Teachings from the Mani Retreat
- Teachings from the Mani Retreat: Preface
- Prologue: Rinpoche's Invitation to Join the Mani Retreat
- Friday, December 22
- Saturday, December 23
- Sunday, December 24
- Monday, December 25
- Tuesday, December 26
- Appendix 1: Prayer for Spontaneous Bliss
- Appendix 2: Chenrezig Food Offering
Tuesday, December 26
MORNING: COMBINED JORCHÖ/LAMA CHÖPA PUJA
CHANTING FOR OFFERING OF PRACTICE
I think the chanting you have been using for ngö-sham yi-trul…, the offering of practice [verse 33], can be done for der-ni ring-du… [Final Lam-Rim Dedication Prayer, p. 12 in Dedication Prayers], but it is better to use the previous chanting for ngö-sham yi-trul…. For der-ni ring-du… this chanting is good, but I think even this chanting is not quite right—there has been some change in the last part of the line, I think.
The chanting of ngö-sham yi-trul… should be like that done in Heruka Lama Chöpa. This chanting is done with a higher voice. [Rinpoche chants the whole of verse 33.]
You should start with a high voice—even higher than I used. And I think this verse should be started straight with “ngö…” without the “w-o-o-o.” I think it’s better that way. Otherwise, the chanting sounds a little strange. [Rinpoche chants the whole verse again.]
When Lama Lhundrub chants this verse, he usually goes higher and higher, which is according to Pabongka’s way of chanting, but somehow it doesn’t happen with me. Lama Lhundrub practiced with the great Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo’s attendant or umze. Usually the chanting is supposed to go higher and higher, near the end, but somehow it’s not happening…. I think this is the style of chanting of Dagpo Shedrup Ling, the monastery of Pabongka’s guru, which is on the way from Lhasa. Dagpo is the name of that area. I think it is the monastery of the Dagpo Rinpoche who now lives in France. Some monks from that monastery usually chant at the end of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s teachings. It’s a little different from Pabongka’s way of chanting. As I didn’t have the good luck to actually hear the chanting from Pabongka himself, I’m not sure exactly what it is.
There’s something that’s not quite right near the end of your tune. Can you chant it again? Do the chanting of der-ni ring-du…, the dedication for the spread of the Dharma that comes at the end of the Jorchö.
[Ven. Tsapel sings der-ni ring-du…kun-tu-yang….]
That one is supposed to be the Pabongka chanting. There are different ways of chanting that. At the end of lam-rim teachings by His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche, they would normally chant that a little faster. [Rinpoche demonstrates a quicker chanting of der ni ring du…jam päl yang kyi…] I think I changed it a little bit! [Rinpoche chants der ni ring du…nye je shog.] This is how it is normally chanted at the end of lam-rim teachings, as far as I can remember.
This slow chanting that is used for ngö sham yi trul… is actually from Heruka Lama Chöpa, and Pabongka’s attendant and those who learnt it from him commonly chant it this way. I didn’t hear Pabongka himself chant, but I believe that it’s Pabongka’s way of chanting.
These days at the end of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s teachings, when monks from the Dagpo Shedrup Ling monastery are present, His Holiness asks them to chant this prayer according to the style of their monastery. It seems that His Holiness prefers it to be chanted in that way.
[Rinpoche chants the whole prayer.]
It’s basically the same tune, but it goes up more sharply than that one and the last word is slightly longer. The end of the first line is longer and the next line goes a little higher at the end. It goes more smoothly, I think, but basically it’s the same chanting.
Anyway, it might be something like that—I’m not sure!
So, enjoy your tea or whatever. Thank you.
MORNING: FIRST MANI SESSION
CHANTING FOR BRIEF MANDALA OFFERING
There are two mandalas in the nyung-nä sadhana, one offered here [p. 74] and the other offered later to the front generation. For this first mandala offering, it might be good to do the slow chanting of sa-zhi pö-kyi…, the chanting that is normally done when we request teachings. Maybe this chanting can be done in this session, and the usual chanting of sa-zhi pö-kyi… can be done for the mandala offering to the front generation. This chanting is that of the en-sa nying-gyu— usually translated as “Ensapa whispered lineage”—which is passed from ear to ear. I think that chanting was usually done in the early Kopan Courses then spread out to all the FPMT Centers from there.
You can also use this slow chanting for the auspicious prayer at the end.
[Ven. Tsapel starts to lead the slow chanting of sa zhi pö kyi….]
No, do the whole thing—do the whole construction!
[Ven. Tsapel leads the long mandala followed by the slow chanting of the brief mandala, inner mandala and auspicious prayer.]
THE DHARANI OF IMMACULATE MORALITY
[Rinpoche interrupts the recitation of OM AMOGHA SHILA SAMBHARA BHARA BHARA… (p. 87).]
The Kangyur, Buddha’s teachings, explains the following benefits of reciting this mantra. I don’t have the lineage of the oral transmission of the Kangyur, but I’ll just explain the benefits that it mentions.
“I prostrate to all the Tathagatas of the three times. I prostrate to Arya Avalokiteshvara (or in English, Lord Compassionate-eyed Looking One), who is the great hero bodhisattva with great compassion. If you keep the eight precepts of Reviving and Purifying (it’s not talking here about the whole practice of nyung-nä, maintaining silence and so forth) and simply mentally or verbally recite this heart mantra twenty-one times, you will have great pure morality; you will complete the paramita of morality; many scented fragrances of morality will arise from your body; and you will become famous in the worlds of the ten directions. If you remember this mantra every day, your morality will always be completely pure. By abiding in the retreat (here it means, I think, taking the Eight Mahayana Precepts and being in silence) and simply reciting this mantra, any bhikshu who has degenerated his morality will completely purify his morality and be able to abide in many moralities.” This is what Buddha explained in the Kangyur.
Also, my root guru, His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche, explained in a nyung-nä commentary that reciting this mantra purifies morality that has been degenerated and enables one to live in pure morality and to receive the perfect morality of all the buddhas.
My suggestion is that it would be very good for members of the Sangha to recite this mantra in their daily life. When you wake up in the morning, you should first rejoice that so far you have not died. Recollect impermanence and death very strongly, thinking that your death will happen today, at any moment. By first thinking of impermanence and death, you cut the eight worldly dharmas. Then generate a strong motivation of bodhicitta for your life. Give up the ego, the self-cherishing thought, and generate the thought to achieve enlightenment for sentient beings. From now on that becomes the motivation for all your activities. Think, “I’m going to do all my activities and all virtues for the benefit of sentient beings.”
“Activities” refers to eating, walking, sitting, sleeping, working and so forth; “virtues” refers to the traditional practices of reciting sadhanas, doing prostrations and so forth. In other words, you do all these to benefit sentient beings. That is the idea. You dedicate in this way whatever activities and specific traditional practices you are going to do from now on.
