My very dear Estelle,
Please find my advice on what is most beneficial for you to do in your life now:
1. Refuge: 30,000 times
2. Prostrations by reciting the Thirty-Five Buddhas, even when not doing nyung-näs. Try to do this 100 or 35 times each day, or whatever you can.
3. Vajrasattva: 300,000 times. As well as this, it is still good to do one mala or half a mala every night, so when death comes we don’t have to be reborn in the lower realms, because the day’s negative karma doesn’t increase. For example, if we kill one tiny insect during the day and we don’t purify that karma, the karma of that doubles. By the third day it quadruples, by the fourth day the karma has increased eight times, then by the next day, sixteen times, so it increases unbelievably, unbelievably, like that. If Vajrasattva practice is done that day, it purifies the day’s negative karma and our past life negative karma doesn’t increase the next day. This is the most amazing protection, so it is possible to get realizations quicker and our mind becomes more purified. This is important, and this is why we recite Vajrasattva mantras every day, not just as a preliminary practice.
4. Dorje Khadro (burning offering): 100,000 times
5. Water bowl offering: 8,000 times
6. Nyung-nä retreat: 300 times. Wow, you are a most lucky person, a most lucky one, because it came out in my observation that doing 300 nyung-näs is most amazing. Doing just one nyung-nä, we don’t get reborn in the lower realms and sooner or later we go to the pure land of Buddha and sooner or later we achieve enlightenment.
Within the nyung-nä is the extremely important practice of prostrations by reciting the Thirty-five Buddhas, also there are prostrations to Chenrezig. Every atom of the ground that our body covers when we do prostrations is how much merit we create. It is inconceivable. We create that many causes to be reborn as a wheel-turning king for 1,000 life times. For example, however many atoms our hair, our toes or our fingers cover—even one finger, from the top of our hair to our toes, that amount of space, that many atoms—that means that many number of lifetimes we will be born as a wheel-turning king, equaling that many number of atoms that just one toe or one finger covers, so the merit is inconceivable. This is just to give you a brief idea of the extensive merits we collect from doing one prostration. So, if there is one atom under our body, we create that much merit. It is most amazing, most amazing. However many atoms one toe covers, then the rest of our body. Can you imagine? Can you imagine? Woooooooow!
This is not physical exercise. It is important to think we are prostrating to numberless buddhas, Dharma, Sangha, statues, stupas and scriptures. If we think we are prostrating to our Guru; that this is our Guru, then we collect the most extensive merits possible.
So, please study my teachings on how to do prostrations and the benefits. It is most amazing what we create from just one prostration; we can’t imagine the merit. Then, of course, dedicate the merit to achieving enlightenment for ourselves and for all sentient beings, sealing with emptiness.
Regarding reciting the mantra OM MANI PADME HUM: even reciting the mantra just one time purifies the five very heavy negative karmas without break. These heavy negative karmas are killing one’s father or mother, killing an arhat, drawing blood from a buddha and creating a schism in a Sangha community. “Without break” means that when we die, we are immediately born in the lowest hot hell and we experience the heaviest suffering for an unimaginable amount of time.
If all this heavy negative karma gets purified, then no question that the karma created from the ten nonvirtuous actions in this life and past lives gets purified. Can you imagine that the benefits of reciting OM MANI PADME HUM has this power?
Then there is the very long mantra of Chenrezig, if the merits of reciting the short mantra cannot be counted. The merit of reciting the long mantra is beyond concept, like the number of atoms of this earth or the atoms in the ocean; so we can’t count the benefits of reciting the mantra. It is the most amazing, most amazing, strongest purification. We collect merit and it is such a quick way to achieve enlightenment; it is a most amazing practice.
Please study the benefits of doing nyung-näs, as well as the stories of the nyung-nä lineage lamas. These are so inspiring. You could ask Nick Ribush about this. These are most inspiring life stories. There is one story about a layperson who killed fifteen people; he then did eight nyung-näs and was reborn in a pure land. There are many stories like this, so please find them.
It is an unbelievable practice, so we can enjoy our life and then we have no fear when death comes. We are ready to die; there is no fear at all. This practice purifies not only the negative karma from this life but the negative karma from numberless past lives.
7. Four immeasurable thoughts: 200,000 times.
8. Tsa-tsas: the deity Vajrayogini, 2,000 times
9. Guru devotion: always do some meditation every day by following the lam-rim outlines:
- The graduated path of the lower capable being: one month
- The graduated path of the intermediate capable being: one month
- The graduated path of the highest capable being:
o Bodhicitta: one month
o Emptiness: three months
Do this cycle twice. Continue to train the mind, carrying on no matter how many months or years it takes for you to get stable realizations, such as guru devotion—until you see your one Guru as all the buddhas and one buddha is all the gurus. Then, whatever realization you didn’t have, start from there, so if you didn’t have realization of the perfect human rebirth, then train the mind in the meditations one-by-one, no matter how many weeks, months or years it takes to get stable realizations.
10. Do some meditation on emptiness every day.
11. So please do like this, and then train your mind in tantra—in generation stage and later completion stage of Vajrayogini. When you have received the Vajrayogini initiation, plan to do a retreat if you can. If possible do even a year retreat, but before that plan to do shorter retreats on the deity, such as seven days. Initially try to do 400,000 mantras in retreat. You can do this over time, so not all at once, or you can do them all together. Then do the fire puja. If you are able to continue, then you can try to do 100,000 mantras in retreat each year. Probably you can finish this each year. It didn’t come out for you to do a three-year retreat, but what came out is for you to plan to do a retreat every year, becoming very familiar with the practice.