Lama Tsongkhapa Guru Yoga (Ganden Lha Gyäma)

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Tushita Meditation Centre, Dharamsala, India 1986 (Archive #266)
Ganden Lha Gyäma: The Hundreds of Deities of the Land of Joy

In this commentary, Lama Zopa Rinpoche teaches on the Ganden Lha Gyäma practice, often translating the Tibetan verses line-by-line. The teachings were given by Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Tushita Meditation Centre, Dharamsala, India at the end of the Second Enlightened Experience Celebration held in March 1986.

The teachings were edited and assembled in this format by Uldis Balodis. First published by Uldis Balodis and Kopan Monastery in 1990. Lightly revised by Sandra Smith, September 2020. Tibetan terms checked and revised by Ven. Gyalten Lekden, September 2020.  

Please note: A Highest Yoga Tantra initiation is not required for Ganden Lha Gyäma practice, however, this teaching includes specific instructions suitable for Highest Yoga Tantra initiates. Rinpoche also teaches on more general lamrim topics including the preliminary practices, refuge and karma.

This commentary is now available for download as a PDF file.

10. Ganden Lha Gyäma: Part 2

Nying nä gyö pa drag pö so sor shag
I confess each and every one with fervent regret from my heart.

“I’m confessing individually with strong repentance from the heart.” Individually, or separately, means that the downfalls or vices or negative karma received through degenerating the pratimoksha vows, those received by degenerating the bodhisattva vows and those received by degenerating the tantra vows are purified by recalling each. It also means that there are different methods of purifying the vices—those one has received by degenerating pratimoksha vows have their specific methods of purification. The negative karmas accumulated by degenerating bodhisattva vows can be purified by doing the bodhisattvas’ techniques of confession such as prostrations to the Thirty-five Buddhas. They can be purified easily by performing the ceremony of taking the bodhisattva vows. Tantra has its own methods such as Vajrasattva, self-initiation, and tsog offering. So this word implies recalling all those. “From the heart” means not just doing an imitation of confession, not just saying the words, but doing it from the heart. Not just with the mouth, but from the heart. And that with strong repentance.

The other lines say that what we are confessing is any nonvirtue that has been accumulated by oneself from time without beginning, from beginningless samsaric rebirths. The negative karma accumulated with the body, speech and mind from time without beginning. Particularly the actions opposite to the three vows—the vices, negative karmas, of having degenerated the pratimoksha, bodhisattva and tantra vows.

In Lama Tsongkhapa’s tradition the main emphasis is to properly practice, or cherish most, or pay all attention to, the three vows. To protect them as one would protect one’s heart or eyes. Also, among Lama Tsongkhapa’s actions the most important was his clarification of the details of the three levels of vows and spreading of this knowledge. Basically, living in these three vows is protecting oneself by abstaining from creating those specific negative karmas, which are an interference to having happiness in this life, an interference to happiness in future lives and an interference to the achievement of liberation for oneself and the achievement of enlightenment for all the sentient beings.

Why is Lama Tsongkhapa’s main emphasis not the four hundred thousand ngondro31 practices but on protecting karma by living in the three vows? Because if one lives purely in as many vows as one has one creates less negative karma, less interference to oneself achieving enlightenment for the sake for sentient beings. That in itself becomes a purification which purifies the past negative karmas as well. It not only stops one creating any more negative karmas, it purifies those created in the past. In this way one does not need to do that much preliminary practice. How much preliminary practice one needs to do depends on how many obstacle there are to generating the realizations of lamrim and attaining enlightenment. If the vows, the essential method for achievement of enlightenment, are not taken care of and one continuously creates negative karma by doing the opposite, that creates the need to continuously do many preliminary practices in every life. As long as one continues to create the negative karmas through actions opposite to the three vows the preliminary practices have no end.

Lama Tsongkhapa’s emphasis has great wisdom. If much emphasis is placed on practices other than keeping the three levels of vows, and the three vows are regarded as secondary, we have to do the preliminary practices endlessly. The reasoning is the same as for doing the guru yoga practice: we do not want a loss, one wants a profit—we do not want suffering, we want happiness. If our effort is put into living in the three vows more purely, we accumulate that much less negative karma and so the need to do preliminary practices is less. Not only that, but it is easier and there are less obstacles to quickly generate the lamrim realizations and to achieve enlightenment. That is why being a gelong is regarded as the best basis for practicing tantra as we are then living in the highest number of vows. This was explained by Lama Tsongkhapa in the Lamrim Chenmo.

So this confession prayer in Ganden Lha Gyäma contains great, practical advice. In other words, if protecting karma, which is the most important thing, is not taken care of, and instead some other things are emphasized, such as the particular retreats that each tradition has, it is unskillful. Especially if done just to get them under our belt and be able to say that we had such and such an experience. If such practices are regarded as important but the important practice for gaining all success—protecting karma—is not practiced, it is not skillful because those various retreats and so on are for purifying negative karma and the obscurations. So, how quickly we can finish practicing Dharma is dependent on how well we protect karma.

I think it was Pabongkha Dechen Nyingpo who said: “It was said by Kyabgön Dorje Chang:...”—I think one of his root gurus—“‘It is Lama Tsongkhapa’s (Ganden) tradition that the moral conduct that one has vowed is to be regarded as the essential, main practice.’”

Lama Tsongkhapa said in The Foundation of All Qualities [Yöntän Zhir Gyurma]:

Led by this pure thought,
Mindfulness, alertness, and great caution arise.
The root of the teachings is keeping the pratimoksha vows:
Please bless me to accomplish this essential practice.

“Please bless me to be able to hold the root of the teachings—the liberation for self—derived from the pure attitude, as my main practice, with strong recall and awareness.” Here the pure attitude means renunciation of samsara.

How well we are able to live purely in the vows depends on one’s renunciation and bodhicitta. The awareness of impermanence and death, particularly the uncertainty of the time of death—how even today, even this hour, even this minute there is great uncertainty—is the strongest method to generate renunciation. The other factor—compassion, the thought of loving kindness toward others, feeling that it is unbearable that others are suffering—becomes a reason for us to practice and live purely in the three vows, since this is the essential path for the achievement of enlightenment. So it also depends how much we cherish other sentient beings. The thought of loving kindness and compassion, that the other sentient beings are suffering and devoid of happiness, becomes the reason for putting effort into this. We are ashamed to degenerate the three vows that we have taken for the sake of sentient beings. Also, we can see how the sentient beings have an incredible need of our help to free them from obscurations and lead them to enlightenment through developing our own mind. That development of the mind comes from living in the three vows.

This quote is, I think, from Lama Tsongkhapa’s teachings:

If we have degenerated the moral conduct we have vowed
There’s no other Dharma practice left to do;
It is like putting water in a pot
Which has a broken bottom.

However much water we put in a pot with no bottom, it does not remain. Then it says:

It is not enough to just be courageous in accepting the vows to be followed,
If they are degenerated, they should be immediately separately confessed.
That we have done this is something that pleases the learned ones
Who know the very essential points of practicing Dharma.

“The essential points of practicing Dharma” does not refer to the reasons why we should practice Dharma, it means the important points of Dharma practice.

Just think about the Theravadin monks. There must be many bodhisattvas who are Theravadins and so have not met the profound Paramitayana and tantra teachings. But even though they do not have such an extensive knowledge of Dharma, they practice the basic Dharma well and live a very satisfied life. They have few problems and whenever death comes they are happy or satisfied, because they have lived a most worthwhile and enjoyable life. Even though they have not heard teachings on shunyata as subtle as Madhyamaka, their lives are so satisfied, and they experience real happiness.

Lamas say:

Look at this body to know what was done in the past life; what the future life will be is dependent on the actions of the present life.

Pabongkha Dechen Nyingpo said:

Actually, we can tell without the need to make mos32 what our future life will be by looking at our own lifestyle.

To do perfect confession the most important thing is the four remedial powers. If we do Samayavajra or Vajrasattva or confession to the Thirty-five Buddhas and if we think of the meaning of the prayer, the confession becomes perfect, having the four remedial powers. These four powers are:

The power of the object

We create negative karma in relation to the holy object, so that needs to be purified. That is why in the Yamantaka sadhana even though it begins with refuge, again in the middle, before starting Vajrasattva purification, refuge comes again. Likewise in the Thirty-five Buddhas purification there is refuge. Tengyi tob33 means the power of the object—purifying negative karma accumulated in relationship to the holy object. And the negative karmas that are accumulated in relationship to the sentient beings are purified by generating bodhicitta—in dependence on the sentient beings. As when you fall down onto the ground you get up by depending on the ground. You do not get up from the ground by depending on space. So it is similar here. The power of the object—generating refuge and bodhicitta.

The power of the remedy

Nyenpo kuntu chopäi tob34—the power of always enjoying the remedy is the literal translation. Generally in lamrim there are six main remedies given: reciting the buddhas’ holy names, such as those of the Thirty-five Buddhas; reciting the sutras; meditating on emptiness; making offerings; making statues or paintings; reciting the Chenrezig mantra OM MANI PADME HUM or other mantras. Any of these can be done for purification. The most powerful purification is to put into practice what the guru advises, such as those difficult services which Lama advised us to do. Any work done to spread Dharma such as the hard work of running centers, and anything done to benefit other sentient beings, are the most powerful purifications.

If we did not confess the negative karma accumulated with respect to our guru while the guru was alive and they have passed away, one way to purify is to explain and confess to the nearest disciple of that guru. With great repentance we should make offerings and apologize and confess.

The power of repentance

Nampar sun jinpäi tob.35 Sun jinpäi means blaming, so this is the power of blaming the shortcomings: “I have created so much negative karma, so the result will be this and this. I will have to experience all these obstacles and sufferings.” This is thinking about the result, the shortcomings of creating negative karma. That in itself is repentance because when you think of all the shortcomings of negative karma you feel repentance. As you do not want experience those results and suffer, repentance comes.

