Teachings From the Vajrasattva Retreat

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Soquel, CA USA 1999 (Archive #1055)

This book is an edited transcript of Lama Zopa Rinpoche's teachings at a three-month Vajrasattva retreat held at Land of Medicine Buddha, from February 1 to April 30, 1999. The teachings cover many lam-rim topics, purification practices, mantras, pujas and more.

Chapter 1: February 6

Evening: Vajrasattva Je-Nang

Our karma determines how long we can see the Buddha of Compassion in the form of this particular human body that benefits so many sentient beings in this world. Therefore, our doing this Vajrasattva retreat definitely becomes a means to ensure the long life of the Buddha of Compassion, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, as well as other holy beings. Besides pleasing Lama Yeshe, our doing Vajrasattva retreat is also very pleasing to the holy mind of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The most powerful purification comes when you do something that pleases the virtuous friend. This is the most powerful way to purify whatever obstacles you have to achieving realizations of the path to enlightenment—or, in other words, to achieving happiness. Only through purifying obstacles can realizations be achieved.

We can make an offering of this retreat to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. At the end we can count up all the mantras recited by all the people who did the retreat and offer it to His Holiness as an offering of practice. We can also dedicate the retreat to the successful accomplishment of all His Holiness’s wishes. It is a very critical time at the moment, so it would be very good to dedicate the retreat, the merit we will collect every day, to the success of His Holiness’s wishes.

Benefits of Vajrasattva Practice

It is mentioned in tantric texts such as the Guhyasamaja commentary that reciting even twenty-one Vajrasattva mantras stops the multiplying of negative karma and blesses the mind. And reciting 100,000 Vajrasattva mantras can completely purify all negative karma. It can purify the ten non-virtuous actions and even the broken root vows of a fully ordained monk or nun. Even if a fully ordained person has received the four defeats by killing a human being, stealing, having sexual intercourse and telling the big lie (saying that they have realizations when they know that they do not), they can completely purify these heavy negative karmas by reciting 100,000 Vajrasattva mantras.

It is also mentioned in the root tantric text, Zag-gyü theg-nyi gyü-pa, that one of the benefits of Vajrasattva practice is that it can purify the five uninterrupted negative karmas (having killed the mother or father of this life, caused disunity among the sangha, killed an arhat or caused karmas, without the interruption of rebirth in another realm, one falls down into the major hell realm immediately after one’s death. As well as these five uninterrupted negative karmas, negative karmas such as cheating the tathagatas and abandoning the holy Dharma are purified. We abandon, or avoid, the holy Dharma when we think, “Oh, what use is this to me?” when we encounter any of Buddha’s teachings in which we don’t have any faith or interest or which we can’t understand, such as the philosophical scriptures. Criticizing or rejecting any of Buddha’s teachings is abandoning Dharma.

Tibet has four Mahayana traditions, and Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo mentions in Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand that criticizing the other traditions is avoiding the holy Dharma. This happens, for example, if Nyingma or Kagyu followers criticize the Gelug teachings by saying that they are not pure, or if Gelugpas criticize the teachings of the other traditions. So there is no doubt that Mahayanists who criticize Hinayana teachings and Hinayanists who criticize Mahayana sutra or tantra teachings are avoiding the holy Dharma. These are very heavy negative karmas. In the Lam-rim chen-mo, Lama Tsongkhapa quotes from a sutra that explains having abandoned the holy Dharma is much heavier negative karma than having destroyed all the stupas in this world.

Vajrasattva practice can purify all the heavy negative karmas of having avoided the holy Dharma, degeneration of lay precepts and ordination vows, and any other negative karma, or unrighteous action. It can also purify the mental pollution that comes from the negative karma of wrong livelihood. The Jor-chö commentary mentions five types of wrong livelihood that can pollute the mind and become a very heavy obstacle to realizations. All these heavy vices can be purified through Vajrasattva practice.

The root tantric text Theg-nyi gyü-pa by the great master Kunying [Kunga Nyingpo] then concludes, “When Vajrasattva becomes stabilized in the heart of a practitioner, that practitioner achieves all realizations, both common and sublime.” This is also explained in the commentary to this root tantra by Sakya Shenying [Sherab Nyingpo]. It is also explained in the Yamantaka teachings that the hundredsyllable mantra pleases one’s special deity, which means the deity with which you practice oneness day and night.

