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 24: February 22-a

MORNING: FIRST SESSION

Conclusion of Thirty-five Buddhas Practice

The power of the mantra, the power of the names of the Thirty-five Buddhas and the beams emitted by them completely purify all the defilements, negative karma and downfalls. All the negativities collected during beginningless rebirths have been completely purified. Your mental continuum becomes completely pure.

“In emptiness there is no I, there is no action of creating negative karma, there is no negative karma created.”

Dedicate all the merit collected from having done prostrations, made offerings, confessed, rejoiced and requested the gurus to turn the Dharma wheel and to have stable lives, to your achievement of enlightenment so that you can then bring all happiness, including enlightenment, to all sentient beings.

Combined JOR-CHÖ/LAMA CHÖPA practice

The supreme mandala

After you have recited the verse for taking refuge and generating bodhicitta (sang-gye chö-dang...) three times, a replica of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, the central figure in the refuge merit field, descends to your crown and absorbs within you. You become enlightened in the essence of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha. You then send beams from the pores of your body with a Guru Shakyamuni Buddha on the tip of each beam. Guru Shakyamuni Buddha descends to the crown of each sentient being and purifies them. Every sentient being becomes enlightened in the aspect of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha; their mind becomes dharmakaya and their body becomes rupakaya.

You then rejoice, “How wonderful it is that I have enlightened all sentient beings.” When you think about whether or not they have actually become enlightened, however, you find that they are not enlightened, and this has simply been your visualization. Why aren’t they enlightened? Because they still have discriminating thoughts of anger and attachment and are suffering. You then think, “Therefore, I must generate the four immeasurable thoughts.”

The four immeasurable thoughts

If you can, do tong-len practice along with the four immeasurable thoughts. With the first verse, immeasurable equanimity, take in all the sufferings, all the problems, caused by discriminating thoughts of anger and attachment as well as the anger and attachment themselves in the form of pollution. Take this pollution into your heart and use it to destroy your own self-cherishing thought, or ego. Your self-cherishing thought becomes completely non-existent.

With the next verse, immeasurable loving kindness, do the practice of giving. Think that you give away your body (which you can think of as a wish-fulfilling gem), your merits of the three times and all your possessions.

With the third verse, immeasurable compassion, again take from sentient beings their suffering and its causes.

And finally, with immeasurable joy, again do the practice of giving.

In this way, besides collecting infinite merit by generating each of the immeasurable thoughts, you collect infinite merit by doing the tong-len meditation. Each time you do the practice of taking the sufferings of sentient beings, you collect infinite merit. Each time you give your body, you collect infinite merit; each time your give your merits of the three times, you collect infinite merit; and each time you give your possessions, you collect infinite merit.

Generating special bodhicitta

Next comes the generation of special bodhicitta to practice tantra. Here we need to generate very strongly this special motivation of bodhicitta.

Think, “For one hell being, who has been my kind mother numberless times and is the source of all my past, present and future happiness, to suffer in the hell realms for even one second is unbearable for my mind.

It is like they are suffering for many eons. I need to lead them to full enlightenment immediately. And there are numberless hell beings, who are the same in that they have all been my kind mothers and are the source of all my past, present and future happiness. Their suffering in the hell realm even for one second is unbearable for my mind, as if they are suffering for eons. Therefore, I must enlighten them without even a second’s delay.”

By thinking in the same way about the sentient beings in each realm, generate strong compassion and bodhicitta, the thought that seeks enlightenment for the sake of others, that seeks to accomplish work for others.

After all this, think, “I must achieve enlightenment for them without even a second’s delay, in the quickest possible way.” Generate this thought of seeking enlightenment, of seeking to accomplish work for other beings, after you have meditated on the sentient beings in each realm or at the very end, after you have meditated on the beings in all the realms.

It is very important to generate this intense thought of bodhicitta at the beginning as the motivation for the whole practice of guru yoga. As mentioned in the verses on special bodhicitta, this is your only reason for practicing guru yoga. After you have generated this thought of achieving enlightenment yourself in order to accomplish work for others, recite the verses. Only after feeling the meaning in your heart, only after transforming your heart into this thought, do you recite the words of the prayer.

Meditating on the three kayas

After this, those who have received a great initiation of Highest Yoga Tantra and know how to meditate on the three kayas can do that meditation here. This meditation purifies ordinary death, ordinary intermediate state and ordinary rebirth; ripens the mind in the path-time dharmakaya, sambhogakaya and nirmanakaya; and plants the seed of the result-time dharmakaya, sambhogakaya and nirmanakaya. This meditation is called “utilizing the three kayas.” In other words, on the basis of death, intermediate state and rebirth, you visualize what you are going to achieve in the future, the result-time three kayas, and that itself becomes the actual path to achieving the three kayas.

Even these essential points that I have mentioned come from secret teachings, but in any case, the secrecy has already gone....

So at this point, those who have received a Highest Yoga Tantra initiation can meditate on the three kayas. When reciting sadhanas, we usually stop at the meditation on the three kayas and meditate for a little while on the dharmakaya. Many of my gurus, especially His Holiness Zong Rinpoche, have emphasized this very much. Whether or not everyone knows the meditation, stop there for a little while. I guess it gives other people the chance to meditate. If possible, also stop for a while after you become the sambhogakaya. Perhaps this is to make sure that you practice divine pride during the rest of the sadhana. You then meditate on the nirmanakaya. These are the key points in practice of the generation stage of Highest Yoga Tantra.

Integrating the three deities

Those who know the meditation can do the self-generation from the Yamantaka sadhana. Guru Puja is a very special practice because of its integration of Yamantaka, Guhyasamaja and Chakrasamvara. It is the quickest path to enlightenment, quicker than the Highest Yoga Tantra path in general. The general Highest Yoga Tantra path exists in all four traditions, but practicing the integration of these three deities comes only in Lama Tsongkhapa’s tradition. In Guru Puja you begin by generating yourself as Yamantaka, the body mandala in the second merit field is from the Guhyasamaja practice and the extensive offerings are from the Chakrasamvara practice. This is the integration of the three deities.

After you have made the request, which is known as “Putting the Stake,” the guru enters your heart. Like driving in a stake to hold up a tent by hitting it many times, fervently make this request to the guru three times—make it from the depths of your heart. After the guru enters your heart, recite the Guhyasamaja, Yamantaka and Chakrasamvara mantras. Reciting these mantras is also a practice of the integration of the three deities. This particular explanation comes from Geshe Senge. Of the twenty-five or so gurus that I have, Geshe Senge is the one from whom I have received almost all the teachings on Most Secret Hayagriva.

Now meditate briefly on the three kayas.