That you have not generated, or are unable to generate, the realizations of the graduated path to enlightenment, or have generated them and had some experience of the path but that this has disappeared or degenerated, is due to negative karma and obscurations. That you experience so much non-success, so many undesirable things one after another, shows that you have not purified. Experiencing the result shows that you did not purify the cause.

If you have accumulated heavy karma such as the five uninterrupted karmas, according to the Vaibhashika school that cannot be purified and you will definitely experience the result. However, according to the Prasangika school even if you accumulate such heavy karmas as killing powerful objects such as parents, taking the lives of arhats or causing disunity among the Sangha, these can be purified. For example, it is mentioned in Nagarjuna’s Letter to a Friend, that Tongden, a Brahmin I think, killed his mother, but confessed very powerfully and generated the right-seeing path, the path directly perceiving shunyata, and became an arhat. Also, Angulimala, the one who killed nine hundred and ninety-nine human beings, by generating strong repentance and doing powerful confession he achieved the right-seeing path and became an arhat in that same life. Also Magyedra, who took the life of his father generated strong repentance at having created that negative karma and generated the right-seeing path and became an arhat in that life. Then there is the example of Milarepa who in the early part of his life killed many people using black magic but became enlightened in that very brief lifetime by generating strong repentance and going to seek a guru, and meeting Marpa.

For powerful purification through perfect confession the most important thing is repentance. The stronger the repentance we generate the thinner the negative karma becomes. It is explained in the teachings:

The wise person’s negative karma, even if great, becomes small.
The foolish person’s negative karma, even if small, becomes great.

This has great meaning. A wise person knows how to do powerful, perfect purification, so even if the negative karma they have created is incredibly heavy, they can make it very light, very thin. But foolish persons do not know how to do powerful and perfect purification, nor even the methods of purification, therefore even if the negative karma they have accumulated is very light it becomes heavier and heavier because it increases. Therefore it is so important to generate very strong repentance.

It is very good to remember Pabongkha Dechen Nyingpo’s method of generating repentance. At the beginning comes the expression of sadness—Kyema or Oh!

I have accumulated multitudes of negative karma since beginningless samsara
Which is like a king’s store-house—
It appears to me that I have attempted only to create each of the negative karmas for hundreds of millions of eons.
Even though in this life I am trying to practice virtue and renounce negative karma,
But day and night without a break I receive rainfalls of negative karma and moral downfalls
And I have no capability to completely purify them without anything remaining.
The enemy, the owner (lord) of death, comes unexpectedly.

Won’t I fall down into the narak now?
My companions and friends are presently being cooked in the fires of the naraks;
By this time next year won’t I also be cooking in the fires of the narak?

This refers to friends or parents of this life, people that we knew, with whom we traveled, with whom we studied Dharma, with whom we took initiations, with whom we went to school, worked in the office, who have already died; also friends, companions, parents, husbands, wives and so on of past lives are already suffering in the narak. Remember that and think, “Won’t I fall down, won’t I be suffering there in the same realm by this time tomorrow?” Then at the end:

Please Savior, protect the evil one (me) with compassion!

This is very effective to think in order to generate strong repentance. So recall what I explained earlier whilst saying this supplication by Pabongkha Dechen Nyingpo. It is also important to go over the eight shortcomings of having made mistakes in devoting to the virtuous friend, which you will find in The Essence of Nectar, whilst reciting.

For the number of moments we are angry toward the virtuous friend, the merits created in that many eons are destroyed, and we will suffer in the narak for that many eons. That refers to moments as defined by the Prasangika school: the duration of a youthful person’s finger snap has 360 moments. I think scientists use even shorter moments, like, say, when we use a camera. So if anger lasts for the duration of a finger snap the merit we accumulated in 360 past eons is destroyed and we have to suffer in the narak for that many eons. Even if we practice tantra with much effort—which means with fasting, going without sleep, meditating—for many eons, we only achieve the narak.

Think: “Do I like even a small headache, or not? Do I like it or not? Can I bear it or not? Can I bear a small pain in the stomach, or not? Am I happy with that? Do I like it or not?” Question yourself. Of course, we do not want even a small problem for even a second. Compared to the suffering in the narak this is great pleasure, so how would we be able to bear the heaviest sufferings of the narak for that length of time? Thinking of our own present experience and comparing it to the narak is very, very effective. If we do not compare it with your aversion to our present suffering it seems like just a fairy tale, nothing serious at all. So when we see that we have created negative karmas for the experience of suffering in day to day life, which we do not want to have at all, the thought will arise, “I must do something to purify immediately.”

I asked Zimmey Rinpoche about this quote from the Lamrim Chenmo: “If we break a bodhisattva root vow we cannot become an arya being in this life.” Rinpoche said that means that you cannot become an arya being in this life if you don’t purify the bodhisattva root downfalls. In answer to a similar question about the quote: “Even if we practice tantra we cannot achieve the sublime realizations,” Rinpoche said it is not that having made these mistakes we will never achieve enlightenment, which it sounds like it is saying; rather, it means if we do not confess and purify. If we confess and purify it changes it. So, the whole point is that if we change our attitude and confess and attempt to not make the mistake again, things change, but if we do not change our attitude and do not attempt to not repeat the mistake, no matter how much we practice tantra we can never achieve the sublime realization. I think this is very important to remember, especially if we know we have made these mistakes.

In The Essence of Nectar it says:

Even if we have accumulated all five uninterrupted negative karmas
We can achieve the sublime ocean of Vajrayana (which indicates that the Vajrayana is extensive) in this life.
But one who from the heart criticizes the virtuous friend
Cannot achieve enlightenment even if they practice the ocean-like Vajrayana.

Actually, having killed a hundred or even a thousand people is not really so alarming. A butcher killing many thousands of goats or fish is not really alarming. According to these outlines, the negative karma accumulated by such butchers is almost nothing compared to these heavy negative karmas accumulated in regard to the virtuous friend. Those are easy to purify. Even having killed thousands of human beings is not really heavy karma in comparison. In the Fifty Verses of Guru Devotion, which are teachings about the guru, it mentions the shortcomings of negative actions in connection with the guru, that the results are the heaviest and are experienced for an incredible length of time. So, I think killing many thousands of people is not really alarming, compared to this it is really very light karma.

There is a most important point. Perhaps we do powerful purification by confessing and the cause to be born in the narak is purified, but the other problem is that much merit has been destroyed, and therefore we are now so distant from the realizations. Because that much merit has been destroyed, all realizations, including enlightenment, are put off for as many eons as seconds that we got angry. So on top of having to purify we have to work on accumulating that much merit again. Also one important point is this: if we do not attempt to not make mistakes in regard to the guru again in this life, what happens is that because each complete karma, both virtuous and nonvirtuous, has four results and one of them is again creating a cause similar to the cause, because of the habit from the impression left on our consciousness, if we meet the virtuous guru in the next life we will again make the same mistakes. And so it will go on and on like this in future lives, and we will create the heaviest obstacles. Therefore it is so unbelievably important to devote ourselves correctly with all effort to the virtuous friend in this life. Repeating the same mistake again and again is a great obstacle even if we do not have to be born in the narak after this life because of having purified. Therefore it is very helpful to know these important points in regard to repentance.

In general any negative karma can be purified. Why? Because it is the nature of negative karma. It has no other good quality, but it does have this one. By doing powerful purification we can completely purify the negative karma and therefore not have to experience it. That is the best outcome. The middling we are that we experience some problem—perhaps sickness or a disaster—in this life, which depletes that karma and we do not need to experience it in the lower realms or in coming lives. The lesser outcome is that through doing purification even if we do get born in a lower realm and experience the suffering result, it will last for a shorter duration and be less intense.

The power of turning away from the negative karma

This means making a vow to not repeat it and knowing for sure that you will not. Thinking, “Oh yes, I’m not going to commit it again,” but in your heart knowing that you are, becomes telling lies in front of the merit field. It does not make sense to do that. Whether a person is Indian or Nepali or a Westerner is established by what is written in their passport. It is common recognition—it is not determined by what they actually are. But our sincerity is not determined by what we say, it is determined by our heart. So this last one of the powers is not put into effect by words, rather, it is up to what is in our heart. The method, making the vow, is done by promising, “I’m not going to commit the action today.” Of course, we can and should continue to abstain the next day and so on; it does not mean that because we made the vow to cover only today after today doing the negative action is alright! We make the vow to cover the duration of that day, or even one hour, and for the subtle actions even one minute. This way it is more sincere; we are able to make the vow from our heart and are able to make some determination.

Pabongkha Dechen Nyingpo and other lamas used this example in the lamrim teachings: three people have taken poison. One person is already dead, another is in the process of dying and is experiencing incredible pain, and the last one has just taken the poison, but has not felt anything yet. That person sees the problems caused by the poison and so he immediately wants to do something. He cannot stand it that there is poison inside his body. So he has a very, very strong thought to not eat poison again and to do something immediately to get rid of the poison he has taken so it does not harm him. Similarly, oneself and sentient beings have taken the poison of negative karma. Many sentient beings, having taken the poison of negative karma, have already left their human bodies and gone to the narak and are suffering there. And many sentient beings, having taken this poison of negative karma, are dying now. You are in the same position: you have also taken the poison of negative karma, so it will be the same for you. Whether death will occur right this minute is uncertain, but it can happen. This breath can stop all of a sudden, within this minute. Being aware of this you will not be able to stand having the poison of negative karma within yourself even for a second, and will have the strong intention to not take the poison of negative karma again.

In the Vajrasattva practice before saying, “Due to my ignorance...” you should use the power of vowing to not commit the actions again. Same for Samayavajra practice. And it comes in the prayer of confession to the Thirty-five Buddhas.