After that, you can do prostrations to the Thirty-five Buddhas either alone or in a group in the gompa. After you finish the prostrations with the recitation of the names of the Thirty-five Buddhas and the accompanying prayer, even if you haven’t done the ceremony for taking the Eight Mahayana Precepts, it might be useful to recite the OM AMOGHA SHILA… mantra at the end. Even if you have not taken the Eight Mahayana Precepts, you still have thirty-six vows, many more than the eight vows of the Eight Mahayana Precepts. Without talking about fully ordained monks or nuns, even a novice monk or nun has many more vows than the Eight Mahayana Precepts. I think that it would be very useful to recite this mantra, in the morning after doing prostrations, whether as a group or in your own house. As mentioned in the Kangyur, this mantra helps you to be able to keep your morality pure.
I just thought to mention that. Now my advertisement about the good qualities of this mantra is finished. So now, back to the news….
It would also be good to recite the four immeasurables [p. 87] in the other sessions, after refuge and bodhicitta. The reason the four immeasurables come before the actual meditation on emptiness and on the deity and mandala is that you collect merit like the limitless sky when you generate each immeasurable thought. According to this verse here, the first one is the immeasurable thought of loving kindness, the second is the immeasurable thought of compassion, the third is the immeasurable thought of joy and the fourth is the immeasurable thought of equanimity. With each one of them you collect limitless skies of merit.
We meditate on the four immeasurable thoughts before doing the rest of the practice because with each of them we collect extensive merit. To be born as a wheel-turning king, for example, you need to collect a lot of merit. To be born in the family of a wheel-turning king and become a wheel-turning king, with incredible wealth and power, you need to collect inconceivable merit. In a similar way, you need to collect extensive merit before meditating on the graduated generation stage, which prepares you to purify ordinary death, ordinary intermediate state and ordinary rebirth by meditating on the imagined three kayas: Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya and Nirmanakaya. That is why in sadhanas meditating on the four immeasurable thoughts comes just before you engage in meditation on the three kayas.
Meditation on the four immeasurable thoughts is regarded as a very powerful means to collect merit. With each one you collect extensive merit, creating the cause of rebirth as a wheel-turning king and of enlightenment. As mentioned in Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand, you create the cause to be born innumerable times as a wheel-turning king.
Therefore, in the other sessions, when you abbreviate the practice, it would be very good to meditate on the four immeasurables after refuge and bodhicitta.
Now go back…
[Ven. Ailsa requests Rinpoche to demonstrate the chanting of the praise verse just before the mantra recitation (p. 102).]
I don’t know how it will fit, but I’ll try another tune—another fashion!
[Rinpoche chants sang-gyä kün-gyi…chag-tsäl-lo.]
I’ll try one more time….
[Rinpoche chants the verse again.]
That was not very good….
[Rinpoche chants the verse again.]
I think I’ll stop there.
I have given a different dedication to be done at the end of each session. I have given you the one for the end of the Guru Puja. Here you can do the following dedication.
“Due to the merits of the three times collected by me and those collected by others, may any sentient being just by seeing me, touching me, remembering me, thinking about me, talking about me or even dreaming about me never ever be reborn in the lower realms from that time. May they immediately be liberated from all disease, spirit harms, negative karmas and defilements. May they achieve enlightenment as quickly as possible by actualizing the whole path to enlightenment, especially bodhicitta.”
Before this dedication you should recite ge-wa di-yi… in English, adding “merely labeled” to the various elements. And after this dedication, you should do jam-päl pa-wo… then the prayer for the spread of Lama Tsongkhapa’s teachings.
At the end of the next session, you can do the dedication about whatever action one does and whatever life one experiences to be most useful by becoming the cause for all sentient beings to achieve enlightenment as quickly as possible by oneself becoming enlightened.
At the end of another session, you can do the dedication I mentioned the other day, “Like the compassionate white lotus, may I become wish-fulfilling for all sentient beings.” I’m not sure what the dedication for the final session is—I think the next dedication is all the thank-yous….
MORNING: SECOND MANI SESSION
Maybe I’ll try another chanting of the Praise to Compassion Buddha [p. 102].
[Rinpoche chants sang-gyä kun-gyi…chag-tsäl-lo.]
So, if that could be done slower—as slowly as possible.
MOTIVATION FOR MANTRA RECITATION
This is another way to generate a motivation of bodhicitta before reciting the mantra, to make the recitation of mantra and the meditation on Compassion Buddha become not only Dharma but most beneficial not only for you but for every single hell being, hungry ghost, animal, human being, asura, sura and intermediate state being. Each realm has numberless beings. In the human realm there are numberless human beings. We can understand that there are numberless beings in the animal realm. Even in regard to one type of insect, ants, there are numberless ants. In the same way, there are many other different types of animals the number of which is uncountable. This is without mentioning the sentient beings in the other realms.
All these beings, who are the source of all your own past, present and future happiness, are continuously suffering; totally overwhelmed by delusions and karma, they do not have any freedom at all.
Even though there are numberless buddhas and bodhisattvas working for sentient beings, there are many sentient beings—people, and even animals—who received help only through meeting you. They had some problem they couldn’t resolve until they met you and you were able to help them. Or they didn’t meet Dharma until they met you. You have had many such experiences of sentient beings being dependent upon your help.
There are numberless beings with whom you have a karmic connection and who depend upon you. Their being free from suffering, from samsara, and their achieving liberation and enlightenment depend on you, on your help. You can understand from your experiences in this life of the many beings who depend on your help that there are numberless other beings who depend on your help to free them from samsara; they depend on you to meet, understand and practice Dharma and to achieve enlightenment.
Now think, “If I had generated bodhicitta much earlier, this one hell being who is dependent on me wouldn’t have to experience this unimaginable, unbearable suffering, the heaviest suffering in samsara.” One tiny spark of the fire of the hot hells is seven times hotter than the fire at the end of the world, which can melt rocky mountains and concrete. And the fire at the end of the world is sixty or seventy times hotter than the fire energy of our present human world.
“For one hell being to be suffering now in the hell realm even for one second is like eons—it is unbearable. If I had generated bodhicitta much earlier, that hell being would already have been enlightened. Now we are talking about just one hell being, but there are numberless other hell beings who could have already been enlightened by me, so that they wouldn’t now have to suffer. They have been suffering up to now because I have been following the self-cherishing thought, the ego. Therefore, even when I think of this one hell being who is experiencing unimaginable suffering, it becomes urgent that I generate bodhicitta without even a second’s delay. Now there are numberless hell beings; therefore, I need to generate bodhicitta without the delay of even a second. Because there are numberless hell beings who are suffering, the need for me to generate bodhicitta is much more urgent.
“If I had generated bodhicitta much earlier, this one preta being, who is so precious and kind and from whom I receive all my past, present and future happiness would have already been enlightened. But because I followed self-cherishing thought, this one preta being has been suffering so much, experiencing all the unbearable sufferings of heat, cold, exhaustion, hunger and thirst, outer obscurations, food obscurations and inner obscurations. And there are numberless preta beings. If I had generated bodhicitta earlier, all these numberless preta beings would already have been enlightened. Because I didn’t generate bodhicitta, they have been suffering up to now. Therefore, it is urgent: I must generate bodhicitta without the delay of even a second, not just for this one hungry ghost but for the numberless hungry ghosts.
