Long Chen Pa's Scenario of Herukas
In Heart Drop Medicine, I showed how the visionary gestalt of the ma-mo, composed by Long Chen Pa in the 14th Century, prefigures the Shakti Cluster in two ways. First, in the general dynamics of Trikaya correction manifesting in human society, across the planet and into the galaxy at large. Second, in the structural composition of 10 and 8 (5 + 3) elements. This essay will develop these extraordinary parallels, looking closely at the central five Gaian Dakinis, grouped into a nuclear pentad or star.
Now, if you are inclined to make an armchair study of the Cluster, focussing, say, on the eight Gaian Dakinis independent of the ten Mahavidyas, you can do no better than read about the signatures and powers of those deities in Buddhist Goddesses of India by Miranda Shaw, brush up on dakini lore with Dakini's Warm Breath by Judith Simmer-Brown, top it off with a cruise through Vajrayogini - Her Visualizations, Rituals and Forms by Elizabeth English, and then go to the Klong-'grel for Long Chen Pa's inventory of the eight ma-mo, which I have correlated to the infrastructure of the Cluster. You might set up a notebook with a section for each Dakini and list her attributes. Doing so you would learn a great deal about the received lore and acquire rich associations for each of the Gaian Dakinis. Such an exercise might remain purely academic and intellectual, but perhaps not....
I would guess that correlations of the Gaian Dakinis to the various senses will trigger some intriguing thoughts and intuitive flashes, perhaps even excite some non-ordinary experiences. Consider, for instance, how Parnashavari, the Leaf-Clad Lady (Mullin, Female Buddhas, p. 115ff), oversees gustatory and alimentary functions that may be tantrically converted into sacramental acts, especially with the ingestion of sacred teacher-plants—that will get some of you going nicely, I'll bet. At best, such armchair studies can lead to life-enhancing intuitions, or trigger affinities for to be elaborated over time, both in ordinary and non-ordinary attention. Almost without exception, people who learn about the Gaian Dakinis through study, or merely by riffling an illustrated book such as Female Buddhas, will rapidly detect their connection to "the material." The law of attraction works furiously with investigations of the Shakti Cluster. First impressions usually bear out well over time.
Most of us dubious human specimens are already geared to the Adamantine Girls, as the Diamond Sky Dakinis are called in one seminal Tantric text:
How cogent is that? The trick is, discovering how your attention perfects itself. The master metaphor for experience in Kali Yuga is the game, such as dice, roulette, or five-card stud poker. It's basic practice in Kala Tantra to know precisely who's running your game: the Dakini who supremely commands your attention. And what a thrill it is to know this.
Then and Now
In the companion essay, I converted the Buddhist Trikaya into Gaian terms: namely, an interactive network of social, planetary, and cosmic domains. I propose that this three-in-one "formal gestalt" (as Guenther translated Tbn. sku, Skr. kaya) is foundational to the Gaian Tantras developing on this site. The Gaian Trikaya will be the reference for many innovations of theory and practice in Planetary Tantra. We on the planet all live simultaneously and interactively in these three domains: human society, global habitat, home galaxy. As I have shown in the companion essay, the interactivity of the Trikaya is a little-known teaching of Buddhist Tantra, coming down from the 14th centry mahasiddha Long Chen Pa. I do not find such interactivity to be comprehensible, or accessible, considered in the classical treatment of those lofty notions, Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya, and Nirmanakaya, but when the Trikaya is transposed into the Gaian idiom, it becomes self-evident and experiential. The Gaian Trikaya can be test-run.
I would also propose three kinds of timing that may apply to the self-correction of the Gaian Trikaya at the social, planetary, and galactic levels. In the first kind of timing, there is a spontaneous awakening due to the descent of the numinous heart-essence point. More on that in a moment. The second kind of timing, on the planetary scale, might be approached in terms of terrestrial and seasonal cycles, or lunar cycles viewed as a measure of Gaian metabolic rhythms, etc. I will be exploring this concept of planetary timing in upcoming lessons on the "lunar shaktis." Finally, the third kind of timing, related to the galaxy at large, would be framed in terms of the zodiacal star clock, precession of the equinoxes, etc. Essays on this topic can be found in Sky Lore.