When you do Vajrasattva recitation it is good to go over the pratimoksha, bodhisattva and tantra vows, both root and branches, and while reciting the mantra recall how many of them and how many times each of them was broken, or degenerated. Similarly when doing Samayavajra practice or recitation of the holy names of the Thirty-five Buddhas. Also before sojong it is very good to read through all the vows; then doing sojong is very effective because the thought to purify is very strong. Otherwise it becomes just a custom.

Pabongkha Dechen Nyingpo explained in the commentary on the six-session yoga, as well as in his lamrim teaching: “Degenerating one bodhisattva vow...”—not a root downfall or tsatung,36 but one of the forty-six secondary vows or nyechä 37—“…is a hundred thousand times heavier than breaking a pratimoksha root vow of a fully ordained monk.” For example, killing a human being, telling a big lie about having realizations. “Degenerating one tantra secondary vow, bompo, is a hundred thousand times heavier than breaking a root vow of the bodhisattva ordination.”38

Remember this when you are going through the vows when reciting Vajrasattva or Samayavajra mantra or whatever. Remember that it is much, much heavier the higher the ordination is. Think of how many of them were broken and how many times each of them was degenerated. For example, each time we look at and cling to phenomena as ordinary we receive bompo, a tantra downfall. If we do not practice pure conception and pure appearance then however many objects we cling to as being ordinary in each minute, in such a short time, that many negative karmas are accumulated. And clinging to whatever possessions we have as “mine” and clinging to enjoyments with attachment breaks the bodhisattva wishing vow precepts. His Holiness Zong Rinpoche mentioned during the Yamantaka retreat advice that each time we who have taken Maha-anuttara Tantra initiation do not keep samaya, for example by not practicing pure appearance when drinking or eating by blessing or transforming the food into nectar, then [the negative karma of] taking each sip or spoonful is eighteen times heavier than a gelong breaking all four root vows. If having taken initiation we do not keep samaya then it is difficult even to confess, and we will start to experience the suffering results of that, results which are difficult to bear.

Think about the tantra root vows, the heaviest among all vows. The first one is to not give up the guru. The second we are to not be careless about all vows. That includes not only the vows of tantra, but also the bodhisattva and pratimoksha vows. Breaking this happens so easily and we receive a tantra root downfall. Even if the first one, giving up the guru, does not happen, the second one happens very easily. The third is to not criticize our vajra brothers, those who have received initiation from the same guru. “Brothers” here does not only refer to males! It is difficult to keep: you may insult or say something very harmful and feel happy that you were able to hurt the other person. The tantra vow of not giving up the thought of loving kindness does not need the four binding factors to be present to receive a downfall, unlike the other tantra vows. From most texts it seems that if we have the intention and that is not stopped by recognizing the attitude and changing it, it is a kuntri,39 a root downfall—it is so easy to receive.

I asked His Holiness the Dalai Lama what is the definition of having received a root downfall in regard to the length of time that we need to maintain the intention. His Holiness said if our attitude has not changed within four hours we receive a tantra root downfall. A change in attitude means a change from the four binding factors, which are: not regarding it as a mistake; not changing the attitude of wanting to do (or repeat) it; feeling satisfied or happy at having done (or wanting to do) it; not feeling ashamed in our own or others’ eyes. In most scriptures, however, it says it only needs a short time, almost only a few seconds, of our attitude not changing through seeing it as a mistake, having shame, feeling unhappy about doing it and not wanting to do it. Also each time the mother tantra samaya, the left-sided conduct, is not followed we receive much heavy negative karma. So, we should remember this.

Regarding the first tantra root downfall, giving up the virtuous friend. I think in the term nyeme, nye means belittling and criticizing. I asked His Holiness Ling Rinpoche if it means just getting angry with the virtuous friend or if it means criticizing. I had asked the question by correspondence, and His Holiness Ling Rinpoche wrote back to Nepal saying that the term used for the first root downfall, nyeme, does not mean just simply getting angry with the virtuous friend; it means renouncing the guru as an object of respect. This may arise even for a minute or even a few seconds due to some condition such as being told to do something which you do not want to do, that is not according to your own ideas. At such times the virtuous friend may appear as negative and anger can arise for a moment. You may think, “What’s the use of this teacher? What’s the use of doing this?” and renounce the guru as an object of respect of body, speech and mind.

You can feel the effect of that heavy negative karma immediately in your heart. Your heart becomes kind-of dry. You feel that something went wrong, you cannot relax, that something has degenerated in your heart, like a place where a lake has dried up. The effect you feel when your samaya has degenerated is that the happiness in your heart is lost, it is just kind-of dry and uncomfortable. Like your heart has become an ugly, rocky, thorny place. There is a very unpleasant feeling in your heart. It can cause wind disease, or craziness, the mind going out of control. And due to that the protectors and spirits are displeased and bad signs appear, which affects the environment. You have many problems and concerns. Also you experience epidemic diseases and fever and can die from them, and have problems from dön, interferers, and contagious diseases and poison. You may be killed by the king, fire or poisonous snakes, and be robbed by robbers, dakinis or thieves. It says in the text that after that the ignorant person is killed and goes to the narak. For example, something that happened in Tibet: two disciples of Songtsen Gampo, the first Dharma king, were to definitely achieve the Vajradhara state, the unified state, in that life. They had incredible fortune, but because some heresy arose toward their virtuous teacher which they did not confess and purify, they died on the road after being badly beaten with stones by robbers.

So, we die in a terrible way, and even before that it is like having opened a door making it so easy to receive harm from the elements, from human beings and from spirits. So, mistakes in our devotion to the virtuous friend, degenerating or breaking samaya in relationship to the virtuous teacher, is like opening the door to harm and problems for ourselves. It is also very effective to feel this when making confession. Relating it to that same day: From this morning until now, how many actions were done out of ignorance; from this morning until now how many actions were done out of clinging to this life, out of anger? Any actions done out of disturbing thoughts are causes for being born in the lower realms. Out of the ten nonvirtues how many have been accumulated? Without talking about anger, it is hard to find any action done without attachment—any action we do: sitting, walking, sleeping, eating. Today, so many, and this month, this year, from our birth, in past lives, since beginningless rebirths.

Dromtonpa asked Lama Atisha, “What will be the results of these actions done out of disturbing thoughts?” Lama Atisha answered, “The results will be rebirth in the narak, animal and preta realms.” In one lamrim teaching it says: “Any actions done out of worldly concern...”—which means attachment to this life—“...become digpa.”40 Exceptions are those actions like making offerings and doing prostrations to the merit field. Any action done out of these disturbing thoughts becomes negative karma—which is almost every single action. Even washing! And it multiplies day by day, month by month, year by year. Pabongkha Dechen Nyingpo explained in his lamrim: “Having killed one tiny bug, if it is not confessed before the end of the day after fifteen days the negative karma becomes the same as that of having killed one human being. Then, after eighteen days it becomes 131,072 times greater.”

If you have not accumulated negative karma, even if a poisonous snake bites you, even if you are eaten by a tiger, killed in an earthquake, are in an airplane crash or car accident, or even if somebody kills you, you have no cause to be born a lower realm, even though you died in such circumstances. Even if you eat poison and die there is no danger that you will go to a lower realm. Therefore nonvirtuous karma is much more harmful than poison. The harm from poison and the harm from negative karma cannot be compared. The harm from poison is nothing. The greatest harm it can do is separate your consciousness from your body. But if you have created negative karma, even if you do not die in such circumstances, even if you do not eat poison, you will fall into the depthless lower realm. That means that once you are in the lower realm, because of continuously creating negative karma, you will repeatedly wander there. Thinking in this way is also very effective during Vajrasattva and Samayavajra recitation, and during the prostrations. Think about it before starting the session and even during it.

The most powerful method of stopping the multiplication of negative karmas is the Vajrasattva practice, as mentioned in the root tantra text Sangwäi Chigyü.41 Even by reciting just twenty-one Vajrasattva mantras any moral downfalls and any vices that you have received will not increase daily. If you recite twenty-one long, or twenty-eight short (OM VAJRASATTVA HUM) Vajrasattva mantras before that twenty-four-hour day ends, even if you have received root downfalls of tantra vows or have degenerated the secondary vows, the karma will not have increased by the following day. So if you continuously do this practice until your death your life becomes highly meaningful, even if you do no other practice. It not only stops the negative karma from increasing, it also purifies what you have accumulated. This is referring to Vajrasattva of the Maha-anuttara Yoga Tantra aspect, where the father Vajrasattva embraces the mother Vajra Nyema Karmo.42 Reciting mantra with the Kriya Tantra Vajrasattva, without the wisdom mother, purifies only the degeneration of the pratimoksha and bodhisattva vows and the vices of having degenerated Kriya Tantra vows. The negative karmas from having degenerated Maha-anuttara Tantra vows can be purified only by the Maha-anuttara Tantra Vajrasattva. Once you have taken tantra vows you need to recite twenty-one long or twenty-eight short mantras every day.

The Vajrasattva mantra is in the form of a requesting prayer, so sometimes you should think of the meaning of the mantra and then recite it. That can be done not only with Vajrasattva but during any retreat you do. Then your mind will not get occupied by disturbing thoughts, and so during that session you will not create negative karma. Otherwise there is a danger of creating negative karma even while you are reciting mantras during the session. If the mind is allowed to get under the control of the superstitions, the disturbing thoughts such as ill will, heresy, avarice, attachment, then even during the session you create negative karma. Your mouth is reciting mantra, but the mind is creating negative karma.

It is very good to sometimes recite the mantra with one-pointed concentration on mindfulness of dependent arising of the I, the aggregates, as well as the deity. That is very effective, very powerful.

The meaning of Vajrasattva’s mantra when the meanings of the separate phrases are integrated is:

You, Vajrasattva, have generated bodhicitta; as per your samaya you are qualified with the power of effortlessly performing the spontaneous action of liberating the migratory beings from samsara.

