My most dear, most kind, most precious one,
Maybe you know this, but I want to explain about Vajrasattva, how important it is. If you understand that, then you can help other people to understand how Vajrasattva is important. If you practice, then you help bring wisdom light to others, wisdom like the sun or like the sky, dispelling the darkness of ignorance within them.
Sentient beings have so much suffering, for example in this world there are so many problems and sufferings of all the six-realm sentient beings, like the hell beings, the hungry ghosts, the animals, even the ants. Scientists say there are 12,000 or more different kinds of ants, for example, plus many other different types within that.
There is so much suffering, all due to ignorance—it came from that—and karma. Ignorance of Dharma and ignorance of karma, and cause and effect. The cause of happiness is virtue, and from that, the result, happiness arises. Not knowing that the cause of suffering is nonvirtue, and from that, suffering arises, is a totally wrong belief.
The common people, not just the animals, are running, so busy creating nonvirtue, the cause of suffering, day and night. They believe that they are working for happiness but they are totally ignorant, having skies of ignorance, and [creating the cause of] so much suffering. They have been suffering since beginningless rebirths and this will continue if they don’t practice Dharma, if they don’t meet Dharma and don’t practice Dharma, and in particular if they don’t realize emptiness, the ultimate nature.
The 84,000 teachings of the Buddha come in the three vehicles: the Lesser Vehicle teachings, the Great Vehicle teachings and the Great Vehicle of Tantra, the quick path to achieve enlightenment.
All that is embodied in the lamrim, the graduated path of the three capable beings: the lower capable beings, middle capable beings and higher capable beings. And all that is embodied in the three principal aspects of the path to enlightenment explained by Lama Tsongkhapa. He clearly explained why each one is important: renunciation, bodhicitta and right view.
If we don’t realize the essence of Dharma, emptiness, then we will suffer, not only beginninglessly, but endlessly. This perfect human rebirth is only for one time, to have the opportunity to practice if we meet Dharma.
Even if we’re born human, which is extremely, extremely, extremely rare, most human beings in this world don’t meet Buddhadharma, even when there is Buddhadharma existing. That’s most important, or they follow other religions which are opposite, where there are no four noble truths, so they can’t become free from samsara and they only create the causes of samsara, particularly the lower realms.
If you check, if you analyze, you will understand, you will know. If you don’t check or analyze, then you won’t understand, even though I’m telling you this.
There are many people who have no religion—sometimes, it depends, but some people are very sincere and very good—and some people who follow religion are good but their religion is opposite to the four noble truths, so there’s no way for them to escape samsara. If someone only has a good heart, then they will take a higher rebirth and won’t go to the lower realms.
Some people have a very bad heart or mind and some have a good heart. Sometimes the person is Buddhist, following Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, sort of generally having faith, but toward the other sentient beings, probably they are not following religion, because sometimes they are bitter toward other sentient beings.
If we are Buddhist, we are supposed to be kind to sentient beings. If we’re Buddhist, if we practice Dharma, if we go for refuge, we’re supposed to be kind, more kind, because of refuge in the Dharma. Dharma means to not harm sentient beings, and on top of that, Mahayana practice is to benefit sentient beings.
Hinayana practice is mainly to not harm, but maybe some Buddhists are not thinking well about their practice; they don’t recognize that and think of their practice. They show faith in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, but toward sentient beings they’re very cruel, so cruel, like that. It is possible due to ignorance.
However, it is said in the teachings, the philosophy, that all sentient beings will become enlightened. Of course, it doesn’t mean all together at the same time, that everyone will become free from samsara, free from all suffering.
We can be free from that. How can we be free from the sufferings, the obscurations, the cause of suffering? This is because our mind, the nature of the mind, the mind itself is not obscurations, it’s not anger, not attachment, and not ignorance.
The root of samsara is the ignorance holding the I as truly existent while it is not, while it exists in mere name, totally. Not even the size of an atom exists from its own side, there’s no such thing. The I exists, but it’s like it doesn’t exist.
If we check, if we analyze, we find it exists in mere name, because it exists in mere name, merely labeled by the mind, by a valid mind, labeled on a valid base, because there is a valid base. It’s not that it’s labeled everywhere—on our kaka, on our hair, on our fingers, on our toes, on our shoes, on our chair, on our newspapers, on other people’s car or money. It seems other people don’t like [that label] on their property so much. If we like somebody’s beautiful ornaments and then we call that “I.” [Joking] No, it’s not like that. A valid base receives a valid label. So on the five aggregates or any of these, then it receives a valid label, “I.”