The timing of heart drop medicine cannot, I believe, be calculated or predicted in any systematic way. At most, the probabilities of such a breakthrough might be tracked with astrological techniques such as progressions and transits to the natal chart. Some parameters of timing are involved, but they are, perhaps, exceedingly arcane. In Vajrayana lore, the heart-instilling wisdom that becomes activated in that particular moment of awakening is called Nying Thig, "seminal essence, heart essence." The greatest terma (treasure) in Tibetan tradition is the Long Chen Nying Thig, "the great expanse of heart essence," based on the teachings of Long Chen Pa. Curiously, the Long Chen Nying Thig was retrieved by the Nyingma terton (treasure-finder) Jigme Lingpa in December 1757, close to the moment when Gaia awakened in her lucid dream... More on this diachronic coincidence when it comes time to recount the dream!
Heart drop awakening belongs to the category of sudden illumination widely taught in the schools of Ch'an and Zen, which present close parallels to Dzogchen, if not its provenance (J. M. Reynolds, The Golden Letters: "Is Dzogchen an Authentic Buddhist Teaching?"). Satori or sudden illumination is totally spontaneous and outside time. Or it might be termed the moment in which all things merge. Guenther points out that the Sanskrit sajaha, "co-emergent" means
The heart drop moment induces total complementarity with the earth, which does not fade away but continues to build "after" that moment. The moment is spontaneous and the continued build is likewise. Whoever has such a moment will never have another, apart from it. So, the first kind of timing is always NOW, right in this instant, but the other two kinds are variations of THEN: it happened then, it will happen then. We live simultaneously in passing time, THEN, and in the timeless moment, NOW. Centered in the latter, there is no contradiction or distinction between the two, seemingly distinct apprehensions of time. Confined to the former, passing time, they seem to differ.
The total and perfect spontaneity of the heart drop moment insures that it permeates every passing moment of lived time. I am convinced that the Diamond Sky Dakinis implant the numinous bindu of their wisdom in our hearts, literally, and so establish their "turf" in the emotionally muddied soil of the human condition. They select the seminal moment in passing time. The timing of the heart burst of nying thig stems from a traumatic accumulation of emotion due to one of the three shocks— abandonment, betrayal, loss—or any combination of the three. In my case, the point-drop came with a ritual act performed at the end of 108-day-long initiation process that escalated my emotions to a level of unbearable tension of anguished joy. I was plunged into a saturation of grief and compassion, including compassion for myself. The ritual act of sending an offering in the mail released the tension. This is as much as I can say, or care to say right now, about the rationally definable dynamics of my experience. The actualization of the drop is purely magical. It happens by supernatural invervention. Or a spontaneous act of divine love, if you prefer.
In Planetary Tantra, you enter the merge of love and the supernatural. And abide there in a permanent state of impermanence.
Now, let's look briefly at the inceptive phase of social-planetary shift. Guenther says that the entire Trikaya system, cosmic-planetary-social, hits a threshold state when "wayward fluctuations" have reached the extreme limit of deviance. This is the point of no return to the usual madness, precisely because there is no escape from it, anywhere. When madness is total, you cannot return to it because you are never for a moment out of it. And you cannot return to sanity except by way of the madness—a brutal truth that Chogyam Trungpa illustrated with the story of the Tibetan king who drank the rain of madness that fell upon his kingdom and deranged his subjects.
Rectification then begins, precariously, in the blind chaos of pandemic social madness. It explodes in a fireworks-like burst of "pathways of change" that are not immediately coordinated. In other words, the threefold system starts to change at its most transient and unstable level, human society, but at first the change is neither uniform nor coherent. The shift toward correction of the system at the social level (Nirmana field) is immanent but dysfunctional, and initially goes nowhere, Guenther notes. It jump-starts and then dies out, like an old jalopy. There is a prevalence of "positive feedback" or cascading breakdown due to the disorganization of the newly emergent pathways of change. Nevertheless, the shift toward system-wide correction has begun. The momentum for it is present and presses urgently through events on every side. Life at the Nirmana level throbs with chaotic instability.