“As per your samaya” refers to when the Vajrasattva were training in the bodhisattvas’ path they generated this particular bodhicitta to become enlightened specifically in order to be able to purify the negative karma of sentient beings; as the buddha of wisdom’s action is to particularly grant wisdom. So it means as you have promised, according to your vow made at the beginning when you were following the path. “Migratory beings” refers to the living beings who, because of being under the control of karma and disturbing thoughts, migrate continuously from one of the six realms to another and experience the suffering of death and rebirth, etc. In other words, you made this vow and you have the power. Then follows:

Whether I am happy or miserable in life, without giving me up and with a pleasing mind please guide me and stabilize the happiness of the upper realms,
And generate the general and sublime realizations, and cause the magnificence of the five transcendental wisdoms to abide in my heart.

In other words, “Please cause these realizations to happen in my heart.” That is the integrated meaning of the long mantra.

I do not remember completely what the short one OM VAJRASATTVA HUM means, however, it contains the essence of the meaning of the long mantra: “You, Vajrasattva, please do not pass away from your pledge and generate all the realizations in my heart.” HUM is to persuade the holy mind of Vajrasattva to grant what you are requesting.

If you are going to do Vajrasattva practice at this stage of the Ganden Lha Gyäma, the Vajradhara that you have visualized at Lama Tsongkhapa’s heart is transformed into Vajrasattva. I think it is the same for Lama Chöpa. Then a replica of that descends onto your crown and other sentient beings’ crowns and you are purified by descending nectars.


Your, the Savior’s, great action is like a powerful wave;
You have listened extensively and attempted many practices
And have made your body qualified with freedom and richness meaningful
By having abandoned the eight worldly dharmas in this degenerated time;
At your great action we (the sentient beings) rejoice from the heart.

His action is like a very powerful wave that cannot be stopped. “Degenerated time” means this time of flourishing of the five degenerations: the degeneration of delusion; degeneration of views; degeneration of sentient beings; degeneration of life; and degeneration of time. Degenerated time gives the idea of it being a time when it is not easy to practice Dharma as there are so many obstacles, unlike the past fortunate times when human lives were thousands of years long. The time of quarreling is even more degenerate than the degenerate time. It becomes more and more degenerate year by year.

Having listened extensively means having had teachings and read all the sutra and tantra root texts and commentaries many times. Similarly for reflection and meditation practice. I heard that His Holiness the Dalai Lama has read Lama Tsongkhapa’s Lamrim Chenmo seventy-two times. Four geshes did the three-year Yamantaka retreat here sponsored by the Tibetan government. I think there are two still living and two have already passed away. The government sponsored them because they need qualified meditators to perform certain wrathful rituals. One of the geshes, Losang Rinchen from Shartse, had to go to the palace sometimes to fill statues or do some other activities. So one day His Holiness came along and asked him, “How many times have you read Lama Tsongkhapa’s Lamrim Chenmo?” The geshe said he had read it four times. His Holiness then said, “Oh, only four times. I have read it seventy-two times!”

I have one teacher, Yeshe, the teacher who I had before Lama Yeshe. He passed away many years ago. Gen Yeshe is the one from whom I received the meditation on the Lama Tsongkhapa Guru Yoga practice, which is in Geshe Rabten Rinpoche’s notebook, which we used to regard as so precious. I think that was my first teaching about sentient beings having been our mother and so kind—the seven techniques of cause and effect. There was no text, but Gen Yeshe taught it and I wrote it down. I had not learned the letters yet, but I just did my own way of writing, which did not have any rules! Not the u cän,43 but the other one. Geshe Sonam Rinchen, who was in the same class as Gen Yeshe, was telling me how Yeshe left Buxa and used to live in the Bhutanese houses on the mountains and lead an ascetic life. Then he left to wander around India and just live at any place suitable for practice. They met, and Gen Yeshe said, “I have read the lamrim many times...”—I forget how many—”and when I examine I find I know the subjects, so I have the material, I have enough to meditate on.” So he does not need to go to somebody.

In Dalhousie there is a group of retreaters guided by one very high ascetic lama, Trehor Kyorpen, who is a Geshe Lharampa. He and Serkong Dorje Chang, who passed away in Nepal, did their geshe examination together in Tibet. After the geshe examination this lama went to one very, very high mountain to live an ascetic life. He and one of his nearest disciples, a geshe who was also very learned and a good practitioner, carried the robes that a monk should keep, and the Lamrim Chenmo. This Trehor Kyorpen Rinpoche always carries the Lamrim Chenmo wherever he travels. They were looking for caves. When Gen Jampa Wangdu was telling me it sounded to me like it was a huge mountain that was always foggy on top. It did not sound like a very pleasant mountain! Trehor Kyorpen Rinpoche could not see anything, but somebody was throwing stones. He followed the falling stones and after some time saw a cave which stones were being thrown at. He went inside and saw a skeleton sitting in meditation position. Trehor Kyorpen Rinpoche suddenly sat down and offered a mandala to the skeleton, and after he had finished the skeleton collapsed. He then decided to do his practices and generate the realizations of the path in that cave. There were some of his disciples around, but not very close by.

Anyway, there is a group at Dalhousie guided by this lama. So Geshe Sonam Rinchen and other people told my teacher Gen Yeshe, “You can go there to practice and live an ascetic life,” but Gen Yeshe said, “Oh, I have studied enough, and when I examine I know I have enough subjects to think about, so I don’t need to go to some group.”

From Lama Tsongkhapa’s biography we can see the inconceivable amount of listening and reflecting on all the scriptures that he did.

You made your body qualified with freedom and richness meaningful by avoiding the eight worldly dharmas.

Regarding that point, at one time Lama Tsongkhapa was giving teaching to one hundred and eight learned monks, who were denö dzinpa,44 which means holders of the three baskets of teachings, in the place called Toelung. While Lama Tsongkhapa was granting them the happiness of Dharma, Manjushri sent him a message through Pawo Dorje.45 The message was that Lama Tsongkhapa should go to a solitary place to practice. But because Lama Tsongkhapa was giving teachings to so many sentient beings, Pawo Dorje felt uncomfortable about passing on this message. In other words, he had doubt. So he said to Manjushri, “Chöje Lotsawa...”—which refers to Lama Tsongkhapa—“ doing great activities for the teachings, and if I tell him to stop teaching and go to a solitary place to practice I will be criticized by the people who are taking teachings.” He then asked Manjushri to be excused from giving this message to Lama Tsongkhapa. Then Manjushri said, “How can you tell? How do you know whether what Lama Tsongkhapa is doing now is benefiting the teachings or not? This way of giving explanations, just from the mouth, will not benefit at all. If it continues like this, after Lama Tsongkhapa has passed away there will be nothing to benefit the teachings. Just this cannot benefit. You have to consider all sentient beings equaling space.” In other words, Manjushri said that just caring about the number of sentient beings there was not enough, and Lama Tsongkhapa should go to a solitary place and practice while thinking of the sentient beings equaling space. In other words, even if they are upset because the teaching is stopped in the middle, he has to think to benefit the sentient beings equaling infinite space.

When Lama Tsongkhapa received this message he immediately, even though in the middle of the teaching, stopped it, and taking only eight disciples with him and without any possessions other than eight coins or something, went to a solitary place to live an ascetic life. He did many hundreds of thousands of mandala offerings, prostrations and other preliminaries, and generated not only the general path, but the two uncommon Maha-anuttara Tantra stages. Lama Tsongkhapa made his holy body, qualified with freedoms and richnesses, highly meaningful by renouncing the eight worldly dharmas and performing extensive perfect preliminary practices.

What can be understood form Manjushri’s advice to Lama Tsongkhapa is that even arhats, the higher bodhisattvas and even the tenth bhumi bodhisattvas cannot work for the sentient beings perfectly. Without achieving the state of omniscient mind we cannot work for the sentient beings equaling infinite space perfectly. What actually benefits every single sentient being equaling infinite space is generating the lamrim realizations: renunciation, bodhicitta and shunyata, and then tantra. Those are of actual benefit to all the sentient beings. Until we attain the three principal paths there is no way to achieve enlightenment, so no way to really benefit all the sentient beings. Therefore this is the most important, the very first thing we need to succeed in.

Each day we are able to bring our mind closer to the lamrim path and generate the lamrim realizations within our mind, especially bodhicitta, makes our life most meaningful. It is good to teach Dharma, and it is good to do all those other things such as educating others, giving medicine to others, building hospitals or schools or doing many of these things which help society, but doing these things is not the greatest purpose of human life. However, if we can do both—develop our mind in lamrim practice as well as those other activities to benefit others—it is the most courageous, without question. But if we do not get to live an ascetic life in a solitary place, do not generate the lamrim path nor even do those other activities such as teaching Dharma, helping with education or giving medicine—those temporary benefits—there is no benefit at all to other sentient beings. Compared with giving those temporal benefits it is much better to teach other sentient beings whatever Dharma we know so they can accumulate as much merit as possible. But giving just those temporal benefits is better than doing nothing. Otherwise our life will be empty, of no benefit to others or oneself. Our life will be completely depressing if we do not give help to others with our mind and speech or even physically.

During one of my Heruka retreats at Kopan one of my realizations was discovering that all this appearance of giving teachings, with many people coming to listen and saying, “Oh, good!,” is not the path; that it is kind-of cheating myself. But this is Lama’s great wish. During Lama’s time he did not always emphasize that I should teach, but though I rejected the idea of going to the West and so on, Lama said there is a need to go to the West. He gave that advice many times. Thinking this is Lama’s main wish, and particularly from now until Lama’s incarnation is able to give teachings, and we have the karma to again receive teachings from him, teaching becomes some sort of offering. Thinking of that point is something which makes the mind happy. Also, by listening to the teachings, others accumulate some merit. However, the whole thing comes down to karma.

