Namgyalma mantra is very good, very powerful purification. One day Lama Yeshe and I were in south India and we went to see my root guru, His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche. During the interview His Holiness was constantly reciting Namgyalma mantra. His Holiness told us that he was doing this because he receives the names of many people from all over the world to pray for, and sometimes they send offerings, but there is a lot of pollution from the offerings, therefore he was reciting Namgyalma mantra. He said people think Namgyalma mantra is only for a long life but actually it is very powerful for purification.
In the past I used to recite Namgyalma for people who had died. So the fact that you recite it is very good, that helps you very very much. By reciting Namgyalma mantra you will never be reborn in the lower realms because there is so much benefit and so much power from the Namgyalma mantra.
Guhyasamaja is your main deity to practice the tantric path, for your quickest enlightenment, so that is your object, your goal. Each deity’s sadhana has its own graduated path (lam-rim prayer) at the end, so after you have received the Guhyasamaja initiation you should recite the deity’s lam-rim prayer every day, even if you are doing the very short sadhana. Whichever version you are practicing, still you should recite the gradual path (lam-rim prayer) every day. Presently, you are performing Guru Shakyamuni Buddha daily meditation practice. Within that practice there is a lam-rim prayer. Also, there is guru yoga practice in it. The lam-rim prayer of the deity, which also contains guru devotion, is the foundation or preliminary for tantra.
Lam-rim is the fundamental practice. You should recite one lam-rim prayer like this every day, as it leaves an imprint on your mental continuum of the whole path to enlightenment. So that means you become closer to realizing the path to enlightenment every day. Each day you are closer to enlightenment, closer to the ultimate goal, to liberating countless sentient beings from the oceans of samsaric sufferings and bringing them to enlightenment. It is like planting seeds every day of the whole path. By reciting the deity’s lam-rim prayer every day it also plants seeds of the tantric path. Reciting any lam-rim prayer every day plants seeds to realize the three principals of the path.
By planting these seeds in your mental continuum, either in this life or your next life it makes it much easier to realize the lam-rim, guru devotion, and then the tantric path. It also eliminates all the defilements, gross and subtle, and enables you to enlighten countless sentient beings, which is the ultimate goal of one’s life. This is like laying the foundation of a house, or like removing the rocks and planting seeds in a field. This is very, very important for one’s spiritual growth, with guru devotion as the basis to receive blessings.
The next most important practices are purification practices and to collect extensive merit. The next most important practice is to meditate on the path. So, the basis is like planting seeds and this is done by reciting lam-rim prayers every day. Then one needs to meditate on the path (lam-rim), starting with guru devotion, then the graduated path of the lower capable being, trying to have realizations step by step. This is how to get enlightened.
Whether one has an extensive understanding of Dharma or a little understanding of Dharma, this is the best way to go. This should be the plan for your whole life, how to go about reaching enlightenment, in this life and in future lives, until you reach enlightenment. The more you learn Dharma, lam-rim, sutra, and tantra, the closer you are to enlightenment. Even if one does not know the entire sutra and tantra extensively, this is the way to go about your life, what practice to do. Even if you study Dharma your whole life it is no use if there is no integration of Dharma into your life. Maybe you study many things, but you are not practicing, not integrating the lam-rim into your life. Without lam-rim the mind can’t really develop, and you can’t really achieve the realizations of the path. So one’s mind would always be empty of realizations. To get realizations you need to integrate the lam-rim.
I mentioned four things:
1) Guru yoga (devotion)
2) Purifying obstacles
3) Collecting merit
4) Meditating on the path, meaning lam-rim
These four things are the basis and the direction for your life: to meditate on the lam-rim and the tantric path on the basis of guru devotion, purification, and collecting merits.
Start with guru devotion, meditate on this every day, regardless of which section of the lam-rim you are focusing on. Continue guru devotion meditation every day. Sometimes, when you have more time, then meditate a little longer, however try to do even 10-15 minutes every day to have some experience of that subject.
So, meditate on the eight benefits for two weeks, the advantages of correctly devoting to the guru, and two weeks on the shortcomings, the disadvantages of not devoting correctly to the guru. Then, for a month, meditate on the four basic outlines to transform the mind to see the guru as Buddha. There are four outlines for training the mind in guru devotion. Meditate on the four outlines for one month. Then, for one month, start again from the eight benefits of correctly devoting to the guru for three weeks and then the shortcomings of not devoting correctly for maybe just one week.
Then, again, the next month meditate on the four outlines. Continue like this until you see the guru as all the buddhas, from your side, and the Buddha as all the gurus. You feel this spontaneously from your heart 24 hours a day, every day, not just for a few hours or days, but a stable realization that lasts weeks, months, and years. Once the realization is stable then you don’t need to put in much effort, or spend much time, just a little bit so that the realization does not degenerate. You need to meditate like this until you have stable realizations, no matter how many lifetimes it takes; there is no other way to have successful realizations.
