Abiding in the Retreat

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche

Abiding in the Retreat: A Nyung Nä Commentary combines several teachings given by Lama Zopa Rinpoche on nyung nä, a powerful two-day practice associated with Chenrezig, the Buddha of Compassion.

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Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Maitripa College, 2010. Photo by Marc Sakamoto.
15: The Seven-Limb Practice

The seven-limb practice is essential to purify negative karma and accumulate merit. These seven important factors—prostrating, offering, confessing, rejoicing, requesting to teach, requesting to remain and dedicating—make it possible to achieve enlightenment. The seven-limb practice is a most important means to create the causes and conditions to develop the mind in the path to enlightenment. Since it comes here in nyung nä practice and in every other deity practice, it is important to know how to do the seven-limb practice.

Since you can’t achieve enlightenment without the seven-limb practice, it is extremely important to do this practice as many times as possible every day. That’s why the seven-limb practice always comes in Mahayana practices, especially in sadhanas. Meditation on any deity always has the seven-limb practice as a preliminary.

Every single prostration, offering and other practice done in relation to Buddha, by thinking of Buddha, becomes a cause of enlightenment. When you plant a seed in the ground, if all the minerals, water and other necessary conditions are present, even if you pray that the seed won’t grow, it will still grow. It is the same with prostrating, offering, respecting and any other practice done in relation to Buddha. No matter how much you pray for it not to become a cause of enlightenment, everything becomes a cause of enlightenment. Generally, an action becoming a cause of happiness depends on the motivation, but prostrations, offerings and other actions done in relation to Buddha become causes of enlightenment even when done without a virtuous motivation. That is because of the power of the holy object. Even if the motivation for prostrating or making offerings to Buddha is one of anger, attachment seeking only the happiness of this life or another delusion, the action still becomes a cause of enlightenment because of the power of the holy object.

The seven factors of the seven-limb practice are like seven vital parts of a car, plane or other vehicle that enable it to function and take passengers to the places they wish to go. These seven important factors bring us success. The seven-limb practice, mandala offering and all the various other practices have incredible benefit in regard to bringing not only temporary but also ultimate happiness, especially the achievement of enlightenment. But to appreciate how important these practices are, you have to understand and have faith in karma.

The first law of karma you need to understand is that karma is definite to bring its own result. Any nonvirtue, as long as the negative karma is not purified, will definitely bring its own result of suffering. And any virtue, as long as there is no obstacle to it, will definitely bring its own result of happiness.

The second law of karma is that karma is expandable.

Another law of karma is that karma once created is never lost. No matter how long it takes—even eons or hundreds of eons—the result of karma will be experienced. Whether great or small, karma is never lost. Even though it might not be experienced immediately, after some time, when the time is right and the conditions have gathered, that karma will be experienced. Even negative things that are not purposely done create negative karma. It is still possible to experience the result of even small things that happened incidentally and many lifetimes ago. No matter how small a negative karma is, it doesn’t get lost.

We should relate this to our own life, not only to this life but to our many past lives. We have created so many negative karmas. It is frightening to examine karma, because karma is related not only to this life but to beginningless rebirths. There are many things we have already finished experiencing, but there are so many things we have not yet finished experiencing.

The final law of karma is that unless we have created the karma, we don’t experience the result.91

Limb of Prostration

The first of the seven limbs is the limb of prostration, which is a remedy to pride. When we have pride, we find it difficult to respect those we regard as lower than us.

There are three types of prostration: body prostration, speech prostration and mind prostration. Body prostration is physically prostrating to Chenrezig, speech prostration is praising Chenrezig and the rest of the merit field, and mind prostration is devotion to Chenrezig. From these three, the most important one is mind prostration: devotion.

You are doing prostrations to the Great Compassionate One, in the center, and all the rest of the merit field surrounding him. If you aren’t familiar with all the beings in the merit field, you can simply think that all the lineage lamas and all the multitudes of deities, buddhas, bodhisattvas, dakas and dakinis and protectors are all around Chenrezig. However, it might be more effective to think that Thousand-Arm Chenrezig himself is all the beings of the merit field: all the gurus, buddhas, Dharma and Sangha. Or think that the whole merit field is there in each pore of Chenrezig. With that concentration you then do the prostrations. As you prostrate you can mainly concentrate on Thousand-Arm Chenrezig, who is all the gurus, buddhas, Dharma and Sangha.

Or you can just think of Chenrezig, with a thousand arms and a thousand eyes, radiant and of the nature of light. Your own guru has manifested as Chenrezig to guide you by enabling you to purify your negative karmas and obscurations and to accumulate merit. By revealing these nyung nä practices to you, Guru Chenrezig is leading you to enlightenment. You can simply concentrate on Guru Chenrezig in that way.

Even if you can’t visualize anything at all, simply prostrating to a statue of a buddha fulfills the meaning of prostration. As long as you’re prostrating to a buddha, whether a statue or an actual living being, it becomes a prostration. Otherwise, it simply becomes good physical exercise. It might help somebody who has diabetes, relieving or curing the diabetes. If you have diabetes you need to walk because exercise is helpful, but some geshes do prostrations instead.

If you can’t do the visualization, just think, “This statue of Chenrezig is all I can now see according to my karma. But later, when I have developed my mind and achieved the concentration of continual Dharma on the great path of merit, what I now see as a statue I will then see as an actual buddha. At that time the buddhas will appear to me as actual living beings.”

You can think that strong nectar-beams, like sunbeams, come from the hearts of Chenrezig and the other beings in the merit field and purify you. You yourself are Chenrezig, but if you can, think that you and all your past lives in human form cover the whole earth and are doing prostrations to Chenrezig and the rest of the merit field. If possible, also think that the bodies are as tall as snow mountains, the tallest you can imagine. There will then be more merit, because your bodies will cover more ground. There’s much merit even in visualizing this. Think of all your past lives with the tallest possible bodies, and those who are qualified should visualize the bodies in the form of Chenrezig.92

You can begin the prostrations by reciting “OM NAMO MANJUSHRIYE, NAMAH SUSHRIYE, NAMA UTTAMA SHRIYE SVAHA” three times to multiply the prostrations. This mantra multiplies each prostration so that it becomes a thousand prostrations. It also protects you from obstacles and enables you to realize the path of seeing.

Limb of Offering

The practice of offering is a particular remedy to miserliness. If you are miserly, you should practice charity and make as many offerings as possible. From making offerings, you receive the inexhaustible perfect enjoyments of a buddha. These are the benefits, in brief, of the practice of making offerings.