Increase of negative Karma

In Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand, Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo gives the following example. If we kill one tiny insect today, a mosquito or a louse, and we do not purify with Vajrasattva practice before we go to bed, the negative karma becomes double by tomorrow, triple by the third day and so on. By increasing day by day, after fifteen days that one small negative karma becomes as heavy as our having killed a human being. And after eighteen days, Pabongka Rinpoche says, it will have increased by a factor of 131,072. This means that one small negative karma that we failed to purify at the end of the day will go on increasing day by day. As the months and years go by, it will keep on increasing until by the time of our death that one small negative karma will be huge, like the size of this earth.

That one small negative karma will become so heavy that it will make death very difficult and many future lives as well. It will cause us to abide for an inconceivable length of time in the lower realms, where we will experience unimaginable suffering. And even when we are reborn in a human or deva realm, we will have to experience many suffering results of that negative karma.

Reciting the Vajrasattva mantra just twenty-one times at the end of the day can stop that small negative karma from multiplying the next day. Not only will it stop that, but it will stop the multiplying of all the negative karmas collected with our body, speech and mind during that day. By multiplying day by day, each of the negative karmas we collected today, if they were materialized, would become as heavy and huge as a mountain the size of this earth. Reciting the Vajrasattva mantra just twenty-one times at the end of the day stops the multiplication of all these negative karmas. It can also purify all the negative karma created that day and all the negative karma created in this life and in our past lives as well. Therefore, there is no doubt about the benefit of reciting a much larger number of mantras, such as 100,000. The benefit and power of that is unimaginable.

Preparation for the Vajrasattva Je-Nang

The Vajrasattva je-nang, or permission to practice, involves graduated activities from the side of the lama and from the side of the disciple. The preparation from the side of the lama includes self-generation, front generation, blessing the vase and so forth. The graduated activities from the side of the disciple include rinsing the mouth, making prostrations, receiving the flower and offering a mandala. Before the mandala offering, however, we need to give a tormato the interferers who interfere with the granting and receiving of the Vajrasattva je-nang.

Of course, saying that you should visualize me as Vajrasattva is like saying that you should think of kaka as gold. However, visualizing the lama as Vajrasattva has a special purpose for the disciple.

According to the Theravadin way of devoting correctly to the virtuous friend, you respect and obey the abbot as if he were like Buddha. The Mahayana Paramitayana way is to look at the essence of the virtuous friend as Buddha. Now, according to the Mahayana tantra way of devoting to the virtuous friend, not only do you look at the essence of the virtuous friend as Buddha, but you visualize even the aspect as the pure form of Buddha. You stop your view of the virtuous friend as an ordinary person and then practice a pure view of the virtuous friend in the aspect of a buddha, in the form of a deity. Since we are practicing Mahayana tantra, the meditation involves the practice of pure appearance, in which you visualize the virtuous friend in the aspect of a buddha —in this case, Vajrasattva.

Transform your body, speech and mind, as well as your own merits of the three times, into clouds of offerings that decorate the entire universe, and then offer them without any clinging, in order to receive the permission to practice, or blessing, of Vajrasattva.

Vajrasattva Practice with Prostrations

If there is enough space, in the one or two afternoon sessions, rather than sitting, you can do prostrations while reciting the Vajrasattva mantra. In these particular sessions it is easy to fall asleep, though in which session it is easy to fall asleep depends on the individual person. My suggestion is that in the one or two sessions after lunch, you do the Vajrasattva meditation- recitation with prostrations. In this way you will also be using your body to purify and to collect inconceivable merit. With each prostration, you will collect inconceivable merit. While doing the prostrations, you still do the same meditation of purification, with nectar coming from Vajrasattva and purifying you. Visualize numberless buddhas in all directions, think that they are the guru in the aspect of Vajrasattva, then make the prostrations

Four powerful means of accumulating merit

Four powerful means of collecting extensive merit, good karma, are explained in the lam-rim teachings at the end of the topic of karma.

