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The history of Vajrayana Buddhism

It is classically said that vajrayana teachings have been taught by all the buddhas of the three times beyond time and space. In this particular world system only during Buddha Shakyamunis era have these teachings flourished publicly so that anyone can hear and practice vajrayana instructions. Lord Shakyamuni started giving teachings on vajrayana upon attaining enlightenment, yet publicly, he only taught the teachings of the four noble truths and Mahayana vehicle. From the first century onwards vajrayana slowly flourished. We find that from the seventh through the thirteenth centuries most buddhist scholars and great mahasiddhas practiced both the teachings of sutra and tantra. For example, the buddhist scholars Acharya Nagarjuna and Acharya Asanga practiced vajrayana teachings while remaining bhikshus who also preserved the Mahayana tradition. We also find that some great mahasiddhas such as Tilopa and Naropa mainly practiced the tantric teachings and maintained the appearance of tantric yogins; their primary interest being the propagation of vajrayana teachings. From the early history of Buddhism in Tibet in seventh century until this very moment, the teachings of sutra and tantra have flourished, slowly distilling into a variety of lineages known as the Eighth Great Chariots. Among these lineages, the lineage of Marpa, the Lord of Translators, heart son of Pandita Naropa is well known for the unique series of empowerments, transmissions and instructions of a number of practices found within the anuttarayoga tantric system; a unique practice lineage later known in Tibet as the Marpa Kagyu; a lineage whose activities flourish around the world today.

Introduction to the Anutarayoga Tantra

The difference between sutra and tantra is described in the Lamp of Three Realities: Though both carry the same meaning this one is free from ignorance, There are many methods and it is not difficult to practice, It is taught for people with a developed mental capacity, Therefore, the Vajrayana vehicle is superior. The tantric teachings are classified into four categories: kriya, charya, yoga and anutara. Kriya tantra or action tantra is taught to those whose practice is focused upon external actions such as cleanliness, austerity and so on. Charya tantra or conduct tantra is taught for those who focus upon the balance between external practices surrounding cleanliness and inner practices that are focused upon the generation of concentration. Yoga tantra is taught for those who mainly prefer to practice inner practices that rely upon visualization and a further development of meditatitive stability. For those who possess a high mental capacity and who prefer to practice the teachings on ultimate truth, anutarayoga tantra is taught. In summary, in order to enlighten the four different types of practitioners, the four different tantric teachings were provided by the Buddha. Within this context, the Kagyu Ngak Dzod, or the

Treasury of Kagyu Tantra, mainly consists of tantras that belong to the highest level of tantric teachings, the anutarayoga tantra.

The meaning of the Empowerments In general, when empowerment is bestowed, the impurities of body, speech and mind are purified such that they become endowed with the potential to transform into the form, speech and wisdom of Buddha. This is why it is called empowerment. In this sense it is taught that empowerment is the root of all the practices of vajrayana teachings. Indeed without receiving the necessary empowerment, no matter how diligently we may study and practice the vajrayana teachings, we cannot achieve any of the results of realization and experience. On the other hand, if we receive empowerment from a qualified vajrayana master, we will simultaneously achieve all the noble results of mundane and enlightenment. Even people who have committed the five heinous crimes can be liberated merely by seeing the colored grains of sand which are used in bestowing empowerments. It is additionally said that when one receives empowerment, one is sure to attain enlightenment within seven lifetimes or sixteen lifetimes even if one is not very diligent in their practice. These are the benefits of receiving empowerment.

The Four Empowerments of Anutarayoga tantra The empowerments of Anutarayoga tantra can be classified into four types: the vase empowerment, the secret empowerment, the wisdom empowerment and the empowerment of verbal introduction. By receiving the vase empowerment, impurities are removed and one gains the potential to appear in the form of a Buddha and one is permitted to practice the generation stage of visualization. In receiving the secret empowerment, the impurities of speech are removed so that one can gain the potential to reveal the noble speech of Buddha and one is permitted to practice the completion stage or advance practices such as meditating on vajra wind recitation. By receiving the wisdom empowerment, the impurities of the mind are removed and one is permitted to practice the completion stage of the ultimate truth of luminosity and emptiness. By receiving the empowerment of verbal introduction, one is permitted to practice the union of two truths, Mahamudra of clear luminosity, thereby creating the potential for transforming the three vajras of body, speech and mind. Generally, the fourth empowerment is mainly given orally as an introduction to our natural state.