Next, almost immediately, Guenther says, a countershift occurs in which "locally bounded domains open up to the wider dynamic field of the system," i.e., attunement or alignment to the cosmic field or Dharmakaya—in Gaian terms, the galactic center, the Pleroma of the Gnostics. How precisely is this decisive attunement effectuated? It appears that Long Chen Pa was quite specific on the interactivity within the Trikaya. The catalytic state of full-blown madness occurs at the Nirmana domain, human society, and the countershift is triggered from the cosmic center, the Dharma domain. The attunement or merge of the two must occur in the intermediary planetary zone, the Sambhoga domain. That is, in the vibrant organism of Gaia herself.
According to Long Chen Pa's visionary revelation in the Klong-'grel, attunement to the correction event happens when members of human society begin to have a common vision of where they stand in the planetary perspective, the Sambhoga domain. Hold on a second. Doesn't this proposition sound strikingly familiar to the much-discussed program of planetary shift associated with 2012, the Mayan calendar, the timing of zodiacal precession, and wild-eyed notions of "galactic alignment,"? Indeed, it does. But in that very context, the persistent deficiency of the 2012 debate (as I see it) becomes evident: the debate appeals to a planetary vision that it cannot deliver. It makes the appeal for something to happen look like the proof that it is actually happening. Consequently, what is written about a collective shift into a higher awareness for the human species, possibly reaching the galactic dimension, remains in the category of first-phase change, chaotic, incoherent, uncoordinated, and purely theoretical—so far.
Many approaches to a shared planetary vision for 2012 have been sketched out, some have been elaborately developed in the timeframe of the Mayan calendar and other methods of plotting evolutionary change in linear time. Guenther notes that trying to make sense of social chaos in the first phase of correction carries the risk that "one initiates a procedure which reinforces the predicament by generating a profusion of maps." Good warning there. Clearly, there are a great many maps and schemes of the immanent planetary shift of 2012, but as yet no clear and coherent action based on such schemes.
So what am I proposing? Yet another map or model to pile on the overflowing heap of 2012 programs and predictions? Well, not quite that. I will propose another visionary scenario that might be linked to 2012 as the signal moment of social breakdown leading to a correction event... but I am going into an extremely weird zone for this vision. Yet I am inventing nothing. I will just give you the "invention" that Long Chen Pa himself set out in the Klong-'grel, about eight centuries ago.
According to Long Chen Pa, the second stage of Trikaya self-correction comes into play via a shared hallucination that emerges in the human mind at the planetary level, the Sambhoga field. It is as if the Pleroma, the focal awareness energy of the galactic center, initializes correction within the human realm by broadcasting toward the planet an hallucinatory scenario: the vision of the Herukas. Long Chen Pa does not specify if this vision might arise spontaneously, or can only be incuded by rigorous and arcane meditational practices. I would suggest that it can emerge spontaneously due to a large part of the human species being plunged into a collective trance of traumatized emotion. In such a state, people will imagine or actually perceive an array of daimonic beings of a wrathful kind. Guenther says that this hallucinatory outburst reveals
Once again, a little paraphrase from yours truly may be helpful. "Pristine cognition" (Tbn. ye-shes) is Dzogchen jargon for lucid, immediate insight that arises in the ordinary mindstream of human beings but does not originate in human conception. Such brilliant insight does not require linear or logical thinking. Judith Simmer-Brown and other radical Buddhist scholars (mostly women) regard ye-shes as "the quintessence of the dakini," the unique kind of knowledge that reveals the emptiness of all phenomena, mental and material.
Pristine cognition is sudden illumination, revealing the true nature of mind and external phenomena, one moment at a time. It is the breakthrough insight of a higher wisdom operating continuously in and through the ordinary mindstream of logical discourse and inner talk. The signature of yeshes is pristine syntax, the lapidary cut of impeccable language. Consider the First Instruction of the Diamond Sky Dakinis: "You cannot become anything but more beautiful." That is pristine syntax. It is not a statement I thought up, although "it came to me in thought." In my experience, this is how dakini transmission erupts in the ordinary mindstream. Such mentation resembles the flash of jewels in a stream of rushing water.
If I follow Long Chen Pa correctly, the moment of awakening to a planetary vision of change is not merely due to the emergence of ye-shes, pristine cognition, and not limited to subjective realization: it has an actual hallucinatory reflex in the atmosphere of the earth, the Sambhoga field. How wild is that.
