Lamdre is presented as a complete path to enlightenment, a remedy for suffering and unhappiness. The teachings have been passed orally through a Lama lineage for over 1,000 years. These are, I'm told, the spiritual practices taught by Buddha, himself. The two Lamdre texts are The Beautiful Ornament of The Three Visions and The Triple Tantra. In my 30 years of spiritual pursuits and meditation, plus a BA in Psychology and the publishing of three spiritual books, I have found no other written teaching that provides a comprehensive guide and path to enlightenment. After learning the basics of the path, I believe it valid and powerful.
Each day began at 8:00 am with the blowing of Tibetan horns, signaling the approach of our teacher, Rinpoche, and his entourage. In the Monastery, packed with several hundred people, the monks would begin chanting. I felt the room fill up with Buddhas and Deities. Powerful internal feelings arose. Tears streamed down my cheeks.
Enlightenment in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition is something very different from how I and most people perceive "reality" and live in the world everyday. Enlightenment is experiential; you can't describe a taste, you have to actually taste it yourself. One of the Lamdre spiritual practices is like this: Sit quietly in a place where you won't be disturbed. Close your eyes and watch your thoughts. Most people experience many thoughts, one after the other, about what happened today, what needs to be done, how they feel, etc. Their minds are active and inquisitive. Now, try and stop the flow of thoughts. Can you stop "thinking?" Notice how hard it is to stop the flow of thoughts. The Lamdre spiritual practices teach you how to "empty" the mind and eventually have no thoughts whatsoever. I love these times when I can stop "thinking." It is a wonderful feeling.
The purpose of having no thoughts is very important. We think that because we have many thoughts, we control our mind. Actually it is the thoughts that control us. These spiritual practices are not about someone "messing with your mind;" they are designed to keep your mind from messing with you and give you mastery over your own mind, thoughts, and emotions.
Lamdre includes a series of initiations. In an initiation, you obtain blessings and empowerments as part of a spiritual ceremony. The central Lamdre initiation is the Hevajra Sadhana (meditation). The initiation begins with the creation of a sand mandala. Here the mandala has been laid out on the table with chalk lines.
The monks begin filling in the mandala design starting from the center and moving outwards.
The completed Hevajra Mandala.