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Contemporary Issues : Religion, Politics and Travel

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche at various locations (Last Updated Apr 23, 2013)

Travel and Immigration

Note for Hotel Maid 
Rinpoche stayed overnight in a hotel on his way to Mongolia. The first thing Rinpoche does when entering a hotel is turn all the lights on and begin extensive offering practice. In the morning before leaving for the airport, Rinpoche left a $5 tip for the cleaning lady and this small note, written on the hotel’s guest comment card.

I had so much worldly pleasure here, so much sleep. What I did is I blessed all the light offerings in the room and I offered them to Guru, Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, and I rejoiced in all the merits of the buddhas and bodhisattvas and all beings, and I did three prostrations. I did two full-length and one I did half-length, on the bed, because I had a stroke a few years ago. So this is what I did to make useful the money spent staying here. Thank you.

I dedicated for you to have a long life and to be healthy and for all your wishes to succeed according to the Dharma, to have an ethical mind and pure mind.

With much love and prayers...


Border Crossing to Nepal
A Tibetan who had recently returned to his homeland wasn’t permitted to cross back into Nepal.

Rinpoche is saying prayers, and he checked and said to recite Sampa Nyur Drumpa [a prayer to Padmasambhava for quick success] a few thousand times.


Obstacles to Getting a Visa 
Rinpoche did a lot of checking and advised the following practices for a student with visa obstacles. After the student did the practices, he successfully got the visa.
  • Most Secret Hayagriva fire puja
  • Kalarupa puja
  • Palden Lhamo puja with tsog
  • Six-arm Mahakala puja


Removing Visa Obstacles
Rinpoche gave the following advice to a monk who asked how he could get a long-term visa so he can continue his Dharma studies.

Dear Losang,
These are the things you need to do:

1) Read Zung-du once.

2) Recite the mantra DONYON SHAGPA MARPO (for yellow Amoghapasha) 4,000 times.

3) Each month do the incence puja to Padmasambhava Lhasang Namdak Choku. This is a particular offering to the guru, Buddha, yidam, dakas and dakinis and Dharma protectors. Rinpoche said this puja is good to do, but dedicate for all the Sangha who have visa issues and also please dedicate for the success of all FPMT projects, especially the Maitreya Project. This can also help for your success.

4) Do the general protector pujas and prayers regularly, especially Namtose, for your success and for all your obstacles to be removed.

5) Do the White Mahakala torma offering prayer regularly. This is very good for you and very good for visas. Make offerings such as biscuits and other things to the real White Mahakala in front of you (not a picture or statue), then offer the torma.


Mantra Recommended Before Traveling
Rinpoche gave the following advice on what to do before traveling.

Instructions to Accomplish All Success Wherever You Go
At the beginning, when you enter the road to depart, remember and prostrate to all the buddhas and bodhisattvas who are in the ten directions, particularly those buddhas and bodhisattvas in the direction (you are going).

Then make strong requests for the success of all your wishes and then recite seven times:


This will accomplish all your works exactly according to your wishes without obstacles.

The next practice is done particularly in the case where you have to do something on a wrong date, wrong star, or wrong time. This practice pacifies the shortcomings of time, date, star and so forth, and to accomplish success. Remember the buddhas and bodhisattvas who are in the direction where you are going. Put the palms together and recite:

I prostrate to the Three Rare Sublime Ones (Buddha, Dharma, Sangha).
I prostrate to the Tathagata, Enemy-Destroyer, the Owner of the Date, Star, Moment.


Recite this three times, then all your works will succeed.

Translated by Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche at Deer Park in Madison, Wisconsin on July 24, 1999. Scribed by Diana Finnegan. Source of text unknown.


Improving Dependent Arising: How to Eliminate Obstacles before Travel
Rinpoche gave the following methods for avoiding various kinds of obstacles.

This was taught by Manjrushri to Nagarjuna.

Method One

To create the dependent relationship:  

If you are traveling toward the East, hold in your hand a (curved) knife and swing it three times toward the East.

If you are traveling South, fill up a container of water in the southern direction and then start your journey.

If you are traveling West, light some incense, even matches (fire), hold it in your hand and move it in a circle.