Transform offering goddesses from your heart to make the eight offerings—drinking water, water for bathing the feet, flowers for the crown, incense for the nose, light for the eyes, scented water for the heart, food for the holy mouth and music for the holy ears—to Chenrezig and the merit field. In nyung nä practice we offer eight actually arranged offerings with mantras and mudras and we can also visualize other offerings. In this practice we make offerings many times, and each time we do we accumulate unbelievable merit.

The offering goddesses you emanate from your heart are youthful and extremely beautiful, as beautiful as you can imagine, with all the good qualities. Even each of the goddesses becomes an offering of the six sense objects to the merit field, generating much bliss in their holy minds. If it’s difficult for you to transform the offering goddesses carrying the offerings one by one, you can transform them all together.

In Action Tantra the offering mudras are regarded as very important. It is emphasized to not miss doing the mudras when you make the offerings. In Highest Yoga Tantra practice, you don’t transgress the samaya if you don’t do the mudras. Of course, by doing the offering mudras you create more merit, but you do not transgress your samaya by not doing them. In Action Tantra, however, doing the mudras is part of the samaya and shouldn’t be left out. You must learn the mudras and make the mudra offering to the merit field. You must do the mudras when you do a nyung nä, and you must do them precisely.

To make the offerings, first meditate well on emptiness. Highest Yoga Tantra talks about the transcendental wisdom of nondual bliss and voidness, but here in Action Tantra practice, the creator of everything is the transcendental wisdom of nondual clarity and profundity, where profundity means emptiness.

You, Chenrezig, are empty of existing from your own side. The wisdom of emptiness manifests in the form of Chenrezig. This wisdom focuses on the clarity of Chenrezig and at the same time is aware of the nature of Chenrezig, that Chenrezig is empty of existing from his own side. It is similar with the offering goddesses and also all the offerings. The offering goddesses are manifestations of your wisdom, as are the beings in the merit field. All these are the transcendental wisdom of nondual clarity and profundity. You yourself are also the result-time actual buddha Chenrezig.

Or you can meditate that you are the result-time Chenrezig, your mind has become dharmakaya, and everything is a manifestation of that dharmakaya. You yourself, the offering goddesses, the offerings—everything is a manifestation of your own dharmakaya, your own wisdom. Your mind’s wisdom of emptiness manifests in the offering goddesses.

The dharmakaya wisdom is aware of the absolute nature, the emptiness, of the subject, the offerings and the object of offering, the merit field, as well as aware of their dependent arising. While you are making the offerings, mostly concentrate on emptiness or on dependent arising, that everything is merely labeled, which comes to the same conclusion, emptiness.

As you visualize the offering goddesses coming from the syllable hrih at your heart and making the offerings, think that the I who is making offerings to the merit field is merely labeled, the action of offering is merely labeled, and the offerings themselves are merely labeled. If you think in this way, what Lama Tsongkhapa says in the Three Principles of the Path will become very real and very clear to your mind.

If thinking that all these things are empty or merely labeled isn’t effective for your mind, at least think, “I’m making offerings in a dream.” It is the most basic instruction for meditating on emptiness. There’s a big difference between “in a dream” and “like in a dream,” but to think something is “like in a dream” might be a little too hard, so just think, “I’m making offerings in a dream.” When you think that you’re dreaming, your solid belief in you yourself, the offerings and the merit field as existing from their own side automatically becomes weaker. Thinking this is helpful as it weakens the object of ignorance. Your belief that these things exist from their own side is harmed.

Whatever appears to you now appears to be truly existent and you believe this to be the way things exist. But the truly existent you, the truly existent offerings and the truly existent object of offering do not exist at all. Not even an atom of them exists. You are making offerings to Chenrezig and the rest of the merit field in a dream. None of these three—truly existent I, truly existent action, truly existent object—exists. Just as none of the things you see in a dream exist, the truly existent I and the truly existent Chenrezig statue you see in the daytime don’t exist. You can’t say that the truly existent appearance doesn’t exist; it exists. But the truly existent I, truly existent action and truly existent object do not exist. The appearance of true existence exists, but the truly existent things do not exist.

You have to apply the example of a dream to the appearances of these truly existent objects: the truly existent you, the truly existent action of offering, the truly existent merit field. You believe that they truly exist, but if you think, “This is a dream,” it at least gives you the feeling that they are not real.

When you transform the offering goddesses carrying the offerings, snap your fingers outwards. The sound of the fingers snapping signifies dependent arising as the sound happens in dependence upon your intention and your effort to make your two fingers meet. It reminds you that since the sound is a dependent arising, it is empty. It reminds you that the three things—you yourself, the action of offering and the object, Chenrezig—are empty and dependent arisings. It reminds you of the unification of emptiness and dependent arising.

When you hear the sound of your fingers snapping, it seems as if the sound exists completely from its own side without depending on your fingers, your intention or your effort. It appears to your mind as though the sound exists only from the side of the sound. In reality, however, the sound exists in dependence upon all these conditions. The sound is merely labeled by thought on this base, the gathering of these conditions. How the sound appears to you and how it actually exists are completely contradictory. The sound doesn’t exist from its own side at all. It exists in dependence upon its base, the gathering of these conditions.

It is similar with making the offering. You yourself, the action of offering and the offering—even though they all appear to exist from their own side, in fact they exist by being merely labeled. To remind you of the emptiness of these three things, you snap your fingers. With this awareness that subject, action and object are empty, with awareness of emptiness and dependent arising, you then make the offerings.

You offer to the merit field—Guru Chenrezig surrounded by all the other beings of the merit field—all the offerings you have arranged on the altar, as well as the whole sky filled with various offerings. Meditate on the offerings as manifestations of wisdom, of emptiness, and then offer them one by one as you recite the offering mantras. Also think that all these offerings generate uncontaminated great bliss in the holy minds of the merit field. They are extremely pleased. Each time we make an offering, it’s extremely important to think that great bliss is generated in the holy minds of the merit field. That’s the essence of the offering. We should remember this not only here, but also in our everyday life whenever we make offerings, whether tsog offerings or offerings in sadhanas or on our altar.

Each time we make an offering, whether a tsog offering, inner offering or any other offering, we should think that it causes extraordinary, inconceivable great bliss to be generated in the holy minds of the merit field. It is extremely important to remember that every time. When you offer the inner offering to each of the lineage lamas in Highest Yoga Tantra practice, you might not be able to visualize clearly how he is sitting, how he is wearing his robes, whether he is wrathful, whether he has a beard, or what kind of nose he has. Mainly remember the aspect. If it is a lay lama, visualize a lay form; if it is a monk, visualize the form of a monk. Then make the offering to each one as you recite his name, thinking that he generates great bliss in his holy mind. That is the most important point. My guess is that by doing this practice, sooner or later in this life we will be able to have that experience, that level of mind. We will be able to generate the actual experience that we imagined being experienced in the holy minds of the merit field.

