In Kyabje Garchen Rinpoche’s first major collection of tantric teachings, he offers a complete manual for the visualization and supplication of the deity Vajrakīlaya. This ancient tantric practice centers on familiarizing oneself with the wrathful deity as a method for traversing the path to enlightenment. With clear instructions and insightful commentary, Garchen Rinpoche highlights the cultivation of bodhicitta at every stage of the path. This comprehensive guide to deity practice by one of the greatest living Tibetan meditation masters will support practitioners of all experiential levels in reuniting with their own awakened nature.
As one of the first comprehensive guides on the subject, Vajrakīlaya is soon to become a classic piece of literature for every Vajrayana practitioner. While focused on the teachings and liturgies of the deity Vajrakīlaya, Kyabje Garchen Rinpoche makes it clear that this is a guide to deity practice altogether.
Vajrakīlaya includes a combination of teachings drawn from eighteen years of instruction provided by Rinpoche, alongside translations of liturgical texts and practice manuals by the fifteenth century Nyingma tertön Ratna Lingpa and the famed rimé scholar-practitioner Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Tayé. Part of what makes these liturgical translations so special is their thoughtful versified construction. Owing to the unique qualities of Tibetan verse, it is often challenging to artfully render liturgies into English verse. This undertaking is therefore worthy of great celebration as it provides a version of these liturgies that, according to Rinpoche, can allow practitioners to decipher the deeper meaning of the text. In his own words, “When people can chant the words of verse translation and simultaneously grasp the meaning in a language they understand, wisdom arises.”
Similarly, Rinpoche points out the importance of really understanding the point and value of Vajrakīlaya by invoking the importance of the view again and again. In his explanation on the approach to the text, he clarifies that bodhicitta is the fundamental mindset of the Mahayana and Vajrayana, including wrathful tantric practices such as Vajrakīlaya. He goes on to explain that “the measure of one’s capacity as a practitioner is the foundation that is bodhicitta—the altruistic intention to attain enlightenment for the benefit of beings.”
Sadhana, is the “means to accomplish.” To accomplish what? According to Rinpoche, the aim is accomplishing the enlightened nature of the pure deity—“the natural physical expression of bodhicitta,” endowed with wisdom, compassion, enlightened action, and protective power.
Kyabje Garchen Rinpoche is a renowned Tibetan lama of the Drikung Kagyu Lineage. Born in Eastern Tibet in 1936 he was recognized as the eighth incarnation of Garchen Rinpoche. Rinpoche has decades of study and practice experience which, along with having undergone immense hardship over the course of 20 years in prison labor camps, have prompted him to work tirelessly to restore the Dharma in the world. Today he is the spiritual director of the Garchen Buddhist Institute in Arizona in addition to numerous centers around the world.