So the mind is temporarily obscured. A very simple example is the cup which is dirty or smelly, but because the cup itself is not oneness with the kaka or the dirt or the smell—it’s not one with that, it’s only temporarily obscured—so the dirt can be cleaned away. Similarly, we can wash a dirty cloth so it can be clean, like that.
It’s the same thing with the mind, by actualizing the path, the lamrim path from guru devotion up to enlightenment, which comes into method and wisdom, then renunciation, bodhicitta and the right view. There’s the foundation and then there’s the tantric path, the quick path to enlightenment.
However, if we remove, purify or clean the gross obscurations and subtle obscurations, so we are completely cleaned and free from obscurations, then the complete path is attained, the realizations are attained and we become enlightened. Whether the mind can be purified or not [depends on the] religion, and it can be a problem in [other] religions.
We need to have the four noble truths, what the Buddha taught, then only if we follow that can we become free from samsara by actualizing the true path. When we cease the seeds of delusion and karma, then we can become free from delusion and karma. Then we can be free from not only the suffering of pain and the suffering of change—all the samsaric pleasures— and we also become free from the third suffering, where all the true suffering comes from—pervasive compounding suffering—that’s our aggregates, controlled by karma and delusion.
So if we don’t want to suffer, if we want to be free from suffering, free of delusion and karma, we have to totally eliminate the root of samsara, ignorance, holding the I, which is totally false, as truly existent; thinking the I exists from its own side.
There are different schools with different views. Ultimately we have to recognize the subtle object to be refuted according to the Prasangikas, the second division of the Madhyamaka school. Once we recognize that, then it’s very quick to realize emptiness, the unmistaken emptiness according to the Prasangika’s view. Otherwise, the previous schools’ view of emptiness, that is not ultimate emptiness, the emptiness that can eliminate the root of samsara.
Yes, ignorance according to the other philosophical schools, yes, ultimate, but not eliminating the root of samsara completely, so we can’t be free from samsara. Therefore we need to actualize emptiness according to the Prasangika’s view. We need to eliminate the root of samsara, from where all the suffering came, according to how the Prasangikas explain it, then we can be totally free from the oceans of samsaric suffering.
Not only that, we have to actualize the whole path to liberation, method and wisdom, then enlightenment, so even the subtle obscurations are completely removed directly by the wisdom realizing emptiness, with the great support of bodhicitta.
We need to actualize the whole path contained in method and wisdom up to enlightenment, from guru devotion, correctly devoting to the virtuous friend. To actualize that we have to purify the obscurations. Therefore, Vajrasattva is one common practice for purification.
So you can recite the one hundred syllable mantra twenty-one times or the short one twenty-eight times, OM VAJRASATTVA HUM. Then it has power, so that today’s negative karma collected with body, speech, and mind will not become double tomorrow, then triple the next day, and on and on like that.
After fifteen days without doing Vajrasattva, by multiplying, the negative karma becomes 18,184 times greater. And after eighteen days without purifying with Vajrasattva, one negative karma—the actions done with body, speech and mind—becomes 100,072 times greater. This is said in Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand by the great Pabongka Rinpoche.
So like this, it is said in the teachings that the wise ones’ negative karma becomes very small even though it’s heavy, and the foolish ones’ negative karma becomes heavy even though it was small. Like this, at the time of death one negative karma created with body, speech or mind, by increasing day-by-day, it becomes like a mountain when we die. Negative karma like one atom, by increasing day-by-day it becomes like a huge mountain.
That’s how heavy the negative karma is when we die if we don’t do Vajrasattva practice, and that’s just one negative karma. Now the negative karma of body, speech and mind is like rainfall, day and night. It doesn’t have to be killing people or stealing or telling lies or having sex with human beings all the time. Just the motivation is the main thing.
The motivation of the action is attachment or sometimes anger or ignorance. Attachment clinging to the pleasures of this life, just that; clinging to the happiness of this life, so that’s a nonvirtuous thought. Actions done with that mind—actions done with body, speech, mind with that motivation—become nonvirtue, and as a result of that, only suffering arises. If the karma is heavy, we can receive the result in this life.
Any negative karma collected with holy objects and even a small negative karma collected with the parents [is powerful.] This life’s parents are very powerful objects, so if we do a little service, good actions, then we create so much good karma and as a result happiness and success are experienced in this life. After that come ordained Sangha and then the arhats who are free from samsara; there are numberless Sangha and there are numberless arhats.