The Hevajra Tantra Among the classification of the six types of female tantra, the Tantra of Hevajra belongs to the Heruka type. It is said that even if one is a master of all other tantras, and yet lacks the understanding of Hevajra, one cannot not actually understand the

essential points of the vast teachings of tantras and as such, all efforts to this effect will be meaningless. The Buddha first taught this tantra when he eradicated the four maras at Bodhgaya. There are two accounts of how this tantra flourished in India. According to the lineage descending from Marpas disciple Ngokton, the Acharya Nagarjuna, disguised as someone who was dumb stole this tantra from Uddiyana. When the dakinis finally offered him permission to preach it, he taught this tantra to his chief disciple Aryadeva. From Aryadeva the practice lineage of Hevajra spread. The popular and more common belief is that the Master Saroruha or, Kukuraja as he is also known, introduced this tantra from Uddiyana and composed many texts on its application and practice. Therefore, he is generally credited as the one who first introduced the Hevajra tantra and was also the first to compose a Hevajra sadhana, or practice manual, based upon this tantra. When Marpa went to India, he received the teachings on the Hevajra Tantra from both of his masters Naropa and Maitripa, thoroughly clarifying all of the subtle points found within the text. From Naropa alone he received the empowerments of Hevajra seven times and also received the complete cycle of tantric teachings and instructions associated with Hevajra. As a result of this, Marpa experienced enlightenment and became inseparable from the Hevajra himself. To show this to his disciples, a feast offering was arranged during which he appeared in the form Hevajra, while his chief consort Dagmema appeared as the Hevajras consort and his eight other consorts as the eight goddess of the Hevajra mandala. In the end, when Marpa passed into parinirvana, he turned his consort Dagmema into a small white sphere that dissolved into this heart. He then disappeared into parinirvana without leaving his body behind. The lineage of this tantra is mainly transmitted from the generation of Ngakpa families.

The Fifteen Goddesses of Nairatmya Generally, siddhis or accomplishments, achieved through practice are granted by vajra dakinis. In terms of purification, the greatest of which is the realization of the inseparability of wisdom and method, it has been said that the Great Bliss should be achieved through the practice of the realization of the emptiness of all appearance. To compassionately aide us in this practice, the perfection of wisdom which is in reality the mother of all Buddhas appeared, conventionally, in the form of the female buddha Naitrimya. The empowerment of the Fifteen Goddess of Naitrimya is taken directly from the Hevajra tantra. As the text says: One should practice with the Yoga of Naitrimya, or one should practice Heruka.

There were many of great mahasiddhas in both India and Tibet who achieved enlightenment through practicing this. The lineage of this empowerment comes from the Great Ngokton who upon hearing the great fame Marpa Lotsapa, was inspired with the utmost devotion towards Marpa. He then went to Drowolung where Marpa lived to try to meet the great Marpa. Later, after offering a horse, he received the empowerment of the Fifteen Goddess of Naitrimya. As a result of practicing it, he experienced the direct vision of Fifteen Goddesses of Naitrimya. Although, he received many tantras from Lord Marpa, the Great Ngokton practiced the father and mother of Hevajra Tantra as his main personal practice.

The Chatuhpita Tantra The Tantra of Four Seats is called Chatuhpita in Sanskrit. It constitutes the four seats: the seat of oneself, the seat of other, the seat of union and the seat of secrecy. This tantra was taught by Lord Buddha upon the peak of Mount Meru to Maitreya and a gathering of millions of devoted disciples. Later, when Great Mahasidha Saraha introduced many of tantras from Uddiyana, this tantra was included. It was then given to Acharya Nagarjuna by the devas and dakinis and subsequently it was transmitted and came to flourish. In the earlier times, there were many lineages of practice surrounding this tantra- yet in this era only the texts are available and nothing more. Nevertheless, the lineage of Marpa and Ngokpa still thrives with its vast storehouse of instructions on two stages of Vajrayana practices. Lord Marpa first received this tantra in Nepal while on his way to India, from Master Phamthingpa who was an important disciple of Naropa. Later, when Marpa was staying with Naropa, he saw an exceptional looking woman. Upon realizing that this woman was actually a dakini, Marpa made offerings of gold to her so that she might teach. She then gave the teachings of Four Seats. Later, when he returned to India, Marpa received the same teaching from Naropa on the Four Seats. It is generally held that Lord Marpa had found that while both sets of instructions carried the same meaning those of Naropa were more clear and more precise. These instructions were then transmitted and came to flourish through the activities of the generations of Ngokpa fathers and sons.