There’s no inner offering here in nyung nä practice, but Highest Yoga Tantra has a lot of explanation about the inner offering. When you offer the inner offering, if you’re offering according to Gyüme, the Lower Tantric College, offer with your palm facing downwards, whereas, according to Gyüto, the Upper Tantric College, offer with your palm facing upwards. Again, there are references for these practices, but I haven’t yet seen them. The Lower and Upper Tantric Colleges have different ways of doing many things, which can usually be traced back through the lineage to the lama who founded the monastery. The founding lama initiated the practice, and since then it has been preserved. It’s not that somebody just made up these things. The practices have been preserved very precisely and can be traced back to the great lamas, the great enlightened beings, who founded the monasteries.

It is the same when we offer tsog. The question often arises as to how to offer tsog, and this is the very essence of the Highest Yoga Tantra way of blessing tsog. You accumulate extra good karma if you visualize as nectar the tsog substances, the food and other offerings, those you have actually arranged and the ones you have visualized. However, each time you say the offering prayer, think that you are generating extraordinary, inconceivable bliss in the holy minds of the merit field. They don’t need it. It’s not that they haven’t completed their bliss; it’s not that they have further bliss left to achieve. When one becomes a buddha, one has perfect enjoyments—there is no further enjoyment to be experienced. You could say that arhats and bodhisattvas have still not completed their happiness, but buddhas have no higher happiness to experience. We do this visualization to accumulate merit ourselves.

I think that by doing a lot of practice in this way, sooner or later you will be able to have the tantric mahamudra experience in this life. You will have the experiences of clear light that are talked about so much in Highest Yoga Tantra. By attaining enlightenment, you will also be able to have perfect enjoyments in this life. This is just my guess about the results of doing this meditation. I think this is probably why the inner offering comes so many times in every Highest Yoga Tantra sadhana, with offerings to all the indirect and direct gurus. I think that by doing this practice of offering bliss to the merit field every day, you will be able in this life to have the actual experience of tantric mahamudra, of the completion stage of Highest Yoga Tantra. That is why it is very important not to let your mind wander during the practice.

Remembering emptiness, you then make the offering. When you snap your fingers outwards, you, as Chenrezig, manifest from your heart not just one but numberless offering goddesses completely filling the whole sky, who make the offerings. Everything should be as beautiful as possible. With awareness of how everything is merely labeled, transform the offering goddesses and offerings. For each offering, think that the whole sky is completely filled with offering goddesses. Don’t transform just one offering goddess. Since the visualization doesn’t cost anything, think that the whole of space is filled with each offering. The clearer and more elaborate your visualization and the better the quality of your offerings, the more merit you accumulate. Transform numberless goddesses carrying each of the offerings so that they fill the whole of space.

As mentioned at the beginning of the nyung nä sadhana in Blessing the Offerings, the offerings are empty in nature and grant extraordinary bliss. Their aspect is the various offerings, their nature is empty, and their particular function is to generate extraordinary bliss in the holy minds of the merit field.

After snapping your fingers and before doing the offering mudra, do the lotus-turning mudra at your heart. When you begin the lotus-turning mudra, snap your fingers to remind yourself of emptiness, of the ultimate reality of you yourself, the action of offering, the object to whom you are offering and the offerings. However, even though they are all empty, they exist in mere name, so all the functions are happening in mere name. Seal with emptiness the person who is doing the offering, the action of offering, the objects to whom you are offering and also the offerings. There is unification of emptiness and dependent arising.

Start the lotus-turning mudra with your right hand on top and your left hand below. As your right hand goes down, your left one comes up. This means that you are transforming the offerings out of the wisdom realizing emptiness of your own mind, which is Chenrezig’s holy mind.

The nyung nä practice is lower tantra. Highest Yoga Tantra has father tantra and mother tantra. In father tantra, turn to the right side first; in mother tantra, turn to the left side first. Here, turn from the right side to the left side three times, but in Vajrayogini, Cittamani Tara or any other mother tantra practice, turn from the left to the right side three times.

After you have done the lotus-turning mudra, do the mudra for ARGHAM, for offering water to drink. As you do the mudras, keep your fingers together, not separate, as this creates good karma. I think it might be similar to keeping your fingers together when you do prostrations, which creates the good karma to achieve webbed fingers, one of the holy signs of the nirmanakaya aspect of a buddha needed to guide sentient beings.

Some of the Action Tantra mudras are different from the Highest Yoga Tantra ones, and some Action Tantra mudras from other lamas and other traditions could be different. If you are going to judge one guru as being right and another as being wrong, you will only destroy yourself; you will only destroy your own enlightenment. Doing this blocks your own realizations. Someone explained to me that one of the very first problems at Manjushri Institute93 was related to mudras.

His Holiness Song Rinpoche’s way of doing the mudra for ARGHAM was with the index finger a little bent, similar to the NAIVIDYA mudra for offering food. However, when giving the Mitra Gyatsa initiations at Tushita Retreat Centre, Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche explained that another mudra is the actual Action Tantra mudra for ARGHAM.94 There were abbots, including the abbot of Namgyal Monastery, as well as other high lamas there. The way Rinpoche presented it was by saying it was not a new mudra that he had made up but an old mudra from the past.

After you have done the meditation and mudra of offering for argham, then snap your fingers inwards, and all the offering goddesses, having finished making the offering, are absorbed back into your heart, from where you transformed them. There is a special reason related to Highest Yoga Tantra for doing this: it helps you to achieve clear light, to create the direct cause of dharmakaya.

Then snap your fingers outwards again and transform the next set of offering goddesses, who offer water for bathing the feet. Some say that when you snap your fingers you have one hand facing out and the other facing in, which means that some offering goddesses who have already offered are being absorbed back at the same time as other offering goddesses carrying offerings are being emanated.

With the mudra for PADYAM, water for bathing the feet, gradually release the fingers of your right hand. It is the same mudra as in Highest Yoga Tantra. As you make the offering, remember Guru Chenrezig and the rest of the merit field. If you can’t think of all of them, just think of Guru Chenrezig.

The Action Tantra mudra for PUSHPE, offering flowers, is different from the one in Highest Yoga Tantra. During nyung näs, some people do this mudra in the Highest Yoga Tantra way, but I haven’t seen any high lamas or any of my gurus do it that way. With PUSHPE, you again generate great bliss in the merit field, and the offering goddesses are then absorbed back into your heart.

Pure morality is the result of offering incense, DHUPE.

