Nyongdrol – Liberation Through Tasting Pills Version 2.0
Note regarding Version 2.0: This is a new batch of these pills, and contains additional ingredients said to liberate upon taste/eating.
In the Vajrayana (Tantric or esoteric) form of Buddhism, one occasionally comes across mention of the five (occasionally six) ways of attaining liberation without meditating. These are usually as follows:
- Liberation through seeing (chakras or mandalas). Tibetan: Tongdrol
- Liberation upon hearing (primarially mantras). Tib. Tödrol
- Liberation by tasting (usually some form of amrita). Tib. Nyongdrol
- Liberation by touch. Tib. Takdrol
- Liberation by recollection (this includes the famous practice of transference/Phowa). Tib. Dendrol
In Buddhism it is understood there are two general levels of accomplishment in one’s practice: liberation and enlightenment. Enlightenment refers to full and complete awakening from the sleep of ignorance. This means the utter elimination of both cognitive and emotional defilements together with the blossoming of knowledge and wisdom to the ultimate degree.
Liberation, on the other hand, as defined by Tulku Urygen Rinpoche, is usually understood to mean rebirth in a Pure Realm, or emanated Buddhafield where teachings are everywhere, practice is easy and the attainment of enlightenment assured. You can read more about pure realms here. However, in this context, liberation can also refer to an increase in one’s faith and devotion, the stability of one’s meditation practice, or a glimpse of insight into the true nature of reality.
These pills contain mantras designed to deepen one’s insight into the nature of reality, and thereby bring one nearer to liberation (or enlightenment, depending on one’s level of practice), as well as a wide variety of magical and blessed substances, including dutsi, ringsel, mendrup, amrita, terma materials, herbs from holy places and other blessed medicines and ingredients which operate in the same way. Brought together in one pill, they clearly meet the requirements of Nyongdrol – a substance which liberates upon tasting.
There are a number of different types of liberation upon tasting substances, and we have included in these pills all those that we have access to. Dudjom Rinpoche mentions one type, the mummified flesh of an accomplished master (in this case the Terton Orgyen Lingpa), in his History of the Nyingma School as follows:
“Later, the worthy aristocrat Kunrap heard the well-known assertion that the flesh of one born seven times as a brahmin grants liberation when tasted. He asked for a tiny morsel of the flesh and, tasting it, blazed with mystical experience. He was able to move about one cubit above the ground and fly from one valley to another.”
This same flesh was later used as the base for making magical pills by the famous master Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo in the 19th century. More about this can be read in Dudjom Rinpoche’s book in the section on Orgyen Lingpa.
A similar story involves Rigdzin Chogyal Dorje and his revelation of a prayer to the Terton Chokgyur Lingpa. The great translator Erik Pema Kunzang puts it this way on his blog:
Having received the vidyadhara Chokgyur Dechen Lingpa’s precious terma substance, the same moment it touched my tongue, I saw the Master of Uddiyana with consort in actuality, who assured me that “Whoever supplicates in this way will be reborn in the pure realms. Of this there is no doubt!” I, Rigdzin Chogyal Dorje, wrote this down from the yellow parchment found at the Lion Fortress, right after having the vision there. It was offered to the incarnations of the Lords of the Three Families, and if their followers with the karmic link practice this, it will spread to connect everyone with the Great Compassionate One. Everyone who holds no doubt will be reborn in the buddhafield of their choice. Samaya, seal, seal, seal.
These pills are usually used by a practitioner to enhance meditation on an astrologically determined auspicious day, but can be taken at any time. They can also be used by those on the verge of death (this is often described as the most beneficial time to use such substances) or placed in the mouth of the deceased.
Ultimately, the level of liberation that one will achieve through the use of substances such as this depends on one’s merit, compassion, devotion, and intelligence, in the Terma texts of the Nyingma tradition Guru Rinpoche states that through this type of blessing one will at least be free from rebirth in the three lower realms of animals, preta (hungry ghosts) and hell beings.
As with our other holy items, our intention in offering these pills is to give anyone who feels a connection the opportunity to deepen that link. Any funds collected through offering these pills will be used to further the teachings of the Vajrayana both in Tibet and here in the West, through supporting monastics and yogins on retreat, as well as building stupas, monasteries and retreat hermitages. We are currently involved in helping Terton Rinpoche to complete a new Lhakang (shrine room) and retreat cabins in Nangchen, Kham.