“If I had generated bodhicitta much earlier, this one animal who has been suffering so much up to now—being extremely foolish, experiencing hunger and thirst, heat and cold, being tortured, used for food—would already have been enlightened a long time ago. There are numberless animals, and they would all have already been enlightened if I had generated bodhicitta much earlier. It is because I didn’t generate bodhicitta but followed the ego that they have been suffering up to now. Therefore, the need for me to generate bodhicitta, to change my mind, is unbelievably urgent, not only for this one animal but for the numberless animals who have been experiencing so much suffering.
“And it is the same with the human beings. If I had generated bodhicitta, if I had changed my mind, a long time ago, this one human being, who is constantly suffering, would already have been enlightened. Instead they are experiencing the suffering of pain; if not that, the suffering of change; and if not that, pervasive compounding suffering, by having these aggregates, this samsara, the nature of which is suffering. These aggregates are caused by karma and delusions and contaminated by the seed of disturbing thoughts, so this person constantly, without the break of even one second, experiences pervasive compounding suffering. In this way, this human being is totally overwhelmed by delusion and karma, living in a total hallucination, with piles of wrong concepts, and suffering in that way. If I had generated bodhicitta earlier, this most precious and kind human being who has been suffering up to now and who is the source of all my own past, present and future happiness, would already have been enlightened and not have to suffer. And there are numberless human beings. Because I did not change my mind but followed the ego, not only this one human being but numberless human beings have been suffering during time without beginning up to now. Therefore, without the delay of even a second, I must change my mind into bodhicitta, into cherishing others.
“It is similar with the suras. If I had generated bodhicitta much earlier, this one sura being who has been suffering so much would have been enlightened a long time ago. The sufferings of the suras are similar to those I mentioned for human beings. Suras are also totally distracted by objects of desire; they cling to and are distracted by sense pleasures. No matter how many eons they live, their life is totally overwhelmed by desire. In this way, they suffer so much and are constantly creating the cause of suffering, the cause to again be reborn in the lower realms. Their having great enjoyments is just temporary. How wonderful it would have been if this one sura being could have been enlightened a long time ago. And there are numberless sura beings who would have been enlightened a long time ago. How fantastic if that could have happened. Because I didn’t change my mind, but instead followed only the ego, not only this one being but numberless sura beings have been suffering up to now. And it is similar with the asuras.
“My kind mother sentient beings have been suffering from time without beginning; they have never had a break for even one second from the suffering of samsara, from pervasive compounding suffering. Therefore, without delay, I must generate bodhicitta. Generating bodhicitta depends on receiving the blessing of the special deity of compassion. Trying to develop bodhicitta just by remembering the words of the teachings is not enough. Eve n meditation alone is not enough. I need to receive the blessings of the special deity of compassion. For that reason, I need to meditate on Compassion Buddha and to recite the mantra that persuades Compassion Buddha’s holy mind. I need to recite the mantra that brings me closer to the deity of compassion, that causes me to receive the blessings of the deity of compassion. Therefore, I’m going to do the meditation-recitation of Compassion Buddha.”
Maybe there’s time now to recite one mantra—just one! You can recite the long mantra once, then OM MANI PADME HUM….
“The purpose of my life is to free all sentient beings from all their sufferings and bring them to full enlightenment. Therefore, I must achieve enlightenment; therefore, I’m going to practice the yoga of eating, making charity to all sentient beings.” There are also sentient beings living inside your body and, through the connection made by offering charity to them at this time, you will be able to bring them to enlightenment by revealing Dharma to them when they become human beings. “I’m also going to make food offering to the guru, Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. I’m going to do the practice of the yoga of eating, making charity to all sentient beings and making food offering to the guru, Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.”
All the food in the kitchen is purified in emptiness, as it is empty from its own side. While it is empty, the wisdom understanding emptiness manifests as the syllable BHRUM, which transforms into extensive jeweled containers, inside of which the syllable OM, which signifies the Buddha’s holy body, holy speech and holy mind, melts into light and becomes oceans of uncontaminated nectar.
The numberless Buddhas receive numberless food nectar offerings. The Guru Puja merit field receives numberless food nectar offerings. If you are not familiar with the Guru Puja merit field, you can think of Shakyamuni Buddha. For the visualization during this retreat, the principal figure is Guru Compassion Buddha. You can also visualize all the direct and indirect lineage lamas, deities, Buddhas—including the buddhas of the fortunate eon, the Thirty five Buddhas, the Medicine Buddhas and so forth—bodhisattvas, dakas and dakinis, and Dharma protectors.
Before that, we should do the blessing.
OM AH HUM (3x)
Offer numberless food nectar to them, by meditating that in essence they are your root virtuous friend. The nectar generates infinite bliss within them. Prostrate with your two palms together to all of them.
Offer numberless food nectar to all the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha of the ten directions, by meditating that in essence they are your root virtuous friend. The nectar generates infinite bliss within them. Prostrate with your two palms together to all the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha of the ten directions.
Offer numberless food nectar to all the statues, stupas, scriptures and thangkas in all the universes in the ten directions. By making the offering, you generate infinite bliss within them. Prostrate with your two palms together to all of them.
Now make charity of numberless nectar offerings to every single hell being, every single hungry ghost, every single animal being, every single human being, every single asura being, every single sura being, every single intermediate state being. They all fully enjoy the nectar; they are all liberated from all their suffering and its causes and become enlightened in the aspect of Compassion Buddha.
We collected limitless skies of merit, of good karma—or good luck—by having generated a motivation of bodhicitta. During the blessing, we collected limitless skies of merit by having made offering to all the buddhas of the ten directions—or maybe we didn’t do that! We collected limitless skies of merit by having made numberless food nectar offerings to Guru Chenrezig and all the rest of the merit field. By offering to all the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha of the ten directions, we collected limitless skies of merit. By offering to all the statues, stupas, scriptures and thangkas in the ten directions, we collected four times limitless skies of merit. Then, by having made charity to all sentient beings, we collected limitless skies of merit.
With each offering we created numberless causes of enlightenment, numberless causes of liberation from samsara, numberless causes to receive a good rebirth. From each offering we receive a good rebirth for hundreds or thousands of lifetimes.
And just by prostrating with our hands together, we collected numberless times eight benefits, the last of which is liberation from samsara and full enlightenment.
“ Due to all these merits that we have collected now, as well as our past and future merits and the merits of the three times collected by others, may I, the members of my family, all the students and benefactors of the FPMT and all the rest of the sentient beings never be separated from the guru - Triple Gem, always collect merit by making offerings to the guru - Triple Gem and receive the blessings of the guru - Triple Gem, which are all the realizations from guru devotion up to enlightenment, especially bodhicitta and clear light. May these realizations be actualized within my own mind and in the minds of all other sentient beings without the delay of even a second.