Consider this startling assertion for a moment. What does it mean? What on earth can it mean? I will venture a guess: it implies that people in human society, even though they respond to global insanity by defining many pathways of change, will not be able to implement action for change on the planetary scale without a unitive vision in that same scale. Such a vision is "the quincunx of Herukas," a mandala of five wrathful deities. Where do these daimonic entities appear? First, in the minds of people, in the mind's eye of the human subject. In the collective psyche. In the religious imagination of the species, certainly. But also, may I suggest, in the open space of the overarching sky. Literally, in the atmosphere we breathe.
Following Long Chen Pa's visionary scenario, Guenther says that the outburst of the five Herukas is precipitated by "the system's orgasmic energy flow"—a specific reference to the second kaya, the Sambhoga or planetary field. The wrathful deities erupt graphically and visually into regions of this field:
Guenther relied on field-system cybernetic concepts developed by Erich Jantsch, a little before the days of chaos theory, now called complexity theory. More currently, "coming-to-the-fore" would be termed emergence. Long Chen Pa's scenario describes the emergence of hallucinated entities in agitated regions of the Sambhoga system, thus demonstrating the capacity of that field ("configuration-disclosure dynamics") to project patterns of visionary appearances into the human psyche. All human witnesses receptive to the activity in the system (atmosphere) would see the same event.
Long Chen Pa does not specify that the Herukas appear in the sky, but he comes very close to doing so. A passage in the Klong-'grel uses telluric imagery for what may be symbolic events, or something more than that: "a vast cremation ground... a swirling center of an ocean of blood... a huge mountain of piled up skeletons... a huge volcanic conflagration." This catastrophic landscape is the setting for the emergence of the Herukas, who loom over it. In other accounts of visionary experience from Tibetan lore, including Long Chen Pa's own report on an elaborate tantric ritual (below), wrathful beings literally appear in the sky.
The dreadful imagery of human carnage in the Klong-'grel recalls the Mahavidyas who dance with Kali on the cremation ground. In my Kalika conversion of Long Chen Pa's vision, the pentad of Herukas fits into the center of the grand mandala of the Shakti Cluster, a 10 :: 2 X 5 permutation. The mandala has on its periphery the circle of the ten Hindu Mahavidyas, emanations of Kali, the shock goddess. Within this circle is situated the "diamond flower" of five Dakinis: Nairatmya, Vajravarahi, Kurukulla, Parnashavari, Visvamata. This gestalt exhibits an 8 :: 5 + 3 composition. There are in all eight Diamond Sky Dakinis, who may be correlated to the eight ma-mo as shown in the companion essay. But the gestalt is not rigid: a quincunx or pentad is internested within the eightfold group or octad. I propose that the pentad of Diamond Sky Dakinis is the correlate or homologue to Long Chen Pa's starburst of five Herukas. The Gaian mandala displays these feminine deities rather than male-gendered Herukas, but the essential composition of the two visionary schemes is identical.
Fine, but how well does this correlation work out, both in graphic and visionary terms? And what does it signify to convert male Herukas to female Dakinis?
First off, some comments by Guenther seem to support my regendering of the wrathful deities in the planetary hallucination that leads to third-stage correction of the Trikaya. Directly citing the Klong-'grel, he describes the female consorts of the Herukas—the female Buddha Krodheshvari, for instance. Do these five Heruka consorts correlate to five of the eight Diamond Sky Dakinis in a veracious way, with complementation to their activities, attributes, and gestures? They certainly do. Oh yes they do. Not only are these correlations clear and self-evident at first glance, they become upon closer reflection more and more convincing in the way they amplify the figures of the Gaian Dakinis, fleshing out their natures. I will present these correlations and gear them for direct application to psychosensory practice with Gaia in a future essay, after Delivery Day, January 26.
Guenther goes even further toward confirming an overriding feminine bias in the visionary frame of the correction event. He associates the wrong-minded tilt of the Trikaya, binding humans into delusional patterns of diminishing potential, deceit, and dissatisfaction, with the long-term effects of masculine (pho-rgyud) energies. MaMo Mia! By contrast, he associates the release from samsaric deadlock with feminine (mo-rgyud) energies.