The Guhayasamaja Tantra The Guhayasamaja Tantra is regarded as the main tantric treatise of method, or the means of realizing the ultimate nature of mind. During the Buddhas time, the king of Uddiyana saw the Buddhas disciples, all of whom had attained arhatship, flying back and forth between Uddiyana and Sharavasti. When the king asked, who are these people?, his ministers informed him that they were the disciples of Lord Buddha. Hearing the name Buddha, the king was deeply moved and prayed to the Buddha until Lord Buddha along with his disciples miraculously appeared in front of him. The king then asked Buddha to give a type of teaching so that he could attain enlightenment without renouncing the worldly pleasure. As per the kings wish, the Buddha gave the teaching of Guhayasamaja Tantra and by practicing this powerful and unique tantra,

the king along with his retinue and subjects all attained enlightenment in that lifetime leaving the whole region empty. This tantric treatise was introduced by the great mahasiddha Saraha. It was Nagarjuna who disseminated this lineage which came down through Chandrakirti and so on. When Marpa requested Naropa to teach this tantra, Naropa sent Marpa to Janagarbha who lived in the western region of central India. Marpa, upon meeting Janagarbha, received the teachings on this tantra along with its associated pith instructions. When Marpa returned back to Naropa, he met Janakarsiddhi from Kashmir who also came to Naropa to request the teachings on Guhayasamja. Together with this Pandita, Marpa once again received the teaching and empowerment of Guhayasamaja from Naropa and he found that although teachings were the same as before, the oral instructions were more vast than he had previously experienced. Pandita Janakarsiddhi then went to Tibet where he met the Translator Naktso. He gave only one teaching on Guhayasamaja to Naktso Lotsawa, saying that while the Tibetan people are clearly devoted to Vajrayana practices, their karmic connection is with Marpa, the heart son of Pandita Naropa. So saying, Janakarsiddhi then left Tibet and returned to India from where he departed for Uddiyana. Although Marpa gave the teachings, empowerment and instructions to all of his four disciples, the tradition that still exists mainly came down from his disciple the Great Tsurton.

The Tantra of Manjushri The Tantra of Manjushri was taught as an antidote to the ignorance that commonly plagues sentient beings. It was taught by Lord Buddha in many places such as the Akanishta realm, Tushita, atop Mount Meru, Uddiyana, the Dhanyakata Stupa in South India and so on. After this tantric treatise was compiled by Bodhisattvas of tenth Bhumi such as Vajrapani, it was entrusted to and kept by dakinis. Later, the extensive treatise of Manjushri was revealed in Uddiyana to the Chinese born master known as Master Tachok. Subsequently, many commentaries of this text were composed from which various lineages of Manjushri practice flourished. The present lineage comes from the Master Vilasavajra and the source of the practice lineage is deeply rooted in the father tantra of Anutarayoga tantric system. Master Vilasavajra was ordained in Uddiyana where he became master of all five major sciences. As he practiced Manjushri, he successfully achieved accomplishment whereby his body transformed into the rainbow vajra body. This particular tantric treatise was received by Lord Maitripa from his Guru, Shri Shawaripa. From Maitripa it was passed on to Lord Marpa along with the empowerment, oral instructions of Manjushri and a variety of profound Mahamudra teachings. From Marpa Lotsawa, the father and sons of Ngokton family received this lineage and subsequently passed down.

