Each year during the 23rd – 29th lunar days of the 11th lunar month, the monks at Tashi Menri Monastery undergo a seven-day intensive retreat for the enlightened fierce deity, the tantric yidam Wal Phur Nakpo. On the Western calendar in 2021, these dates coincide with January 6th – 12th. From the Father tantra, there is a group of five yidams that are collectively known as the Sé Khar Chok Nga, the Five Supreme Citadels or the Five Supreme Embodiments. Each of these Dzok ku forms are the manifestation of either enlightened body, speech, mind, quality or activity. The manifestation of enlightened activity is embodied by Walsé Chempa, also known as Phurba. Because he is the yidam of enlightened activity, he is the yidam deity of every Menri Trizin. (For more information about the Sé Khar Chok Nga, see previous article: https://ravencypresswood.com/2016/06/05/the-five-supreme-embodiments/)
The term “phurba” has most often been translated as “dagger” or “sacred dagger.” However, it is more precisely a sacred stake, or peg used to suppress or overpower negative forces and obstacles. From a commentary regarding the meaning of the Wal Phur Nakpo practice:
“Regarding the meaning of being called “phur”: because all impure karma and afflictive emotions are staked within the pure enlightened body and complete non-conceptual wisdom, he is called “phur,” “the stake.”
The yidam Wal Phur Nakpo has three faces and six arms, and each hand holds a phurba. He and his consort’s body are joined below the waist and form a single phurba adorned with snakes. The top of the phurba has a four-cornered wisdom-knot. Below the knot is a crocodile with a protruding, vicious face for the destruction of all impure karma and afflictive emotions. Below that, the enlightened body, speech and mind of the yidam are inseparably united with the symbolic three edged, pointed blade. The three blades terminating into a sharp point represent the apex of completely fulfilling the four kinds of enlightened activity: peaceful enlightened activity, expansive enlightened activity, powerful enlightened activity, and wrathful enlightened activity.
The term “wal” Tibetan: dbal, has multiple meanings. The most relevant here are its meanings of “(1) sharp, bladed, pointed. (2) aggressive, rough. (3) fierce, wrathful, forceful. From the same commentary as mentioned above,
“Regarding the meaning of being called “wal”: externally, he is called “wal” because he is the point from which arises the external, common accomplishment of piercing and incinerating every enemy and obstructer that would interfere with manifesting external activity. Internally, he is called “wal” because of being the point of great wisdom, and performing the uncommon and meaningful activity of incinerating and overcoming all erroneous conceptuality. Therefore, he is called “wal,” “pointed.”
Both the yidam and his consort have wings. The retinue includes many assistants and messengers that are winged or actually manifest as hawks.
“With a magical display of activity and movement that arises from an immovable state,
you subdue misleading enemies and obstructers.
Fierce Wal Phur, you directly manifest the enlightened activity of the Wal deities.
Praise for the Wal deity whose divine appearance self-arises from the vast expanse of space in order to quickly accomplish fierce enlightened activity!”
— From The Concentrated Essence of Wal Phur translated from the Tibetan by Raven Cypress Wood
When performing the rites of Wal Phur Nakpo, the scriptures give specific instructions regarding the many items and substances that are needed, how to use them, measurements for making a phurba, how to establish the mandala of the yidam, the types of offerings that are needed and how to place them, and so forth. The image of the mandala, which is a representation of the sacred architecture of the spontaneously arising palace for the deity, is either laboriously made with colored sand or printed and placed on a table near the shrine. Once all the materials are prepared and properly arranged, everything is ritually purified.
On the first day of the retreat, the yidam Wal Phur Nakpo along with his consort and vast retinue are formally invited to take a seat upon the throne in the center of the mandala. From this moment until the conclusion of the retreat, no one is allowed to interact with the mandala or the offerings placed upon it outside the formal ritual actions during the retreat. The immeasurable blessings and enlightened qualities of the deity are present and the practitioners intensely perform the rites in order to make themselves a proper vessel for the blessings and enlightened qualities. In this way, the Phurba practitioner transforms their ordinary body, speech and mind into the enlightened body, speech and mind of the deity.
All translations and content by Raven Cypress Wood ©All Rights Reserved. No content, in part or in whole, is allowed to be used without direct permission from the author.
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