The Importance of Khandroling and the Vajra Dance

chhTsegyalgar East Gakyil Meeting, June 10, 2013

The Song of the Vajra is very important for Dzogchen practitioners. Particularly at Tsegyalgar East – this place is very much connected with the Song of Vajra. I want to explain just a little how important it is so that everyone knows.

The Song of the Vajra is related to one of the sixteen tantras of the DraThalgyur. The DraThalgyur is a very ancient teaching and the source of the Dzogchen teachings. In the DraThalgyurthere is something called the Nyida Khajor tantra and in that tantra it explains that most practitioners realize in the state of the bardo of dharmata, in the state of Dzogchen.  So in this case there is an explanation of the Song of Vajra and it says that the Song of Vajra is very important for knowledge to arise, to discover our real nature. Discovery of our real nature is very important for integrating in that state. When we succeed to integrate we have total realization.

So the Song of Vajra is really very important. All Dzogchen masters and practitioners know that very well. Also in this tantra it says that we need to sing and dance the Song of Vajra, and we need to integrate that with our physical body. But of course in this tantra, it does not say how we should sing and dance. In the Dzogchen teaching you know very well this should be our attitude; there are no rules. As with everything, we should work with circumstance and our experience as practitioners. There is nothing particular said in the tantra about the way to sing and dance.

When I was thirteen years old, I received this teaching of Dzogchen called Nyingthig Yazhi, this series of Nyingthig, and at that time I had a dream and in my dream I discovered there was the Song of the Vajra, with its singing and melody. In my dream I was with my Uncle Khyentse Rinpoche. The next day I told him I had this kind of dream and he asked what kinds of words this sound had. I didn’t remember all and I only remembered a few words. I told him what I remembered and he said that my dream was a different kind of Song of Vajra, this we can find in the tantra of the tagdrol; there exist different kinds of tantras of tagdrol. Then I said that it really seemed like something very important – I asked him to teach me how to sing it. He said no he didn’t know it. He said he knew this mantra and transmission of the teaching, and so I asked him to give me the transmission.

Then Uncle Khyentse gave some transmission of the tagdrol. That was first. But at that time I did not know how to sing, I had only heard singing. Sometime later I had this kind of dream and Uncle Khyentse said, “Maybe you can ask your Uncle Togden”. Togden was a student of Adzom Drukpa. My uncle thought maybe they used the Song of Vajra. [You know my Uncle Togden. I wrote a biography of him, which we published; he is the one who manifested rainbow body. See the Rainbow Body, The Life and Realization of a Tibetan Yogin, Togden Ugyen Tendzin, Published by Shang Shung Editions and North Atlantic Books].

Togden said he didn’t know the melody, he had heard it sometimes when they were singing, so I asked how were they singing it and he said he did not know but something a little “like this”, and he sang but it was not that melody. Then my Uncle Togden said maybe I could find some explanation of this song. Of course later, I discovered that one of the students of Adzom Drukpa wrote down the Song of Vajra, the melody, and also there was a method of the dancing, and a book. I read the book, but this is the more traditional way. In the monasteries they sing and dance in the traditional way, not in the direct way like we do. So I never found anyone who knew or taught me the Song of Vajra.

Then later my dreams slowly developed because I received the transmission of Dzogchen from my teacher Changchub Dorje and then I understood how to deal with Guruyoga, being in dreams with awareness and experiencing something concrete. In my dreams I had many occasions to hear the Song of Vajra. Slowly, of course, I learned it in my dreams, and then I started to use and sing the Song of Vajra myself, because I discovered this is something very important. But I did not meet anyone who sang the melody like in my dream.

When we started the Dzogchen Community retreats and I was giving Dzogchen teachings, but I did not teach the Song of Vajra at the first retreat. At the second retreat I spoke about the Song of Vajra and said there is also a possibility to sing it. Then some of my students insisted; I agreed and taught it. [You know this retreat we are doing today is the 542nd retreat! [Applause] That does not include Dzogchen conferences, etc. these are precise retreats including the training of Santi Maha Sangha.] This is the principle of Dzogchen.

Later many people asked me where I learned this Song of Vajra and who taught me.  At that period I did not explain my dreams and I kept them secret. For many years I did that. I did not say I found the melody in my dreams. I said, “Maybe I learned from someone, from the students of Adzom Drukpa” and maybe people believed that. [Laughter]  That is the simpler way – otherwise people create things and ask more questions and then for me it becomes a problem. At that time I kept these things secret.

Later I had dreams with teachings of longsal, indicating that I can teach this melody and way of singing. For example, you might go to other Dzogchen teachers and they are giving courses and instruction, but no one is singing the Song of Vajra. Why is that? Everyone knows that the Song of Vajra is most important and the essence of the Dzogchen teachings, but there is not a traditional way of using the Song of Vajra.  For me it is very important for developing knowledge, integrating that state, etc. For that reason, I use and teach the Song of Vajra.

Then later, the Dance of the Song of Vajra developed. This is another thing. Firstly, when I was in Singapore many years ago, I was invited to a Sakyapa Dharma Center, so I went there and explained the teaching of Mahamudra, also Dzogchen, and how the principle is the same. Among these people there were some old students of Kangkar Rinpoche. Kangkar Rinpoche was the teacher of the 16th Karmapa and also one of my teachers. He was a very good teacher.

Later these students asked me about the Mahamudra of Kangkar Rinpoche and I explained and these were the secondary causes from that day that caused this dream: I had a dream on a mountain there was a bright rock, lit with sunshine and shining brightly. Then, in my idea, I am thinking this is a sacred place of the dakinis and we should go and visit this place. Then I am saying to all my students of Singapore, we should go and visit this mountain, this sacred place, and everybody was happy. And then we were walking, there were mountain roads and slowly we went to the top. We almost arrived half way up the mountain and I saw on the hill there was a very nice temple but to go to the temple there was a very long staircase and I thought, “Oh, this temple is wonderful, maybe we can visit it. I want to know how this temple is.” I was looking near by and there was a young Chinese lady. Then I asked her, “Do you know what temple this is?” And she said that she knew that Kangkar Rinpoche built the temple. So that dream was something connected to that day I was with Kangkar Rinpoche.

Then I said, “Oh this is something important. Kangkar Rinpoche is my teacher and we need to see this temple.” I asked her if we could go and visit it. She said of course we could go. Then we went. I turned and said loudly to all my students, “We go and visit this temple.” Then I started to climb the very high staircase and when I arrived near the entrance, there was a fat Chinese lady sitting on the chair and when we got there she prepared a kind of a paper. She gave me the paper and I understood we should pay and I prepared money. Then she told me we didn’t need money. She gave me the paper and on it were two or three very ancient Chinese words but I could not understand them. The fat Chinese lady said, “Enter, enter.” I was happy we could go inside. Then we entered. We saw from the inner entrance of the temple immediately inside and there was a very big white statue and it seemed to be Tara, but not the White Tara I knew. Then I went directly inside and looked well at the statue and it was not Tara, but I did not know whom it was, I didn’t know this statue.

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