The mudra for ALOKE, offering light, looks like the wick of a butter lamp.

The particular benefit of offering light is wisdom. Making as many light offerings as possible helps very much to develop wisdom, now and in the future, and to achieve clairvoyance, enabling you to actualize the path. The ultimate benefit is enlightenment.

It’s very important to make as many light offerings as possible. Various tantric teachings advise making hundreds or thousands of light offerings. In Tibet there was a common tradition of offering a hundred or a thousand lights as advised in tantric texts. It is similar with flower offerings.

With GANDHE, you offer scented water at the heart.

The mudra for NAIVIDYA, the food offering, is the same as in Highest Yoga Tantra.

SHAPTA is offering music. According to His Holiness Serkong Tsenshab Rinpoche, the mudra for SHAPTA has been lost. Even though we do a particular mudra for SHAPTA, Rinpoche said the actual mudra is something else.

When you offer music, SHAPTA, you can use a bell or anything else that has a good sound to make the offering. This way you accumulate more merit. But the most important thing is that in your mind you think that you are offering the music to Guru Chenrezig. You then collect much merit.95

Offering music (or any other offering) by thinking of Buddha collects infinite merit. Offering a bell to a stupa creates the karma to achieve the qualities of a buddha’s holy speech. As well as the specific temporary benefits of offering music, such as a sweet voice, the ultimate benefit is that you quickly achieve enlightenment.

It is very important when we use musical instruments that we don’t just play them mindlessly. The essential point is to think, “I’m offering music to Buddha.” It is very important to have that awareness whenever we play music. This is the way to accumulate extensive merit. If we think of offering the music to Buddha, every single time we play the cymbals or any other instrument it becomes a cause of enlightenment. That is the ultimate goal.

In the sadhanas of various tantric deities, there are many places where you use bells and other instruments to make music offering and where you make other offerings. Many offerings come in each sadhana, and each time you make the offering, you collect inconceivable merit.

If we make offerings as much as we can during this time of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s teachings, or even rejoice in other people accumulating merit in this way, even if we don’t achieve liberation or enlightenment during this time, when Maitreya Buddha descends on this earth we will be able to see Maitreya Buddha. We will be born as the very first disciple of Maitreya Buddha, and by receiving teachings we will then be liberated from samsara.

Mandala Offering

In the case of the mandala offering, the meaning of Samantabhadra offerings is as explained in the sutras.96 Beams emitted from each atom of the mandala carry a mandala, and beams carrying a mandala are emitted from each atom of each mandala. In that way, mandala offerings fill the whole of space.

There are other visualizations. You can put your palms together and visualize that beams are emitted with bodhisattva Samantabhadra, with his palms together, on a lotus on the tip of each beam. Again, beams are emitted from his hands, carrying many offerings, and from them, beams are again emitted with many offerings. This visualization of Samantabhadra offerings is according to sutra.

Auspicious Prayer is usually recited after the long mandala offering, but you can also recite other verses, such as:

Due to the merit of having offered this mandala to Chenrezig and the rest of the merit field, may bodhicitta be generated within my mind and within the minds of all sentient beings. May those who have bodhicitta develop it.

Due to the merit of having offered this mandala to the Great Compassionate One and the rest of the merit field, please grant me and all sentient beings blessings to be able to practice exchanging self for others as our heart practice, because cherishing the self is the source of all shortcomings and cherishing others is the basis of all qualities.

Due to the merit of having offered this mandala to Compassion Buddha and the rest of the merit field, may I and all sentient beings, in all our lifetimes, be born of noble caste, have clear minds, have great wisdom, be free of pride, have great compassion, have devotion to the virtuous friend and always abide in the samaya of the virtuous friend.

To always abide in the samaya of the virtuous friend means to always live in the vows that are particularly related to the virtuous friend, which becomes the root of all success in actualizing the whole graduated path to enlightenment. Without this practice of living in the samaya of the virtuous friend, there can be no realization of the path to enlightenment, so then there’s no enlightenment. You cannot then do perfect works for all sentient beings, bringing them to enlightenment.

Due to the merit of having offered this mandala to the Compassionate-Eyed One and the rest of the merit field, may I and all sentient beings become only like you, Compassionate-Eyed One, with your holy body, your retinue and your supreme holy name.

Becoming like the Compassionate-Eyed One means to cease taking rebirth in samsara—in the lower realms and even in the deva and human realms—and to cease being bound to even the lower nirvana, the blissful state of peace. It means to cut off reincarnating again in samsara and even being bound to the lower liberation. We want to become only like Compassion Buddha, with the same qualities, to be able to perfectly guide all sentient beings.

Also, if you like, you can recite Request for the Three Great Purposes:

I prostrate and go for refuge to the Guru-Three Rare Sublime Ones.
Please bless my mental continuum.
I am requesting you to immediately pacify all wrong conceptions, from wrong conceptions toward the virtuous friend up to the subtle dual view, that are in my mind and in the minds of all sentient beings.
I am requesting you to immediately generate all the right realizations, from guru devotion up to the enlightenment, in my mind and in the minds of all sentient beings.
I am requesting you to pacify all outer and inner obstacles.

Limb of Confession

Next we make confession and then do prostrations to the Thirty-five Buddhas. Confession is a remedy to the three poisonous minds. You could also say that it is a remedy to obscurations. It enables us to achieve the cessation of delusions, which means it enables us to achieve the dharmakaya. (In the seven-limb practice, the general result of each of the practices is the same, achievement of the two kayas, but a specific result for each one is also mentioned.)

When you confess your past negative karmas, it actually means that from now on you are going to try to practice virtue.

You and all sentient beings, who surround you, confess with regret, or repentance, all the negative karmas and downfalls you have accumulated in the past. The stronger your regret, the thinner your negative karmas become.

You should feel much regret, as if you had swallowed deadly poison. If you swallow a deadly poison, if you don’t immediately do something you will definitely die. In a similar way, if you don’t do something about all your negative karmas, you can be born in the lower realms, even in the Inexhaustible Suffering Hell.

Poison is used as an example to give you an idea of how strongly you should feel about the dangers of negative karmas. You can’t stand to have negative karmas, which are like poison, for even a moment. You want to purify them right this second.

Then make the determination not to commit negative karmas and downfalls again, even if it endangers your life. With this determination, then recite the verse of confession:

I confess individually every negative karma I have accumulated with my body, speech and mind under the control of attachment, anger and ignorance.

As you say this verse, think that all the negative karmas and obscurations in your mental continuum become nonexistent. Your mental continuum becomes completely pure.