The Buddhakapala Tantra

Lord Buddha first transmitted this tantra to Vajrapani along with a retinue of disciples in a pureland after he performed the miracle of temporarily passing into parinirvana. The instant after his death, this tantra appeared from the skull of Buddha; then it gradually flourished in the human world. The Buddhakapala tantra was brought to India by the great mahasiddha Rahula of the Brahmin caste three hundred years after Buddha's parinirvana. He received many Tantric teachings from a number of mahasiddhas who directly received empowerment from Vajrayogini. Rahula also received many tantric teachings directly from Vajrapani himself. When he attained the highest level of accomplishment and maintained the conduct of a mahasiddha, he was known as Saraha. Along with Buddhakapala, Saraha brought many other tantric treatises from Uddiyana and was responsible for their propagation. Buddhakapa is generally regarded as one of the first tantric treatises brought to India from Uddiyana. During Lord Marpa's second trip to India, he received the empowerment of Buddhakapala from Maitripa and he received the teachings of Buddhakapala from Naropa. After returning to Tibet from India, he preached it to all of his four disciples. Marpa's main lineage of Buddhakapala was held and disseminated by the Great Meyton and the Great Tsuntron; the present lineage that we follow comes from the Great Tsurton.

The Mahamaya Tantra

The mahasiddha Kukkuripa first brought the tantra of Mahamaya to the human realm. Kukkuripa was born in Bangladesh. After he became a mahasiddha, he was invited to the god realm where he spent some time. He then returned to the human realm and wandered all over India with Vajrayogini who appeared as a female dog to many people. Therefore, he was known as Kukkuripa, meaning The Dog Lover. Kukkuripa brought the tantra of Mahamaya from Uddiyana and widely preached it. It is generally held that by virtue of practicing this treatise many masters in India achieved enlightenment and composed texts on how to practice it. This tantra was brought by the Translator Goe Lhaytse and the Jowo Atisha to Tibet. But the complete lineage of empowerment, teachings and vast instructions of this treatise only comes from the lineage of Marpa. When Marpa was living with Naropa, one day he went to market and met Nyoelo, or Translator Nyoe, who was a travel companion of Marpa. When Marpa and Nyo lotsawa had a discussion about the essential points of tantric teachings, Nyo lotsawa stated that one should study Mahamaya treatise if one wants to fully understand the teachings about channel, drop and wind. Moved by this idea, Marpa requested Naropa to teach Mahamaya. However, Naropa told Marpa to go to the southern region where there was a poisonous lake to meet the great Pandita Sri Shantibhadra who was regarded as the owner of this female tantra. Marpa then went to meet with Sri Santibhandra and received from him the complete empowerment and teachings of Mahamaya. When Marpa returned, Naropa provided Marpa with more extensive

teachings on Mahamaya. Marpa also received Mahamaya from Kukkuripa who appeared in a vision. He then preached it to his four main disciples and from them, it flourished.

The Great Wrathful Vajrapani and Small Wrathful Vajrapni The empowerments and practice of Great Wrathful Vajrapani and Small Wrathful Vajrapani were personally given by Vajrapani himself to Master Karma Varja. When Karma Vajra was a small child he heard a voice from the sky that told him to practice Vajrapani. As he practiced it, he successfully achieved accomplishment and experienced a vision of Vajrapani. Vajrapani then gave him all of the instructions, full empowerment and also gave him a wooden five pointed vajra. Since all his wishes were fulfilled by this wooden vajra, he was known as Karma Vajra, meaning the Vajra of Activity. One day, when there was a conflict between two kings, one who practiced Buddhism and one who fostered a hatred towards Buddhadharma and was willing to destroy it at any cost, master Karma Vajra appeared and by merely showing half of his Wooden Vajra, the armies of the non-dharmic King were scattered all over resulting in a resounding defeat. Karma Vajra gave this practice to Master Shinglopa from whom the Master Karnarupa received it. When Rechungpa was only fifteen years old, he was suddenly struck by leprosy and experienced tremendous suffering from this painful disease. One day, he was witnessed by three Acharyas who had come from India. Out of compassion engendered from witnessing Rechungpa's suffering, they brought Rechungpa to India and offered him to Guru Balai Chandar. This Guru was widely known for his limitless power and was known to have three eyes that could be seen by anyone. Guru Balai Chandra graciously gave this empowerment and the complete instructions associated with its practice to Rechungpa who, after he practiced them, found that his leprosy was cured. Rechungpa then returned back to Tibet and propagated this teaching to many fortunate students.

The Five Deities of Cakrasavara Among the four classes of tantra, anutarayoga tantra is also classified into two categories, the tantra of method and the tantra of wisdom. Among them, the treatise of Chakrasamvara belongs to the tantra of wisdom, or mother tantra. While the term mother tantra is somewhat general, it's essence is best demonstrated in the treatise of Chakrasamvara. To this effect, Lord Marpa says in a song of realization: I have received the Guhayasamaja of father tantra, Mahamaya of mother Tantra, Hevajra of the essence tantra and the most essential one, Chakrasambhava.

