In this crucial essay1 on the subject, Kyabjé Düd’jom Rinpoche Jig’drèl Yeshé Dorje. explains the non-ordinary visionary history which illuminates the deleterious nature of these poisonous substances, according to gTérma revelations. To help Vajrayana practitioners understand the danger of smoking, Kyabjé Düd’jom Rinpoche collected major salient pronouncements of Padmasambhava concerning tobacco and narcotics for those who regard these sacred revelations as their refuge. Warnings about tobacco and narcotics have been revealed as gTérmas since early on in Tibet, by the great gTértöns, and so no authentic Nyingma practitioner need assume that what is presented here is not applicable to them. Warnings about tobacco and narcotics actually cross the spectrum of Vajrayana lineages, and advice on the subject is voluminous.
The visionary accounts presented here deal with demonic intentionality, and ideas such as these may be ‘difficult’ for some people who are new to the practice of Vajrayana. We would therefore ask anyone who has difficulty in relating with such revelations to consider why this warning has not been more widespread within the Buddhist world. It cannot be that Kyabjé Düd’jom Rinpoche is not widely known and universally respected within the Tibetan Buddhist world.
We would also ask why it is that, in the face of massive medical evidence, people still smoke – and why governments who are happy to legislate against all manner of things, find themselves unable to ban this substance. How can this be, in view of the fact that the very same governments have made it mandatory for tobacco products and tobacco advertising to carry a health warning? Is there any other non-medically prescribed substance on the open market which carries a health warning – let alone such dire warnings as are found with regard to tobacco? How is it that this substance remains legal? How is it that children can be exposed to cigarette fumes without this being regarded as ‘child abuse’ – when it has been shown that ‘secondary smoke’ is as harmful as direct smoking? We live in societies where social agencies have become extremely sensitive to such issues – so why is there not as much concern about injury from smoking with regard to children as there is concern over firearms? Surely death is death – whatever the cause, and a demon is a demon by any other name.
The ‘demonic quality’ of tobacco is evident whether or not one perceives the ‘demon’. The important fact here, for anyone who has respect and devotion for Kyabjé Düd’jom Rinpoche, is that smoking destroys one’s practice and one’s samaya. Kyabjé Düd’jom Rinpoche is the Lama whom most other Nyingma Lamas alive today venerate as the epitome of all that is inspiring – so those who have not yet been convinced as to the effects of smoking, please take this opportunity to rid yourself of its corrupting influence.
1. The following essay was originally translated (with the benefit of explanations by Khenpo Pema Shérab) by Könchog Ten’dzin in 1979. This current translation was produced by the translation committee of the Confederate Sanghas of Aro in 1999 with advice from Ngak’chang Rinpoche and KhandroDéchen.