You can also think of the emptiness of the negative karma. When doing confession, when you think of the delusions, negative karmas and obscurations, it looks as if they are real. There are negative karmas and obscurations, but there are no real negative karmas and obscurations, as they appear to us and as we believe them to be. What appears to us, what we think is real, is empty. That is the ultimate nature, the emptiness, of the negative karmas and obscurations. They are merely imputed by the mind in dependence upon the function of the imprint or thought, whether it is harmful.

Think that all the negative karmas and obscurations become empty. Look at their nature, which is emptiness. They all become nonexistent; they don’t exist even in name. Think that they are all purified.

It’s very good to think of the emptiness of the negative karma when you do confession. It then becomes very powerful confession, bringing powerful purification.

Meditating for just a few seconds, or even one second, on emptiness purifies unbelievable past negative karmas. Even having the wish to meditate on emptiness purifies the heavy karma of the five uninterrupted negative karmas, as well as the ten nonvirtues and many other negative karmas. Since generating a wish to meditate on emptiness has so much power to purify, there’s no doubt about the power of actually meditating on emptiness, even for one second.

The Practice of Prostrations to the Thirty-five Confession Buddhas

Even though prostrations to the Thirty-five Buddhas are normally done in the limb of confession, I sometimes do them at the beginning of the nyung nä session. You then don’t need to do them later. In some ways it’s easier if you do the prostrations before you sit down. Of course, generally, the harder practice is, the greater the purification it brings. The harder you find nyung nä practice, the greater purification it becomes. However, that doesn’t mean it’s bad if someone finds nyung näs easy. It is different for different people. Some people find nyung näs very, very hard; others find them very easy. It depends on a person’s mind and karma. If you find nyung näs very difficult, it might be due to heavy karma, so if you do them, perhaps it means you perform great purification of that heavy karma.

The practice of the Thirty-five Buddhas is emphasized in the Lama Tsongkhapa tradition. Lama Tsongkhapa himself did many hundreds of thousands of prostrations to the Thirty-five Buddhas in a cave in Tibet. At first Lama Tsongkhapa recited the name of each buddha alone, without the epithet De zhin sheg pa, which means Tathagata, or Gone As It Is. He then had a vision of the Thirty-five Buddhas without heads. After adding De zhin sheg pa to the recitation, he then saw all the Thirty-five Buddhas with complete holy bodies. This is why De zhin sheg pa is recited in the Lama Tsongkhapa tradition—the other traditions don’t recite it. By doing those many hundreds of thousands of prostrations to the Thirty-five Buddhas, Lama Tsongkhapa achieved many realizations of the graduated path to enlightenment.

To purify any negative karma or degeneration of a vow that happened during each day, Lama Tsongkhapa recited each of the Thirty-five Buddhas’ names thirty-five times at the end of the day. He would then go to bed with a very comfortable mind. If you are ordained and practice this way, you don’t go to bed with the vices of having degenerated vows and you don’t continue the vices into the next day. Before going to bed, you purify whatever vices you have accumulated that day; there is then no continuation to the next day. This is another way to live purely in vows, besides living in them purely by not breaking them at all. Since the branch vows are especially difficult to keep, it is very easy to accumulate vices, but by purifying vices the same day in this way, you remain pure.

When you create some negative karma in the future, feeling much regret, you can immediately recite the names of the Thirty-five Buddhas or do Vajrasattva practice and purify with nectar. This is how Lama Atisha and many Kadampa geshes practiced.

Before reciting the prayer, think that in front of you is Chenrezig in the center, surrounded by the deities of the four classes of tantra, then the sutra buddhas, including the Thousand Buddhas of the Fortunate Eon. In this nyung nä practice, you visualize the Thirty-five Buddhas and seven Medicine Buddhas in that line of sutra buddhas. But normally when you do the practice you just visualize the Thirty-five Buddhas in front of you.

The simplest visualization of the Thirty-five Buddhas is to visualize them in the aspects of the five types of buddhas. First visualize Shakyamuni Buddha up in space. Out of compassion Shakyamuni Buddha emits beams from his heart, and on the tips of the beams are the other thirty-four buddhas, each seated on a lotus, sun disc and moon disc on a throne lifted up by elephants, not by snow lions. Since an elephant is a very powerful animal, visualizing an elephant helps to bring powerful purification. There are also pearl decorations on the elephants. Since pearls are white, visualizing pearls brings stronger purification.

In the first row there are six buddhas in the aspect of Akshobhya, blue in color and in the same aspect as Shakyamuni Buddha. However, while King Lord of the Nagas’ holy body is blue, he has a white face and a different mudra from the other five. There are then four lines with seven buddhas in each one. The seven buddhas in the second line are white and in the aspect of Vairochana, with hands in the mudra of supreme enlightenment. The third line has seven yellow buddhas in the aspect of Ratnasambhava, with the right hand in the mudra of granting sublime realizations. The next seven buddhas are red, in the aspect of Amitabha, with their hands in the mudra of concentration. The final seven buddhas are green and in the aspect of Amoghasiddhi, with the mudra of giving protection.

Visualize the Thirty-five Buddhas like this in front of you and think that nectar-beams are emitted from the Thirty-five Buddhas in all ten directions, purifying you and all sentient beings. When there isn’t enough space to physically do prostrations—in an airplane, for example—just recite the names and do the visualization of purifying nectars coming from the Thirty-five Buddhas. Think that the nectars come from all the directions and enter your body and mind, completely purifying them, like cleaning a glass under a tap.

Even if there’s no space to physically do prostrations, if you visualize doing the prostrations, the benefit is the same. If you visualize one body doing prostrations, the benefit is the same as your body actually doing prostrations. Visualize the tallest body you can, with it covering the whole ground. If there are statues, think that all the ground surrounding the statues is completely covered by your body. In this way you collect the same merit as your body having actually covered the ground and done the prostrations.

It’s very good to memorize the names of the Thirty-five Buddhas so that you can then say them any time. While you’re walking or traveling you can then do the Thirty-five Buddhas practice.

When you prostrate, you can think that every holy object in the gompa, every single buddha statue, is the Thirty-five Buddhas. Even if you don’t know the particular details of how to visualize the Thirty-five Buddhas, just think that each statue is Buddha, then prostrate to that. As long as you are prostrating to Buddha, all the benefits of prostrations are there.

If you know how to visualize the Thirty-five Buddhas, it’s good if you do. If not, just think that Thousand-Arm Chenrezig is the Thirty-five Buddhas; the Thirty-five Buddhas are abiding in each pore of Chenrezig and you are doing prostrations to them.