If you are traveling North, hold one handful of earth and then throw it to the North and circle a knife in the air. This stops inauspiciousness.

When you leave, if you see a limping dog you must delay your journey.

If you travel on the Tibetan dates 2nd, 6th, 8th, 12th, 14th, 16th, 18th, 20th, 24th, 26th or 30th, these are tritsong, which means if you travel on these dates some difficulties may arise.

Never build a house on the Tibetan date the 6th. Generally, stop if there are any bad signs or inauspicious things happening.

Method Two

Put iron in the East.

Put water in the South.

Put fire (incense) in the West.

Put earth in the North.

Place twigs, plants, etc., with each substance in each direction.

Instructions to Accomplish all Success

This practice is in case you have to do something on an inauspicious date or astrological time. This is the practice to pacify the shortcomings of time, date, star, and so forth, and to accomplish success. Remember the buddhas and bodhisattvas who are in the direction where you are going. Put your palms together and recite:

I prostrate to the Three Rare Sublime Ones (Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha).

I prostrate to the Tathagata, Enemy-Destroyer, and the Owner of the Date, Star, and Moment.


Recite this three times. Then all your work will succeed.

Working on Projects on Inauspicious Days

All of these prayers are to be recited when it is an inauspicious day, or astrological time to build a house, start a project, start a business venture, travel, etc.

Recite the Heart Sutra.

Make prostrations to the Buddha Amogasiddhi.

Make prostrations to the possessors of the days, momentary stars, and momentary beings (devas of the days, stars, and momentary beings). These are not ultimate objects of refuge.

Recite the following prayer:

Prayer to Counteract Obstacles

I prostrate to the Buddha Amoghasiddhi.

I prostrate to the possessors of the days, momentary stars, and momentary beings.
[Devas of the days, stars, and moments are not ultimate objects of refuge.]


 All the days are virtue, all the stars and planets are good (positive), all the arhats have ceased delusion, and all the buddhas have great merit of power. May all the earth not be disturbed.


By reciting the above prayer and mantra, one eliminates any obstacles to starting a project or traveling.

Astrological obstacles and obstacles arising from superstitions will be eliminated by reciting this mantra and prayer from the yoga of the Ocean of the Supreme Bliss Dakini, who keeps a pure mind and cannot receive harm from inauspicious planets, inauspicious days, and those who bring obstacles. All the yogis who keep this will become non-superstitious (in emptiness) and thus will be immune to receiving harm from all the inauspicious stars and interferers who bring obstacles.

Other Practices to Eliminate Obstacles

Most of these practices are not yet available in English, or as Tibetan phonetics. For those that are not currently available, please contact a qualified geshe or lama for advice on how to acquire and perform these practices.

Read the text Ngangja Ngang gye, “The Eight Appearances (Beings) of Sky and Earth”. If there is no time to read the text, then recite the above prayer and mantra, which is the essence of the text.

Read Nye pa Kün chö, “Eliminating All the Faults”, as well as reciting the relevant mantra and performing the appropriate ritual.

Perform the tea offering De gyä ser kyem, “Tea Offering to the Eight Groups”, making offerings particularly to the eight groups of worldly beings.

One can also do Chha sum, “The Ritual of Three Parts”. The tea offering prayer is very important to do before building or taking down a building or before travel in bad or violent weather (tornado, etc.) It is a very simple short prayer that you can finish in two minutes, or maybe you can even do it in one minute. By doing this practice you can prevent huge, terrifying destruction, like airplane crashes, terrifying weather, things that destroy whole cities within an hour. If people who take refuge in Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, particularly Tibetan Buddhists, use these methods, by just taking a few minutes to recite the prayers, it can help stop these massive problems connected with the weather, etc. All these problems that cause billions of dollars of damage, that cannot be stopped by Western scientific knowledge, can be stopped. But, of course, it depends on the person who makes the prayers. It can be done by a man, woman,lay person, ordained person, by anyone. If the person is more pure—living in samaya, living in the pure vows—and if one has realizations of emptiness and bodhicitta, the good heart, then the prayer or mantra will have a greater effect.

Other Texts to Recite

Tashi tseg pa, “Piles of Auspiciousness”. This is particularly for travel and success.