“Due to all the past, present and future merits collected by me and the merits of the three times collected by others (which exist, but do not exist from their own side), may the I (which exists, but does not exist from its own side, which is empty) achieve Compassion Buddha’s enlightenment (which exists, but doesn’t exist from its own side, which is empty) and lead all sentient beings (who exist, but do not exist from their own side, who are totally empty) to that enlightenment (which exists, but doesn’t exist from its own side, which is totally empty) by myself alone (who exists, but doesn’t exist from my own side, who is totally empty).”
la ma sang gyä la ma chö
de zhin la ma ge dün te
kün gyi je po la ma te
la ma nam la chö par bül
So, thank you very much. Enjoy the nectar!
EVENING: FINAL MANI SESSION
Good afternoon—or good evening! I think that before reciting The King of Prayers, Samantabhadra’s prayer, we will do the cutting of the crown hair for two people. This is not an actual ordination, but it is a preparation that directs the life toward taking the ordination of renunciation, which refers to renouncing the householder’s life and the worldly life. It also leads to the getsul ordination, which means taking thirty-six vows, which is the preliminary to the full ordination of a gelong, or bhikshu. Cutting the crown hair is a preparation for that.
[Rinpoche chants Homage to Shakyamuni Buddha and other prayers in Tibetan.]
“The ordination of body, which means abstaining from the negative karmas of the body, is good; the ordination of the speech is good; the ordination of the mind is good. The whole ordination, which means abstaining from all the negative karmas of body, speech and mind, is good. The bhikshu who abstains from all of them and lives in all the vows will be liberated from all suffering. One who protects the speech, the mind and the body from non-virtuous activities and who lives purely in the three paths of action will achieve the path that is taught by the sage (which means by Buddha). Due to these merits, by achieving the enlightenment of the omniscient one, may I subdue the shortcomings of the enemy and may I liberate others.”
It is saying, “Due to these merits, may I achieve the state of omniscient mind and subdue the shortcomings of the enemy and liberate the transmigratory beings from the oceans of samsara, from the turmoil of the waves of old age, sickness and death.”
Kneel down with your hands like this. Now some of their nose will be cut off—I’m joking!
When I ask, “Are you happy to have your crown hair cut?” you say, “Yes.”
Are you happy to have your crown hair cut? [Freeman: Yes.] [Rinpoche recites a short prayer in Tibetan.]
Did you have a Dharma name before? [Freeman: No.] Thubten Gyaltsen is your name.
When I ask the question, “Are you happy to have your crown hair cut?” you have to say, “Yes.”
Are you happy to have your crown hair cut? [John: Yes.] [Rinpoche recites a short prayer in Tibetan.] You have a Dharma name from before? [John: Yes.] Unless you want to make it longer— I’m joking.
The basic reason for cutting the crown hair is that the hair is a part of the body that is generally a big object of attachment. This happened when Buddha was in India, and according to Indian culture, even if Hindus shave the rest of their head, they still keep one long lock of hair, and I think that they cling very much to that lock of hair. Shaving the head means to renounce that. I think nowadays shaving the head has become fashionable. Even in the West, you see many people now with shaved heads, especially singers and musicians. Previously, however, a shaved head was regarded as very ugly.
Cutting the crown hair is to show renunciation, to free the mind from attachment. It is to show detachment from the lay marks, or signs, of long hair and nails. It is all to show detachment from samsara and samsaric perfections, by seeing that samsara is suffering in nature.
It shows that the person is looking for liberation, and the basic path to liberation is the three higher trainings. What actually cuts the delusions is great insight, or wisdom. It is, of course, the wisdom that directly perceives emptiness that directly ceases the delusions; however, in order to achieve that, you need to achieve great insight, which is the wisdom realizing emptiness unified with the realization of calm abiding (shamatha in Sanskrit or shiné in Tibetan). By doing analysis and equipoise meditation, you derive the extremely refined bliss of body and mind, which characterizes the experience of great insight.
The realization of great insight depends on having first achieved calm abiding, and that depends on living in pure morality. The foundation is living in pure morality. Wisdom cuts the delusions and calm abiding controls the delusions, but both are based on living in morality, on the body and speech abstaining from negative karma. Morality is living in the vows to abstain from the negative actions of body and speech.
The basic motivation for taking the vows is detachment from samsara and samsaric perfections and the wish for liberation. That is why the dress is also changed. I think Christians have something similar; they also give up the lay signs of lay dress, long hair and long nails. Other traditions may have the same thing, but here the reason is much deeper. In the other religions there is no talk of renouncing samsara and so forth. Renouncing the suffering of pain may be mentioned in other religions, but the suffering of change is not usually mentioned, and even if it is mentioned, pervasive compounding suffering is not mentioned. Real liberation, which is cessation of pervasive compounding suffering, is not mentioned in other religions.
The whole external change has to do with cutting attachment and keeping the mind peaceful, happy and satisfied. I think it is done mainly to create the conditions for a calm, peaceful mind, a mind that is free of attachment.
For the past two or three years, I have been taking teachings from Geshe Sopa Rinpoche in Wisconsin. The first year was on the great insight section of the lam-rim. The second year was on Lama Tsongkhapa’s important text The Good Explanation of the Interpretive and Definitive Meaning. Geshe-la taught it over two years and finished it this year.
In the first or second year, Brandon, Roger [Kunsang]’s nephew, was there; he was a monk then, but now he is no longer a monk. And Roger [Munro] and Paula, who had become monk and nun, were also there. When we went shopping together, people in the street were very interested in us and often asked questions. I think they liked the robes. They were also very curious and would ask, “What are you?” or “What does this mean?” It seems that sometimes they would be given a very simple explanation that didn’t give them a broad understanding.
Roger and Paula both did three-year retreats at Milarepa Center in Vermont; he did Heruka Body Mandala retreat and she did Vajrayogini retreat. They are both now doing a three-year Yamantaka retreat on the advice of Ribur Rinpoche. They started this year. Roger is doing his retreat at Calm Abiding Land, a very isolated place. I waited many years to find such a place where calm abiding could be achieved. It is very isolated and extremely quiet. When I first went there, I didn’t hear even any insect noises. Maybe from time to time there is a little noise from airplanes. Roger is now doing retreat there, and Paula is doing retreat at Vajrapani Institute.
Anyway, during one mealtime, when we were all sitting together, I asked each monk and nun how they explained when somebody asked them what they were. Each person gave his or her own ideas, and then I gave a few suggestions about what we should explain to people. It was a few lines, though I don’t remember them now, that made it very easy to explain when people asked questions and also gave them a broad view, rather than a narrow understanding. I think it’s important because people are always asking such questions.
There is now an auspicious prayer. I’ll explain the meaning so that everybody can think about it as I recite the prayer.
“May the body be auspicious with the three types of robes. May the speech be auspicious with the three baskets of teachings. May the mind be auspicious with the three higher trainings. And may they be beautified by the ornaments of the three higher trainings.”
[Rinpoche recites the prayer in Tibetan.]
And everybody please dedicate for Thubten Gyaltsen and Losang Khedrub to be able to live in pure morality—not only in this life but in all their lifetimes—to complete the paramita of morality and to complete their life in celibacy. Pray for them in this way.
[Prayer in Tibetan.]
Dedicate to actualize bodhicitta. [jang-chub sem-chog….]
