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 15: February 13-b

Evening: Final Vajrasattva session

Dedication

“Due to all the merits of the three times collected by me, buddhas, bodhisattvas and all other sentient beings, may bodhicitta, the source of all happiness and success for me and for all sentient beings, be generated within my mind and in the minds of all the sentient beings without even a second’s delay. And may the bodhicitta that has been generated be increased.”

Dedicating with bodhicitta

Even though you pray to generate bodhicitta when you do the lam-rim prayers, it is still good to do this dedication at the very end. There are two reasons for this. The first is that generating bodhicitta is the door of the Mahayana path to enlightenment. Without bodhicitta, you cannot enter the Mahayana path, which means that you cannot achieve enlightenment and cannot enlighten all sentient beings. Without bodhicitta, you cannot do perfect work for sentient beings. Without bodhicitta you cannot purify all your subtle defilements. Of course, the direct purification of subtle defilements has to do with wisdom, but it requires the support of bodhicitta. Even if you have the wisdom that directly perceives emptiness, unless you also have bodhicitta, you cannot cease the subtle defilements. You cannot cease the subtle defilements with that wisdom alone; you need the support of bodhicitta. With bodhicitta you can then complete all the qualities of the realizations. It is only with bodhicitta that you can do perfect work for other sentient beings. Without bodhicitta, even if you have wisdom, you cannot do perfect work for other sentient beings.

The second reason for dedicating to generate bodhicitta is that it becomes practicing the power of prayer, one of the five powers that you practice in thought transformation. Your whole life’s practice can be integrated into the five powers, one of which is the power of prayer. [The others are the powers of the white seed, familiarity, determination and repudiation. See p. 612 ff. in Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand.] You dedicate your merits by praying to actualize bodhicitta and to never be separated from bodhicitta in this life and in all future lives. The power of prayer is also part of the five powers to be practiced at the time of death, a Mahayana (though not tantric) technique for transferring the consciousness. [The other powers at death have the same names and page references as above.] As the time of your death approaches, you also pray to never be separated from bodhicitta at the death time, in the intermediate state or in future lives. If you are practicing thought transformation by following these outlines, you accomplish the practice of the power of prayer by dedicating to develop bodhicitta. This is one reason that we dedicate especially to develop bodhicitta, even though there are so many other realizations.

Three other dedications

Dedication is generally also done for the long lives of the holy beings who preserve the Dharma. You dedicate for your own virtuous friend to have stable life. The happiness of sentient beings depends on the teachings of Buddha, and the existence of the teachings depends on the existence of the holy beings who preserve and spread the Dharma. This is why we dedicate for the holy beings to have stable life and for their holy wishes to be fulfilled. We dedicate principally for the long life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who is the holder of the entire Buddhadharma (not only Hinayana, but Mahayana Paramitayana and Mahayana Secret Mantra) in this world, and then for other holy beings.

We then dedicate the merits for the flourishing of the teachings and next for the happiness of sentient beings. Dedications are made for these three purposes. However, dedicating the merits for the teachings to exist and to spread includes the other dedications.

Dedicating other's merits

There is a reason why I always mention dedicating your own merits and also the merits of others. For example, if one million people each give one dollar to a charity, it makes a total of one million dollars. Even though the amount that each person gives is very small, just one dollar, it combines with all the other donations to become one million dollars. And with one millions dollars, you can accomplish big projects that help many thousands of people. The one dollar that you give combines with the others to become something that is very powerful and that can be used for a long time. In a similar way, even though your merit is very small, by combining it with the merit of others, your merit becomes very powerful and inexhaustible.

Dedicating to achieve enlightenment for the sake of sentient beings again makes the merit inexhaustible. It is like putting one drop of water into the ocean. That one drop gets mixed with the rest of the ocean, and until the ocean is exhausted, that one drop is never exhausted. By dedicating the merits to achieve enlightenment, you can enjoy the benefits of the merit until you achieve enlightenment; and even after you achieve enlightenment, you still enjoy the result of the merits because you can then enlighten other sentient beings. You continuously enjoy your merit. Otherwise, you enjoy the result of your merit just once, and then it is exhausted. Dedicating the merits to achieve enlightenment makes the merits powerful and inexhaustible.

Dedicating in emptiness

The reason that we dedicate the merits by sealing them with emptiness is that if we do not do this, our dedication is not pure because it is stained by the concept of inherent existence. This is the “poisonous food” referred to in The Seven-Point Thought Training when it advises, “Abandon poisonous food.” When we dedicate the merits by sealing with emptiness, the merits are protected from being destroyed by anger and heresy. Otherwise, anger and heresy can destroy our merits. Since our mind is so uncontrolled and we do not apply meditation all the time, anger and heresy can arise at any moment. Therefore, it is very important to protect the merits that we have put so much effort into creating.

Like putting our money in the safest bank, sealing our merits with emptiness is the best way to protect them. When we dedicate our merits in daily life, we should dedicate for bodhicitta, to achieve enlightenment for the sake of sentient beings, and we should seal our dedications with emptiness. At the very least our dedications should include these two factors.

The actual dedications

“Due to the three times merits collected by me, buddhas, bodhisattvas and all other sentient beings, may I be able to offer benefit as extensive as the sky to all sentient beings, just as Lama Tsongkhapa did, through having the same qualities within me as Lama Tsongkhapa had, from now on in all my future lives.”