Then one bodhisattva, who generated bodhicitta today, if we don’t have bodhicitta and if we look at a bodhisattva with a calm mind, a devoted mind, with that eye, we collect merits and we make charity with the eyeballs to the three-realm sentient beings. That means numberless desire realm beings, numberless form realm beings and numberless formless realm beings, like that.
But if we who are not bodhisattvas look at a bodhisattva with a kind of angry mind or a disliking mind, one that is the opposite of faith, like peering or glaring, then that negative karma is much worse than taking the eyeballs out of the numberless desire realm beings, the numberless form realm beings and the numberless formless realm beings.
Now, numberless bodhisattvas, and then one buddha—if we get angry with a buddha, then tens of thousands of eons of merit are destroyed. If we get angry with a buddha, the harm is so much greater. But if we offer service, if we do a little, then the benefit is unbelievable and is greater than offering service to numberless bodhisattvas.
For example, if we get angry with a bodhisattva—we don’t have bodhicitta and we get angry to a bodhisattva—it is said by the great bodhisattva Shantideva in the Bodhicaryavatara that if we get angry for one second, then one thousand eons of merit of practice in charity, morality, patience and so forth, except wisdom, get destroyed completely. That merit collected for one thousand eons is destroyed if we get angry with a bodhisattva for one second.
So then if we get angry with a buddha for one second it will be more. Tens of thousands of eons of good karma is destroyed, maybe much more than that.
Then the next one is the guru, who is the most powerful holy object. So if we get angry with the guru for one second, then there can be millions of good karma or merit destroyed, so it’s unbelievable. But if we do a little offering, service, then the merits are the greatest, the purification is the greatest. If we do what pleases the guru, then this is the greatest merit we can collect and the greatest purification, that’s the best one.
So in our daily life, we have to always think of that, knowing that result will happen, so that helps us to quickly achieve the path and achieve enlightenment for sentient beings. Then we’re able to bring the sentient beings to enlightenment quickly, to free them from samsara quickly and bring them to enlightenment quickly. Therefore, Vajrasattva is so needed.
I will recite a quotation:
The wise one’s negative karma, even though it is great, becomes small. The foolish one’s negative karma is small, but it becomes great.
This means the wise one who knows Vajrasattva, even though the negative karma when it’s created is a big one, but by doing Vajrasattva they can purify and it becomes small. The foolish one’s negative karma when it’s created is very small, but because of not purifying, not doing Vajrasattva, it increases day-by-day, even though it’s one small negative karma.
Then by the time we die it becomes like a mountain, and that’s relating to just one negative karma increasing. [Negative karma the size of an] atom increases and becomes like a mountain if we don’t know and practice Vajrasattva, so that should be understood. Not only that, Vajrasattva purifies that negative karma and our past negative karmas, even if we recite the long mantra twenty-one times or the short mantra twenty-eight times.
It depends on how strongly we feel regret for the negative karmas we have collected in the past. Depending on how strongly we feel regret, it becomes a strong purification. Also, it depends on how much we want to abstain from creating the negative karma again. So when we completely decide not to do it again, depending on how strong that decision is, then it becomes that much purification, like that.
Also, as Lama Atisha explained, there were two geshes from Drepung Monastery who never took tantric initiations because they were afraid of breaking the vows. The shortcomings of breaking the vows are very heavy, so they never took them.
So Lama Atisha said, for example, in the mandala practice, if we have the mandala without using it then dust comes and it becomes full of dust. So, practicing Vajrasattva is like cleaning the mandala one time, then the dirt gets completely washed away.
Similarly, like a car, if we don’t cover the car then it becomes full of dust the longer we leave it. But by cleaning it, by wiping the dirt, it becomes clean so fast. All the dirt goes away just in a minute or a second.
Lama Yeshe used that example for Vajrasattva practice. The benefits are that all the broken vows, all the vices received are cleaned, are purified. That means our mind gradually gets developed more and more, and then after some time there’s no negative karma of breaking the vows, then we have realizations, tantric realizations, and then we achieve enlightenment.
So in the advice, even if we don’t know anything, only Vajrasattva, and we do Vajrasattva practice every day, it purifies all the negative karma, so by the time we die, the negative karma becomes very thin instead of growing like a mountain. Through Vajrasattva, all the negative karma becomes very thin, it becomes very small, and that is recognized as a perfect way to practice. That is so good, even if we don’t know much.
Thank you very much. The mind is like cloth, like a dirty cloth. The dirty mind is heavily obscured, and like cloth it can be cleaned well with soap and with different things. So then with Vajrasattva and practicing the path, we can cease the obscurations. So that’s how we can achieve enlightenment and every sentient being can achieve enlightenment.
Thank you very much.
With much love and prayers ...