1. The power of attitude. The first is the power of the attitude, which means bodhicitta, through which we can collect infinite merit.

2. The power of the object. The second is the power of the object, and the highest or most powerful object is the virtuous friend. As I often mention, ordained sangha are a more powerful object with which to collect merit than the parents of this life; arhats are more powerful than ordained sangha. One bodhisattva is a much more powerful object than numberless arhats; one buddha is a much more powerful object than numberless bodhisattvas; and one virtuous friend is a much more powerful object than numberless buddhas. For you, one virtuous friend is the most powerful object with which to collect merit.

A Dharma connection is established the moment you make the decision that someone is your guru (not just a guru in general but your own guru) and recognize yourself as their disciple, and on the basis of this determination, receive even one verse of teaching or the oral transmission of a few syllables of a mantra. Even if from their side that virtuous friend is an ordinary person, your Dharma connection creates power and makes that person the most powerful one in your life. This is the person with whom you can create the most extensive merit.

Also, the power of any harmful action done in relation to these objects increases from your parents of this life up to the guru. The karma is so powerful that you can start to experience its result as sufferings, or problems, in this life.

There are three types of karma: karma that you create and see its result in this life; karma that you create and see its result in your next life; and karma that you create and see its result after many lifetimes.

With these powerful objects, you create the karma whose result you see in this life. Even if you cause a small harm—for example, show some slight disrespect—to one of these objects, from your parents up to the guru, because the object is so powerful you start to experience its result, suffering, in this life. And even if you perform a small good karma, offer a small service, to one of these objects, the good karma is so powerful that you start to experience its result, happiness, in this life.

I normally liken the guru-disciple relationship to putting two batteries together, which creates the power to give light. It is similar here. Making the decision in your mind and establishing a Dharma connection create the power; the Dharma connection makes the guru the most powerful object in your life.

If you visualize numberless buddhas, think that they are the guru in the aspect of Vajrasattva, and then make prostrations, you are prostrating to the most powerful object possible. Therefore, you collect the most extensive merit.

3. Living in vows. The third powerful means of collecting extensive merit is living in vows. If you are living in ordination or you are a lay person who lives in the five or eight lay vows, any merit you collect in your daily life becomes very powerful. Living in vows increases any merit that you collect in daily life.

I often mention the example given in the sutra, Heaped Jewels. On one hand, say every being in the three realms (desire, form and formless realms) becomes a wheel-turning king and each one makes a light offering to the buddhas with a Pacific-like ocean of butter and a wick like Mount Meru. (A wheel-turning king is the most powerful king. He has complete control over not just one country but one entire human continent. As a result of his past merit, his wealth and power are incomparable; no other king can match him. The teachings also explain that a wheel turning king is able to fly around Mount Meru. Wheel-turning kings exist only in the times when the human life span is 80,000 years. They existed at such times in the past.)

On the other hand, say one person living in ordination makes a tiny light offering to the buddhas with butter the size of a mustard seed and a wick the size of a hair. This person who is living in vows collects far greater merit than all those other beings of the three realms that became wheel-turning kings and made such extensive light offerings to the Buddhas.

The Eight Mahayana Precepts

Therefore, if you are doing retreat, whether or not you have taken the five lay vows (though it is good if you have taken them), it is especially good if you can take the Eight Mahayana Precepts. If it is a long retreat, you can take both breakfast and lunch but then not eat after twelve o’clock.

According to His Holiness Serkong Tsenshab Rinpoche, you can’t drink juice after lunch, but I think you can have clear apple juice or any other kind of juice that is clear, without any pulp in it. Rinpoche said that you can’t drink juice, but I think that if you check the fine details, the main point is whether the juice contains any substances that can become kaka in the stomach— or outside the stomach! I’m joking! I think you keep the vow more precisely if you drink clear juice that has no pulp in it.