If you practice rejoicing while thinking of the meaning of Lama Tsongkhapa’s biography and wish for yourself to become like Lama Tsongkhapa, that is a preparation to sooner or later become like him—having all attainments and being able to extensively benefit the teachings and sentient beings.

Confession is a remedy for all three poisonous minds and enables the achievement of non-abiding nirvana, the complete cessation of both obscurations. Rejoicing is the remedy for jealousy. This is what you should practice in everyday life if, out of all the delusions, jealousy is the biggest problem. The result is a holy body without flaws or any ugliness. Anybody who sees Buddha’s holy body sees it as perfect, without ugliness, and however often they see it they always want to see it again. It is how we feel about His Holiness. Another result is that we will turn the Dharma wheel.

I will make some clarification about rejoicing in Lama Tsongkhapa’s biography. In Pabongkha Dechen Nyingpo’s elaborate Ganden Lha Gyäma prayer it says:

Who can guess at Manjushri’s unique three secrecies?

This means that only the buddhas themselves can comprehend the secret qualities of the holy body, holy speech and holy mind of Manjushri, or Lama Tsongkhapa.

Even in the general view he has in his holy mind
All the teachings and commentaries on the view of the teaching...

This refers to the teachings of Buddha and the commentaries by the pandits and yogis such as Nagarjuna and Asanga which explain the meaning of the Buddha’s teachings on the extensive path and the teachings on the profound path.

...Which appeared as advice, and has practiced and gone to the highest state;
At your deeds, Lama Tsongkhapa, I rejoice!

That stanza refers to the specific qualities of Lama Tsongkhapa which appear to the general view.

Then related to the previous verse about having renounced the eight worldly dharmas, Pabongkha Dechen Nyingpo says:

Leave aside the eight black worldly dharmas and eight mixed dharmas,
He is even unstained by the eight white dharmas.
He made the complete teaching of Buddha pure, like refined gold,
With hundreds of quotations and reasonings.
At your biography, Lama Tsongkhapa, I rejoice!

The eight black worldly dharmas are those Nagarjuna explained: liking comfort and disliking discomfort; wishing for a good reputation, disliking a bad, or no, reputation; wanting praise, disliking criticism; wanting to receive materials, not liking not receiving material things. So when we have what we like, we clings; when there is attachment-clinging to comfort, there is dislike for discomfort, and similarly with the rest. All actions done out of these worldly concerns are one of the black eight worldly dharmas except some particular actions which become virtuous due to the power of a holy object. How much dislike there is for discomfort, criticism, a bad reputation and for not receiving materials depends on whether there is any clinging to comfort, reputation, praise and receiving materials. Actions done out of the worldly concern to have comfort in this life, or to prevent discomfort in this life, and so on, except those particular actions mentioned above, are the eight black dharmas. Worldly concern means concern for only the happiness of this life.

The eight mixed dharmas are actions done out of the self-cherishing thought. Even if an action is not done out of worldly concern but is done out of self-cherishing, it is a mixed worldly dharma.

Even if one does not have the self-cherishing thought, if an action is done with the wrong conception of clinging to things as truly existent, it is one of the eight white worldly dharmas. In Lama Tsongkhapa’s biography all his actions in each twenty-four hours, besides being unstained by black and mixed eight worldly dharmas, are unstained even by the eight white worldly dharmas.

The next stanza by Pabongkha Dechen Nyingpo praises the even more specific qualities of Lama Tsongkhapa:

The previous learned ones were hallucinating regarding the meaning of the profundity;
All the Tibetans were lost in a maze in the darkness of wrong views;
Only the pure wisdom sun gave breath through the illumination of dependent arising;
In your teachings, Lama Tsongkhapa, I rejoice!

“Profundity” means shunyata, emptiness, or dependent arising. In other words, Lama Tsongkhapa’s teaching, like the sun illuminating the darkness of the earth, dispels all the darkness of the ignorance of sentient beings. There are so many teachings, but just the light of his teachings on dependent arising alone gives breath to the sentient beings. As at the end of the tantra vows, this can be related to the sufferings of the lower realms or to karma and delusion, the true sufferings. Thus “gave breath” can mean liberating from the lower realms those who are suffocated by the sufferings of those realms; and also, liberating those with the body of a happy transmigratory being in the upper realms who are suffocated by karma and disturbing thoughts, the true sufferings. So “gave breath” to them means liberating them from suffering and the true cause of suffering. He is using the simile of somebody suffocating, for example, in a gas-filled room and because of not being able to breathe it is difficult to survive. There are so many incredible clarifications of the most difficult points of sutra and tantra in Lama Tsongkhapa’s teachings, which other learned ones could not understand. They had wrong ways of thinking due to not understanding the correct meaning of Buddha’s teachings. Even one teaching on dependent arising, gives breath, or liberation, to sentient beings.

If a being like you, Manjushri, had not come to Tibet,
The view, meditation and conduct, and the entire sutra and tantra teachings
Would have become only a reflection of Buddha’s teaching,
(Not real, only a reflection)
And all the Tibetan people would have taken refuge in just that reflection.
Therefore, I especially remember your kindness, and rejoice.

These three verses embody all of Lama Tsongkhapa’s biography.

Lama Tsongkhapa said:

The virtuous action which requires little effort but with which we are able to accumulate great merit is rejoicing.

Rejoicing is a virtue that we can practice with the mind alone without the need for any particular activity of the body or speech—while we are walking down the road, while we are talking, while we are eating, while we are lying down at the beach! It needs no particular activities or great effort, and if practiced it accumulates infinite merit. One king asked the Buddha, “I have to work for the populace so I have no time to study or meditate and so on; is there any suitable practice that I can do?” Buddha gave the king these three practices: rejoicing, bodhicitta and dedication. As these are just mental activities the king was able to accumulate unbelievable merit in a very short time.

Through feeling happy about your own three times’ merit, the merit increases greatly. By practicing rejoicing in other sentient beings who have a lower level of mind, less realizations than yourself, you receive more merit than the other person who put the effort into accumulating it. Then, if the other person has a higher level of mind than you, you gain merit equal to half the merit you are rejoicing in. For example, Pabongkha Dechen Nyingpo in his notes on lamrim said one of his root gurus, Dagpo Rinpoche, said:

If you are not a bodhisattva, by rejoicing for just a second at the merit accumulated by a bodhisattva in one day you receive the equivalent of half that amount of merit. To accumulate that merit without practicing rejoicing requires being born as a human being and accumulating merit for fifteen thousand years.

This gives you an idea of the incredible length of time it takes to accumulate such merit. Rejoicing is thinking something like, “How wonderful it is that this bodhisattva accumulated this merit in one day.” Now, this is in regard to one bodhisattva, but there are numberless bodhisattvas, so you can rejoice in the merit they all accumulate in one day. This is without considering each bodhisattva’s three times’ merit—that created by him in the past, present and future.

When practicing rejoicing, first rejoice at your own three times’ merit. Just as a mother in a poor family would feel so happy if her beloved child found a diamond or a thousand rupees or something in the garbage. Or like parents who feel happy when their children find a good job, or get a certificate or degree. Then rejoice at all sentient beings’ three times’ merits and at the temporal and ultimate happiness that will result. And then at the bodhisattvas’ three times’ merits, and all the incredible results of temporal and ultimate happiness. Then at all the buddhas’ merits. Being aware of this, think, “How wonderful it is!”

Generating happiness is the means of practicing rejoicing. This is a bodhisattva’s action. Not only at a time when you are practicing the seven limbs specifically, this can be practiced in everyday life, whenever you see other sentient beings enjoying good things; whenever you hear about other people having had a good retreat, having had a good time, much experience; when you see that other people have more Dharma knowledge than you; even at others having a good body and wealth and whatever good things they have. Feel happiness in your heart all the time: “How good it is!” Even about the helpers around you—about any good thing you see others having. Just as a mother feels happy about her children when they do something good or when they get something valuable. Then jealousy or the other disturbing thoughts which make you unhappy will not arise.

It is good to do this in a place like Dharamsala, for example. First think that the people of Dharamsala accumulate so much merit—it is one of the main places where people can accumulate much merit. So first start with the people here knowing that they accumulate so much merit, and feel happiness. Then extend it to all sentient beings.


Dedication is of your own merit and the merit accumulated by others, all together, for all sentient beings and for the teachings to develop, particularly the essence of Lama Tsongkhapa’s teaching. So, with a strong wish dedicate like this, and say this prayer:

May whatever merit I have accumulated be beneficial for all the teachings and for all the sentient beings;
Particularly for the essence of the teachings of Jetsun Losang Dragpa to last a long time,
And be clarified in my mind and in the minds of all sentient beings.

It does not say there “in the minds of all sentient beings,” but you can add this.

Dedication is a method to prevent merits being destroyed by anger. It is said in the sutra teaching Request by the Wisdom Ocean:46

However many drops of water fall into the great ocean,
Until the ocean is dried up the drops are not finished.
Like that the virtue that is completely dedicated for enlightenment
Doesn’t get destroyed until one achieves enlightenment.

If you dedicate every single merit you accumulate for the achievement of enlightenment for the sake of sentient beings, immediately, before anger disturbs it, there is an incredible advantage. Lamas use this simile: if you have a little tsampa and another person has a little and you mix them together, as it is now mixed both of you can eat until the tsampa runs out. Now, without something to dedicate it is just a prayer asking for something to happen. But if you have something to dedicate, either material things that are offered or accumulated virtue, you can dedicate. But without something to dedicate, the request is a prayer. The semjung sempa, the secondary thought—not the principal thought—transforms the merit into a cause of enlightenment, and is possessed by the wish for the merit to be unceasing. That is the characteristic of, the meaning of, dedication.