We give all our past, present and future merits—including all the merits we collected today by doing Guru Puja, Vajrasattva practice, prostrations and so forth—and all the resultant happiness, up to enlightenment, to every hell being, every hungry ghost, every animal, every human being, every asura being, every sura being and every intermediate state being. (To do this more elaborately, we can also give our body, which we visualize as a wish-fulfilling jewel, and all our possessions.) Because of this, sentient beings receive everything that they need, and all these enjoyments then cause them to cease all their defilements and to actualize the path of method and wisdom. They all become enlightened in the aspect of whichever buddha we practice.

By doing this practice of giving, we collect skies of merit, which we now dedicate. “Due to all these merits, may whatever suffering sentient beings have ripen upon me and may whatever happiness I have ripen upon all sentient beings.

“Due to all the merits of the three times collected by me and others, wherever I am—whichever universe, world, country, area or place—simply by my being there, may the sentient beings who are in that universe, world, country, area or place, never ever be reborn in the lower realms. May they immediately be liberated from all diseases, spirit harms, negative karmas and defilements and achieve enlightenment as quickly as possible by actualizing the whole path, especially bodhicitta.” Then dedicate more specifically: “Simply by my being in that universe, world, country, area or place, may those who are blind be able to see; may the deaf be able to hear; may the lame be able to walk; may those with cancer immediately be healed; may those with AIDS immediately be healed; may those in a coma immediately regain consciousness; may those with arthritis immediately be healed; may those who are crazy because they are possessed by spirits immediately be released from spirit possession; may those living in disharmony become harmonious and find peace and happiness; may those who have obstacles to practicing Dharma, to doing retreat, be free from all those obstacles; may those who are looking for a guru be able to find a perfectly qualified guru; may those who are looking for teachings be able to receive all the teachings that they need. May everyone receive perfect happiness simply through my being there in that universe, world, country, area or place. May I become wish-fulfilling for all sentient beings, like Ksitigarbha, who brings infinite benefit to all sentient beings.

“Due to all the past, present and future merits collected by me, buddhas, bodhisattvas and all other sentient beings, may the father of Fred (a member of Amitabha Buddhist Centre in Singapore) who died recently, as well as all those who have died and whose names have been given to me and for whom I have promised to pray, those who rely upon me, as well as all the numberless sentient beings who are suffering unimaginably in the lower realms immediately be liberated from all those sufferings and reincarnate in a pure land where they can become enlightened. Or may they receive a perfect human rebirth in all their lifetimes and achieve enlightenment as quickly as possible through meeting a perfectly qualified Mahayana guru and the Mahayana teachings.

“Whenever I hear that somebody is sick, may my hearing about it cause that sentient being to immediately be healed. Whenever I hear that somebody has died, may my hearing about it cause that sentient being to immediately be liberated from the lower realms and reincarnate in a pure land where they can become enlightened; and if the sentient being has been born as a human being but with no opportunity to practice Dharma, may they receive a perfect human body and achieve enlightenment as quickly as possible by meeting a Mahayana guru and the Mahayana teachings.

“Due to all the merits of the three times collected by me, buddhas, bodhisattvas, and all other sentient beings, may I, the members of my family, all the students and benefactors of this organization, especially those who sacrifice their lives and bear hardships to serve others and the teachings of Buddha through this organization, and those who rely upon me, whose names have been given to me and for whom I promised to pray, have long lives and be healthy. May all our wishes be fulfilled immediately in accordance with the holy Dharma. And most important, may we actualize the path to enlightenment, especially bodhicitta, in this very lifetime without the delay of even a second.” (While we are doing this dedication, since it is also a request, we can think of Medicine Buddha and think that we are making the request to Medicine Buddha. This makes our request very powerful.)

“May the whole organization—all the meditation centers, Dharma publications, hospices, schools, leprosy project, and other public service projects—become wish-fulfilling for all sentient beings, pacifying immediately all their suffering of body and mind.

“By receiving all their needs, may all the meditation centers be able to spread the teachings of Lama Tsongkhapa in the minds of all sentient beings. May all the projects of this organization succeed immediately by receiving all their needs. May the 500-foot Maitreya Buddha statue be completed immediately by receiving all the needs. And may all these projects and statues generate loving kindness, compassion and bodhicitta in the minds of all sentient beings. Due to that, may no sentient being experience war, famine, disease, earthquake, fire, flood or any other undesirable thing. May all these projects and statues cause all sentient beings to achieve enlightenment as quickly as possible.

“May the teachings of Buddha and Lama Tsongkhapa always flourish and spread in all directions.

“Due to all the past, present and future merits collected by me, buddhas, bodhisattvas and all other sentient beings, which are merely labeled by the mind, may the I, which is merely labeled by the mind, achieve Guru Vajrasattva’s enlightenment, which is also merely labeled by the mind, and lead all sentient beings, who are also merely labeled by the mind, to that enlightenment, which is also merely labeled by the mind, by myself alone, who is also merely labeled by the mind.”

Multiplying mantras

Now recite the mantras, the names of the buddhas, that multiply each merit we have collected today 100,000 times.

Reciting the last buddha’s name (...NGO WA DANG MÖN LAM...) also increases the merits 100,000 times, but its particular quality is that it actualizes whatever prayers we have done.

“Due to the eminent blessings of the buddhas and bodhisattvas, due to unbetraying dependent arising, and due to my special attitude, may all my prayers be fulfilled immediately."