Rinpoche mentioned juice but he didn’t say anything about tea. I didn’t get the opportunity at that time to ask about tea. I am talking here about milk tea. Usually I try to use a lot of water. I mean, I should do it every day, but on the days when I take the Eight Mahayana Precepts, I try to make the tea very watery, as light as possible. In this way the vow is kept more neatly. I’m not sure about Tibetan tea. Tibetan tea has butter and some has milk, some doesn’t. It depends how the tea is made. Theravadin monks don’t drink milk tea. I’m not sure whether they drink it in the morning, but after twelve o’clock they don’t drink milk tea. One time after I had been to Australia, I went to Sri Lanka with Thubten Yeshe, who was then a nun. I’m not sure where Lama Yeshe was at that time— perhaps teaching at the university in America. Thubten Yeshe was helping me as secretary-attendant in Australia. She had been to Sri Lanka before, and she suggested that since Sri Lanka was on the way from Australia to Nepal, we should go on pilgrimage to Kandy, where there is a holy relic of Buddha’s tooth. Sri Lanka is not on the way from Australia to Nepal; but, to keep the story short, I agreed to go.

We stopped one night in Colombo, and then the next day we went to Kandy, where we stayed in a very old English hotel close to the temple that has the Buddha’s tooth. In the morning I went to the temple. I took a copy of Bodhicaryavatara with me and read it aloud. I tried to read very loudly because every five minutes a group of tourists came into the temple and I thought they might hear it. After that I did some full-length prostrations. Because full-length prostrations are not traditional there, everybody was very curious. Some monks were watching me.

At the end, nobody was there except one man, the caretaker of the temple. He asked me to come with him, and I thought, “Where is he going to take me?” Thubten Yeshe wasn’t there; she was in the hotel. The thought occurred to me that in India people are sometimes kidnapped and hanged; the kidnappers then make a fire below the body and produce oil from it. This thought came into my mind. I wasn’t at all sure where he was going to take me. Anyway, he took me upstairs. Actually, I think the monks asked him to invite me upstairs before I left.

There were two monks upstairs, and they were very happy to meet a Tibetan monk. I think they had met other lamas in the past. They asked me, “Would you like milk or tea?” I said, “Tea.” But from my point of view tea meant tea with milk not black tea. In India tea means with milk, so I said “tea” with the expectation of milk tea. I didn’t have any other idea of tea.

They then brought me black tea. From their point of view, tea meant black tea. This was good, as they don’t drink milk tea after 12 o’clock. By asking for tea, I succeeded despite myself. Anyway, this is just a story.

If you are drinking milk tea, make it as light as possible. I think the very strict way to keep the vow would be to drink just black tea, as the Theravadin monks do.

If you are taking the Eight Mahayana Precepts for an extended period, you can eat both breakfast and lunch. To keep the precept properly, however, you should not eat after twelve o’clock.

By taking the Eight Mahayana Precepts, you increase the merit from the many virtuous practices you do during the retreat; the merit from each practice that you do is increased unbelievably. It is good to keep this in mind. It is very good to take the Eight Mahayana Precepts from time to time during your normal working life, but it is especially good to take them during retreat. The point here is that we are trying to purify our mind as powerfully as possible. The more we can purify and the more merit we can collect, the easier it will be for us to achieve enlightenment. Even though we don’t have realizations of lam-rim at the moment, living in these vows is something that we can practice immediately. The teachings of the Buddha can be divided into two categories: scriptural understanding and realizations. Living in vows is part of the realizations of the teachings of the Buddha. Even though we don’t have other realizations at the moment, this is something that we can do right now. This is the power of living in the vows.

4. The power of phenomena. The fourth power that helps to collect extensive merit is the power of phenomena. This means that in terms of giving, it is giving of Dharma that collects the most extensive merit.

Teaching Dharma to other sentient beings, whether it is an oral transmission or a commentary, collects extensive merit. Through explaining one stanza, four lines, of Dharma to one sentient being, one collects much more merit than if one had given every one of the numberless sentient being in the desire, form and formless realms the whole world filled with gold.

These four powers—the power of the intention, the power of the object, the power of living in vows and the power of phenomena—are the means we can use to collect the most extensive merit, which means the most good karma, the most good luck.

Vajrasattva practice with prostrations

Before discussing the four powers, I was talking about doing prostrations while reciting the Vajrasattva mantra. The most important point is the power of the object. You have to remember the guru and be aware that the guru is oneness with Vajrasattva. You can practice this awareness while you are doing the prostrations and reciting the mantra.