Dedicate to actualize wisdom. [tong-ye ta-wai rinpoche….]
Like Lama Tsongkhapa, may they be able to bring benefit as extensive as the sky to all sentient beings in all their lifetimes, by achieving the same qualities within them as Lama Tsongkhapa.
BENEFITS OF CHENREZIG PRACTICE
Reciting the Compassion Buddha’s mantra can purify any heavy negative karma that one has collected. One great pandit, a fully ordained monk, broke all four root vows. With much regret, he then recited Compassion Buddha’s mantra. After his death, when he was in front of Yama because of his heavy negative karma, Chenrezig, Hayagriva and many other deities immediately protected him and he went to a pure land.
One lama told the family who were his neighbors, “I’m going to Compassion Buddha’s pure land.” The family then said, “If you’re going to the pure land, please take us with you!” When the lama then asked Compassion Buddha about this (I guess he was able to see Compassion Buddha), Compassion Buddha said, “No, they cannot go, because they have eaten from wrong livelihood. They have eaten food with the money from selling the text, the Prajnaparamita in 8,000 Stanzas. This has heavily obscured their minds, so they cannot go to the pure land.” When the lama then asked what they could do, Compassion Buddha replied, “Recite my mantra.” So, with much regret, they then recited the manta, purified their heavy negative karma and went to the pure land.
There are many such stories. Reciting this mantra can purify any heavy negative karma.
Even by reciting OM MANI PADME HUM one time, you collect the same merit as having made offering to an inconceivable number of buddhas. You will see Buddha’s face at the time of your death; and at the end of this life you will be born in whichever pure land of Buddha you wish.
By doing one prostration to Compassion Buddha and reciting the name of the Compassion Buddha even once, you collect the same amount of merit as having offered service to Buddhas equal in number to sixty-two times the number of sand grains of the Ganges River. That is an unbelievable amount of merit, and you collect the same amount of merit just by doing one prostration to Compassion Buddha and mentioning the name “Avalokiteshvara” just once.
Therefore, if one does—or even attempts to do—a nyung-nä correctly and with single-pointed devotion with recitation of the Compassion Buddha’s mantra, prostrations and offerings, there is no doubt that one’s very heavy negative karmas are purified and one collects inconceivable merit.
It also says, “Any person who does the nearing retreat of nyung-nä well becomes meaningful to behold, just like Compassion Buddha. Anybody who touches that person or is touched by that person, any being who sees that person (even ants, mosquitoes or fleas—maybe there are no fleas here), and anybody who receives that person’s breath purifies the negative karma that causes them to be born in the lower realms. When the breath of a person who has done a nyung-nä re treat well mixes with the air and that air then touches another sentient being, it purifies the negative karma that causes them to be reborn in the lower realms. If that person goes to the top of a mountain, any sentient being who sees them does not get reborn in the lower realms.” It is similar when you go anywhere where there are a lot of people: to a supermarket, a restaurant or a train station like Old Delhi Train Station. You become meaningful for all the people who see you; they won’t be reborn in the lower realms.
Here in the text it says “on top of a mountain,” because you are high up and many people can see you. But it is the same in the street, at the beach, in a supermarket or restaurant and also in teachings, where many people can see you. All those hundreds or thousands of people, however many see you, don’t go to the lower realms, because seeing you purifies the negative karma that causes them to be reborn in the lower realms. It is unbelievable! It becomes so meaningful. If you do healing or massage other people, it becomes meaningful for whomever you touch. Giving blessings, doing massage, healing, even shaking hands or touching people or animals becomes meaningful to those beings. It purifies their mind, and they won’t be reborn in the lower realms.
When such a person swims in water or crosses water, any sentient being, animal or human, who drinks or is touched by the water that has touched that person won’t get born in the lower realms.
Here these benefits are mentioned in relation to nyung-nä practice, but another text also mentions that if you recite just ten malas of OM MANI PADME HUM each day, if you go swimming, the water that touches your body will get blessed, and all the billions of sentient beings in the ocean, river or lake in which you have swum will be purified. Anybody who drinks that water or is touched by it won’t be reborn in the lower realms. I think I have mentioned this many times during Compassion Buddha initiations, as many of you might remember.
Also, if you recite ten malas of OM MANI PADME HUM every day, your children, your grandchildren, their children, their children, their children, their children and their children—that is, seven generations— won’t be reborn in the lower realms. This shows that it’s very important for those who have many children or who are planning to have many children to recite ten malas of OM MANI PADME HUM each day. Up to seven generations are affected, because your blood is blessed by the power of mantra and also by visualizing yourself as Compassion Buddha. Each time you visualize yourself as Compassion Buddha, you are blessing your body, and each time you visualize the place as a mandala, you are blessing the place. Just as you transform this gompa into the Chenrezig mandala each time you do the sadhana, each time you do a sadhana that has a mandala in your own house or room, you are blessing that place. Each time you purify the place in emptiness, then visualize the mandala and the appearance of the deity’s holy body, you are blessing, or consecrating, your house. You should know that you are blessing the place, as well as your own body. So, the blessing of your body affects the consciousness of your children. The blessing, or positive energy, that your body carries affects the minds of your children. This is the logical explanation of why your children, when they die, will die with a virtuous thought and not be reborn in the lower realms.
And when a person who recites ten malas of OM MANI PADME HUM each day dies, if he or she is cremated, the smoke from the fire will purify the negative karma of any sentient being who smells or is touched by it, so that being will not be reborn in the lower realms. Since even the shadow of such a person purifies the negative karma of any person, animal or insect that it touches, there is no doubt that anybody who touches that person purifies their negative karma and is liberated from the lower realms. They are also able to go to a pure land, such as the Amitabha pure land.
Because of the power of mantra, when there is danger of attack from a vicious animal or poisonous snake, one won’t be harmed if one recites this mantra. Reciting this mantra stops the danger of being attacked in wars or by enemies and of being robbed. By relying upon the Compassion Buddha’s mantra, you are freed from the danger of being punished by a king or in a court case. You are also not harmed by poisons. Also, a pregnant woman who does the practice of Compassion Buddha or simply recites Compassion Buddha’s mantra, will be able to give birth comfortably, without severe pain. Also, one will be protected from the harm of black magic and evil mantras.
If intense desire or another strong delusion arises, chanting this mantra will naturally pacify it. Also, reciting the mantra and then blowing or spitting on sites of inflammation or infection can heal various sicknesses.
These are just some of basic benefits of reciting this mantra and of doing nyung-näs.
I want to mention here that for the nearing retreat, one recites 600,000 OM MANI PADME HUMs and then does a fire puja at the end. If you recite a long mantra–more than thirty or thirty-five syllables, I think–you can do a fire puja after reciting 10,000 mantras. His Holiness Serkong Tsenshab Rinpoche used to say that one could do a fire puja if one recited the long Chenrezig mantra 40,000 times. This probably means OM DHARA DHARA DHIRI DHIRI…. I don’t know how many syllables it has. But if a mantra has more than thirty- five syllables, reciting 10,000 of them is a complete retreat, and you can then do a fire puja.
