My most dear, precious, kind, wish-fulfilling one,
The purpose of practicing tantra, and especially Highest Yoga Tantra, is to accomplish the biggest aim in life, which is to free the numberless sentient beings—numberless hell beings, hungry ghosts, animals, humans, suras and asuras—from the oceans of samsaric suffering forever. It is to cause that. How most unbelievable is that! Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow!
Normal people in the world, except for those who are good-hearted, only look for their own happiness. They will even die for that. They will even commit suicide for that. Everything is done for that. Here, our aim is not only to free the numberless sentient beings from suffering forever, but also to bring them all to the peerless happiness of sang-gye or buddhahood. In Tibetan, the word for buddha is sang-gye. Sang means the elimination of not only the gross obscurations but even the subtle obscurations, and gye is the completion of all the realizations.
Practicing the guru deity is to bless one’s own mind so that it can change in a positive way. Just as the sun rises in the world and brings happiness not only to human beings but also to all the different kinds of animals, making the plants grow and the flowers open, so too the mind can change and bring benefit to numberless sentient beings. Deity practice is for that to happen quickly, in one lifetime. That is the purpose of practicing tantra and particularly lower tantra. Then, by practicing Highest Yoga Tantra we can achieve enlightenment even quicker, in order to free sentient beings from the oceans of samsaric suffering and bring them to full enlightenment even quicker, in a brief lifetime of degenerate times.
According to my observation, you have a particular karmic connection with Secret Vajrapani who is the embodiment of all the buddhas’ power. Vajrapani has an outer manifestation, an inner manifestation and a secret manifestation. It comes out for you to practice the secret manifestation.
Do 300,000 prostrations by reciting the Thirty-five Buddhas. The object that you are prostrating to can be the Lama Chöpa [Guru Puja] merit field. The Thirty-five Buddhas are included in this merit field.
Every year do some nyung-näs. The nyung-nä practice is only for two days but it is unbelievably powerful. On the first day you take Mahayana precepts and have only one meal. On the second day you take the eight Mahayana precepts and fast completely; there is no eating, no drinking and no talking. Taking and practicing the eight Mahayana precepts, the Mahayana reviving and purifying ordination, is an incredible source of collecting merit like the sky. It is a cause of gaining a good rebirth in your next life, liberation from the oceans of samsaric suffering forever, and buddhahood, the total cessation of obscurations and completion of all the realizations.
In the nyung-nä there are also many prostrations to the Thirty-five Buddhas and Chenrezig, the Compassionate Buddha. Reciting each of these Thirty-five Buddhas’ names even one time is very powerful; it purifies many eons of different negative karma and collects unbelievable merit. Doing even one prostration collects unbelievable, unbelievable merit.
Without talking about the benefits of doing one full-length prostration, the Buddha explained in the Lankavatara Sutra that you create the cause to be born one thousand times as a wheel-turning king for each atom covered by even your toes and fingers when you prostrate. However many atoms are covered from the ground down to the bottom of the earth, you create that many causes to be born one thousand times as a wheel-turning king.
It doesn’t mean that by doing prostrations the only result is to be born as a wheel-turning king. The Buddha is giving some idea how much merit you collect, because to be born as a wheel-turning king even one time you have to collect inconceivable, inconceivable merit. So because of that.
Of course, after the prostrations you should dedicate the merit to every sentient being, for example, animals, the numberless fish in the sea, those that are as large as mountains like whales, and those that are so small you can only see them with machines. Dedicate for the numberless, numberless [aquatic animals] and the numberless creatures on the ground, for them to be free from the oceans of samsaric suffering. Also, in the grass there are numberless flies, in the trees there are birds, and there are sentient beings in the sky.
There are numberless universes scientifically mentioned and as Buddha mentioned. There are numberless beings not only in this world; there are numberless insects in all those universes. To free the numberless insects doesn’t mean only in this world; you have to think also to dedicate for all those other universes.
I’m not talking about only the animals. There are numberless hell beings, numberless hungry ghosts, numberless human beings, numberless sura beings, asura beings and intermediate state beings. Include all of them, as well as this life’s parents. Dedicate for them all to be free from oceans of samsaric suffering and to bring them to peerless happiness, sang-gye, the total elimination of obscurations and completion of all the realizations. Dedicate the merits for that reason, for you to achieve enlightenment, to actualize the whole path.
Regarding the recitation of OM MANI PADME HUM, even without bodhicitta, the benefits of reciting one OM MANI PADME HUM mantra one time cannot be counted. The number of drops in the ocean can be counted, but the benefits of this mantra cannot be counted. All the grass on the earth can be counted, but the benefits of one OM MANI PADME HUM cannot be counted. The dust of this earth can be counted but the benefits of one OM MANI PADME HUM cannot be counted. When the rain comes, each drop can be counted but the benefits of one OM MANI PADME HUM cannot be counted. Sand grains, each grain of sand can be counted but the benefits of one OM MANI PADME HUM cannot be counted.
If you recite the mantra with bodhicitta motivation—to free the sentient beings from oceans of samsaric suffering and to bring them to full enlightenment, and for that reason you want to achieve full enlightenment—if you recite the mantra with this motivation, even reciting OM MANI PADME HUM one time, you create more than skies of merit. It purifies all your past negative karma and especially causes you to generate compassion toward all the sentient beings. That creates the cause for you to achieve peerless happiness, the state of omniscience, quickly and this is the quickest way to be born in the pure land of the Buddha.
Each year if you can do at least several [nyung-näs] that would be very good.
The essence of the 84,000 teachings of the Buddha is contained in the Hinayana and Mahayana sutras, and in Mahayana tantra. The essence of those three is the lam-rim, the graduated path to enlightenment, therefore by studying the lam-rim you will be studying the heart of the Buddha’s teachings. The lam-rim has three: the graduated path of the lower capable being, the graduated path of the middle capable being and the graduated path of the higher capable being. That includes bodhicitta and shunyata.
The main lam-rim text for you to study is Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand. You can also study Lama Tsongkhapa’s Middling and Great Lam-rim, but it will be easier for you to study Liberation. That is your main lam-rim text, and you should read it three times from beginning to end.
The things you don’t understand, mark with orange color as an offering, like painting a Buddha statue or thangka, or like offering color or robes to holy objects. In other words mark the text in a respectful way. Don’t mark the texts with black ink. Marking texts in a disrespectful way creates negative karma and is a cause to be born in the lower realms. A professor who is very good in Buddhism said that in the past he marked many manuscripts with black color right over the letters and created the cause to be born in the lower realms many times. Also you can write down in a book all the questions you have, everything you don’t know, and then discuss these afterwards with the geshes or Western students who have done very good study in the Basic and Masters program. If there is someone who has studied well, then they can help.
Do effortful meditation following the lam-rim outline twice, then do effortless meditation. For your daily meditation you can use The Essential Nectar or the outline for Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand.
The other thing you can do is read the Sutra of Golden Light from time to time, or continuously if you like. You don’t have to worry about finishing it, just read some every day. Read according to whatever time you have.
Please take care of your life. This is the best way to take care of your life. This is the best way to make your life beneficial for every sentient being, even the mosquitoes and leeches.
With much love and prayers...