Rgyud is the Tibetan equivalent to the Sanskrit tantra. Following Long Chen Pa's indications, he asserts that "man tantra" (pho-rgyud) leads to rigid and totalitarian blocking into delusional systems, while "woman tantra"(mo-rgyud) releases us from apparent blockage of the self-liberating divine awareness, or perfect attention. A most remarkable disclosure, to say the least. Especially in view of the fact that the whole shebang of traditional Dzogchen and Vajrayana, not to mention Mahayana and Hinayana Buddhism, is nothing but man tantra, conceived by men, practiced and perpetuated by and for men.
By contrast, Planetary Tantra centered on Kali and the Gaian Dakinis is woman tantra par excellance: it realigns the human species to the Divine Feminine. This is the visionary compass needle pointing to the planetary correction event. The overriding bais of the feminine happens because the needle veers sharply and suddenly away from the male-dominated bias that has held the human species in thrall for six thousand years or so....
He emphasizes that the feminine energy of release from the delusional deadlock of samsara is signaled by "intensity of delight": Tbn. dgyes-pa chen-po, Skt. mahasukkha. With this surge of delight comes the return of goddess-inspired talents. Guenther suggests that linkage (sbyor) to the cosmic center or Dharma field—interactivity with the Shakti Cluster—"seems to occur in the manner of a recall, when all that had been frozen and constrained.. begins to stir and come to life again." As this occurs, the awakened heart draws the memory of forgotten wisdom from the depths of the planetary psyche.
Guenther's metaphor of "the vajra or jewel of the Herukas" (see below) hit me right between the eyes. In developing the grand mandala of the Shakti Cluster, I was prompted to call the central grouping of five Diamond Sky Dakinis the vajra jewel or diamond star, due to its pentadic form. I expressed this precise terminology recently to a couple of friends. The picture is simple: Diamond Sky Dakinis occupy the five arms of the star with its point downward. The internal pentagon of the star is the locus or seat of the 18th Dakini, Gaia's own identity known to her in lucid dreaming. In my conversion or upgrade of Long Chen Pa's Heruka scenario, the "nucleation process" centers on this unique Dakini and all the powers of the Divine Feminine arrayed in the Shakti Cluster converge there, and emerge from there.
There is no trace of male energy (man tantra) in the entire configuration. I believe that the Shakti Cluster is the inceptive vision of the correction event for earth, glimpsed by Long Chen Pa eight centuries ago. But now, at the moment of its emergence, it comes to be stripped entirely of its male-gender components. Today the iron-filing magnetism of the pentad of wrathful Herukas is carried exclusively by the Diamond Sky Dakinis, without Heruka consorts.
Guenther says that the "new dynamic regime" of the self-correcting Trikaya "is itself reflected by the presence of feminine (energy-rich) forces and the absence of masculine (energy-deficient) sources." Well, good for him to have observed that. Personally, I follow woman scholars of Buddhism on the correction of psychosexual imagery in Tibetan Tantra, drawing from indigenous sources in Indian Tantra. Elizabeth English (Vajrajogini), for one, points to the hidden or repressed lore of dakinis who operate autonomously, without the need for male consorts:
Voilá, the ten Mahavidyas have no male consorts. "Another notable feature of Hindu goddesses is their role as consorts... Among the Mahavidyas this role is extremely weak. They are almost always depicted or described without reference to a consort" (David Kinsley, Visions of the Divine Feminine). These gender accents of Indian and Tibetan Tantra are recent, dating from 800-1200 CE, and point ahead to the profile of Gaian Tantra today. As I have said before, Planetary Tantra centered on Kali derives its verifications more from recent developments in goddess imagery and theology than from ancient traces of goddess lore. This is because in Kalika spirituality the religious imagination of humanity reaches forward in time toward the brutal revelation of its historically precipitated, trauma-driven endgame—be it mass extinction, or selective mutation.
