The Treasury of Blessings: A Practice of Buddha Śākyamuni
Samye Institute is pleased to announce the production and release of a new video visualization of the Treasury of Blessings (see below). We would like to use this joyful occasion to revisit an essential practice in our tradition. May it be of benefit.
The Treasury of Blessings
The Treasury of Blessings is a well-known practice text written in 1900 by Jamgön Mipham Rinpoche (1846-1912) at the request of Orgyen Tendzin Norbu (orgyan bstan ‘dzin nor bu (1841-1900), a close student of the great Dza Patrul Rinpoche. Mipham also wrote an extensive “supporting teaching” on the text called The White Lotus (yab chö pé ma karpo). No empowerment is required to practice this text, but one should receive the reading transmission from a qualified teacher.
The late Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche summarized oral teachings on this supportive teaching in an adaptation titled The Sage who Dispels Mind’s Anguish. We encourage you to download this text and return to it frequently as you gain practice experience. This concise explanation gives clear instructions on the meditation practice and the stages of experience one cultivates when practicing the Treasury of Blessings. In that adaptation, Khyentse Rinpoche reminds all Buddhist practitioners of the Buddha’s central role as teacher
“These days, when everyone believes their own school’s tenets to be the most important, only a few people pay much attention to the Teacher, the Lord of Sages. But anyone who has embraced these teachings and yet still has no notion of faith in the Teacher as supreme must surely lack intelligence. Why?
Because it is solely due to the Teacher’s compassion in demonstrating his enlightened deeds in this place and time for us wandering beings of the degenerate age that the teachings have appeared—and that means not only the three piṭakas, but all the teachings, up to and including those of secret mantra Vajrayāna, the path that can bring about the unified state of no-more learning in one short lifetime in this degenerate age. It is also solely due to his compassion that there are beings who hold these teachings, those who have entered the teachings of sūtra and mantra, the saṅgha of noble beings.
If the Teacher had not radiated the light of the teachings here in this realm at this time, we would not hear even so much as the sound of the Three Jewels. What need to speak then of practicing the paths of sūtra and mantra? Therefore, whichever tradition we practice, whether it is from the New Schools or the Old School, to have the intense faith that holds the Teacher as especially important is indispensable at all times. We must therefore be especially devoted to the Teacher and persevere in this form of yoga!”
The Treasury of Blessings text opens with a quote from the Samādhirāja Sūtra that reminds us of the importance of visualization and recollection of the Buddha.
Those who, while walking, sitting, standing, or sleeping, recollect the moon-like Buddha, will always be in Buddha’s presence and will attain the vast nirvāṇa.
His pure body is the colour of gold, beautiful is the Protector of the World. Whoever visualizes him like this practises the meditation of the bodhisattvas.
When we begin to practice visualization, it can seem strange or uncomfortable. We often wonder if we are “doing it right.” Many students ask questions at teachings and retreats about how to go about this process. In order to support and encourage your practice, Samye Institute wishes to share this advice from Lama Tenzin Sangpo, recorded during the November Seminar at Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling monastery in 2019. We thank Lama Tenzin and our dharma siblings at DharmaSun for giving us permission to share this short teaching.
Traditional instruction texts encourage us to use a photo or a statue as we habituate ourselves to visualization. Tibetans often practice part of the time with an image, and then rely less and less on that as they gain familiarity and confidence. Start by looking gently (not staring hard!) at a statue or a painting or image. Then close your eyes and see how much you can recall. Repeat this process until the Buddha’s form comes easily to mind, just like the face of a good friend.
It is good to proceed at your own pace–some people find visualization easy while others may take some more time to develop comfort. There’s no magic formula–it’s just a matter of developing a new habit. We all can learn to work with our visual imaginations if we approach the practice with a willingness and sense of curiosity.
Phakchok Rinpoche, Tulku Migmar and the druplas in our tradition always remind us that the most important factor in visualization is confidence and decisiveness that the Buddha is truly present in front of us. If we can maintain that confidence, we don’t need to worry so much if all the aspects of the visualization are not perfect. Feeling the presence of the Buddha is the key point. We’re experiencing being in the presence of a pure object–beginning to train in seeing things as not solid and yet vividly present and pure. It takes time, and it takes repetition!
Our teachers are always encouraging us to keep our visualization vibrant. For some practitioners, video may be a more useful medium to train in this aspect than a statue or static image. For others it may not. That’s fine. But In order to inspire you and help you work with visualization practice, Samye Institute has produced a visualization video for the Treasury of Blessings sadhana.
We encourage you to practice first with the full version of the video that includes the guidance instructions that appear in the small print of the text. These instructions, the lamas remind us, are integral to the text and we should not skip over them in a hurry to finish. Listen to these pith instructions –remembering that when you do so you are following the recommendations of Mipham Rinpoche on how to practice. Think of these as oral instructions from a highly qualified guide!
Note that during the video we have included a chime and the instructions to sit in meditation according to the instructions you have received. Thus, you can pause the video and spend as much time in that practice as you or your group would like (the same goes for the mantra recitations portions of the video. Feel free to pause in order to recite as much as you would like). Then simply resume the video to conclude the practice session.
And with that in mind, please remember that this video is a tool merely meant to inspire our practice and spark our own imagination. It is only one interpretation of this visualization. Ultimately it is up to us, as practitioners, to figure out how best to work with the sadhana and make it as vivid as possible for ourselves. So don’t worry. If, as we continue to practice, our own visualization begins to evolve and change, become more elaborate or more simple, or even looks very different from this one, that’s totally fine. That’s exactly what is supposed to happen.
Treasury of Blessings Video Visualization
Once you have gained familiarity with the practice, you may not need to refer to the small-print instructions on a regular basis. Nonetheless, having a visualization support as you chant the text can be very helpful. Especially if you practice at home alone it can be inspiring to use the video as a reminder.
Treasury of Blessings Video Visualization Without Commentary
When we read Mipham Rinpoche’s oral instructions in the small print we see that he advises us to continually inspire ourselves by reading about the Buddha. One of the texts mentioned is the Lalitavistara which gives a very poetic life story of the Buddha. You can also enjoy reading the stories of the former lives of the Buddha that describe his path to awakening as he accumulated merit over a vast expanse of time. These can be found in the Jātaka tales. May they inspire us all in our practice.