Begin the prostrations with the buddha’s name and mantra that multiples the prostrations 100,000 times. Recite them each seven times:

CHOM DÄN DÄ DE ZHIN SHEG PA DRA CHOM PA YANG DAG PAR DZOG PÄI SANG GYÄ RINCHHEN GYÄLTSHÄN LA CHAG TSHÄL LO

OM NAMO BHAGAVATE RATNA KETU RAJAYA / TATHAGATAYA / ARHATE SAMYAK SAMBUDDHAYA / TADYATHA / OM RATNE RATNE MAHA RATNE RATNA BIJA YE SVAHA

Then recite three times the mantra that multiplies each prostration one thousand times:

OM NAMO MANJUSHRIYE / NAMAH SUSHRIYE / NAMA UTTAMA SHRIYE SVAHA

As you do the prostrations, repeat the name of each buddha as many times as possible because simply reciting each name purifies many thousands of eons of different negative karmas. You make a great profit by doing this practice. Reciting well the Thirty-five Buddhas’ prayer from the beginning to the end even once is very powerful.

Stand up straight when you finish each prostration, before you do the next prostration. It’s not correct to be bent over, and it also makes doing the prostrations difficult. When you come down, put your knees down first and then lie down; it’s easier to do it that way. You should also place your hands down flat. Another point is that when you do prostrations, your feet should point straight back, not be stretched out to the side. When you lie on your bed to relax, you can stretch your feet out as much as you like, but not when you do prostrations.

Certain things are disrespectful. Even though there’s no bad intention, it becomes negative karma because of the power of the object. For example, when an insect or an animal walks over a Dharma text or a statue, it happens out of ignorance, not purposely, but they still create negative karma just because of the power of the object. Showing respect and acting correctly in relation to holy objects or actual living holy beings have incredible benefit because of the power of the object. Even if you have no thought of disrespect in your mind, if you perform even a small disrespectful action due to ignorance, the shortcomings are great because of the power of the object.

When we do prostrations, we have to do them properly. The teachings emphasize very much how to do prostrations respectfully. It feels a little uncomfortable to see mistakes, even small ones. Since you are going to do prostrations many times, not just during a nyung nä but also in the future, it is good to do them correctly.

If your mind wanders, even though you are physically doing prostrations, they don’t become proper prostrations. Doing a similar action toward a table doesn’t become a prostration; it doesn’t purify negative karma or accumulate merit. Without depending on even a virtuous motivation, however, a prostration done to Buddha becomes virtue by the power of the holy object.

At the end of the prostrations, think, “All the negative karmas and obscurations I have accumulated with my body, speech and mind during beginningless rebirths have been completely purified—not even the slightest remains. No negative karma or obscuration exists within my mental continuum.” Generate strong faith in this. Try to feel this in relation to yourself as well as all other sentient beings. You and all other sentient beings have been completely purified by the strong nectar beams emitted by the merit field entering your body and mind. Think, “Now there isn’t the slightest cause to be born in the lower realms left within my mental continuum.”

Rejoicing in Virtue

The third of the seven limbs is rejoicing, which is a particular remedy to jealousy. If you feel a lot of jealousy, you should practice rejoicing. It’s very difficult to rejoice in the good qualities of someone of whom you are jealous, but you should practice rejoicing particularly in relation to anyone of whom you feel jealous by remembering their good qualities. The result of rejoicing is that you achieve a buddha’s holy body, which has no ugliness, only beauty. It’s perfect as a result of the practice of rejoicing.

To practice rejoicing is very enjoyable, because your mind is happy when you rejoice. It is easy for your mind to get upset, angry or jealous when you don’t rejoice in your own merit and good things and in other people having good things. If you don’t rejoice, your mind is unhappy, but if you rejoice, you naturally have a happy mind.

Rejoicing is something you can practice while you are eating, while you are walking, while you are working, while you are lying down. You can do it even when your body is engaged in doing something else. It is a very important practice—you should rejoice as many times as possible every day, as it’s the easiest way to accumulate merit. If you do this practice, you collect merit as infinite as space. It makes merit increase, like investing $100 then getting interest all the time until you have thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, then millions of dollars. When you rejoice, your merit increases greatly.

In A Brief Account of My Spiritual Life (Rang gi tog pa jö pa do zam du tän pa), Lama Tsongkhapa says that among all virtues, rejoicing is the best. In other words, if you want to create good karma, good luck, rejoicing is the best way. People usually think that luck is something that comes from its own side. That’s completely wrong. It is not that luck suddenly comes from outside, without our having to create it. Luck comes from our mind. If we experience good luck, it’s luck that we have created with our mind; we must have created it. There is no way we can experience luck that other people have created or independent luck, with no creator.

We create so much luck, so much good karma, by having faith in karma and by knowing how to practice Dharma. We create so much good luck with the seven-limb practice, mandala offering, generating bodhicitta, meditation on emptiness and the various other practices, as well as with Vajrayana practice.

Among the virtues, rejoicing is the best because it is the easiest one to practice. It simply involves your mind thinking in a particular way, and the merit you accumulate is infinite. The practice of rejoicing is incredibly easy; if you are not lazy and do the practice, in each second you accumulate merit equal to infinite space.

A king once asked Nagarjuna for advice. The king explained, “I’m so busy that I can’t meditate and I don’t have time to go to an isolated place to do retreat. So, how should I make my life meaningful?” Nagarjuna told the king three ways to make his life meaningful. The first way was to practice bodhicitta, the second to practice rejoicing and the third to do dedication.

With the practice of rejoicing, it’s not enough just to say the words. Simply saying the words without contemplating their meaning doesn’t become the practice of rejoicing. With the seven-limb practice, it is extremely important to remember to meditate on the meaning of the prayer and not let your mind wander. It doesn’t become a practice of the seven limbs unless you have the right attitude. If you chant the prayer, it perhaps becomes an offering to the merit field, but otherwise, if you don’t contemplate the meaning, it doesn’t become practice of the seven limbs. If you want to recite the words, recite them, but the most important thing is to spend a little time meditating on the meaning of rejoicing. Since it’s extremely easy to do and creates infinite merit, don’t miss the opportunity.

It is actually better if you just meditate without saying the words. Every time you do the seven-limb practice, whether you say the words or not, don’t miss doing the meditation. The seven-limb practice is an essential method to accumulate merit and to purify negative karma. If this most important practice becomes just words, it will be difficult to have quick development of your mind. You should just read one verse then stop to meditate, then read another verse and stop to meditate. Or don’t read them at all or just read them to yourself and meditate.

