On Monday night, 5-6-2024, Rinpoche shared this teaching by the Venerable Longchen Rabjam.  We did not sing it–a challenge for next time!  This text comes courtesy of Lotsawa House, and translations in Tibetan, French, Portuguese and Dutch can be found on their website.

Definitive Metaphors and Meanings: A Vajra Song

by Longchen Rabjam

With permanent devotion, I pray to the Lama Master,
The emanation of the Victorious One,
The precious wish-fulfilling jewel:
Bless me with the power of your compassion!

Samsara is like a royal dungeon:
Its suffering and confusion are immeasurable.
Now, it is best to make your lasting aim
The sanctuary of great bliss and awakening.

The phenomena of this life are like dreams:
Awareness is deceived by turbulent confusions.
Now, it is best to take up the haven of
The unmistaken Dharma, free from confusion.

The various distractions are like the scenes at a market:
Human life is wasted in constant busyness.
Now, it is best to accomplish the great purpose of awakening
As the heart of the path of liberation.

Confusion is like a child’s games:
Your own mind is deceived by phenomena of objects and subjects.
Now, it is best to apply your three doors (body, speech and mind)
To the profound Dharma, the space of the natural condition.

The Sovereign of Death is like the shadow of the evening:
It keeps coming without stopping even for a moment.
Now, it is best to take up the haven of great bliss,
The deathless genuine nature.

Family and friends are like customers at a market:
Gathered for now, but eventually parting ways.
Now, it is best to view the nature of mind as it is,
The essential meaning from which there is no separation.

Friends and loved ones are like baby birds in a willow:
Now they are gathered, but each one will depart.
Now, it is best to take up the haven of the natural condition,
The dharmakāya that never leaves.

Attendants are like a worker hired for a day:
They are around for now, but quickly depart.
Now, it is best to be carried to the place of resolution
Of enlightened attitude in unchanging dharmakaya.

Fame is like the thunderous dragon in the sky:
Your mind is seduced by a moment of its roar.
Now, it is best to meditate on the true nature, clear light,
The actual condition of innate genuineness.

Accumulated wealth is like the honey of a bee:
Gathered by oneself but enjoyed by others.
Now, it is best to conceal all your food, wealth and possessions
In the treasury of generosity.

Restless body and speech are like a maniac:
Careless, they simply lose control in affliction.
Now, it is best to wear the ornament of discipline
Through completely taming the three doors.

Hostility is like a great forest fire:
Burning up the firewood of virtue in your mind stream.
Now, it is best to don the armour of patience,
And extract the painful thorn of anger.

Carelessness is like the lethargy of an ox:
It leaves no time to complete activities.
Now, it is best to spur on the steed of awareness
With the iron whip of diligence.

The confused perceptions of samsara are like magic tricks:
Deceiving through distraction and diversion, day and night.
Now, it is best to remain alone in retreat,
And become familiar with meditative stability.

Delusion is like the darkness of the night:
Dharmic and non-dharmic shapes are invisible.
Now, it is best to study and contemplate impartially
With the torch of discerning wisdom.

Busyness is like ripples on water:
There’s no end to action, agent and object.
Now, it is best to rest freely
In all the activities of this life, and let them be.

Wanting more is like having wealth:
However much you gain, you are never satisfied.
Now, it is best to let go of illusory possessions
Without clinging or fixation.

Self-clinging is like being caught in a noose:
The self is bound to the prison of samsara.
Now, it is best to transform phenomena into dharmakāya
By not being attached to anything.

Authenticity is like a precious gem:
Raining down happiness and bliss in this life and beyond.
Now, it is best to rely on the holy Lama
And practice the holy Dharma.

Fields of knowledge are like planets and stars in the sky:
There’s no end to the condition of needing to learn.
Now, it is best to meditate on profound suchness,
The essential meaning of dharmakāya.

Conventions are like a parrot’s recitations:
There are many conflicts between the Dharma and your character.
Now, it is best to practice to the best of your ability
To tame the afflictions of the mindstream.

Tenets are like the srin demon’s self-poisoning spit:
Your mindstream is bound by itself.
Now, it is best not to cling to any claims
Of the meaning of reality itself, free from extremes.

View and meditation are like a blind person’s talk:
Describing a lot but arriving at little.
Now, it is best to go beyond ideas of “is” or “is not”
To the meaning of dharmakāya, the nature of mind.

Signs of progress are like children’s cake:
There is desire for each little piece.
Now, it is best to always be free from attachment,
Whatever experiences and realizations occur.

Desire for accomplishment is like a merchant’s wealth:
It involves many wants and wishes for the future.
Now, it is best to realize inherent spontaneous presence,
The meaning of ultimate dharmakāya.

Samsara and nirvana are like good and bad dreams:
Self-appearing, groundless and empty forms.
Now, it is best to hold the very ground of awareness
Without adopting or discarding anything.

The eight worldly dharmas are like the pillow of a sick person:
Whatever you do they afford no comfort.
Now, it is best to give up this life
And let the aggregates of name and form be destroyed.

Hopes and wishes are like an old dog’s scraps of food:
There is much that does not accord with your desires.
Now, it is best to examine your wishes
And rely on the ultimate aim, no matter what arises.

Deliberate actions are like children’s games:
Doing them does not complete them, dropping them does.
Now, it is best to be carried to the place of resolution of enlightened attitude,
The space of dharmakāya in which there is nothing to do.

This vajra song combining metaphor and meaning,
Where conventional and definitive meanings converge,
Is offered to those who listen with faith:
May its virtue empty samsara from its depths!

This vajra song of definitive metaphors and meanings was composed by Longchen Rabjam, yogin of the supreme vehicle, in the isolated place of Lhundrup Ling for the sake of those with faith. May virtue abound!

| Translated by Benedek Bartha, 2022.


Tibetan Editions

klong chen rab ‘byams. “dpe don nges don rdo rjeʼi mgur.” In gsung thor bu dri med ʼod zer (sde dge par ma). Paro, Bhutan: Lama Ngodrup and Sherab Drimey, 1982. Vol. 2: 289–292

dri med ‘od zer. gsung ‘bum/_dri med ‘od zer/ dpal brtsegs/ mes po’i shul bzhag. 26 vols. Beijing: krung go’i bod rig pa dpe skrun khang, 2009. (BDRC W1KG4884). Vol. 24: 220–224

Secondary Sources

Bartha, Benedek. Metaphor in Dzogchen and Cognitive Science: Synchronicity of Source and Target. MPhil thesis. University of Oxford, 2022


Image of Longchen Rabjam, photo by David Christensen, courtesy of Lotsawa House