The Chakrasamvara tantra was initially taught by Lord Buddha in the golden age. Later during the degenerative age, when Shiva and Uma came to control all of the original sites where Lord Buddha taught- a series of isolated regions and charnel grounds- the Buddha manifested in the form of Chakrasamvara and appeared on the peak of Mount Meru. As a means to liberate Shiva and Uma, and thereby benefit countless other sentient beings, the Buddha then taught the tantra of Chakrasamvara. There are many texts for the practice, and empowerment into the Chakrasamvara mandala. Among them, this one is transmitted from Master Luyipa. Luyipa was a scribe for the king of Uddiyana. He then became the disciple of Guru Shawaripa. After having been given empowerment and liberating instructions Luiypa then went to Bangladesh and practiced diligently while eating fish guts as a form or practice. Therefore, he came to be known as Luyipa which means he who eats fish guts. When he achieved the ultimate accomplishment, through performing a series of miracles, he liberated the king, ministers and subjects of Uddiyana. All told, around 60 thousand people were liberated and all of them attained rainbow body. He then brought the treatise of Chakrasamvara with him from Uddiyana and composed a text for practicing it which became one of the main origins of the lineage of Chakrasamvara practive. Luiypa transmitted the precious liberating instructions to others, and it came to Lord Marpa who received it from Naropa. Since then Chakrasamvara has become one of the most sacred practices of the Karma Kagyu lineage; indeed it is one of the five sets of Dusum Khyenpa- the first Karmapas personal practice.

The Five deities of Vajravarahi Marpa Lotsawa went to India four times and met Naropa and Maitripa from whom he received many important teachings and instructions. Included within the precious oral instructions that Marpa received was the Spontaneous Arising of the generation stage and the Inseparability of Wind and Mind of the completion stage. Foretelling that Vajravarahi would provide her blessings, Naropa sent Marpa to the great cemetery of Sosaling to attend a feast. At the feast, Vajravirahi appeared in human form as a woman who cut open her chest to reveal her heart with a knife made of cystal. Vajravarahi then revealed to Marpa the mandala of the five Vajravarahis and the Chakra of Ashta Mantra. She then gave him the empowerment and blessed him. Vajravirahi told Marpa to go to Bodh Gaya to visit the holy tooth of Buddha and while there, he would accomplish a great task. When Marpa was in Bodh Gaya he saw that suddenly a small text appeared in which instructions on practicing the two stages of generation and completion were written in Sinhalese script on paper made of Tali leaves. Marpa then realized that thise was the same teaching which was given to him by his master Naropa, and that the text was given to him by the deity. Marpa brought this text back to Tibet and translated into Tibetan. Then the timing was right he offered the instructions from this text to his most cherished disciple, Milarepa. Milarepa also gave this empowerment by using the Mandala of Sindhura to his disciple Gampopa who was prophecized by Lord Buddha. It was then received

by the first Karmapa Dusum Khyenpa from Gampopa and became one of the five sets of deities of Dusum Khyenpas personal practice.

Yamantaka and Vajra Bhairava When an army of maras attempted to stop Lord Buddha from attaining enlightenment, Buddha- through remaining in samadhi- manifested the wrathful deities of Yamantaka to destroy all the maras. Buddha then emanated the Mandala of Yamantaka and taught the treatise of Yamantaka. In India, the treatise of Yamantaka started to flourish some time after the third council and since then it has flourished. There were three great masters who were publicly known as the ones who propagated the treatises of Yamantaka. These were Master Lalitavajra in the beginning, Buddhajnana in the middle and finally the Bramin master Shridhara. From these three early lineage holders the practice of Yamantaka gradually flourished in Tibet. The first Tibetan commentary on how to practice Yamantaka was composed by the Tibetan Emperor Songtsen Gampo. Generally, Yamantaka and Vajra Bhairava are the same type of deities and their practice is sometimes considered similar. For this reason Tibetan translators often translated, practiced and propagated these practices together. The lineage of these empowerments in the Kagyu Treasury are transmitted from Nyo Lotsawa.

