I didn’t get to reply to you earlier. It is very good that you have quite a lot of prayers to do. Lama Tsongkhapa Guru Yoga is recommended and is very good as a daily practice. Within that, there is The Foundation of All Good Qualities, which contains the whole path and gives the imprints for the path to enlightenment. If you recite this every day, sooner or later you are bound to have realizations, to achieve enlightenment, and to liberate numberless sentient beings from the oceans of suffering and bring them to enlightenment. You also mentioned that you recite the Three Principal Aspects of the Path. It is very important to do the Vajrasattva practice with the four opponent powers so that it becomes a perfect confession.
One very important practice that is missing is prostrations to the Thirty-five Buddhas in the morning. You can do this in the morning, however, it’s good if you can do more than [one session each day]. If possible, do the prostrations to the Thirty-five Buddhas before reciting the Vajrasattva mantra; before doing your Vajrasattva practice. In the morning you can start with reciting the names of the buddhas. Repeat each name three times. That is very good. At least do that with prostrations. Meanwhile, in the evening time, just repeat the names once. If you can do this practice in the evening, just repeat the names one time. But when you finish, do the last part, otherwise it doesn’t become a complete confession practice.
You can also do the practice The Nine Attitudes of Guru Devotion and integrate this prayer into your practice of Lama Tsongkhapa Guru Yoga. How do you do this? When you recite The Foundation of All Good Qualities, recite the first stanza, then do the Nine Attitudes. Integrate the practice like that. If you are reciting the long version of the Six-Session Guru Yoga, integrate the Nine Attitudes into this practice where it talks about the guru:
All supreme and common attainments without exception
Depend upon correct reliance on you, my protector.
Seeing this, I completely give up my body and even my life;
Please bless me to practice only that which pleases you.
You can do the Nine Attitudes after reciting this verse.
Your main deity is Vajrayogini. What you need to understand is that to become enlightened and to lead all sentient beings to full enlightenment, you should learn the complete path of Vajrayogini. When you do the Vajrayogini sadhana, do the longer one, and for your other sadhanas you can do the short ones. This way you can spend more meditating on Vajrayogini. Chant the Vajrayogini mantra not only while you are doing the sadhana, but also when you are walking around. When you die, you will be able to easily remember the mantra of Vajrayogini, and Vajrayogini will bring you to the pure land.
Now, the most important practice is to develop your mind on the path to enlightenment. Why? Because the main purpose in your life is to liberate numberless sentient beings from the oceans of samsaric sufferings and bring them to full enlightenment. For that, you need to achieve enlightenment first, therefore you need to actualize the graduated path, therefore you need to meditate and train the mind in the path.
One meditation you should do every day is guru devotion, but how long you do it for depends on how much time you have in daily life. Sometimes you may spend a longer time doing it and at other times you may do it for a shorter time. It depends on your time in daily life. You should do the daily guru devotion meditation until you have generated stable realization of that.
Train the mind in the graduated path of the lower capable being, which means from the perfect human rebirth up to karma. Do this for five months. For example, spend one week on each meditation topic up to karma, then come back and repeat again. Then spend two months on the graduated path of the middle capable being. You can follow the lamrim outline for your meditation, using Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand or Geshe Sopa’s text of Lama Tsongkhapa’s lamrim teachings [Steps on the Path to Enlightenment]. Then spend three months on the graduated path of the higher capable being, with three months on bodhicitta and three months on great insight, emptiness.
This is the main focus of your meditation during those times. After that, you can start again from the perfect human rebirth, and go through the topics, one by one. You spend weeks, months and even years meditating on the lamrim topics until you achieve realizations. So this is the main practice, how to develop the mind in the path to enlightenment. In other words, how to make it possible to attain enlightenment.
Each year you can do retreat with whatever time you can find—days or months. Do a particular preliminary retreat combined with lamrim or do a lamrim retreat combined with the preliminary practices. Also, from time to time, you can do a deity retreat, a tantric retreat.
- Refuge: 200,000
- Four immeasurable thoughts: 300,000. These are not just words for reciting, but to think about the meaning.
- Vajrasattva mantra: 10,000
- Dorje Khadro fire puja: 50,000
- Mandala offerings: 50,000
- Guru yoga: 300,000, on the basis of doing Lama Chöpa / Guru Puja, but mainly do Lama Tsongkhapa Guru Yoga and count 300,000 migtsemas. If you are in retreat, do Lama Chöpa in the morning, then count the migtsemas. This guru yoga practice is very important.
Write the Diamond Cutter Sutra from time to time, but you don’t have to rush. You don’t have to finish it quickly unless you have time. Write some each day. This also leaves positive imprints to realize emptiness.
Doing these practices is how to make it possible to achieve lamrim realizations, by:
- Doing preliminary practices to purify obstacles
- Creating extensive merits
- Training the mind in guru devotion, seeing the guru as a buddha with full effort, by applying the Buddha’s quotations and reasonings
- The fourth one, the actual body of practice, is meditating on the path, which I have already explained to you.
With much love and prayers ...