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The empowerment (Tib. wang; dbang)is the initiation that transmits or awakens primordial wisdom (Tib. yeshe), the power or realization in the mind of the disciple. Tulku Thondup explains that among the different ways of categorizing empowerments, (1)empowerments given to disciples who have not been initiated before are called causal empowerment; (2) the empowerment given to students for developing their maturation or restoring the broken precepts are classified as empowerment of the path; and (3)empowerments given to those who are ready to achieve the final attainment and which cause the disciple to attain the ultimate fruition are classified as empowerments of result because they bring the final result.[1]

There are three components needed in order to engage in a specific sadhana practice: the empowerment, the oral transmission (Tib. lung), and the secret instruction (Tib. tri) which are all granted or bestowed by a qualified master for each specific practice.

  • The empowerment or wang is to mature or ripen us.
  • The oral transmission or lung is to connect us.
  • The secret instruction or tri is to liberate us.

Empowerment is to ripen or mature our buddha nature. Even though all beings this possesss the buddha nature, without receiving empowerment it is not possible to receive blessings and accomplishments through a particular practice, just as it will never be possible to get oil by pressing sand.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama says:

"When an empowerment is conferred on you, it is the nature of your mind—the buddha nature—that provides a basis upon which the empowerment can ripen you. Through the empowerment, you are empowered into the essence of the buddhas of the five families. In particular, you are ‘ripened’ within that particular family through which it is your personal predisposition to attain buddhahood."

Many great masters have bestowed the most important empowerments needed for our practice upon the Rigpa sangha over the years, in particular, Kyabjé Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche in 1987 and 1990, Kyabjé Penor Rinpoche in 1988 and 1995, Kyabjé Dodrupchen Rinpoche in 1999, and Kyabjé Trulshik Rinpoche in 1999, 2003, and 2005.

  1. Tulku Thondup, Enlightened Journey, Shambala, 1995. p113.