You can count the mantras while you are doing the prostrations. Using a short mala, as the Chinese usually wear, is a very easy way to do this. Many people in Hong Kong and Singapore wear a short mala, but with beads as big as those in Six-armed Mahakala’s big mala.

It’s very good to do prostrations because then you are also using your body to collect merit. You work very hard and spend a lot of money to take care of your body, so now you are using it to create the cause of enlightenment. You are making it useful by using it to achieve enlightenment in order to enlighten numberless sentient beings. This gives meaning to and makes worthwhile all the expenses you have incurred to take care of your body.

Your parents also suffered so much to look after your body. For so many months while you were in the womb and for so many years afterwards, they sacrificed their lives to take care of your body. They bore many hardships for many years to care for your body. Now you are making their sacrifice meaningful. By using your body to practice Dharma, you purify obstacles and collect merit in order to have realizations of the path to enlightenment. This gives meaning to your parents’ sacrifice; it gives meaning to their suffering so much and creating so much negative karma for so many years in order to take care of you. What you are doing here now—using your body to practice Dharma, to do Vajrasattva retreat and prostrations—gives meaning to all the time and effort they spent on you. You were the sole focus of their attention, day and night, for so many years. And they incurred many expenses in taking care of you, using money they earned with much hardship after many years of study, starting from kindergarten, struggling to find a job and so forth. You are now giving meaning to all the effort that they put into caring for you.

Actually, my motivation was not to talk about this topic—my plan was to talk about the hell realms, our past residence, and the hell sufferings. So I think it is now time to go to bed!

Why is it difficult to practice dharma?

What makes it difficult for us to practice Dharma? Dharma comes very naturally to some people. They find it very easy to practice, and Dharma is oneness with their life. Like water flowing, Dharma practice comes very naturally to them; they do not find it hard. Many of us, however, find it difficult to practice Dharma. The obstacles are not outside. The obstacles that make it difficult for us to practice Dharma are not outside; the obstacles are our own mind, or within our own mind. It is our attitude, our way of thinking, which makes it difficult for us to practice Dharma.

If you are not concerned about the future but only concerned about this life, about your present comfort and happiness, you will find it difficult to practice Dharma. Your attitude, your way of thinking, your concern for what is happening right now rather than in the future, make it difficult to practice Dharma. It looks as if the difficulty comes from the side of Dharma, but the difficulty comes from the side of your own mind.

Difficulties in life have to do with how you make decisions in your life. With one way of making decisions, it becomes very easy and natural to practice Dharma; with another way of making decisions, you find it impossible or very difficult to practice Dharma. It all has to do with your decisions in life, whether you are concerned about your comfort and pleasure right now or about your long-term happiness; whether you are concerned about yourself or about others. This determines whether or not you find it difficult to practice Dharma. When you are concerned about yourself, it is difficult for you to practice Dharma, to make your actions become Dharma. When you are concerned about others, however, Dharma comes naturally. Whether you are doing retreat or not doing retreat, your life naturally becomes Dharma. If your concern is your own immediate happiness, you find many obstacles to practicing Dharma, to living in vows.

You need to switch your concern from now to the future, to the more important long-term happiness of enlightenment, liberation from samsara, or at least a good rebirth in your next life. This life is very short. The appearance of this life that we have now is not long; it’s very brief. And not only is it short, but it can stop at any time. If you think about this in your daily life, there will be no obstacles to your Dharma practice. There will be no obstacles to the activities of your daily life becoming Dharma, and you will have no obstacles to any Dharma practice that you do, such as taking and living in vows. The obstacles appear to come from outside, from other people. It seems that this person and that person are making your life difficult. However, it all comes from your own mind. Even though it appears that way, if you analyze the situation, you find that it all has to do with your own attitude, your own way of thinking.

The three types of suffering

This samsara, these aggregates, this association of body and mind, is caused by karma and delusions. Because these aggregates are created by the impure cause of karma and delusions, they are in the nature of suffering. This is why these aggregates experience suffering.

