The Iron Hook of Devotion: A Melodious Feast Song
Within vajrayana Buddhism, there is a long and revered tradition of composing and singing songs of realization (doha). Spontaneous outpourings of insight arising from the realization of meditation masters, these songs are not carefully crafted and worried over, but naturally well up from the heart of the masters, as a means to communicate with their disciples and celebrate the lineage. Singing them allows students to share in this wisdom, and provides a model for the students’ expression of their own realization.
The Iron Hook of Devotion is such a song composed by Trungpa Rinpoche before he left Tibet. It was given to Karma Senge Rinpoche by residents of Kyere Monastery and Tsawa Gang, where it continues to be practiced regularly today.
As Karma Senge Rinpoche described, this song could be sung at feasts by a group of two or four men and an equal number of women, who alternately sing every two lines in a call and response style; either group can begin the song. He suggested that the men and women could dress in heruka and dakini costume, and stand facing each other while they sing!
Karma Senge Rinpoche learned the traditional Tibetan melody used for this song from students of Trungpa Rinpoche, who originally selected this melody. He explained that traditional religious melodies are not seen as mere musical tunes; they often arise from the visions that masters have of deities, or they emerge spontaneously from a teacher’s insight of mahamudra. For this reason the melody itself “carries a communication of insight.”
So do we attempt to create a translation that would work with the original melody or should we look for a new melody? Although there is some flexibility with word choice and phrasing, keeping the original melody is not always feasible, especially when the meter of the English translation differs greatly from the original Tibetan.
If you would like to experiment with putting this feast song to music, we invite you to go to our “Translation Offerings” page, and listen to the recording of Karma Senge Rinpoche singing the Tibetan melody. Try putting the English translation with this, with the help of the musical notation (also found on our Offerings page), or experiment with creating a new melody that fits the translation. If you are inspired, please send your work and comments to: email@example.com.
The Iron Hook of Devotion: A Melodious Feast Song
Primordial purity, Samantabhadra, the authentic guru,
Display of space, Samantabhadri, the supreme mother—innate awareness,
From the vajra dance of union, rise up in the center of our hearts
And enjoy this undefiled ganachakra celebration.
In the center of our hearts, the celestial city of Dhumathala,
Among the assembly of dakinis who enjoy abundant great bliss,
Enjoying continual union, the playful dance of coemergent joy,
Come fly and soar through the vast expanse of view.
Separating space and awareness, mother and child, is liberated into dharmata.
Habitual tendencies of the three experiences of transference are dissolved into the avadhuti,
And the wild display of compassion arises, subjugating the three rudras.
Let’s enjoy this feast of the fourth beyond the three.
View is the oral instruction of the guru, recognized directly.
Meditation is the state of nonwandering, the six consciousnesses self-liberated.
Action is dancing movement in space, without fixation.
Let’s come to the fruition, this feast beyond gain or loss.
When we fortunate yogins enjoy the special teachings on joy—
The celebration of purity and equality where whatever we do arises as bliss—
In all-pervasive great equality, the fourth time,
Let’s rise up as loving friends who cut the ties of grasping and fixation.
Sounds and words are the dharma sound of the great yana, beyond activity and effort.
What is expressed is the ultimate realization of ati, beyond words.
What expresses it is this melodious song beyond intellect.
As we are of equal fortune, let’s sing and enjoy this delightful feast.
Seeing the secret key point beyond virtue and wrongdoing, benefit and harm,
Liberating the great nature of the five poisons into wisdom,
Attaining buddha beyond mind in the palm of the hand,
Let’s perform the joyful dance of these oral instructions not found in scripture.
Unsought, the sun of blissful mind arises by itself.
Relaxing carefree within the space of luminosity,
Let’s enjoy this celebration, primordially free from bondage and liberation.
In the vessel of the basic ground, containing all of samsara and nirvana,
Are the effortlessly self-arising desirable objects of kaya and bindu.
Calling out with longing, free from thoughts of accepting and rejecting,
Child of awareness, come to this deeply joyful expanse.
We carefree yogins who have destroyed all bias,
Unobscured by elaboration, directly meet the face of the mother,
Emptiness-form, for whom everything arises as a friend.
We delight in the descent and reversal that naturally occur without effort.
The authentic guru, remembered vividly in our hearts,
Never leaves us; meeting you continually within ourselves,
We gain conviction that your kindness cannot be repaid
And make this pleasing offering of joyous, clear awareness.
E MA When we sing this cheerful song of heartfelt joy,
Assembly of the three roots, lineage of the omniscient father and child,
Rise up from the expanse of wisdom, innate awareness, free from meeting and parting,
And come to this delightful celebration,
Where vajra brothers and sisters of fortunate karma and aspiration enjoy
whatever appears as a feast.
Accompanied by cheerful smiles of our inseparable brothers and sisters,
We instantly attain outer luminosity—the fruition of the four appearances
of the great transference—
And inner luminosity—the youthful vase body,
Satisfying the host of beings with the warmth of spontaneous compassion.
May the auspiciousness of samsara being emptied all at once be accomplished.
Composed by the Vidyadhara Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche in Tibet.
Translated by the Nālandā Translation Committee.
© 2006 by Diana J. Mukpo and the Nālandā Translation Committee. All rights reserved.