Because here you are doing the actual sadhana in each session, you can do a fire puja at the end if you have recited 600,000 OM MANI PADME HUMs. Since we are reciting many millions of mantras, it would be very good to do a fire puja to complete the retreat. Because you visualize yourself as Compassion Buddha, you are performing an actual retreat of Compassion Buddha, which means that you can do a fire puja at the end. In this way you can then perform consecrations, self-initiations, initiations and other activities. Of course, after having done many millions of mantras, it is very good to do a fire puja, as one has incidentally accomplished the retreat of Compassion Buddha.
I mentioned the other day that if you recite six or seven million OM MANI PADME HUMs, your saliva has much power to heal. You can then heal any kind of sickness. You can bless water or blow on butter or [hand] cream, which can be applied to the site of pain, or the water can be drunk for internal sicknesses. You can heal even by blowing on someone. You can not only heal sicknesses but also perform various activities to help other sentient beings by stopping their problems. You can perform the activities of peace, increase, control and wrath. You can also easily make or stop rain. All these various activities to benefit others happen incidentally. They are not main goal. The main goal is to achieve enlightenment and then liberate sentient beings from their suffering and bring them to enlightenment, but these other benefits, such as the ability to heal, happen incidentally.
THE LONG CHENREZIG MANTRA
After a little explanation, I will give the oral transmission of the very long Chenrezig mantra. Chinese communities recite this very long mantra for many hours, but it is not generally known among Tibetans. Of course, high lamas know about it, but not the common Tibetan people. You don’t normally hear about this mantra, but it is commonly recited in the Chinese community. Some Chinese recite it very correctly, with the actual Sanskrit pronunciation, but many recite it in a broken way, like Tibetans reciting Sanskrit mantras where you can’t tell what they are reciting. They are actually reciting the long Compassion Buddha mantra, but because the words are so distorted, you can’t recognize it. They do still gain benefit, however, because they have so much devotion. The attainment from mantra recitation comes from devotion, not from how closely the words approximate the Sanskrit pronunciation.
I think I may have given this oral transmission in the past, but I don’t remember clearly.
If you recite this long mantra seven times in one night, you purify eight hundred million eons of negative karma. It also brings much benefit to the spirits and other beings that are around. I thought to give the oral transmission of this mantra, which I received from Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche. Again, this has unbelievable skies of benefit.
BENEFITS OF OFFERINGS
The ultimate benefit of making the offerings (argham, padyam, pushpe, dhupe, aloke, gandhe, naividya and shapta) and offering the tormas at the end of the session is, of course, liberation from samsara and enlightenment. But in the meantime, while you are in samsara, the temporary benefits are that you have a healthy, well-developed body and that you don’t experience poverty.
The specific benefit of offering water is that your mental continuum becomes very calm and peaceful. You immediately feel this after you have offered water–not just filled up bowls with water, but really offered the water. His Holiness Zong Rinpoche said in one Dharma Celebration that unless you do the meditation that accompanies the water offering, there is little purpose in just filling bowls with water, emptying them out and filling them again. I remember Rinpoche mentioning this, but I don’t remember the actual meditation that Rinpoche explained.
This is a little like the way my mother used to listen to teachings from Trulshig Rinpoche or Trulshig Rinpoche’s guru. She didn’t understand when the lama explained the actual teaching about chakras, winds, drops and so forth; she would just keep on saying OM MANI PADME HUM, OM MANI PADME HUM, OM MANI PADME HUM, OM MANI PADME HUM. She didn’t bother trying to understand the actual teachings. But if the lama said, “When you recite one mantra, don’t move two beads,” she understood perfectly. She would not only understand these kinds of things but always remember them, as well. Because of that, when she recited mantras, she didn’t recite them very fast. She would recite OM MANI PADME HUM quite slowly, about the same speed as I was reciting the slightly quicker one. She did not always recite the same mantra, but the recitation was never fast.
In the breaks between the sessions of teaching, the lama would give advice, such as how you should behave when you go to see your guru : that you should sit in a respectful, humble manner with your two hands clasped together. She would understand these kinds of things very well and always remember them. Whenever she saw other lamas or came to sit in my room, she would always sit with her hands like this. [Rinpoche places his hands one on top of the other.] One of my uncles—I have many uncles, but this is the youngest one—also does this. She understood these things, but when the lama returned to the text or to talking about the path, she wouldn’t bother to try to understand; she would just concentrate on OM MANI PADME HUM.
In any case, she couldn’t understand what was being said, but she didn’t waste her time because she chanted OM MANI PADME HUM during the teaching.
Offering water makes the mental continuum calm and clear, and you can feel this right after offering water. Unfortunately I don’t offer water bowls every day; other people offer my water bowls for me. But on the rare occasions that I do offer them, I have noticed that right after offering the water you feel an effect, your mind feels somehow clear and peaceful. I’m sure that those of you who have been doing many water offerings have much experience of this. Offering water brings a calm, clear mind and increases the qualities, or realizations, within your mental continuum.
This is just a brief explanation of the very essence of the benefit. I’m not going to go into the much more extensive explanation of the benefits that is given in the sutra teachings.
Offering light increases wisdom—not just general wisdom, but Dharma wisdom. This is not the kind of wisdom that knows how many people in Australia have short hair and how many have long hair. It means the Dharma wisdom that knows what is right and to be practiced and what is wrong and to be abandoned. Dharma wisdom helps us to achieve happiness, especially liberation from samsara, from all suffering and its causes, and full enlightenment; with Dharma wisdom, we are able to realize the four noble truths and thus achieve liberation from samsara. So, offering light develops Dharma wisdom.
It is very important to offer as many lights as possible in everyday life. As explained in the sutra teachings, offerings have ten general benefits, and each offering also has its own specific benefits. Any offering to Buddha will always be a cause of enlightenment and of liberation from samsara, as well as other general benefits such as achieving a good rebirth in the next life. These benefits are common to any offering you make to Buddha.
Offering thousands of candles, of course, takes time and also requires a lot of space. If you don’t have much space in your house, you can offer many small electric lights. You can buy many different sizes of bulbs, some small, some a little larger. It is then very easy to offer thousands of lights in your house, and it doesn’t cost much. There are other things we use for enjoyment in our everyday life that cost much more than light offerings. Every day we spend so much more money than it would cost to make many thousands of light offerings with Christmas lights. We spend so much money in other ways that do not become the causes of enlightenment and liberation from samsara, or even a good rebirth in our next life.
Light offerings also help us to achieve clairvoyance, because light dispels darkness. Since we make the offering to holy objects, it dispels the darkness there around them. If you have an altar in your house, it is good to always have a light offering on it, even while you are sleeping. It’s good not to leave the altar in darkness, but to offer light there all the time. Your mind is dark, the altar is dark, your life is also dark—everything is dark. It should not be like that. When you do not have a good heart and do not practice Dharma, your life is dark, filled with guilt or depression; there’s no light in your life.