The Dharma Protector Vetali At one point during the six years that Marpa spent with his Guru, Naropa, a thought arose in Marpas mind that compelled him to request Naropa to grant the empowerment for three dharma protectors that visibly come to receive torma offerings. When Marpa asked Naropa to grant the three (Vetali, Kikatsal and Shri Sinha) Naropa said that granting all three would be not appropriate. He urged Marpa to choose only one out of three. Marpa then thought that Vetali seemed to be the most central dharma protector, and with this in his mind he asked for the empowerment of Vetali. Naropa was very pleased by Marpa's request and said My son, you didnt make wrong choice, in fact, you made the right choice". Continuing, Naropa told Marpa, All the accomplishments come from this. Beyond the river Ganges, there is not a dharma protector more powerful than this. You should not underestimate it and you should always practice it. Having said that, Naropa placed his hand with with a torma on the head of Marpa and granted this empowerment and the associated instructions for the practice of Vetali. From Marpa, it was transmitted from father and sons of Ngokpa family.

The Five Auspicious Sisters The Five Auspicious Sisters are the dakinis who protect the secret holy sites of Tibet and they are mentioned in the Vajra Dakini Tantra and Dakini Samudra Tantra. Externally, they manifested as five sisters from a worldly family, internally, they are the five Dakinis who act as protectors of secret holy sites and secretly, they are the five consorts of five Buddhas. Conventionally, they appear as the wrathful dakinis of the mundane world and reside in the Sitavana charnel ground situated near Bodhgaya having made the commitment to the Goddess Shri Singha to protect Buddhas teachings. When Guru Padmasambhava came to Tibet, they were invoked to make their commitment again. Later, when Milarepa was in the samadhi of meditation at Chuwar cave, the Five Auspicious Sisters appeared creating miracles turning the sky and earth upside down in order to check the level of Milarepas samadhi. They soon came to realize that Milarepas realization was firmly grounded in the ultimate nature of phenomena and he had gained mastery over all of the subtle manifestations of samadhi. Realizing Milarepa's great inner spiritual strength the Five Auspicious Sisters came to revere Milarepa, making confessions to him and offering the commitment to follow Milarepas teachings. Then they became faithful disciples of Milarepa. It is said that among the disciples of Milarepa, Rechungpa serves to liberate human beings while the Five Auspicious Sisters serve to liberate invisible beings. Since then, they have became one of the main dharma protectors for sentient beings in general and most specially, for the followers of our lineage.

Three Special Deities During the Marpas third journey to India, he met Jowo Atisha on the way who himself was on his way to Tibet. Marpa received the empowerment of Usnisavijaya , Tara and Vajrasattava from Jowo Atisha. When these three empowerments were transmitted in Tibet, it was known as the Empowerment of Three Special Deities. These are mainly related to the practice of Usnisavijaya which was transmitted from Arya Asanga, his brother, and their disciples.

The sequence of how the Empowerments are given According to the tradition of Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche, there are two traditions of giving the empowerment. According to the first tradition, the disciples are those who have received the empowerment of any of the four classes of Tantra. With these types of disciples, to bring auspiciousness at the beginning of the empowerments, the empowerment of three special deities and the empowerment of Wrathful Emanation of Vajrapani are bestowed. After this the disciples are given the empowerment of the Guru Yoga and then other empowerments such as the empowerment of Hevajra are given simultaneously. The second tradition involves disciples who havent received any empowerment before. In this case the empowerments begin with the empowerment of Guru Yoga and then other main empowerments such as the

empowerment of Hevajra are to follow. Other minor empowerments are given after that. When His Eminence the 11th Tai Situpa gave empowerment to His Holiness the 16th Karmapa Rigpe Dorje, he did so according to the second tradition. And when His Holiness the 16th Karmapa Rigpe Dorje gave the empowerment of the Treasury of Kagyu Tantras, he first gave the empowerment of Three Special Deities and Guru Yoga to bring auspiciousness at the beginning, then he gave the other main empowerments including Hevajra to bring auspiciousness at the middle, and finally gave the empowerment of long life of Machik Drubpai Gyalmo to bring the auspiciousness at the end. This year, His Eminence will also follow the tradition of His Holiness 16th Karmapa from whom he received the entire transmission of the empowerments of the Treasury of Kagyu Tantras.