Also, you have to practice the other meditations in the lam-rim, to train the mind. Beginning with the graduated path common to the lower capable being, this starts with meditating on your perfect human rebirth and goes up to karma. It doesn’t mean you have to go over each section of the lam-rim extensively, you just do a little bit each day. On one day meditate on the lower realms for 15-20 minutes, then whatever part of the lam-rim you did not finish, you can do it later in the evening or the next day. Each day you scan the entire lam-rim, but you spend more time on the section that you are focusing on (like guru devotion) and in that way move through the entire lam-rim over the months.
Meditate for four months on the graduated path common to the lower capable being. It can be 10-15 minutes each day if you are very busy. Then, when you have finished up to karma, go back again. After four months then meditate for five months on the graduated path common to the middle capable being, on delusions, karma, the three types of sufferings, the six types of suffering, the Four Noble Truths, etc. When you have finished each subject, then start over again until the five months is finished. Then meditate for five months on the graduated path common to the higher capable being. After that meditate for two months on bodhicitta, in the same way, and then after that meditate for three months on emptiness.
To make this a little clearer:
- Four months on the graduated path common to the lower capable being
- Five months on the graduated path common to the middle capable being
- Five months on the graduated path common to the higher capable being
- Two months on bodhicitta
- Three months on emptiness
When you finish, if you have already realized the first part of the lam-rim, the lower path, then you don’t need to spend much time on that part, and instead focus on the middle path, etc. If you have not realized it, then start again from the graduated path common to the lower capable being. This is how to go about your whole life in order to become enlightened. Whether you are learning vast amounts of Dharma or not this is the way to go about it. Without doing this, without going over the lam-rim, you are lost, you have no path.
Regarding what you said about your parents and how you do not have much time, your parents are teaching you how precious the human rebirth is, and how their opportunity has gone. While you are healthy, mentally and physically, you should do the practices, the meditations, and virtuous actions of the body, as much as you can. You can use your parents to remind you of Dharma, to remind you of suffering, the cause of suffering, that suffering can cease because there is a path. Your parents can remind you of this all the time.
You are doing Namgyalma and Medicine Buddha practice, so that is great. You mentioned about the pigs being slaughtered. When you practice Namgyalma you can include them. When I went to Taos, New Mexico, I passed a giant field with thousands of cows that were going to be slaughtered, so I made prayers for them.
Regarding the picture I am sending you of Medicine Buddha and the merit field, when you make one light offering to the thousands of merit fields, then you create thousands of causes for enlightenment.
Regarding the picture of the 35 Buddhas that I am sending you, when people prostrate, sometimes they only think of the 35 Buddhas, but you should prostrate to all the buddhas, however many you can think of. You can prostrate to all buddhas, Dharmas, and Sanghas in the 10 directions. When you think of the 35 Buddhas and prostrate then you create vast amounts of merit, even if you prostrate to only one Buddha. But if you think of the buddhas, Dharmas, and Sanghas in all 10 directions, as well as all the statues, stupas, and scriptures in the 10 directions, then even if you only prostrate one time it creates so many causes of enlightenment, as well as so many causes to be free from suffering. Think that there are countless stupas, buddhas, Dharmas, and Sanghas, so you are creating so many causes of liberation and enlightenment. If you think of only one Buddha then the merit is smaller.
If you can’t do the actual prostrations then you can put your palms together. When you put your palms together to one statue of Buddha that immediately creates eight benefits. The last of the eight benefits is liberation from samsara and enlightenment. So each time you prostrate to countless buddhas, Dharmas, Sanghas, statues, stupas, and scriptures it creates countless causes for your enlightenment, for you not to suffer, for happiness for future lives, and ultimately enlightenment. This is such an easy way to collect extensive merit, to achieve liberation from samsara, and to achieve enlightenment.
On top of this, you visualize thousands of your body prostrating, covering the whole ground in the four directions. The ground is covered with your body prostrating in the four directions, and they are all prostrating to all the holy objects. So, even if you are not able to prostrate physically, still you can visualize in this way. If you visualize even only one more body making prostrations, you collect double the amount of merit. So if you visualize billions of bodies prostrating (even for only one prostration) you receive the benefits of making one billion prostrations, and you receive the same amount of merit.
By prostrating to the Buddha 100 times you create the merit to be born 100 times as a wheel turning king. To be born as a wheel turning king one time you have to collect vast amounts of merits. The more atoms you cover on the ground when you prostrate, that many causes you create to be reborn as a wheel turning king, equal to the number of atoms.
Of course, the important thing before prostrating is to first motivate with bodhicitta. Each time when you look at Buddha so many defilements are purified, so do not close you eyes when you are prostrating. Also, think each Buddha is a manifestation of your guru, that this is your guru manifesting here. Then prostrate also with your mind, not only your body, thinking that the Buddha is the manifestation of your guru.