Without thinking of the guru but just of Buddha, the merit of every single offering to Buddha is inconceivable. Just offering one tiny stick of incense or one flower to a statue, painting or scripture of Buddha or by thinking of Buddha has inconceivable merit, even if the motivation is one of worldly concern, attachment clinging to this life, or of anger. Even if the motivation is totally non-virtuous and even if the offering is tiny (one small flower, one grain of rice or one small stick of incense), as long as the offering is made to a holy object, such as a statue or picture of Buddha, the benefit is unimaginable. As mentioned in the prayer and in the teachings, “Buddha has inconceivable qualities, Dharma has inconceivable qualities, Sangha has inconceivable qualities, and devotion to them also has inconceivable ripening aspect results.” It results in inconceivable happiness–even the happiness is inconceivable–which you can experience for hundreds or thousands of lifetimes and in liberation from samsara and enlightenment.
It is good to know that whenever we make offering to a statue or a picture of Buddha or simply think of Buddha and offer, it immediately becomes the cause for us to achieve enlightenment. Now, you have to think in the following way. How can you achieve enlightenment without actualizing its cause, the graduated path to enlightenment? There is no way. Every single offering–even a tiny stick of incense, a tiny amount of rice or a flower–that you offer to a statue or a picture of Buddha immediately becomes a cause of enlightenment. It means it becomes a cause to achieve all the lam-rim meditations. It becomes a cause to realize guru devotion, renunciation of this life, renunciation of samsara, perfect human rebirth (its usefulness, the difficulty of achieving it again), impermanence and death, the suffering of the lower realms, and refuge and karma. It becomes a cause to realize how samsara is suffering in nature, the four noble truths (true suffering, true cause of suffering, cessation of suffering and true path) and the five paths to liberation. We are creating the cause to achieve all those realizations. There is so much to study about the five paths and the ten bhumis, as explained in Abhisamayalamkara. And every single offering we make to Buddha becomes a cause to achieve all of them. On top of that comes the tantric path: the lower tantras, with the yoga having sign and the yoga not having sign, and Highest Yoga Tantra, with the generation and completion stages. This offering becomes a cause to achieve all those paths.
It is not that the offering becomes a cause to achieve enlightenment but does not become a cause of these realizations. Becoming a cause of enlightenment means that it becomes a cause to achieve every single realization of the path to enlightenment.
You can now see that every single holy object—every tsa-tsa, every picture of Buddha, whether big or tiny—is so precious. It is the real wish-fulfilling gem. These holy objects are the source of our happiness. From them we can achieve all the happiness up to enlightenment. All the good things that we can achieve and all the happiness that we can bring to all the numberless sentient beings come in dependence upon the power of these holy objects. Even a tiny picture of Buddha—and in a photo of the merit field, for example, there are many Buddhas—is so precious to us. Simply seeing it purifies our mind and plants the seed of liberation and enlightenment. And it is the same with circumambulating, prostrating or making offerings to it. We can cultivate merit, the cause to achieve realizations, liberation and enlightenment, in the field of merit twenty-four hours a day. The only problem is if from our side we don’t bother to do it. Otherwise, there is no limitation from the side of the holy object. The merit field is not limited by season. It is not that you can only create merit by making offerings, circumambulating or prostrating in the morning, but not in the afternoon or at night. There is no question of being limited by time or season.
Of the five paths to enlightenment, the first is the path of merit, which has three levels: small, middling and great. When you achieve the great path of merit, you see numberless buddhas in Nirmanakaya aspect. At that time, when your mind is at that level, what you now see as statues you see as actual living buddhas. Later, when you become an arya being, you see buddhas in Sambhogakaya aspect. And when your mind is totally free from even subtle defilements, you actually see the Buddha mentally. You see yourself and the Buddha as one, with no separation. This is also the same when you achieve the guru. The absolute guru—the holy mind of all the buddhas, the transcendental wisdom of non-dual bliss and voidness— manifests to us through this ordinary aspect, which shows faults, delusions and suffering. This ordinary aspect, which fits our mistaken impure mind, is the only one that can guide us from happiness to happiness to enlightenment.
As I often advertise, we should have as many buddhas as possible in our house. But we should not put them on the floor or use them for decoration. We should respect the Buddha images and keep them out of devotion, by seeing the benefits that I have explained. We should have as many Buddhas as possible inside the house, and even outside, but placed respectfully. In this way anyone who comes into the house will be purified and without the need of words. Just by having holy objects such as stupas and statues around your house, you can liberate sentient beings from the lower realms every day by purifying their negative karma. In silence, without your needing to explain anything, the mere existence of the holy objects will liberate and bring to enlightenment the sentient beings—even flies or worms—who see, touch or circumambulate them. Without words you liberate these sentient beings. You bought, sponsored the making of, or built these holy objects, and every day the holy objects liberate sentient beings and bring them to enlightenment.
Offering light increases your Dharma wisdom and brings you the five types of clairvoyance. It also helps to prolong your life. And offering light to other sentient beings or illuminating an altar where there are holy objects instead of leaving it in darkness creates the karma, while you are in samsara, to never be born in a dark age, when no Buddha has descended and there are no teachings in the world. You are born only in an age of light, when a Buddha has descended and the Dharma exists in the world. You are born where Dharma exists and you then meet the Dharma.
Offering incense has many general benefits, as I mentioned before, but has the particular benefit of causing you to achieve a beautiful body. Also, even while you are in samsara, you will enjoy scented smells all the time. And you will be able to live in pure morality. The general benefits are the same for each offering, and then each offering has its particular benefits.
By offering flowers, you become a leader of others, like His Holiness the Dalai Lama and other holy beings, who receive the highest respect from other sentient beings. In that way you are then able to benefit others more. Because others respect you, they listen to you and follow you. If you give teachings they will listen to and then follow what you say. That is how you bring them from happiness to happiness to enlightenment. Also, the result of offering flowers is that your conduct becomes pure.
Offering medicine during the practice, as I mentioned the other day, helps you not to experience sickness while you are in samsara.
By offering food—the grains, for example—while you are in samsara, you don’t experience famine. You are always able to find food, and the food is plentiful and healthy. You can always receive and enjoy crops, fruit, honey, milk and so forth. And the food you eat makes you healthy instead of harming your body.
By offering divine dress to the merit field, you are able to live in pure morality. It also causes you to receive a vajra holy body. Offering divine dress to Compassion Buddha causes you to achieve the vajra holy body of Compassion Buddha.
By offering ornaments, you create the karma to have great enjoyments, and you achieve the holy signs and exemplifications of the holy body of a Buddha.
Offering a vase purifies your negative karmas and delusions and helps you to generate loving kindness, compassion and bodhicitta in your heart.
BENEFITS OF CIRCUMAMBULATIONS AND PROSTRATIONS
Even doing one circumambulation of holy objects purifies past negative karmas, and because your past negative karmas are purified, you have no external enemies. Enemies are caused by past negative karma, so by purifying your past negative karma, you don’t have any enemies. The ultimate benefit is that you purify completely even your subtle temporary defilements, or stains, and thus achieve the peerless happiness of enlightenment. Even one circumambulation directs your life toward that.