It’s very important to meditate each time you practice the Four Mandala Offerings to Cittamani Tara, where the seven-limb practice comes again and again, and in other practices with the seven limbs. When you are doing a public puja, of course, you don’t have any choice; you have to go straight through the puja, so you can’t take the time to meditate. But when you are doing the practice alone, you have the freedom to spend some time on the seven limbs. When I do the seven limbs, I’m normally not satisfied if I just say the words of the prayer. I feel that if I don’t meditate I’m losing a great opportunity. One problem that then happens is that while I’m trying to think of the meaning, other people have reached the next part of the prayer.

If we rejoice in our own merit from doing a virtuous action, we accumulate more merit than we accumulated by actually doing the action. When we rejoice in the merit of other sentient beings, if their level of mind is lower than ours, we accumulate more merit than they did, but if their level of mind is higher than ours, we get half or a quarter of their merit. As Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo explains in his lam-rim notes, if we, who are not bodhisattvas, rejoice in the merit that one bodhisattva accumulates in one day, we accumulate half or a quarter of that amount of merit. If we wanted to accumulate the merit that one bodhisattva accumulates in one day, it would take us 15,000 years without practicing rejoicing, but by rejoicing we can accumulate in a few seconds the merit that would otherwise have taken us 15,000 years to create.

Generally in our life we should practice rejoicing as much as possible. We should rejoice whenever we see good things happening to other people. When other people develop their Dharma practice and have realizations, or have education, wealth, happy families or many friends, we should always think, “How wonderful it is!” When somebody succeeds in business or any other good thing happens to them, we should always rejoice, thinking, “How good it is! How wonderful it is!” It then becomes the best business for us. Why? Because by rejoicing we are creating the cause for our own success—success in our Dharma practice, in benefiting sentient beings and the teachings, and success in even the ordinary works of this life. By rejoicing, we are creating the best cause for success. But if we feel jealous of other people’s success, which is the opposite of rejoicing, we are creating obstacles to our own success. It is important to understand this and to practice rejoicing.

Rejoicing in your own merit

There is no way to experience happiness without good karma. That is natural—a dependent arising. Without good karma, there is no way to experience happiness or success at all. All happiness, up to the happiness of enlightenment, comes only from good karma; therefore, good karma is extremely precious. You should feel as happy at having the opportunity to create good karma as a beggar who has unexpectedly found a million dollars in the garbage. You can’t believe it. It’s like a dream.

With this awareness, you should first rejoice in your own merit of the three times: past, present and future. You can then rejoice in the merit of the three times of all ordinary sentient beings, bodhisattvas and buddhas of the ten directions. It is very good to remember all the arya beings, all the bodhisattvas and all the buddhas. The verse says,

I rejoice in all positive potential
Of the buddhas and bodhisattvas in ten directions,
Of solitary realizers, hearers still training, and those beyond,
And of all transmigratory beings.

Think, “Without good karma, without merit, there’s no way at all for me to experience happiness. I have accumulated merit numberless times in the past, I am accumulating it in the present, and I will also accumulate it in the future. This will result in so much temporary and ultimate happiness, including enlightenment.”

From the very depths of your heart feel, “How wonderful it is that I’ve accumulated so much merit in the past, in the present and in the future.” Count twenty-one repetitions of “How wonderful it is!” It’s very good to count the repetitions on a mala.

Rejoicing in the merit of ordinary sentient beings

Then rejoice in all the merit of the three times of all ordinary sentient beings. Happiness comes only from good karma; without good karma, it’s impossible to experience happiness. Rejoice in others’ merit of the three times, with awareness that that merit results in so much happiness, temporary and ultimate, up to enlightenment. Think, “How wonderful it is!”

Normally, sentient beings create much negative karma, and it’s very difficult and very rare for them to create good karma. You should feel much happiness about the good karma they have created, because it is only through their own good karma that they can experience happiness. We should cause them to accumulate merit, but how wonderful it is that they are putting effort into accumulating merit from their own side.

When you rejoice in the merit of other sentient beings, if it is more comfortable for your mind, rejoice first of all in those to the east, then to the south, the west, the north, then up and down.

Or you can rejoice in all the people in Tibet who have accumulated merit in the three times. After that, rejoice in all the people in Nepal who have accumulated merit in the three times. Then rejoice in all the people in India who have practiced virtue and accumulated merit in the three times. Think, in particular, of Dharamsala, where His Holiness the Dalai Lama lives, where so many people, lay and ordained, are practicing Dharma. Then think of all the people in all the other Buddhist countries and rejoice in all their merit of the three times. Then think of all the sentient beings in the whole world.

Being more specific makes it even easier to rejoice, because you relate to particular people in each country. Many people, lay and ordained, are intensively accumulating much merit day and night by living in Dharma, experimenting on the path and so forth. Think of the countries you have been where you have seen this happening. It then becomes more real, and it is easier for you to rejoice because you have been there and seen people accumulating merit.

Also, there is no sentient being who hasn’t accumulated merit and there are numberless sentient beings. Pray, “For the benefit of each sentient being, may I be able to accumulate as much merit as other sentient beings have accumulated.”

Rejoicing in the merit of bodhisattvas

Then rejoice in all the merits of the three times of all the bodhisattvas, who are uncountable in number. I mentioned before the great profit that comes from rejoicing in the merit one bodhisattva accumulates in one day.

Rejoicing in the merit of buddhas

Then rejoice in all the merits of the three times of all the buddhas. They create so much merit in the three times, which results in so much happiness, including the achievement of enlightenment. Again think, “How wonderful it is! How wonderful it is! How wonderful it is!” Count your repetitions.

Rejoicing in the merit of ordinary sentient beings, bodhisattvas and buddhas together

If you’re short of time, you can think of all the ordinary sentient beings, bodhisattvas and buddhas in all the ten directions and rejoice in their merit together. Or you can start by rejoicing in the merit of the three times of all the ordinary sentient beings, bodhisattvas and buddhas to the east. Remembering that those merits will result in the experience of unbelievable happiness, feel great happiness in your heart. Think, “How wonderful it is!”

Then think of all the ordinary sentient beings, bodhisattvas and buddhas in the south who have accumulated merit in the three times and how this will result in incredible happiness. Think, “How wonderful it is!”

Rejoice in the same way in all the merit of all the numberless ordinary sentient beings, bodhisattvas and buddhas in the west and then in the north.

Rejoice also in the inconceivable temporary and ultimate happiness that will result from this merit. Think, “How wonderful it is!” Also rejoice in the same way about those who are up and down and in other directions.

It might be good to rejoice in your own merit in one session and then rejoice in the merit of others in the next session. Or in the first session you could rejoice more in your own merit, then rejoice in others’ merit one time at the end; in the second session you could rejoice more in others’ merit, then rejoice one time in your own merit. You can do it in different ways.

