So who is Guhyasamaja?

The other day I had a picture of Guhyasamaja framed at Michael’s Arts and Crafts. After spending half an hour patiently helping me select a mat and frame, the sales clerk finally asked me, “Now who is this guy anyway?”. I found that very amusing so since the Center does receive inquiries about Guhyasamaja and our former blog Editor suggested this topic, I’ve simply pieced together whatever I could find about the Guhyasamaja practice. Although I’ve been doing the practice for a number of years, I’m certainly not a scholar on the subject, and I welcome your feedback and comments.

This piece will be posted as a series of short blogs over the next couple of weeks and will be suitable for readers who have not taken the initiation.

Part 1 – the importance of Guhyasamaja

Part 2 – definition of Highest Yoga tantra

Part 3 – the origin of the practice

Part 4 – brief overview of the practice

Part 5 – its place in Lama Chopa Guru Yoga

Part 6 – references

Our Center Director, Lorne Ladner wrote the following about the special significance of the practice to our Center:

“Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche–the Spiritual Director of the FPMT in general and of our center as well–named the center “Guhyasamaja.” From a Tibetan Buddhist perspective, one could say that there’s really no practice higher than Guhyasamaja Practice. So, in a sense this is quite an exalted name for a center. I recall years ago, on more than one occassion, one of Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s teachers — the very Venerable Kyabje Ribur Rinpoche — used to tease us saying “Very big name, but small center,” and then he’d laugh! Before Ribur Rinpoche passed away, he was the person who initially raised the idea of Gyumed Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Jampa becoming resident teacher for the center. And, since Khensur Rinpoche has begun spending time regularly with us, the center has been growing slowly but steadily. It seemed particularly auspicious that Khensur Rinpoche became our resident teacher because he is a great master of the Guhyasamaja practice–a practice that he taught on very extensively as abbot of Gyumed Tantric College. Khensur Rinpoche gave a Guhyasamaja Initiation and commentary at our center in 2006.”

Part 1. Importance of Guhyasamaja

As quoted by Khensur Rinpoche Losang Tsephel in his Path and Grounds of Guhyasamaja According to Arya Nagarjuna (p. 134), Khedrup Je’s Short Writing says, “Moreoever, if first one studies Guhyasamaja, one would effortlessly understand others (viz: Tantras). But, if the order is reversed, then the benefits will be fewer; therefore, [I shall] teach Guhyasamaja first.”  Aku Sherab Gyatso in his Sacred Words of Lord Akshobya notes that since all tantric paths are contained within Guhyasamaja, it is called the root of all tantras. The master Segyu Dorjechang said that Guhyasamaja contains the essence of all Buddha’s teachings including both sutra and tantra.   

His Holiness the Dalai Lama said that the survival of the Buddha’s teachings in these degenerate times depends on the survival of the study and practice of Guhyasamaja. The founder of the Gelugpa school, Lama Tsonghkhapa wrote five volumes of commentary just on Guhyasamaja!  His Holiness writes that without studying Guhyasamaja and Chakrasamvara, we have not encountered the complete teachings of Lama Tsongkhapa. In the Union of Bliss and Emptness, he encourages Gelugpa practitioners not to neglect the practice (p. 70).


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