I often say during the dedication: “Due to all the merit accumulated by oneself and by all other sentient beings...” This has great importance. It is like you and your friends collecting your money and putting it together, the more people’s money that is put together the more there will be and whatever you wish to do can be actualized. Buying or building a house, a Dharma center, or whatever, can be quickly actualized. Similarly, when you are dedicating your own three times’ merits, then dedicate the three-time merits of all sentient beings.

Or you can say, “all others”—this includes all sentient beings and buddhas.

Due to all this merit, may bodhicitta be quickly generated within my own mind
And within the minds of other sentient beings, without a delay of even one second;
And may that which has been already generated be developed,
In order to achieve enlightenment and lead all sentient beings to enlightenment as quickly as possible.

This is the meaning of the dedication prayer Ge wa di yi... The prayer, La ma sang gyä... or whichever, has the same meaning.

Putting the merit all together is so powerful. As I mentioned above, because you are dedicating for enlightenment, the merit is unceasing until you achieve enlightenment. I gave the simile of the ocean. Also, the merit accumulated by buddhas and bodhisattvas does not have an owner: they do not think, “This is my merit,” as we do. It does not have a possessor, so you can dedicate it. As they have no clinging you can do anything with it. I’m joking! What is being dedicated is merit; to where it is being dedicated is for enlightenment. There are purposes for dedication. Actually, the main purpose is for the sentient beings. One purpose is to increase the merit, but the real purpose is for the sentient beings, and due to that the merit increases and is never depleted until you achieve enlightenment. The reason you need so much merit and have it increase continuously is for sentient beings. General dedication is for sentient beings to be happy and for the development of the teachings and for yourself to not be separated from the guru. That is a basic dedication. I think dedications are very important.

Another thing in regard to dedication is this: in mind training instructions it says that one of the samayas, or precepts, is to avoid poisonous food. That means the wrong conception clinging to true existence when we are making offerings and, of course, doing other actions. As mentioned in the mind training teachings, there are two actions—one at the beginning and one at the end. At the beginning is the motivation and at the end the dedication. So, yourself, the merit, enlightenment, sentient beings—the whole thing—should be sealed with emptiness, by being aware that they are subtle dependent arisings, that all three exist due to being merely labeled on the base by thought. In reality the way they are existing is by being merely labeled on the base by the thought. Emptiness means dependent arising, dependent arising means emptiness, so the effect in the mind from these two terms is the same. The words sound different, but there is one meaning, not two. What meaning you get in your heart is one. It is like knowing a person called David who has another name, perhaps Tibetan—Thubten blah, blah, blah. And he may have another name given to him at a monastery or somewhere, perhaps a nickname. However, one person may have several names but they refer to one person. As long as you know that this person has these different names, when other people talk about David and Thubten and so on you understand that they are referring to one person. So, to somebody who understands what dependent arising and emptiness mean, they mean just one thing.

While you are dedicating, one way to do it is to think of emptiness and watch your mind. Think about how these three things appear to your mind—as truly existent. Then think that these which appear to exist from their own side are empty of existing from their own side. Thinking this does not interfere with knowing the existence or dependent arising of the three. Think either this way, or think that they are existing by being merely labeled. This is being aware of their mode of existence. When you think this way, yourself, enlightenment and the merit, which appear to exist from their own side, become empty right there. You can experience that these things which appear to exist from their own side are empty of existing from their own side.

Then, if these methods do not make much sense, the way to do it is to think, “I’m dreaming that I’m dedicating merit.” It is as if you are recognizing a dream that you are dedicating merit as a dream. And when you recognize the dream as a dream you know that these things do not exist from their own side. You have that awareness. This is Pabongkha Dechen Nyingpo’s advice of what to do in order to not cling to the object of refutation—that things truly exist or exist from their own side.

Then dedicate all the merit like this:

Please grant me blessings so heresy in regard to the biography of the guru
Does not arise even for one second.
To be able to see in purity whatever action is done
And with such devotion receive the blessings of the guru within my heart

“Biography” here means the actions of the guru. “Whatever action is done” means whatever action you think is mistaken, an ordinary action.

This is extremely important. Actually, all success up to the greatest, peerless happiness, enlightenment, is dependent on this. So pray like this and also put it into practice. I think the dedication prayer from the long six-session yoga is very effective for the mind. I like it very much. It includes recalling what the guru is, the kindness of the guru, and after that the dedication:

Every supreme and mundane attainment
Follows upon pure devotion to you, my protector.
Seeing this I forsake my body and even my life;
Bless me to practice what will only please you.

The association of body and mind is life; when the mind is separated from the body then there is no life; so, completely giving this up.  The Tibetan drubpa47 (achieve) can be related to khona,48 which means “only.” “To do only the actions which please you” means that from this second on up to enlightenment, may whatever actions we do with our body, speech and mind be pleasing to the guru, not disturbing. Especially the realizations, or attainments, arise in the mind only by pleasing the guru; there is no other way, no other door. Mental progress comes from only that.

You can think at the same time, “From now on, up to enlightenment, may my actions become only beneficial for sentient beings.” If something is pleasing to the virtuous friend then it is beneficial for sentient beings. However, you can think of them separately in order to develop bodhicitta, the thought to benefit others.

When doing these prayers, it is good to put all the merit together every time. Not only that, but in each prayer when you are dedicating for yourself, also dedicate for other sentient beings. Try to always remember that. Whenever you pray for something good to happen to yourself, also pray for it to happen to every sentient being. Dedicate for both together. Try to remember sentient beings at the same time, as much as possible. It is similar here to what I mentioned during the section on offering, during the part on the inner offering: in order to achieve enlightenment quicker and quicker for the sake of all the sentient beings, the offerings, which are received from sentient beings, are being offered for the benefit of sentient beings.

Then there is the prayer to meet Lama Tsongkhapa’s teachings again:

Due to all this merit may I and all sentient beings
Immediately meet the teachings of the pure wisdom, the Victorious One,
Which is the pure biography and moral conduct.

“All sentient beings” is not there in the Tibetan, but it can be included. That means having a great heart to practice the bodhisattvas’ conduct and the yoga of the two stages of bliss and voidness. In other words: due to all this merit may I and all the sentient beings in all our lifetimes have Lama Tsongkhapa as our actual Mahayana guru, and not deviate even for a second from the pure path which pleases all the victorious ones.

Often His Holiness Serkong Rinpoche used to do this dedication at the end of sojong:

Due to all these merits may all the father/mother sentient beings have happiness
And the evil migratory beings be empty forever.
Wherever there are bodhisattvas, may all their prayers be accomplished immediately
And may I cause that by myself alone.

Regarding the first line in the prayer, that is all it says, but you can think of all happiness, temporal and ultimate, and to cause that by yourself alone. “Evil transmigrators” refers to beings in the three realms, who only create negative karma or migrate due to creating evil deeds. Think also to cause that by yourself alone.

The supreme leader (Guru Shakyamuni Buddha) accumulated merit for three countless eons
And with much hardship practiced the path with the thought:
May I be able to spend this life practicing this path day and night,
And thinking about the means.

This could mean with what means the teaching can benefit sentient beings, or the method to develop this path within our mind and the minds of all sentient beings. It could mean one or the other; I think it might mean the method to develop the path.

Then there is the condensed prayer of the bodhisattva Samantabhadra: Jam päl pa wö ji tar khyen pa dang...49 This prayer contains all the bodhisattvas’ prayers—ten times numberless times 100,000 bodhisattvas’ prayers! Say it at the end.

Dedication is a remedy for heresy. It purifies the negative karmas accumulated with heresy, and it helps for heresy to not arise. The results from dedicating are, I think, all the qualities of Buddha.

Mandala offering

If you know the most skillful way to practice mandala offering and you do it that way, then even if you offer only one mandala you are very satisfied. You have a comfortable thought that you have actually offered the mandala. This relates to how well you understand the important points of the practice, the most skillful way of practicing. It is the same for the other preliminary practices and even the lamrim, the three principal paths—it depends on how skillful you are with your mind and how much understanding you have. The more skillful you are the easier you are able to generate realization of the three principal paths as well as tantra. It is similar even in worldly activities. The more you understand and the more skills you have, the easier it is, the less problems there are. So, you should remember these points.

So, while there is this unbelievable opportunity to complete the work of accumulating merit in such a short time, if you do not do it, that is a great loss. It is the same with the refuge and Vajrasattva practices: even if you do only one thousand or one hundred, the negative karma you want to purify is already purified, without needing to complete one or four hundred thousand. It depends on your skill and knowing the important points of the meditation. I think I may have mentioned that reciting the Chenrezig or Vajrasattva mantra one time can purify all the heavy negative karma of having broken all four full monk’s root vows. It depends on the quality of the mind of the practitioner, on how perfectly it is done. It depends on how much bodhicitta there is, how much understanding of shunyata there is. So because I am not satisfied when I offer a mandala I spend ages! I think those of you who have done the Tara purification with me will remember. In other words, if it is not well done, doing a large number is not really an achievement.

Specific requests

After the mandala it is good to say the prayer for oneself and all sentient beings to meet Lama Tsongkhapa’s teachings, which I translated into English earlier. This arrangement of the practice is according to His Holiness Zong Rinpoche. I think a long time ago at Manjushri Institute His Holiness and I set up a Ganden Lha Gyäma practice together with The Foundation of All Good Qualities. Make that request, and then recite this prayer three times:

I am requesting the development of listening, and reflecting meditation;
I am requesting the development of the wisdoms of expounding Dharma, writing, and debating;
I am requesting you to grant the general and sublime realizations;
Please bless me to quickly become like you.

I am requesting to able to generate the simultaneously-born bliss;
I am requesting to be able to remove the stains of the hallucinated mind clinging to true existence;
I am requesting you to cut off the two points of mind; (doubts)
Please grant me blessings to quickly become like you.


