Your preliminary practices are:
- Refuge: 500,000
- Generating the four immeasurable thoughts: 100,000
- Prostrations by reciting the names of the Thirty-five Buddhas: 50,000, and
- Mandala offerings: 200,000. That means you can do the long one once, twice or three times, then do the short one [Tib: Sa zhi pö kyi ... ] and count those. You can also do the nine-line prayer to Lama Tsongkhapa [Tib: migtsema] at the end of each one, as we do in Jorchö. [Tib: Ngö drub kün jung thub wang dor je chang …. ]
All those things you are practicing are very good, but the one thing left is lam-rim. You can do the lam-rim prayer at the end of Lama Chöpa.
Your lam-rim text is not yet translated, however, it’s called the Red Lam-rim and maybe the author is Sangye Yeshe. That lam-rim text is the basis for Pabongka Rinpoche’s Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand. That’s the main lam-rim that you should study from beginning to end.
Study this lam-rim text twice from beginning to end, but that doesn’t mean you can’t read other lam-rims and commentaries. You can also read them but the main lam-rim for you to read is the Red Lam-rim.
The things you don’t understand, mark with orange color as an offering, like painting a buddha statue or thangka, or like offering color or robes to holy objects. In other words, mark the text in a respectful way. Don’t mark the texts with black ink. Marking texts in a disrespectful way creates negative karma and is a cause to be born in the lower realms. One Western professor of Buddhism, who is one of the professors who is very good in Buddhism, said that in the past he marked many manuscripts with black color right over the letters and created the cause to be born in the lower realms many times.
Also, you can write down all the questions you have—everything you don’t know—in a book and then discuss these afterwards with the geshes or Western students who have done very good study in the Basic and Masters Programs. If there is someone who has studied well, then they can help you.
Do effortful meditation by following the lam-rim outline five times and then do effortless meditation.
The essence is that this life is not long but short. This perfect human rebirth is most precious. In general, a human rebirth is precious and specifically this perfect human rebirth is most precious and doesn’t last long, because death can happen at any moment. This perfect human rebirth that we have received with eight freedoms and ten richnesses is a most impossible thing to happen.
We have met with the Mahayana teachings, which is the most difficult thing to happen, and on top of that we have met perfectly qualified gurus, which is almost impossible to happen. This time we can achieve complete enlightenment in one brief lifetime of this degenerate time. Life is very short and death can happen at any time. That’s what we should have in the heart all the time.
Thank you very much. I am the same as an ant crawling around you. Anyway, your practice of guru devotion is your responsibility. Thank you very much.
Also do nyung näs every year as much as you can. That’s the quick way. Doing one nyung nä well prevents rebirth in the lower realms and you are able to go to a pure land. So doing nyung nä as much as you can each year is very good.
Sometimes recite Chanting the Names of Manjushri. Reciting that from time to time is good. Thank you.