Requesting to Turn the Wheel of Dharma

The limb of requesting the merit field to turn the Dharma wheel is a particular remedy to ignorance and purifies the heavy negative karmas we have created by avoiding holy Dharma, such as disrespecting Buddhist scriptures by throwing them in the garbage and criticizing the different types of Buddha’s teachings. For example, Gelugpas criticizing Nyingmapas, Nyingmapas criticizing Gelugpas or Kagyüpas criticizing Sakyapas is avoiding Dharma, as is Theravadins criticizing the Mahayana teachings or people who believe themselves to be Mahayanists criticizing and putting down the Theravadin teachings. Since all those different teachings were revealed by Buddha, criticizing any of them is avoiding Dharma. I saw in one Tibetan text by Je Drubkhangpa that even judging your guru’s teachings by saying, “This isn’t a skillful way of teaching” becomes avoiding Dharma.

Requesting to turn the Dharma wheel creates the cause to achieve a buddha’s holy speech in the future and creates the cause for you to teach Dharma to other sentient beings as well. The particular result of this practice is achieving a buddha’s perfect holy speech. It also becomes a cause in the future for other sentient beings to ask you to give teachings. One of the results is that you yourself turn the Dharma wheel for other sentient beings.

When asking the merit field to turn the Dharma wheel, visualize offering a thousand-spoked golden dharmachakra to Guru Chenrezig, the indirect and direct gurus and all the rest of the merit field. Think that the dharmachakra is large and radiant. Visualize that you are not just one but numberless, and every one of your replicas is holding a dharmachakra. Then ask the merit field to turn the Dharma wheel. Offering a dharmachakra to persuade the holy mind to teach Dharma collects so much merit. The more you can visualize, the more merit you collect.

Then think that the merit field accepts your request to turn the Dharma wheel whenever you need. There are two ways in which they can accept. The dharmakaya way of accepting is to agree in silence. The rupakaya way of accepting is by saying, “Yes, yes. Why not?”

If you have a mandala top, you can hold and offer it as the dharmachakra.

Requesting the Guru to Remain

The limb of requesting the guru to have a long life purifies the heavy negative karmas of having criticized or given up the guru or having disturbed his holy mind, making the guru unhappy. It also naturally becomes a cause for your own long life, even if that is not your intention. The result of this practice is that you achieve the immortal, indestructible vajra holy body of a buddha.

You ask the merit field to have long life and to not pass away until samsara ends. As it says in the verse, request them not to enter parinirvana, which means not to show passing away into the sorrowless state. Visualize that you are holding a golden throne decorated with jewels and offering it to Guru Chenrezig and the rest of the merit field. The throne has a variegated double vajra in front and is raised up by four or eight snow lions, like Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s throne. Visualize numberless replicas of yourself offering a throne.

This golden throne then absorbs into the thrones of Guru Chenrezig and the merit field. Then think that they have accepted to turn the Dharma wheel whenever we need and have also accepted to live long.

Dedicating

Then dedicate all the merit you have accumulated to achieving enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings. Dedication is a particular remedy to heresy. Its specific result has to do with achieving the qualities of a buddha’s holy body, holy speech and holy mind, as Jetsün Pabongka mentions in his notes to the lam-rim teachings.

Again, as with the offerings, remember that the merely labeled I is dedicating the merely labeled merit to the merely labeled enlightenment for the merely labeled sentient beings. We are dedicating all the merits we have just accumulated by doing prostrations, making offerings, confessing and so forth, as well as all the merits of the three times.

The Mantra of Pure Morality

Next, recite this mantra twenty-one times:

OM AMOGHA SHILA SAMBHARA [SAMBHARA] / BHARA BHARA / MAHA SHUDDHA SATTVA PADMA VIBHUSHITA BHUJA / DHARA DHARA / SAMANTA AVALOKITE HUM PHAT SVAHA

Prayer to Keep Pure Morality

Then recite,

Due to all the merits of the three times accumulated by me and by all other sentient beings, may I and all sentient beings complete the paramita of morality by keeping it purely and without pride.

Four Immeasurables

You can do tong-len practice with the prayer of the four immeasurables. With the first one, immeasurable loving kindness, you can do the practice of giving, giving all good things to others. When you generate immeasurable compassion, you can take on the sufferings of others. With immeasurable joy, you can again practice giving, and with immeasurable equanimity, you can practice taking. In this way there’s more merit. Generating each of the immeasurable thoughts accumulates merit equaling infinite space, but especially if it’s combined with tong-len. There is much more merit, twice the merit, so you accumulate another lot of infinite merit by doing the tong-len practice.

May all sentient beings have happiness and the causes of happiness.

First of all, think of those who are devoid of temporary pleasure, and then think of those who are devoid of ultimate happiness. Otherwise, the inspiration to practice giving won’t arise.

May all sentient beings be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.

With the generating of immeasurable compassion, you can do the meditation of taking all the undesirable things upon yourself. Remember the different sufferings of sentient beings so that your compassion becomes strong. Just in one moment they all become free of suffering and all the suffering comes from all the directions and is absorbed into the self-cherishing thought in your heart. Your self-cherishing thought becomes nonexistent, as does your wrong conception of a truly existent I.

May all sentient beings never be separated from the happiness that is without suffering.

With immeasurable joy, you can again do the meditation of giving.

May all sentient beings abide in equanimity, free from discriminating others as close and distant through attachment and anger.

With immeasurable equanimity, you can do the meditation of taking others’ attachment and anger, as well as all the problems that arise from those two discriminating thoughts. Take all the attachment and anger, the cause of problems, and all the confusion that results from them into your heart, absorbing it all into your self-cherishing thought.

You can take the whole of samsara, because all the problems, all the sufferings of the whole of samsara, actually come from attachment. The whole world is filled with this major problem of attachment and there is so much suffering from it. So, take everything upon yourself. Take both the cause and the result into your own heart, onto your self-cherishing thought, which becomes nonexistent.

Departure of the Merit Field

Then, the merit field, which you have invoked from its natural abode, the dharmakaya, returns to its natural abode.

Next comes the actual body of the practice, with meditation on the self generation.


NOTES

91 For more on karma, see appendix 4. [Return to text]

92 That is, those who have had the appropriate initiation. [Return to text]

93 A Dharma center in England; formerly an FPMT center. [Return to text]

94 For a description and a photograph of Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche doing this mudra, see page 68 of the 1995 edition of Nyung Nä. [Return to text]

95 See appendix 4 in Nyung Nä for the offering mudras. [Return to text]

96 The Samantabhadra offering in Guru Puja has a different meaning. [Return to text]