red letter KHROM, and through that KHROM lights spread in all directions to put all enlightened beings into action and invite their samaya wisdom. To repeat from the beginning, we sound KHROM and we manifest as Garuda, a red-hot iron colour, on twelve snakes bound together- you can do the visualisation also with all these snakes on a sun disk if you like - in a dimension offtre, a flaming dimension. That's the first instantaneous manifestation. You already know Garuda has flaming wings and snakes in his hands, etc. You only need an idea and you can feel like that. Then sound KHROM again, and in the centre of your Garuda manifestation a dark red letter KHROM manifests, which represents the state of Garuda and your primordial state. Through this KHROM you spread light putting all enlightened beings into action. So this is the second KHROM. At this point in the shortest version of the practice you pass straight to the third KHROM to receive the wisdom of all enlightened beings. But here it is also possible to insert a


mantra to invite the wisdom of all Garudas, to establish the presence of our state and to make offerings. With OM KHROM VAJRA GHAR UTA EHYAHI we invite the wisdom of all Garudas. With VAJRA SAMAYA TI~HTHA­ LHAN we find ourselves in the same state as them. With GHARUTA ATIPUHO PRATICCAHO we recognize our own state as the state of Garuda. Then we make offerings of the five senses and the secret offerings: OM KHROM VAIRA GHARUTA PU~HPEDHUPPE ALOKE ... KHAKHA KHAJll. Finally, with GHARUTA SAMAYA SHUDDHE A, we purify our samaya of all the omissions and transgressions we may have committed. This mantra is accompanied by offerings mudras in th~ following way:

OM KHROM VAJRA GHARUTA EHYAlll: lotus mudra. 16

VAJRA SAMAYA: samaya mudra.

TI$HTHALHAN: integration mudra at the end of which one clicks one's fmgers outwards. All wisdom is integrated forever in the state of the Garuda of one's transformation.

GHARUTA ATIPUH6 PRATICCAH6: perfecting mudra in which one puts one's hands together twice, frrst in front of one's head and then in front of one's heart to greet one's own state of pure presence which is the equivalent of the state ofGaruda. At the end one clicks one's fingers crossing one's hands. 17

OM KHROM VAJRA GHARUTA: lotus mudra as at the



flowers mudra.

DHUPE: incense mudra.

ALoKE: light mudra.

GANDHE: perfume mudra.


NAIVIDYA: foodmudra.

SHABDA: sound mudra.

SARVA PANCA AMl_UTA: nectar mudra.

RAK.TA: blood mudra. (seen from above)


BHALINT A N6DJYED JYDNBOI MAMSA RAKTA KIMN1 RITI: mudra of tonna and material offerings.

K.HAKHA KIIAHI: click your fingers outwards to give all the offerings and then inwards to receive all wisdoms.

GHARUTA SAMAYA SHUDDHE A: firstly do the samaya mudra and then rest your hands on your knees, palms up.


This invocation is optional; for those who don't know these words and mudras it is enough to remain in the presence of the manifestation of Garuda, imagining spreading infinite offerings as vast as the space of the universe. Then you sound a third K.HROM and receive the wisdoms of all enlightened beings as different kinds of light and as manifestations of small forms of Garuda which dissolve into you and empower your manifestation. The action of spreading and reabsorbing light is called trondii: tro means spread, dii dissolve. At first you spread the light in all directions putting into action all the Tathaghatas, realized beings, Bodhisattvas etc., all those who possess infmite wisdom. Then you receive their wisdom in the form of many coloured lights and also in the form of small Garudas, all of which is absorbed into the centre of the syllable KHROM. In this way the visualisation of Garuda is not only an idea but is empowered so that it can actually function. With this presence, spreeding lights and receiving all lights and empowerments, recite the principal mantra of Garuda:

OM KHROM VA1RA GHARUTA HOM PHAT You can recite it many times in a whisper, not aloud. The mantra turns in a clockwise direction around the syllable KHROM. Recite the mantra continuously, always spreading light to invite the wisdom of realized beings. Ifyou sense negativity or a negative presence, spread the light as sparks which manifests as thousands ofGarudas, able to control all kinds of energies. Sometimes it is best to dedicate yourself to doing the Garuda practice using the main mantra for one, two or three weeks. If you do the visualisation and recite of mantras a lot you can really obtain or produce the power of the mantra. In


general, firstly you recite the main mantra to empower your capacity for transformation, then, when you have done this sufficiently, you can recite the action mantra, either for yourself or to help others. It's very useful, for people who work helping others, doing different kinds of therapy for example, to do the Garuda practice in a very precise way. There are many people in the western world who help others with energy and things like that, and it's necessary for them to have some kind ofprotection, otherwise it would not be possible for them to offer their energy to others, because they would lose their energy. For this reason, if you want to help other people, it's very important to do a retreat and practise this mantra often, then you will have no problems. Also, in general, for ordinary situations, if we do the Garuda practice precisely, we will have protection and will not easily catch the diseases that arise from provocations. Nowadays this is very important. Furthermore if you do the practice of the principal mantra precisely, you can help other people. There are two action mantras. As for the first one, whenever you feel any kind of provocation or the presence of negativity, but especially if there is some provocation, you can do this visualisation. You can imagine that the mantra is now turning: the syllable of Garuda, KHROM, is at your centre and the mantra is turning clockwise, and then light comes out from it, sparkling, flaming, all through the moving chain of the mantra, and this light eliminates all negativities. Or through the sparkling light many, many thousands and millions of small Garudas manifest which control all the energy of the Eight Classes, and so you can control any kind of negative energy. With this presence, recite the principal mantra adding this mantra: NAGA SHATRON UPAGRAHE MARAYA BAD SOD. You add it in this way, all complete:




If you repeat this mantra with the same visualisation you can overcome this kind of problem. As for the second action mantra, if you have a problem like an illness, some kind of tumor in some specific places in your body, or if you have a problem somewhere but don't know precisely what kind of disease it is, visualise a very, very tiny Garuda, the size of a spark, in the place where you have the problem. From the body of this little Garuda, flaming fire comes out and develops, and eliminates all the negativity present there. With this presence recite the principal mantra adding to it the mantra SARVA RO~HA SHOOAM KURU SVAHA. So the complete form is:

OM KHROM VAJRA GHARUTA HOM PHAT SARVA RO~HA sHfNTAM KURU svAHA If you repeat this mantra many times you can obtain its effect. This action may also be done for the benefit of others, provided one has practiced the principal mantra enough, otherwise it will be unlikely to have any function at all. This practice is very important for any disease caused by some kind of energy provocation. If you don't use a practice like this, and only take medicine, it's not so easy to overcome these kinds of problems. If you use mantra practice in addition to the medicine, then the medicine will work. That's why there are many, many kinds of mantras and visualisations of Garuda in Tibetan medicine. When you have finished the Garuda practice, dedicate your merit to all beings. That's all. In general, when you do a practice in the Anuyoga system, at the end you don't dis-


solve your manifestation into a letter and then emptiness, etc. In Yoga Tantra, for example, they consider it very important to do this, particularly in the system ofKriya Tantra. They say if you imagine a deity who is an enlightened being in front of you, such as Avalokiteshvara, then you invite his wisdom, you pray and make offering, you accumulate merit, you prepare to receive wisdom, etc., and at the end you somehow dissolve all of this and remain in the state of emptiness. If you don't do that, in Kriya Tantra you accumulate some negativity because you invited an enlightened being and he is still there in front of you, and you don't care. But in Dzogchen teaching, transformation or manifestation refers to our real condition. That's why we also manifest infinite mandalas and everything instantaneously. It is not necessary to cancel or change the idea. It is better if you always see the pure dimension, perfectly. That's why we don't dissolve the manifestation, we only dedicate the merits to all beings. This is a very simple way to do the practice of Garuda.





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••• After the second KHROM you can add the following mantra:






Dud Gyalpo

Kanjur Karma Chagmed Khyunggon .Khyungkar Khyungmar Lu lungta Mingyur Dorje

a 'dzam 'brugpa II, 14 bdud 10 rgyalpo 10 bka' 'gyur 5 kar rna chags med 9 khyung sngon 5 khyung dkar 5 khyung dmar 5 Jdu Jl

rlungrta 6 mi 'gyur rdo rje 9, 13 nam mkha' lding 5 NamkhaDing 'Od gsal rdo rje gsang mdzod 11 Odsal dorje sang zOd dpal sprul rio po cbe 11 Patrul Rinpoche bsamyas 11 Samye bstan 'gyur 5 Tenjur Togden Ogyen Tendzin rtogs ldan 0 rgyan bstan 'dzin 11 'phro 'du 13, 17 trondii btsan 10 Tsen tswo 7 Tso dbal 7 Wal