As you know, when you do prostrations, with each atom that is covered by your body, you create the merit to be born as a wheelturning king one thousand times. No other king can be compared to a wheel-turning king, who is the most powerful king. A wheelturning king controls one, two, three or four continents, and even the deva realms. To be born a wheel-turning king even one time you need to collect inconceivable merit. This is why, in the Lankavatara Sutra, Buddha used the example of a wheel-turning king to explain how much merit we collect when we do prostrations. When we lie down on the ground to do a prostration, which each atom that our body covers we collect the merit to be born as a wheel-turning king for one thousand lifetimes.
Now, when we do prostrations, even the small amount of fingernail that projects from our fingers and the hair that covers the ground around us when we lie down covers an unimaginable number of atoms from here down to the bottom of the earth. This is without talking about the number of atoms covered by the rest of our body. It is like this with short hair, so imagine how many atoms our hair would cover if it were very long, if we had many feet of hair to cover the ground. If even our hair covers an unimaginable number of atoms when we do prostrations, there is no need to doubt about the rest of our body.
Therefore, in the Lama Tsongkhapa tradition, prostrations are much practiced, especially by the lineage lamas of the lam-rim. Even when Lama Atisha was very old and shaky, he still did many prostrations every day. There are many stories in the Gelug tradition of lineage lamas of the lam-rim doing hundreds or even thousands of prostrations every day, especially with recitation of the names of the Thirty-five Buddhas. You can see now how doing prostrations is important, how it makes it easy to achieve all the realizations and enlightenment.
Also, by making offerings to or circumambulating Thousand-arm Chenrezig, we collect far greater merit than with other buddhas. This is a particular quality of Compassion Buddha, a result of his having dedicated in this way during the time he was a bodhisattva.
BENEFITS OF VOWS AND CHENREZIG PRACTICE
Also, merit increases unbelievably if one is living in the Eight Mahayana Precepts. This refers mainly to lay people, as novice monks and nuns have thirty-six vows and gelongs have many more—253 vows. For lay people who take the Eight Mahayana Precepts then do all these practices, the merit increases by an unbelievable factor and becomes very powerful.
There are four powers that enable one to collect extensive merit, the cause of happiness; this one is the power that comes from living in vows. As I often mention, if all the sentient beings in the three galaxies—or it could be the three realms (desire, form and formless realm)—became wheel-turning kings, and each one then made a light offering to Buddha using an ocean of butter with a wick the size of Mount Meru, all that merit could not equal that collected by one person living in ordination making a light offering to Buddha with butter the size of a mustard seed and a wick the size of a hair. The person living in ordination who made a tiny offering would collect far greater merit than all those other beings. So, if you are a layperson, if you take the Eight Mahayana Precepts then do all these practices, your merit increases by an unbelievable amount. That is a very skillful way to practice Dharma, enabling you to quickly achieve enlightenment.
Therefore, with stable devotion to Compassion Buddha, onepointedly pray, then abide with your body, speech and mind in nyung-nä, or the retreat, reciting, offering mandalas, doing prostrations, circumambulating and making offerings. It says here that this brings the greatest profit in life. Therefore, put all your effort, all the energy you have, into this.
One very high Amdo lama, Kungthang Jampel Yang said, “If you are able to pray from your heart, doing a nyung-nä for just one day and reciting the six-syllable mantra can completely purify even the uninterrupted heavy karmas. These karmas definitely make you burn in the fire of the hells—and for how many lifetimes? For lifetimes equal to the number of atoms of this huge earth.” Kungthang Jampel Yang was the founder of Tashi Khyil, the largest monastery in Amdo (not to be confused with Kumbum, the monastery on the site where Lama Tsongkhapa was born).
Tantric texts say that we have collected negative karma during beginningless rebirths, and that even in this life we have transgressed the three vows (pratimoksha, bodhisattva and tantric), collected much heavy negative karma in relation to the guru, to vajra brothers and sisters (which means those who have received initiation from the same guru), and to Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. And we have unconsciously enjoyed polluted food, which means food offered by other people out of devotion that we have eaten while not living purely in our vows. This polluted food is dangerous because it obscures our mind. It is regarded as a great obstacle to the achievement of realizations. Unconsciously eating polluted food and such things cause us to be born in the hell realms, specifically in the Hot and Great Hot hells. Kungthang Jampel Yang advises that people who have created such karmas have no other means but to put every single effort into this practice. He talks in this way about the power of the practice of the meditation-recitation of Compassion Buddha and the nyung-nä.
I will now give the oral transmission of the longest mantra of Compassion Buddha. In some of the Tibetan texts you may find some of the syllables are a little different, not only in this mantra, but in others.
[Rinpoche gives the oral transmission of the longest Chenrezig mantra, the long dharani, and OM MANI PADME HUM.]
I think that must be enough for this time.
I enjoyed the sessions that I attended here very much. I think this practice is really fantastic. It is something that you find more and more inspiring—not something that becomes more and more boring. The more sessions you do, the more inspiring it becomes. That is very good. The more you develop your compassion, the more you see the kindness of sentient beings and how much they are suffering, and you then don’t find any hardship in doing retreat or nyungnä. Not finding any difficulty in doing the practice is a sign of receiving the blessing of the deity.
To end this, I would like to make just a small contribution of $US3,000 to the retreat; it’s a small donation for food for the retreat people. And here I would like to thank again the benefactors and sponsors of this retreat. [Rinpoche reads out, with some entertaining pronunciations, the names of the benefactors and sponsors.]
Again here I would like to thank very much everyone who has been doing the retreat, especially the Sangha, who have been the main ones. From the bottom of my heart I thank all of you who have participated in any of the sessions from time to time. Thank you very, very much. And I thank very much also the sponsors and benefactors. It’s always in my prayers, and I will dedicate the merits.
I think that is all. As the dedication we can recite The King of Prayers. We can include the people mentioned who have recently died, who are dying right now, or who are very sick. With this prayer, dedicate the merits we have collected during the three times, and especially today, for them to recover from their sicknesses.
This is a photo of the statue of Thousand-arm Chenrezig, which is about the same size, or maybe a little bigger, than the statue here. Denise Griffin, the artist who made the prototype for the large 500- foot Maitreya Buddha statue, made it. I asked her to make this Chenrezig statue for a nunnery at Pu Li in Taiwan. It’s a nice small nunnery with two nuns—one is the abbess and the other is her student. I suggested to Denise that she make a Thousand-arm Compassion Buddha statue, so she made it there in Taiwan. The art of this Thousand-arm Chenrezig is the best that I have so far seen. You can see from the picture that it is very beautiful, except for the narrow base, which is a little sharp. The mantra at the top was written by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who has signed it there. This is very good writing. I had this small picture made so that it could be put on an altar in a car. Normally I give people this card for their car. I don’t give it for an altar in their bathroom, but they can put it on an altar in their car for protection, to remind them of bodhicitta, and many other reasons.
Maybe the Sangha can come first then the lay people. I’m not sure there will be enough cards—I hope there are enough to give one to everyone. And for the Sangha there is a very short zen, so short that it almost disappears....