That these aggregates are contaminated by the seed of disturbing thoughts could be one meaning of “pervasive.” Meeting a certain condition causes delusion to arise, then again one suffers. When we meet an object of desire, for example, the emotional mind of desire arises and then tortures us. The arising of these disturbing, emotional thoughts is one suffering. The main suffering for most people is not hunger, thirst, heat or cold but emotional suffering. The main suffering is mental problems, sickness of the mind. This is what causes so many people to commit suicide, despite their having many friends and much wealth. Most of our suffering comes from emotional problems, from mental sickness, not from hunger and thirst or heat and cold.

These aggregates are contaminated by the seed of disturbing thoughts. On top of that, these aggregates are under the control of karma and delusions. This means that when they meet certain objects of the senses, there is an experience of pleasure, but when we analyze that pleasure, we discover that it is only suffering. Our hallucinated mind sees that feeling as pleasure, and we believe it to be pleasure; but in the view of the detached mind, in the view of the mind of Dharma wisdom, that feeling is only suffering.

The mental pain from desire, anger, jealousy and so forth and physical pain are the suffering of suffering. When these aggregates encounter different conditions, we experience different types of suffering. And even the feeling of indifference is suffering, because these aggregates are contaminated by the seed of disturbing thoughts. In Liberation in the Palm, Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo explains that feelings of indifference are counted as part of pervasive suffering. Any feeling that arises through

The purpose of life

There is no happiness, no pleasure, in samsara that we have never experienced. There is no new pleasure to be experienced. We have experienced every samsaric pleasure numberless times. And there is no new samsaric suffering to experience; we have experienced them all numberless times. It is just because we do not remember our past lives that when we encounter problems, it seems to us that we are experiencing the problem for the first time. It is not for the first time. We have experienced that problem numberless times in our past lives. Think, “This time I must free myself forever from this samsara, from this ocean of suffering that I have experienced numberless times during beginningless rebirths.”

Even if you achieve this, however, you have still not found the real meaning of your life. Even an ant has this attitude of seeking happiness for the self. Even tiny insects that can only be seen through a microscope have this thought. Ants keep themselves unbelievably busy with this thought of seeking happiness for the self; it causes them to run up and down non-stop to collect food. If this is your attitude, there is no difference between you and an ant.

The purpose of your life is to free the numberless other beings from all their suffering and its causes and bring them from happiness to happiness to the peerless happiness of full enlightenment. This is the real purpose of your life. Benefiting other sentient beings is the real purpose of being alive as a human being. Being alive for an hour, a minute or even a second is for the purpose of achieving enlightenment in order to enlighten all sentient beings.

Cherishing the I opens the door to all problems, to all sufferings. The minute you cherish the I, you have a problem in your life. The minute you cherish the I, there is unhappiness in your life; there is no peace or satisfaction in your heart. Cherishing the I is itself the problem. It creates problems; it opens the door to problems. Cherishing others, on the other hand, opens the door to all qualities and to all happiness, including enlightenment. The minute you cherish others, you open the door not only to your own happiness up to enlightenment but to the happiness of all other living beings. Why?

As a result of you, the one person, generating bodhicitta, the thought that cherishes others, the numberless hell beings will be liberated from all their sufferings and achieve all happiness. Your bodhicitta will make numberless hell beings achieve enlightenment and all happiness. The bodhicitta of you, just one person, will cause numberless hungry ghosts to achieve enlightenment. Your bodhicitta will free numberless animal beings from all their sufferings and cause them to achieve enlightenment, which includes all other happiness. The bodhicitta of you, just one person, will free numberless human beings from all their problems and cause them to achieve enlightenment. Your bodhicitta will free numberless asura and sura beings from all their sufferings and cause them to achieve enlightenment. And the bodhicitta of you, the one person, will also cause numberless intermediate state beings to achieve enlightenment.