Guenther further elaborates on the feminine bias:
This passage presents some vivid indications of the animating power of the Shakti Cluster, felt through its effects upon the individual, body and soul, sexually and otherwise. The analogy of magnetic filings comes from the gSang-snying, a work contemporary with Long Chen Pa. It presents a close parallel to the Klong-'grel, repeating many passages word for word. This analogy is striking to me because: when Jay Weidner, interviewing me for a DVD on Planetary Tantra (Amsterdam, October 2008), asked if the Shakti Cluster might be associated with a geophysical event, I replied without a moment of reflection and with no preconception whatsoever of my answer, in this way:
I also stated that this vortex or rift in the terrestrial magnetic field is the entry point of influx from the galactic center, but it reaches the earth via the sun. This claim comes close to what Long Chen Pa says of the vision of the five Herukas: it is produced from the Dharma field and streamed into the planetary field, manifesting both as a signal and a demonstration of planetary correction. But what about the solar angle?
A month after the Amsterdam interview, I was directed to a scientific report about an anomaly in the terrestrial atmosphere. The article opens:
This momentous rift in the atmosphere is current and it ain't going away any time soon. I predict that the reversal-reconfiguration of the earth's electromagnetic field, a matter of huge perplexity among the experts, will produce violent storms, anomalous winds, and spectacular, hallucinatory displays of clouds, auroral eruptions of inexplicable colors and weird, trepidating atmospheric currents, due to "the system's orgasmic energy flowing into the breach" (Guenther, above). With the gigantic rift tearing around the planet, the Herukas of Long Chen Pa are on the loose in a big way, but they will be manifesting as feminine wrathful deities, this time.
The article notes that researchers at NASA expressed no little consternation about the directional vector of the rift:
Readers will note that the correlations following the Klong-'gren include cardinal points and midpoints for the ma-mo, typically seen in Vajrayanist schematics, mandalas, etc. The directional vector for Vetali, corresponding to the 18th Dakini who entrains the entire Cluster, is North. I rest my case.
Dakini Weather is stormy weather. It is the weather of natural disasters, the "perfect storm" at sea, tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes and tornadoes of mythic proportions.
Heart drops, wisdom nectars, same-tasting tantrikas embraced in form and void: in the bosom of natural beauty, the blissful unity of desire and emptiness. Thank you, Mother Kali!
Long Chen Pa left a detailed account of such sexual-atmospheric alchemy in one of his major works, The Seminal Heart of the Dakinis. Here is an account of heart-drop revelation, straight from the tantra lab where the experiment involving eight couples was undertaken in the spring of the year of the earth female hare (1339). The lab report, if you will, bears the specific title, The Luminous Web of Precious Visions. This title alludes to a Tantric term, dakinijala, "sky dancer network," a close textual equivalent (found in the Chakrasamvara Tantra and elsewhere) to the term I have proposed but not invented: Shakti Cluster. It may be considered the Vajrayanist prototype of that term, if you like.
Always considered in close association with the Herukas, the dakinijala is said to resemble a jeweled necklace, recalling the "net of Indra" in Hindu myth. The luminous web of dakini magic may be a Vajrayanist preview of configurations in the magnetic field of the earth, shock-lines revealed in radiant vectors and nodes. Try to imagine atmospheric activity that displays the animated magnetism of the earth. The display is preponderantly feminine. Referring to himself as "the lama," Long Chen Pa wrote that, while he was dancing,
The collective visions are characterized by five-cluster nodes and kaliedoscopic lights, "a great vision of the five-colored light adorned by seminal nuclei," i.e., the pentadic emanations of the vajra star. "This is an apparition of the field of the buddha bodies and primordial gnosis," the lama wrote. In other words, a vision erupting from the Dharma field or galactic matrix into the planetary field. "Primordial gnosis" in Vajrayana lingo is the capacity for "direct introduction" to the Diamond Light, eternal non-local ground of the galactic matrices.
At the end of the long conjugal rite, Long Chen Pa invokes clouds out of a cloudless sky—a more or less routine act for a nagual in shamanic practice is to demonstrate interactivity with cloud formations—and "the sky was filled with rainbows and the expressions of the dakinis." Dakini Weather. Perhaps my metaphoric allusion to being a weatherman is more than a metaphor. No surprise here, really, for shamans were the first weather forecasters, and indeed, weather-makers. I am navigating in the weather front that I am describing, literally as well as mystically. Consistent with this role, I will forecast as follows:
jll: for JMK 18 January 2009 Andalucia
Material by John Lash and Lydia Dzumardjin: Copyright 2002 - 2017 by John Lash.