Purifying Obstacles to Dharma Practice

Purifying Obstacles to Dharma Practice

Date of Advice:
September 2018
Date Posted:
January 2019

A student was experiencing many obstacles when trying to practice Dharma and asked how to purify the obstacles. Rinpoche advised that death can happen any time, so we need to find time for daily purification practices. Rinpoche also recommended mandala offerings with the Special Request prayer in order to cease wrong concepts, generate correct realizations and pacify outer and inner obstacles.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche turns the prayer wheel at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, December 2015. Photo: Bill Kane.

My most dear, most kind, most precious, wish-fulfilling one,
Thank you for your email. I checked and you should do prostrations by reciting the Thirty-five Confession Buddhas’ names. That is best for you. If you can, do 100,000 prostrations. Try to do this, writing down every day the amount you have been able to do and keeping count that way. When you have time, do more. If you have children or are busy with your job, then the morning and evening times can be very busy, so what you can do is get up early in the morning and do prostrations—before the children get up, if you have children—or you can go to bed earlier. In essence, make your sleeping time shorter.

If we don’t purify our negative karma, if purification doesn’t get done, death can happen any time and after death we can go to the lower realms. This can happen at any time—dying and then going to the hell realms, where we have to suffer for eons—so it is now that we can purify negative karma. Once born in the hell realms, there is nothing we can do, finished, it’s very difficult. Someone can pray for us—that may help—but when we do practice by ourselves now, that’s stronger.

So if you have children or are very busy, you should go to bed earlier, and then in the morning you can get up early. Or you can make your sleeping time shorter. Anyway, we have slept from beginningless rebirths and it hasn’t helped us to be free from samsara yet.

We can die any time and then we have to go to the lower realms and experience the heaviest suffering. Even the heaviest suffering of human beings is the lightest suffering in the hells. The heaviest suffering of human beings is like great peace and like the lightest suffering in the hells. The suffering in hell is the most unbearable, unbearable suffering, so it is like that.

Also do 300,000 Vajrasattva mantras. You can do Vajrasattva practice every day, and during that practice you can do one mala or half a mala or 21 mantras. Also, before you go to bed apply the remedy of the four opponent powers.

Yes, there are some people who have many obstacles when listening to teachings, and when they don’t meditate, then nothing happens. For some people it is like this, and it means there is an obstacle to practice.

It is also very good to do mandala offerings. The mandala offering is very important and at the end of Jorchö preliminary practice, when you make the mandala offering, make a request for the three great purposes.

Special Request for the Three Great Purposes

I prostrate and go for refuge to the guru and the Three Rare Sublime Ones: please bless my mind.

Please bless me and all mother sentient beings to immediately cease all the wrong concepts from disrespect to the spiritual friend up to the subtle dual appearances of the white appearance, red increase, and dark near attainment.

Please bless us to immediately generate all the right realizations from respect for the spiritual friend up to the unification of no more learning.

Please bless us to immediately pacify all outer and inner obstacles. (3x)

The first request is to pacify all the wrong concepts up to subtle dual view of the white, red and dark visions, next is to generate all the correct realizations from guru devotion up to enlightenment, and the third request is to pacify the outer and inner obstacles.

Outer obstacles are, for example, when you don’t have freedom and you are told by the king, the government or your parents to do something else, like go into the army or kill others, especially to engage in negative karma. Inner obstacles are diseases and also the delusions. Therefore, doing mandala offerings is very important in your life. Then dedicate the mandala. You have to visualize according to the commentary, that is best, and then you collect unbelievable, unbelievable merits, and you dedicate that merit to achieve these three things. That is very, very important, otherwise if you don’t do that, nothing changes.

You should think these obstacles are good and that they arise because of the benefits of practicing Dharma. Think you are experiencing the past karma now; that your past negative karma is finishing. That is a good thing, it is the benefit of practicing Dharma. It is a good thing.

It is very important if you can think that whatever problem you have, you are experiencing that problem for numberless sentient beings. You are experiencing all the suffering and the cause of the suffering—the delusions and karma—for sentient beings, so you receive that from them and then they achieve dharmakaya. This is unbelievable, unbelievable, most unbelievable purification and a quick way to achieve enlightenment. It’s a quick way to enlighten sentient beings, for them to achieve enlightenment. So mostly take the suffering.

Also give your body as a wish-granting jewel, as numberless, so make charity to all those six-realm sentient beings. Then give your possessions and all your past, present and future merits to numberless sentient beings, so they receive all the happiness. They receive the happiness of this life and of future lives, and ultimate happiness, liberation from samsara, peerless happiness, enlightenment, so they receive everything. Then rejoice. When you give your body, possessions and merits as a wish-granting jewel, then everything becomes wish-fulfilling for all the sentient beings. The main thing is that they achieve all that happiness, liberation and enlightenment.

It is very good to do this as much as possible—taking other sentient beings’ sufferings and giving your happiness, your merits etc., to others. It is so good. Spend more time taking others’ sufferings, experiencing the suffering of others, the numberless sentient beings.

This can change your karma. It is a most unbelievable, most unbelievable way to collect merit and a quick way to achieve enlightenment for sentient beings. This is most powerful purification, and it can change your karma the more you do it.

With much love and prayers ...