Without talking about all animals, let’s just consider one type of animal, fish. The bodhicitta of you, the one person, will free numberless fish from all the sufferings of samsara and cause them to achieve enlightenment. Even this is wonderful. It is incredible that even one type of animal, the numberless fish that live in the ocean, will become enlightened because of your bodhicitta. This is wonderful! And even in the animal realm, there are countless numbers of each different type of animal. Your bodhicitta, your thought of cherishing others, opens the door to happiness for numberless other living beings. The bodhicitta of you, the one person, is the source of happiness for the rest of the numberless living beings. Therefore, the situation is urgent. It is unbearable for you to delay generating bodhicitta for a day, for an hour or for even a minute. It is unbearable for you not to have this realization. Because other sentient beings are suffering so much and they need happiness so much, they need you to change your attitude from cherishing the I into cherishing others. This can’t wait. The need for your bodhicitta is a million times more urgent than a heart attack victim’s need for emergency treatment in a hospital. The need for your bodhicitta is a million, billion, trillion times more urgent. You must change your attitude from cherishing the I into cherishing others.

Also, if there is just one sentient being in your life whom you don’t cherish—for example, someone who doesn’t like you and always criticizes you and puts you down—there is no enlightenment. If you don’t cherish this person, you can’t achieve enlightenment. If you cherish this person, you can achieve enlightenment. Therefore, this person is the most precious one in your life. This one sentient being is the most precious in your life, because by cherishing that person you can achieve enlightenment. You can cease all the defilements of your mind, liberate yourself from all suffering and achieve peerless happiness with all the realizations; and you can then enlighten the numberless other sentient beings. Therefore, this person is the most precious one in your life. Since all suffering comes from cherishing the I, the I is to be renounced forever. Since he or she is the source of all your happiness, this one person is the object to be cherished forever. And every single sentient being is exactly the same as this one person. Every single one of them is the source of your happiness and extremely precious to you. All your happiness of the three times comes from good karma. Your good karma is the action of buddha, or came from buddha; buddha came from bodhisattva; bodhisattva came from bodhicitta; bodhicitta came from great compassion; and great compassion is generated in dependence upon the kindness of the existence of suffering sentient beings. Simply by existing, suffering sentient beings help you to develop compassion, to be liberated from the oceans of suffering, and to become enlightened. Therefore, you receive all your past, present and future happiness, including enlightenment, by the kindness of each sentient being.

Therefore, each sentient being is the most precious object in your life, more precious than Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, which come from each sentient being. Buddha, Dharma and Sangha are the objects in which you take refuge in order to be free from all the defilements and all the sufferings of samsara, especially the lower realms. They are the objects to which you pray and in relation to which you collect merit in order to achieve realizations of the path to enlightenment. Buddha, Dharma and Sangha come from each sentient being; they depend on the kindness of the existence of each suffering sentient being. Therefore, each sentient being is the most precious object in your life.

In your life, there is nobody to work for except other sentient beings. There is no purpose in living your life except to work for sentient beings. Any work other than that for sentient beings is meaningless. Now, what sentient beings want is happiness and what they do not want is suffering. So, what should you do? Your job is to free all sentient beings from all their suffering and its causes and bring them to enlightenment. And you should do this by yourself alone. There is no other means to do that except by first achieving full enlightenment yourself. To achieve enlightenment, you need to actualize the steps of the path to enlightenment; to do that, you need to purify the negative karma and defilements, which are obstacles to realizations. It is for this reason that you are going to take the Vajrasattva je-nang. In your heart feel that you are taking the initiation purely for the numberless other sentient beings, who have been your own kind mother numberless times.

Now we’ll do a five-minute initiation! Well, maybe a little longer.

Object of refuge

Absolute Sangha are those with the wisdom that directly perceives emptiness, which causes the cessation of all defilements and suffering. You label “Sangha” on that. When you take refuge in Sangha, your main focus should be that they are your guides, or helpers, who are helping to liberate you from samsara, from all the defilements.

Generally, we can talk about absolute Buddha and conventional Buddha. The absolute Buddha is the dharmakaya, the holy mind of wisdom. The conventional Buddha is the sambhogakaya and nirmanakaya aspect Buddhas. Dharma also has conventional Dharma and absolute Dharma. Conventional Dharma is the scriptures that explain the three levels of the paths—the Hinayana, Mahayana Paramitayana and Mahayana Tantrayana paths. Conventional Sangha means four members who are living purely in full ordination but who do not have realization of absolute Dharma. Taking refuge normally includes taking refuge in all these.

[The initiation was given.]