The common practice of migtsema consists of meditation on purifying and then receiving great wisdom, clear wisdom, quick wisdom and profound wisdom, and then the wisdoms of explaining, composing and debating.

Great wisdom

From Lama Tsongkhapa’s and the two sons’ hearts come white beams, hollow like pipes, which join into one and enter your crown. White nectar the color of milk flows down and washes away all the stains of disease, spirit harms and the various interferences called dön, negative karma and obscurations. Your body becomes calm and clear like crystal glass. Then recite one mala, or more if you wish, of the migtsema prayer.

Then the request: lar yang che wäi khyen rab mar ser gyi/ du tsii nam...

Great wisdom in the aspect of nectar flows down and fills your body. Each atom of the nectar is clarified—or you can say appears, whichever is more effective for your mind—as Jetsun Jampälyang (Manjushri). The atoms of the nectar appear in the aspect of Manjushri, more numerous than the pores of your body. It is like the brown mala made of stone which has many tiny golden-yellow sparkling flecks. It may be called goldstone or sunstone. I think His Holiness Serkong Rinpoche used to use this as an example. It is very helpful for visualization.

Beams are emitted which hook all the great wisdom of the buddhas and bodhisattvas. It is absorbed into oneself in the form of the deity’s holy body and fills one’s body. This means beams are emitted from each holy body of Manjushri. The “deity’s holy body” means Manjushri’s holy body.

Please bless me to receive the great wisdom which has no resistance to understanding the meaning of the extensive scriptures.

The extensive scriptures are the five great treatises, the root tantras and commentaries and so forth. In which way are we to receive this wisdom? In the form of nectar which fills our body, the atoms of which become Manjushri; then beams are emitted which hook the great wisdom of all the buddhas and bodhisattvas in the form of the deity and which then absorbs into oneself. We recite however many migtsema we are going to recite, with this meditation.

“Great wisdom” is wisdom with which we can memorize many texts hundreds of thousands of pages long and we are able to comprehend the words as well as their meanings. Some people can memorize two or three pages of Tibetan texts within one hour— that is what is called great wisdom. One function of wisdom is speed, but another function is related to quantity, the ability to comprehend and to memorize many words.

Make a strong determination that you have received the great wisdom. Then recite: Mig me tse wäi...

Clear wisdom

Make this request: “Please bless me to receive clear wisdom, which can understand and explain the very subtle details of difficult points without confusion.” Such as, in regard to view, the difficult points like subtle dependent arising.

Ka nä thra zhib ma dre je pa yi
She rab säl wa thob par jin gyi lob
Lar yang säl wäi khyen rab mar ser gyi
Dü tsii nam par jung wä rang lü gang

Please bless me to achieve the clear wisdom
That is not confused about subtle and detailed difficult points.
Once again clear wisdom flows forth in
The form of orange nectar, filling my body.

At this time migtsema is not recited. The clear wisdom is received in the form of nectar which flows and fills one’s body. The atoms of the nectar are transformed into the mantra OM AH RA PA TSA NA DHI. As before, from the mantra syllables beams are emitted which hook the clear wisdom of the buddhas and bodhisattvas of the ten directions in the form of the mantra. This is absorbed into oneself and it fills one’s body.

That is the meditation for achieving the clear wisdom.

Quick wisdom

Ma tog log tog the tshom nyur chö päi
She rab nyur wa thob par jin gyi lob

Please bless me to achieve the quick wisdom
That quickly cuts through nonunderstanding, misunderstanding, and doubt.

“Please bless me to receive quick wisdom which quickly cuts off unknowing, wrong conceptions and doubts.” “Unknowing” is ignorance.

Again it is similar: the quick wisdom is received in the form of nectar flowing down and filling one’s body; the atoms of the nectar are transformed into the syllable DHI. Beams are emitted which hook the quick wisdom of the buddhas and bodhisattvas of the ten directions in the form of DHIs, which are absorbed into oneself and fill one’s body.

Profound wisdom

Zhung dön je la tug pa me pa yi
Zab päi she rab thob par jin gyi lob

Please bless me to achieve the profound wisdom
That is unfathomable in discerning the meanings of the scriptures.

“Please bless me to receive the profound wisdom which has no resistance to understand the meanings of the scriptures.”

The profound wisdom, in the form of nectar, flows down and fills one’s body. The atoms of the nectar are transformed into swords and texts, the implements of Manjushri. Beams are emitted which hook the profound wisdom of the buddhas and bodhisattvas of the ten directions in the form of swords and texts, which are absorbed into oneself, filling one’s body.

His Holiness Serkong Rinpoche used to say the clear wisdom is that which can see the very difficult, very detailed, subtle points; and the profound wisdom is that which can see many different aspects or meanings and can explain them in one or two words and in many different ways. The profound wisdom sees very profound meanings.

The wisdom of explaining

Tshig dön kün la nge pa chög ter wäi
Chä päi she rab thob par jin gyi lob

Please bless me to achieve the wisdom of explaining
That gives supreme ascertainment regarding all the meanings of words.

“Please bless me to receive the wisdom of explaining, which gives the definite, correct understanding of all words and their meanings.”

The wisdom of explaining flows down in the form of nectar. The rest is the same as before. The atoms of nectar transform into texts—that is the only difference.

The wisdom of debating

Ma ngän pob pa meg me throg pa yi
Tsö päi she rab thob par jin gyi lob

Please bless me to achieve the wisdom of debating
That thoroughly deprives evil propounders of their self-confidence.

“Please bless me to receive the courage for debate.” Pob pa means brave.

The wisdom of debating flows down in the form of nectar—the rest is the same. The atoms of nectar are transformed into the wheel of swords. The wheel has six swords, similar to what is described in the Manjushri meditation text.

The wisdom of composing

Dra dön phün tshog lo säl ga kye päi
Tsom päi she rab thob par jin gyi lob

Please bless me to achieve the wisdom of composing
That gives rise to a joyous, clear understanding of the excellent actually signified meaning.

“Please bless me to receive the wisdom of composing which utilizes perfect grammar and gives the perfect sound and has the meaning of clear wisdom and gives happiness.” Dra includes all the requirements for composing scriptures such as good grammar and poetical style. “Sound” means the words. The wisdom of composing flows down as nectar. The rest is the same, but the atoms of nectar are texts and wheel of swords.

After this, recite The Foundation of All Good Qualities the requesting prayer to generate the lamrim path from guru devotion up to enlightenment.

We generate renunciation of samsara by meditating on the topics of the graduated path of the lower capable being: perfect human rebirth, impermanence, death, the sufferings of the lower realms, karma; then the graduated path of the middle capable being: the twelve links, which is the evolution of samsara— kunjung khorwäi kyerim,50 all-arising, which means the true cause of suffering—the way we enter samsara. By meditating on true suffering and the true cause of suffering we will see the entire samsara as like being at the center of a fire. All aggregates are caused by karma and the contaminated seed of the disturbing thoughts— zagchä nyerlen gyi phungpo.51 The definition of renunciation of samsara is having aversion through seeing that the whole of samsara is completely in the nature of suffering; only in the nature of suffering. Not having the slightest attraction to samsara and to samsaric perfections or enjoyments, and the wish to achieve liberation arising spontaneously day and night. As it is mentioned in the Three Principal Aspects of the Path: without effort, in the same way that we naturally feel hunger without the need to think, “Now I am hungry for this reason.”

But having only renunciation is not sufficient; it cannot become the cause of enlightenment unless it is conjoined with bodhicitta. The definition of having bodhicitta is when you see any sentient being at all the thought to achieve enlightenment for the sake of that being naturally arises—for all the sentient beings as well as for that person—spontaneously, without the need for effort. Like if a mother sees that her only beloved child has fallen in a fire, even if she is eating or talking or washing or whatever, she will have the spontaneous thought to jump into the fire and pluck out the child. She cannot stand it, she cannot wait, she is in an incredible rush, no matter what she is doing around the house. So, if you have the thought spontaneously, without effort, day and night—all the time, as with renunciation—to achieve enlightenment for each sentient being in the same way that a mother feels for her child, that is the definition of having bodhicitta. The definition of having the realization of shunyata is, as it is mentioned in the Three Principal Aspects of the Path, that we are able to unify emptiness and dependent arising on one object. For example, seeing that while the I is empty (of existing) from its own side, at the same time it is a dependent arising; and while seeing that the I is a dependent arising, seeing that the I is empty (of existing) from its own side.

I have mentioned those points from The Foundation of All Good Qualities just for auspicious reasons.

After that one renews the vows for the two stages of tantra.

Request to abide in the heart

Then you request three times: “By abiding on the seat at my heart, please grant the realizations of your holy body, holy speech and holy mind.”

Päl dän tsa wäi la ma rin po che
Dag gi nying khar pä möi teng shug la
Ka drin chen pöi go nä je zung te
Ku sung thug kyi ngö drub tsäl du söl

Magnificent and precious root Guru,
Please abide on the lotus seat at my heart,
Guide me with your great kindness,
And grant me the realizations of your holy body, speech, and mind.

And the second request: “... please grant the general and sublime realizations.”

Päl dän tsa wäi la ma rin po che
Dag gi nying khar pä möi teng shug la
Ka drin chen pöi go nä je zung te
Chog dang thün mong ngö drub tsäl du söl

Magnificent and precious root Guru,
Please abide on the lotus seat at my heart,
Guide me with your great kindness,
And grant me the supreme and common realizations.

According to His Holiness Zong Rinpoche we should not say dag gi chi wor... for the first repetition but rather straight away say Dag gi nying khar pä möi teng shug la. His Holiness Zong Rinpoche said if we say “come and take your lotus seat on my crown,” it is like asking the guru, “First sit here, then come down,” instead of asking him to come straight into our heart. It’s like saying that without sitting there first, you cannot come down. His Holiness did not say it exactly like this. But in Pabongkha Dechen Nyingpo’s lamrim it says crown the first time, then the heart, so that is why some people say “on my crown” the first time and “at my heart” the other two times.

