Shabkar’s Song of Practice: the entire path, from refuge to generation to completion in one song by one of the great sages of Tibet

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    Only a true visionary Yogi could distill a path that fills lifetimes and books into a single song. Such a Yogi is the great Shabkar Tsokdruk Rangdrol, an emanation of the great Milarepa. Both were famous for their songs of wisdom. After a tribute to the Guru and Buddhas, he explains well the urgency of practice:

    Leisure and fortune are hard to find, and death strikes quickly,
    Actions and their effects do not deceive, and there’s no happiness in saṃsāra.

    I take refuge in the Three Jewels, the sources of protection,
    And generate love, compassion, and the mind of bodhicitta.

    In this particular song, the Song of Practice, the great Shabkar explains the entire Vajrayana path, from beginning to the end: Refuge to offerings, to praise of the lineage Guru, to keeping the Buddha always in mind, to Emptiness, to generation of the deity and the profound true nature of deity, to completion practice and meditation on the channels, to conduct in life, to dedication of merit.

    Nothing, not one single element of Vajrayana practice is missed. Reading these words, is like sitting at the feet of the great master Shakbar.


    A Short Song of Practice

    by Shabkar Tsokdruk Rangdrol

    Namo Guru Mañjughoṣaya!

    Buddha Weekly Shakbar Buddhism
    The great Yogi Shakbar.

    Dharmakāya Samantabhadra, sambhogakāya Vajradhara,
    Supreme nirmāṇakāya, Lord of Sages, and the rest—
    Along with those who turn the Dharma-wheel for all,
    My teachers, direct and indirect—before you all, I prostrate.

    Although I have nothing new to say, which hasn’t been said before
    By the victorious buddhas and their spiritual offspring,
    The learned and accomplished masters of India and Tibet,
    I shall sing a little on what they have taught, so listen well!

    Leisure and fortune are hard to find, and death strikes quickly,
    Actions and their effects do not deceive, and there’s no happiness in saṃsāra.

    I take refuge in the Three Jewels, the sources of protection,
    And generate love, compassion, and the mind of bodhicitta.

    Nectar cascades from Vajrasattva, seated upon my crown,
    To purify my illnesses, demons, harmful influences, and obscurations.

    I offer my body, my estate, and whatever virtues I have amassed to the deities:
    Kindly accept them and bestow your blessings and accomplishment.

    Root Guru, who is the embodiment of all sources of refuge,
    I supplicate you: bless me, I pray!

    Imagine and continually recall the Buddha,
    Appearing very clearly in the space in front of you.

    The nature of mind is like space, primordially empty;
    Rest in this empty cognizance without the slightest grasping.

    All that appears within the sky of mind is like a rainbow;
    Understand the unity of appearance and emptiness to be illusory.

    Meditate upon your physical body as the form of the deity—appearing yet empty;
    And your speech as the mantra to be recited—audible yet empty.

    Clearly visualize A and HAṂ within the three channels and the chakras,
    And increase the blissful warmth by holding the vase-breath.

    From time to time, be diligent in purifying the different realms,

    To conclude, seal your practice with prayers of dedication and aspiration.

    If you are able to give up life’s distraction and practice in isolation
    The leisure and fortune you have won will be made truly meaningful.

    May this merit cause all my fortunate disciples
    To practise the Dharma wholeheartedly.

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    Josephine Nolan

    Author | Buddha Weekly

    Josephine Nolan is an editor and contributing feature writer for several online publications, including EDI Weekly and Buddha Weekly.

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