Chhog chüi Mün sel, “Eliminating the Darkness of the Ten Directions”. The minimum one can do if traveling and there are obstacles, or it is an inauspicious time, is to read this text.

If you are traveling on these days, recite Chhog chüi Mün sel and recite Ngangja Ngang gye. Put your finger for a while into a vase of water and turn your finger three times anticlockwise.

Dag pa ser gyi do thig, “The Pure Golden Line Sutra”.


Advice for Flying
Rinpoche gave the following advice on flying.

I was on a flight from Hong Kong to the USA and one of the airline attendants told us that the pilot wanted to have a photo taken with us. I told Roger to make sure that they didn’t think that I was His Holiness the Dalai Lama, that they weren’t mistaken about that.

When we arrived in the USA, I was waiting at the luggage collection and the pilot of the plane we had just flown on came up to me. He wanted to have a photo taken with me. I began to think about what he could do for safety as he flies the plane, not only for his own safely but for the safety of the hundreds of passengers on the plane. I told the pilot that if you carry Buddha’s relics when you travel it has the power to stop any inauspicious thing that could cause danger and difficulties (such as it being the wrong astrological date, at the wrong time, etc).

I also suggested he carry the Diamond Cutter Sutra– it offers great protection. This sutra is the heart teaching of the 84,000 teachings of the Buddha, and is about realizing the perfection of wisdom, the teachings on emptiness. This realization is what liberates sentient beings from all the causes of samsara, which are delusion and karma, and even the subtle defilements. By eliminating these you can enlighten so many beings and liberate them from all the sufferings of samaras. All of this comes from this sutra, which teaches the path of wisdom realizing emptiness. So, it is a great blessing and protection to have this text on an airplane.

Also, another text that helps to protect everyone is the Sutra of Golden Light. This sutra is a very powerful blessing and protection. At the beginning of the flight, before the plane takes off, I suggested that the pilot could recite the prayer Ngangja Ngang gye. This text is very powerful in pacifying obstacles to either building a house or traveling. It persuades other beings to be in harmony with your wishes. Reciting this text makes those beings who normally cause trouble or danger to you to be in harmony with you. I also suggested that the pilot could recite this Buddha’s name and mantra before flying:

Prostration to the Buddha Amoghasiddhi.
Prostration to the possessors of the days, momentary stars and momentary beings.
[Devas of the days, stars and moment—these are not ultimate objects of refuge.]

All the days are virtue, all the stars and planets are positive, all the arhats have eliminated delusions, and all the buddhas have great merit of power. May the whole earth not be disturbed.



Recite the mantra seven times. It can be recited more if there is a greater problem, or to reduce or eliminate problems connected with travel. The pilot could also recite the prayer to the Ten Buddhas, abiding in the 10 directions. He could recite the Ten Buddhas’ names once or the whole text.

If problems occur during a flight, it is also enough to take refuge in these texts. Remembering these texts is enough to protect you. Also, you can take refuge in the Buddha. If there is danger then, with your whole heart relying on all the buddhas, put your life into the hands of the buddhas. If you also pray for everybody who is on the flight, then you are saving many hundreds of people’s lives.

It is also extremely good to have the Namgyälma mantra and mandala inside a plane, even very small copies of the mantra. This is very good for protection. White Umbrella mantra is also very good. Another very powerful deity one can practice is called Blazing Pinnacle. One can recite the mantra, which is very powerful:


Generally, one can pray to any aspect of the Buddha, especially the aspect of the Buddha that you feel closer to. It is very important to rely upon the Buddha with your whole heart. If one prays to Tara (the female aspect of Buddha who embodies all the Buddha’s actions), then you can visualize the 21 Taras around the airplane, protecting it and dispelling all the interferences (the eight groups called Degyi or worldly devas) and all the spirits who cause disturbances or dangers, who make the wind elements unbalanced, etc.

Another thing one can do is meditate on the bodhicitta mind by practicing tong-len. This means taking all sentient beings’ sufferings into one’s heart, which destroys the ego – the root of problems, obstacles, and suffering, not only temporal suffering but the great obstacles to achieving realizations, enlightenment, and being able to liberate sentient beings from all the sufferings, samsara, and to bring them to enlightenment.