Now comes the third requesting stanza: “Please abide in my heart until I achieve enlightenment.”

Päl dän tsa wäi la ma rin po che
Dag gi nying khar pä möi teng shug la
Ka drin chen pöi go nä je zung te
Jang chub nying pöi bar du tän par shug

Magnificent and precious root Guru,
Please abide on the lotus seat at my heart,
Guide me with your great kindness,
And remain steadfast until I attain the essence of enlightenment.

It is similar in the Lama Chöpa [LC 111]: “By you, the savior, abiding in the central channel, may I be able to actualize the clear light and illusory body in this life.” That and these three requesting stanzas have the same meaning and benefits.

I seek your blessings to actualize in this life the path uniting
Clear light and the illusory body, which arises
From placing your feet, my savior, on the eight petals of my heart
At the very center of my central channel.

Then the thrones of the disciples absorb into the lotus seats, and the two disciples absorb into Lama Tsongkhapa. Then similarly Lama Tsongkhapa’s throne absorbs into the lotus, and Lama Tsongkhapa seated on the lotus, sun and moon discs descends onto one’s crown. Then the lotus absorbs into the eight veins at one’s heart. With the eight veins as the principal cause and Lama Tsongkhapa’s lotus as the simultaneous condition, they transform into an eight-petaled lotus. Then the sun and moon discs descend and absorb into the indestructible seed in the central channel, which is half red and half white. With that as the principal cause and the sun and moon seats which were absorbed into it as the simultaneous condition, it transforms into sun and moon discs inside the lotus. Inside this indestructible seed there is the indestructible subtle mind and wind, so that is what is left. Now Lama Tsongkhapa descends through the central channel.

Similarly at the end of the Lama Chöpa, the guru descends and at your crown, beams are emitted which purify and bless your body, then he descends to your throat and blesses the speech, and similarly at your heart. You can think that the indestructible subtle mind and wind there are like a relic of the Buddha—tiny and radiant.

I think it must be similar to the practice of Tara entering the heart, except that during the initiation when Tara enters the heart there is a meditation on an upside-down begging bowl. So, Guru Tsongkhapa has absorbed into the indestructible wind and mind, which you can think is in the form of a subtle relic, a small radiant light.

With the indestructible subtle wind and mind as the principal cause and Lama Tsongkhapa’s holy body and mind which has been absorbed into it as the simultaneous condition, it manifests as Lama Tsongkhapa. Your subtle wind becomes the holy body and your subtle mind becomes the holy mind. Conjoined with those is a beam called lung ösel ngapa.

The five-beam wind has five beams. It might be the particular function of that wind, which becomes Guru Tsongkhapa’s holy speech. So, your body, speech and mind are completely transformed into Guru Lama Tsongkhapa’s vajra holy body, vajra holy speech, and vajra holy mind. Then you hold the divine pride: the guru’s, the deity’s and your own mind are in essence inseparable. In other words, one. That is the unification of the holy body and holy mind having the five definites.

That is talking about the qualities of the sambhogakaya as mentioned in the Seventy Topics: always surrounded by bodhisattvas, abiding until samsara ends and so on. So, the guru’s, the deity’s and your own mind are oneness; then there is the unification of the holy body and holy mind which is the resultant sambhogakaya having five definites. So you think that.

Think, “The inseparability or oneness of the guru’s, the deity’s and my own mind, and the unification of the holy body and holy mind is the actual resultant sambhogakaya which has the five definites—this is me; this is I.”

You label “I” on that in the same way you label I on these present aggregates. Hold that divine pride.

Meditating by holding divine pride in this way is what is called the method of doing the meditation of arising the inner illusory body. From inside, arising the illusory body within your own body.

Now the lotus closes, and it is sealed by a half vajra on top.

This practice of sealing is found in some very secret meditations on Yamantaka for the development of quick wisdom. I do not recall it being explained in Ganden Lha Gyäma commentaries. There are five mudras or seals, and this is one of them. I think this is the guru’s seal. Inside the vase of the vajra is a HUM, which is the guru, therefore it is sealed by the guru.

The lotus is bound up by the Lama Tsongkhapa mantra going clockwise: OM AH RA PA TSA NA DHIH GURU SUMATI KIRTI SHRI BHADRA SIDDHI ADHITRANA ADHITRITE KUBENTU, and the migtsema anticlockwise. Then again the mantra, then again migtsema.

Also you should not think it is dark inside the lotus; it is full of beams in the nature of great bliss and voidness. The way the mantra and beams bind the lotus is that the mantra itself is like a string of beads, and the light beams like the thread. Similarly, the central channel is also bound by the mantra and migtsema.

In the commentary on Ganden Lha Gyäma by Pabongkha Dechen Nyingpo it says, “Until the time of death do not remove the holy body of Lama Tsongkhapa.” Until the time of death you should be aware of Lama Tsongkhapa abiding in your heart. When you transform into a deity, the Guru Lama Tsongkhapa who is in your heart is what transforms. He is always there.

Whenever you do the various sadhanas in which you transform into Guhyasamaja or Yamantaka or Chakrasamvara or whatever, do the practice in that way. Also, if you are having obstacles to your Dharma practice send beams in the nature of compassion and the thought of loving kindness from your heart guru’s holy body. They go through your own body and radiate out to those who have evil thoughts which are disturbing your Dharma practice, and their bodies are completely filled with compassion and the thought of loving kindness toward all sentient beings. It is not specifically mentioned here, but there is no reason why you cannot do that.

What it says here is to send beams, which for the white-side devas—those who help you to practice Dharma—become a rainbow, but for the black-side interferers—those who disturb Dharma practice and oblige you to create negative karma—the beams are transformed into fire that completely surrounds and covers them and burns them up just as a feather is burnt up in a fire—in one second—and they become empty. That is non-objectifying, purifying them in shunyata. You can protect yourself or another person in this way. Also the beams you send become the vajra ground, vajra walls and vajra roof, like in a mandala. The beings who you want to protect are inside the vajra house, and all around it on the outside are the four elements one after the other—earth, fire, water like the oceans, and air like a cyclone, an incredibly strong wind that nobody can go through.

In general everything that you use, all the sense objects—clothing, food, everything—can be offered to the guru with the awareness that the guru is in your heart. Then the actions of everyday life should be done with the awareness that the guru is a witness. Then you will be as careful in everyday life as if the guru is there witnessing your actions. In other words, the guru is in your heart, so he sees what you are doing. Also any respect or gifts offered to you by other people you should think are being offering to the guru. Usually the lamas say that when you give blessings to others you should think that it is the guru living in your heart who is giving the blessing. You can also think in a similar way when you speak. If you are in a beautiful park, at the beach or in a beautiful restaurant or in some supermarket, wherever you are, all the beautiful things that you see or use or eat can be offered to the guru with this awareness. In that way everything you do with your body, speech and mind becomes meaningful by becoming a method to accumulate merit.

Pabongkha Dechen Nyingpo says, “Whatever appears to the eye, to the mind, to the ear or nose or body sense should be regarded as a manifestation of the guru’s three secrecies.” That means whatever form appears should be taken as the holy body; whatever thought comes into your mind is the guru’s holy mind, the dharmakaya; whatever sound is heard is the guru’s vajra holy speech. You should practice awareness of this.

There are many other practices, but this guru yoga should be kept as the heart of all your practice. Sog means the life, or heart. As the physical heart is regarded as an essential part of the body, on which the function of other organs depends, similarly this guru yoga should be kept as the very heart of your practice.


Then come the dedications, the prayers which I mentioned earlier which His Holiness used to say: the prayer to meet Lama Tsongkhapa as your Mahayana teacher in future lives, and this prayer, which can be interpreted in two ways:

May I be able to take the biography to not corrupt Lama Tsongkhapa’s teaching,
Which is pure moral conduct,
By extensive listening, training my mind in bodhicitta,
And living in the pure view and conduct.


May we be able to live a life of pure morality, listen to many teachings,
Train in bodhicitta, and have pure view and conduct,
Without corrupting or polluting the teachings
Of Losang Dragpa, the second victorious one.

“By living in pure moral conduct, undertaking extensive listening, training my mind in bodhicitta, and living in the pure view and conduct.”


31 Preliminary practices. [Return to text]

32  A system of divination often used by Tibetan lamas. [Return to text]

33 Wyl: rten gyi stobs. [Return to text]

34  Wyl: gnyen po kun tu spyod pa’i stobs. [Return to text]

35  Wyl: rnam par sun 'byin pa'i stobs. [Return to text]

36  Wyl: rtsa ltung. [Return to text]

37  Wyl: nyes spyad. [Return to text]

38  Wyl: sbom po. [Return to text]

39  Wyl: kun dkris.[Return to text]

40  Wyl: sdig pa. [Return to text]

41  Wyl: gsang ba’i phyi rgyud. [Return to text]

42  Wyl: rdo rje snyems ma dkar mo; Skt: Vajragarvi. [Return to text]

43  Wyl: dbu can. [Return to text]

44  Wyl: sde snod ‘dzin pa. [Return to text]

45  Wyl: dpa’ bo rdo rje. [Return to text]

46  Tib: lodro gyatso zhupäi do; Wyl: blo gros rgya mtsho zhus pa’i mdo. [Return to text]

47  Wyl: sgrub pa. [Return to text]

48  Wyl: kno na. [Return to text]

49  “To Dedicate in the Same Way as All the Past Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.” See FPMT Retreat Prayer Book, 2016 edn, p. 323. [Return to text]

50  Wyl: kun ‘byung ‘khor ba’i bskyed rim. [Return to text]

51  Wyl: zag bcas nyer len gyi phung po. [Return to text]

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11. Mandala Offering »