Category Archives: Vajrakilaya

the sound of horns

by Jason Anders

Life around the temple moves with the rhythm of the practices and performances of the place. Awakening pre-dawn by the sounds of horns. A cool breeze moves the fabric flaps leading inside. Incense sneaks out.

Sleepy monks trail up and down the steps, having left their warm covers, flying into the temple like jumping deer. Into the twisted swath of robes, they sat facing one another. Ah, they were the lucky ones.

Teapots, curved spouts belching white steam, placed outside the entrance. The tea was coming and breakfast too. But first, aspirations to Vajrakilaya, our pledge to become the dispeller of spiritual obstacles to enlightenment.

The shepard and the goat

Photo: Geoffrey Garst, Nepal

by Jason Anders

We were hiking along the valley behind Pema Ts’al in Nepal. Sheer cliffs to the right, snaky river to the left.

Photo: Geoffrey Garst, Nepal

As we began to round the corner, in the ascent back toward the Tibetan village, and our way back to our home for the week, our paths silently crossed that of a sheep herder bringing his flock back from the river.

Photo: Geoffrey Garst, Nepal

What a striking image. Back to antiquity. Such gentle daily rhythms continue to be viable. We yielded the path. Watched the procession before us. And as we did, one young member split off from the pack. Walked straight up to Geoff’s camera, and stared directly at us.

Grinning and laughing about the bold directness of this particular member, we were astonished when it broke out in a perfect, photogenic grin!

Photo: Geoffrey Garst, Nepal

And held it, as if giving us time to get the camera setting right. Then after acknowledging this moment of contact, turned, and slowly rejoined the slow march up the slope we were all making together.

Photo: Geoffrey Garst, Nepal

How are we connected to everything that surrounds us, and in what unexpected ways? Certainly, we all existed together in that moment, if only for the duration of a camera snapshot. Could there have been a slightly thinner veil in that place? The veil that covers all things from ourselves. Did we pull back that curtain, if only a peep?

panoramic offerings

Panoramic view of central shrine

by Jason Anders

At Pema Ts’al monastery in Nepal, a condensed panoramic image. Yellow flags cover the Vajrakilaya mandala and artifacts at left. At right, windows open to clean, cold, refreshing air and rising mountains. Layers of offerings to peaceful and wrathful forms decorate colorful bowls and rows of tormas. Can I identify with the impact of their living force?

Special mountain incense, burning juniper leaves on a metal censor, I brush over myself. I can purify this invisible part of me.


by Jason Anders

Ever since I was a kid, flipping through my first book on World Religions, the image of this stupa captivated me. It seemed so impossibly far away, remote and magical.

I arrived late at night, traveling down narrow, rough, and dusty streets. Early the next morning, I made my way up to a little balcony facing East. Boudhanath jutted up out of the sprawl. I was here!

I had somehow caught up with the utter impossible in my life.

vajrakilaya at gar drolma september 2019

Gar Drolma Vajrakilaya Anshu

by Jason Anders

An-shu Stephen K. Hayes, working with Khenpo Samdup Rinpoche at the Gar Drolma Buddhist Learning and Meditation Center in Dayton, OH, completed a three day Vajrakilaya retreat. An available text for the practice came from An-shu’s special English translation, matching syllable by syllable the Tibetan pronunciation, rhythm, and beat.

Included over the weekend were instructions on setting the text to drums, bells, and hand drum, as well as many in depth discussions based on years of experience in Buddhist teachings abroad.

Phurba Pierces Problem States

Friends have asked me about some of the techniques that keep me intrigued with my Tibetan teachers who share with me their ageless lore of the Dorje Phurba “demon-defeating dagger”. Are you up for trying out an exercise?

The phurba dagger is a very real tool – a 3-edged blade like the famous commando daggers once used in western warfare but now banned in warfare for being just too fiercely deadly. Hand-held phurba spike daggers can be made of silver, gold, copper, or iron, or carved from wood of white, yellow, red, or black colors. However, the phurba is most important as a symbol of focused intention even more powerful than the hand-held blade.

What would you do with a weapon that could pierce through conditions in your life that stood in opposition to your fulfillment? What would you change right away if you had a tool that could nail into powerless paralysis any situations that caused lack or frustration in your life?

So here’s exercise one: Find one small condition that nags your life right now. Find something that you want but cannot seem to get, or something you dislike but cannot seem to dump. For this exercise, start with something relatively small, some little thing easy to identify, something that you will clearly recognize as being cured if or when a positive change comes about. We will save the big things for later.

Maybe you find some toxic condition you want to relieve – too much debt, excess body weight, unsafe car, co-workers or friends who bring you down, poor health, too much stress, overworked, etc. – something to purge in order to purify your life.

Maybe you will find some acceptable condition you want to expand – Mildly “OK” home or career or health or relationships or financial security or knowledge or appearance, etc. – but it could be and should be more satisfying and enriching.

Maybe you find your life missing key people, or positioning, or access to the kind of influence that would allow you to advance and accomplish – you lack the right allies, lovers, mentors, opportunities, titles, or outright patron sponsors – people or conditions to attract and bind to you in order to give your life the boost in momentum it needs.

Maybe you find your life invaded by people or groups or situations or conditions that seem to target you specifically and hold you back from what is rightfully yours – rivals, competitors, jailers, saboteurs, or outright enemies – some identifiable force to conquer and nail down out of the way in order for your life to be free to blossom.

Exercise One, part Two is to sit and take a deep breath and very clearly and explicitly identify with a vision in your mind’s inner eye and in as few strong words as possible just what you want to change. Stay with that for a few moments and repeat this step over and over to be sure you are focused. If you are comfortable with spiritual adventure, you could even press your palms together with the fingers of each hand gripping like claws the knuckles of the other hand as illustrated as Kuji no In Ge-baku-ken mudra in Chapter 5 in book 2 of Ninja; The Complete Collection. I will show you a minor adjustment of that sometime when we are together personally.

Exercise One, part Three is then to watch very carefully over the next week for any and all signs, coincidences, omens, hints, whispers, or offers that could indicate a possible solution to your challenge. Just remember to pay attention and look for even the most subtle of communications as to an answer. See what catches your awareness directly, obliquely, or in moments of distraction or even dreaming.

Try it and write me a comment on what you experience.

Sakya Lamas at Miami Valley Meditation 2004

In June 2004, Lama Pema Wangdak of New York Palden Sakya Centers, and ritual master Lama Kunga Dhondup of Pema Ts’al School in Pokhara, Nepal, presented public programs on spiritual practice, ritual, and meditation in everyday living, and conferred on Stephen K. Hayes a 5-day depth instruction in the practice of Vajrakilaya – “truth like a dagger blade” that removes obstacles to brightness and wholeness in life.

Support the DharmaVenerable Lama Pema Wangdak has been a monk since 7 years old. A student of His Holiness Sakya Trizin, he graduated from Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies in Benares, India in 1980 with Acharya (Masters) degree. In 1989 Lama Pema founded the Vikramasila Foundation, and then Palden Sakya Centers in New York City, Woodstock, NY, Philmont, NY, Charlottesville, VA, and Cresskill, NJ. Lama Pema is the creator of “Bur Yig” Tibetan Braille, and founder of Pema Ts’al (“Lotus Grove”) Schools in Mundgod, India and Pokhara, Nepal, and Pema Ts’al School in New York City based on the curriculum at Sakya College, India. Lama Pema has been guiding western students for over 20 years through his marvelous command of the English language and his knowledge and compassion.