1. Sutra recitations
Of course, before reciting either of these sutras, you must motivate that you are doing this for the benefit of all sentient beings. You must recite the sutras with bodhicitta.
You can read some of the sutra each day but you don’t have to finish it that day, you can spread it out through the week. Motivate for the numberless sentient beings of the six realms, from whom you have received all your past happiness since beginningless samsara, as well as your future happiness, including enlightenment.
Sentient beings are most precious, most kind, most dear, your wish-fulfilling ones. Even Buddha, Dharma, Sangha come from them. By relying on them you become free from the lower realms, free from samsara, free from lower nirvana and you achieve the total cessation of all the obscurations and completion of all the realizations. Even the Buddha comes from the sentient beings. Not only that, even Buddha, Dharma, Sangha—who you take refuge in all the time in order to be free from the lower realms, to be free from samsara, to be free from lower nirvana and in order to achieve buddhahood—even Buddha, Dharma, Sangha come from every single sentient being.
Again, sentient beings have been most precious, unbelievably kind, because they have been your mother numberless times. First your mother gave you a human body with which you can practice Dharma numberless times; second, she has been kind by protecting your life from hundreds of dangers every day; third, she bore many unbelievable hardships by being your mother; and fourth, she gave you education. Like that, she has been kind from beginningless rebirth.
Therefore think that you are reading these sutras for the sentient beings and in particular for those in this world. In particular for those who have died by war, all kinds, and for those who have died due to the elements, due to earthquakes and so forth. You can dedicate for those who have suffered a lot, for example, the many refugees who escaped only to get drowned in the ocean. I am just giving you an idea, some examples.
The Golden Light Sutra practice helps so much for peace in the world and also you are taken care of; there’s no returning to the lower realms, you always go toward enlightenment and everything that has to happen, happens for you by the way.
In particular motivate for anyone who needs the Golden Light Sutra or the Arya Sanghata Sutra. Think, “Anyone who needs this, I am reading it for them, in order to benefit them, in order to solve their problems and eventually bring them to enlightenment.”
These two sutras are very good for world peace and you collect so much merit. Amazing, amazing, amazing. You need that for quick enlightenment and to be able to benefit sentient beings, to free them from samsara and bring them to buddhahood.
Do these two sutra recitations until you die. That is fantastic.
This makes your life most meaningful and most beneficial for all sentient beings, for every creature—every maggot, every mosquito, every hell being, hungry ghost, animal, human being, sura, asura and intermediate state being. There are numberless sentient beings, not only in this world, so think you are doing this for all of them to achieve enlightenment, not just for yourself. That includes your family as well as your enemies, strangers and friends. If you have enemies it’s good to tell them, “I am doing this for you to be free from the oceans of samsaric suffering and to bring you to buddhahood, as quickly as possible.”
You can do the water bowl offerings together in a group, like Kopan nunnery, which does this each year. Many people come and they all offer together, so for one thousand water bowls, even though each person doesn’t offer one thousand, as a group, you can count the number of bowls that the whole group has made. In this way you can count all of them, even though you only did some part. In this way you can finish quickly. This happens each year at Kopan nunnery. If that’s not possible, you can arrange to do this at a center, or maybe there is a center near you which is arranging this kind of retreat. You can also do it yourself at your home, but it just takes longer.
The main lamrim for you is Manjushri’s Words [The Sacred Words of Manjushri, Tib: Jam päl zhal lung.] This is not yet published in English, but when you see it in future, then you can get it. That is the main lamrim for you to study. When Manjushri’s Words is translated, read it twice from beginning to end.
In the meantime, you can study Lama Tsongkhapa’s Middle Lamrim four times from beginning to end. Anything you don’t understand well you can write down and then ask a geshe or very good Western teachers who have studied the lamrim well.
When you read these texts mindfully, it becomes meditation. Each subject that you finish, your mind is transformed into that, so then hold the mind in that for a little while. That is fixed meditation and before that is analytical meditation. Both are very helpful.
To gain effortful lamrim experience, meditate according to the lamrim outline. Go through the cycle of meditations twice, spending the specified number of months on each subject, and then do effortless meditation.
Highest Yoga Tantra practice
Your deity is ... or .... Whichever you feel closest to is your main deity, but you can take both of these initiations when the opportunity comes. Later, after studying the lamrim you can do the long retreat and also the short retreat, the enabling retreat. You can even do the retreat a few times; that is an extremely powerful way to pacify obstacles and for success.
The reason for taking Highest Yoga Tantra initiations and doing the practice is to achieve enlightenment in this life. That means to free the sentient beings from the oceans of samsaric suffering quickly and bring them to enlightenment quickly. Therefore, you need to achieve buddhahood in this lifetime, quickly, in one brief lifetime of degenerate time.