My most dear, most precious, most kind, most wish-fulfilling one,
Thank you very much for your kind letter. The deity for you, according to my observation, is Tara Cittamani, a Highest Yoga Tantra practice. This is to achieve enlightenment in one lifetime, and not just in one lifetime, because whatever tantra we practice is to achieve enlightenment in one lifetime, but Highest Yoga Tantra, the fourth one, is to achieve enlightenment in a brief lifetime of degenerate times.
That means you are supposed to have compassion, great compassion toward all the sentient beings, feeling it is so unbearable that they are in samsara and wanting to free them from samsara as quickly as possible and bring them to the highest enlightenment as quickly as possible, to the total cessation of obscurations and completion of all realizations. So that means you have to practice Highest Yoga Tantra, and that means you have to practice Tara Cittamani.
You need initiation for this and if you haven’t received the initiation, you should take it. However, you have to receive another Highest Yoga Tantra initiation first as preparation or foundation, so even Kalachakra or any Highest Yoga Tantra—Yamantaka, Heruka or Guhyasamaja—then it becomes the foundation for Tara Cittamani.
You asked for practices. The first thing that I tell many students in the FPMT is to practice The Method to Transform a Suffering Life into Happiness (Including Enlightenment). I tell the students to transform the kaka life into gold by transforming the mind of eight worldly dharmas, the non-Dharma mind, into Dharma, pure. And not only that, even to transform the self-cherishing thought, which has caused us to suffer in samsara from beginningless rebirths, experiencing the oceans of sufferings of the hells, the hungry ghosts, the animals, the humans, the suras, the asuras and the intermediate state beings numberless times from beginningless lifetimes.
If we follow the self-cherishing thought, then we will experience suffering without end, so here transforming the self-cherishing thought into bodhicitta, cherishing others. Then you see, with that mind, not only listening, reflecting and meditating, but also eating, walking, sitting, sleeping, going to the toilet, working, everything becomes the cause of enlightenment if it is done with bodhicitta.
Not only do you not waste your life but it makes your life most worthwhile, most beneficial for you and most beneficial for every hell being, every hungry ghost, every animal, every ant, every mosquito, every human being, every sura and every asura, so it causes happiness, enlightenment for every sentient being. Amazing, amazing, amazing!
So please do this practice, the Method to Transform, every morning, if you are not doing it already. It also includes blessing the speech, so then whatever you recite transforms into millions and millions of times, like that, an unbelievable number, increasing, then even gossip done in that day becomes like reciting a mantra. It has great benefit, like that. It’s unbelievable, unbelievable, making your life so meaningful for sentient beings. Also blessing the mala is very important to recite. Thank you very much. This is the first thing.
After you receive the initiation you can study the commentary, then you can do the enabling retreat, the short retreat, and then in the future you can do the long retreat. I think it might be a one-year retreat, I’m not sure. Yes, it’s quite easy to simply do retreat; even a long retreat is quite easy. But before that, recite the Twenty-one Praises to Tara and just the mantra of Tara. You can recite that if you are not already reciting it now, until you receive the Highest Yoga Tantra initiation of Tara Cittamani.
Read, study Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand. There are teachings on guru devotion, for example, in The Heart of the Path, otherwise read the section on guru devotion in Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand. The first meditation is how to correctly follow the guru. Read the whole outline, follow the outline and all the explanations and then you will understand. It will help to eliminate wrong, negative thoughts from your mind and it will cause you to only generate positive thoughts.
For you Lama Tsongkhapa’s great lamrim, Lamrim Chenmo, came out, so you have some karma there. Of course that is very good and you will get a very profound understanding of Buddhadharma. Reading lamrim is like reading the essence of Buddha’s teachings, the 84,000 teachings, like that. Also very important is Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand which is taught by the great Heruka, Kyabje Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo from Tibet. You can choose whichever one of these two lamrims. The most simple text is Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand then Lamrim Chenmo, so you can read both. Start with the simple one, Liberation, but read both. You can start with the one that is more simple, but it still gives a clear idea.
Study Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand one time or Lamrim Chenmo fifteen times, reading mindfully in order for it to become a meditation. Not so fast, but to have a positive imprint to have realizations of the lamrim, the path to enlightenment. Enlightenment is not just for our happiness, that’s a hang-up, sort of like taking drugs. It’s not like that, it’s to liberate us, because when we have omniscience we can liberate the numberless sentient beings from the oceans of samsara sufferings, and not only that, we can bring everyone to full enlightenment, peerless happiness, so that is the point.
We never waste time by reading lamrim. It never wastes our time, it is most worthwhile, and it is the way to go to enlightenment, by actualizing the lamrim realizations. Study of lamrim goes on that, so it never wastes time. It is beneficial not only for us, but for every hell being, hungry ghost, animal, human, sura, asura and intermediate state being. It is most beneficial because it leads to realizations.
You are most welcome to enlightenment—the cessation of obscuration and the completion of realizations—in order to free the numberless sentient beings from the oceans of samsara’s sufferings.
Thank you very much.