Then, give all your past, present, and future happiness and its results – full enlightenment, all the realizations of the Mahayana path, all your future merits, and good karma, as well as your body and possessions, to all living beings. Think that by giving these things, all sentient beings receive whatever they want and need, and the environment is transformed into a pure land, which has all pure enjoyments and where all beings are bodhisattvas. There is no enemy, no suffering, no cause of suffering, and no obstacles to achieving the path, which come from defilements, and all beings become enlightened. During the meditation on taking all the sufferings, obstacles, and interferences of sentient beings into your own heart and destroying your ego, one should stay in emptiness, the absence of the emotional “I,” the truly existent “I.”

This is the special practice of bodhicitta, which is very powerful, satisfying, and fulfilling, and makes one’s life enjoyable and meaningful, bringing peace and happiness to all sentient beings. Each time you take on all the undesirable experiences of sentient beings into your heart, you collect vast amounts of merit. Each time that you do this sincerely, it becomes very powerful purification, and you can purify lifetimes of negative karma. It is like an atomic bomb destroying your negative karma and defilements. Each time you do this practice you become closer to liberation from samsara, closer to enlightenment, and closer to enlightening all sentient beings.

One time when His Holiness the Dalai Lama was flying from Ladakh, a part of the plane’s wing fell off. Everybody in the plane was screaming. His Holiness’s secretary, Tenzin Gyeche, was walking back and forth, very worried. His Holiness sat still, meditating, and the plane was able to land without any danger. This was because of His Holiness’s meditation.

When I was very young, maybe four or five years’ old, I was traveling from Lawudo, in the eastern part of Nepal, near Mount Everest, to Rolwaling. Rolwaling is recognized as a secret place where Padmasambhava stayed and there are a lot of caves with his footprints, handprints, and long life vases. These come from the power of the mind. They are not actually footprints and handprints that someone has carved or put there. To get there you had to cross many snow-covered mountains, including a very high mountain with a lake below. There was no road and it was very rocky, with waterfalls. Rocks would often fall down, making an incredibly loud noise. When we arrived at this place a lot of rocks had already fallen down. We were traveling with many yaks carrying our bags, and the yaks were terrified of crossing this dangerous place. We had to actually push the yaks. Before we crossed this area we all chanted prayers, with our full attention, totally relying on the Buddha and Padmasambhava. You could hear everybody chanting the Padmasambhava mantra. As we crossed I could hear rocks falling and I was sure that someone would be killed, but, instead, the rocks fell down just before our group reached the dangerous place. Then they stopped falling. So, our group was able to pass. No one was killed because we had prayed with our whole hearts to the Buddha, and we had definitely received some protection. It seems that in this part of the Himalayas many of the worldly spirits are under the orders of Padmasambhava, so praying to Padmasambhava helps with protection.

Also, I heard a story about an airplane crash. When the plane hit the ground it caught fire, and many people died. However, there were four people in the upper deck of the airplane who had prayed to Chenrezig, the Compassion Buddha, and nothing happened to them, they were safe. This shows the power of holy objects.

When I make prayers in an airplane, I try to remember to pray that everybody in the airplane will arrive safely and that anybody who ever travels by that plane will never experience any danger and will arrive at their destinations safely. This is how you can dedicate your journey. By making prayers like this you are performing a puja for all the millions of people who will ever fly on that plane.

*See also Rinpoche's advice on fear of flying.


Immigration Difficulties

Rinpoche gave the following advice regarding leaving a country and possible difficulties that could occur at airports with documents, etc.

Before leaving for the airport/immigration departure point, recite three malas of the short praise to Tara.

Recite the following mantra seven times:

Om Mani Padme Hum Tayatha Ded Ya Tha Nag Sha Te Sahhati Ti Mu Tai Na Sutra Ni Mega Mita Danyi Dani Bhagwantu Soha

When you are about to go through immigration, visualize Tara on the crown of the person (the immigration official) that you are dealing with. Then, make strong prayers to Tara – who is one with the Guru – that this person will be very happy and do whatever you want. Then, Tara absorbs into the person and the person becomes Tara.

Think that after doing this everything will be successful.


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