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 32: February 28

AFTERNOON: MEDICINE BUDDHA PUJA

[This teaching was given prior to Rinpoche’s conducting a jang-wa ceremony at the Memorial Shrine on the FPMT property at Soquel. It was attended by Vajrasattva retreat sangha but not the lay students.]

Jang-wa

First we are going to do a Medicine Buddha puja. There are long and middle-length versions of this—we are going to do the middle-length version. After that, we will do the actual jang-wa, the purification of the family members who have passed away, which involves liberating them.

You can do this practice with many different deities, aspects of buddha, but here today we are going to do it with the Medicine Buddha.

If there are actually ashes, hair or bone of the deceased person, parts of the dead person’s body, the purification is done with the female enlightened being, the deity Vajrayogini. Again there are different versions of the Vajrayogini sadhana—long and short. Here, we’ll do the short one. In that way, later, when the ashes have been purified and consecrated, buddha’s wisdom having been invoked into the hair, bone or whatever there is, those ashes become the same as holy objects—statues of the buddha, stupas and so forth; they become objects of respect.

The benefits of blessed ashes

Traditionally what’s done is that you take the blessed ashes up a very high mountain and cast them into the air. In that way, the blessed ashes bless the air, and whoever that air then touches—people, animals, insects— gets liberated. Those beings get liberated because the air has been blessed by the ashes. Liberated from what? Liberated from having to reincarnate in the suffering realms—the hell, hungry ghost and animal realms. They get liberated because their minds get purified; their negative karma—the negative imprints left on their minds by past negative actions, actions done with negative thoughts—is purified. The negative karma they have created and collected on their minds is what causes them to reincarnate in the suffering realms. Therefore, by purifying their negative karma, purifying their mind, they get liberated from the lower realms and receive good rebirths. Depending on their karma and on the person who does the puja—that person’s qualities and the karma of the person who passed away—depending on both, they can be born instead in a pure land or receive a higher rebirth, such as a human, or a worldly god in the deva realm.

That’s one of the ways in which the consecrated ashes are used.

Another way of using the ashes after they have been purified, consecrated and blessed is to put them into an ocean or a river. Because the ashes have been purified and blessed, putting them in the ocean blesses the entire ocean and that water then blesses or purifies all the beings who live in the ocean; purifies their minds, their negative karma. Thus, all those beings living in the water get liberated from the lower realms; they don’t reincarnate in the hell, hungry ghost or animal realms. It causes them to receive good rebirths. Also, anybody who touches the water, including human beings, gets purified as well.

A third way the blessed ashes can be used, made beneficial for the person who passed away, another very practical method, is to sponsor or make stupas or statues of the buddha out of them. Usually in Tibet, Nepal and India, after the ashes have been purified, blessed, they make statues of, for example, Mitukpa. You can also make Medicine Buddha statues. Mitukpa, the Immovable Buddha, is in the same aspect as Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, but blue in color and holding a vajra in his left hand, which is in the mudra of concentration, like Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s. Mitukpa is a very, very powerful buddha, so making statues of him is extremely helpful to purify the person who passed away, to purify that person’s negative karma and for that person to have a good rebirth.

Also, the family members who sponsor the making of that statue collect inconceivable merit as well. You can also make stupas from those ashes.

The last time we did a celebration here was at the opening of this temple, when the large Medicine Buddha thangka was brought here and we made offerings to that holy object. I would like to repeat again the benefits of making holy objects, as explained by the Buddha. In his teachings, the Buddha explained infinite, unbelievable benefits of making holy objects, but here I’ll give just the essence of what he said.

The benefits of Jang-wa

First of all, however, jang-wa is a Tibetan term that means purification.

The teachings given by the Buddha himself are divided into two types— sutra and tantra. The jang-wa purification practice is from the tantras.

Usually, if somebody dies with a non-virtuous thought, with a negative thought at the time of death—with anger, ignorance or desire, attachment clinging to this life—if the person’s very last thought in this life is non-devotion to guru, Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha; not compassion for other living beings; not wisdom meditating on the ultimate nature, emptiness; not the detached, pure mind of renunciation of the circling suffering realm, samsara; if there’s no pure mind, no virtuous thought, after death that person gets reborn in the intermediate state of the hell realm, the intermediate state of the hungry ghost realm or the intermediate state of the animal realm. If a person dies with a non-virtuous thought, with a negative thought, that person reincarnates in the lower realms, in the suffering realms. The person doesn’t reincarnate in the higher realms—the deva or human realms.

But if this purification practice of jang-wa that was taught by Buddha in the tantras is done, it is said in the teachings that even if the person died with a non-virtuous thought, an impure mind, a negative thought, and has already reincarnated in the intermediate state on his way to the hell, hungry ghost or animal realms, that person can still change his rebirth; he doesn’t have to reincarnate in the hell, hungry ghost or animal realms. That person’s mind can still be directed towards the higher realms. The person’s rebirth can change. Instead of being born in the lower realms, the person can reincarnate in the human or deva realms or even in a pure land, depending on the person’s karma and the qualities of the person who performs the puja. It is a very powerful, practical method of helping family members or friends who have passed away—deceased people whom you want to help avoid heavy sufferings and have an easy life, a good rebirth, a better life. Doing jang-wa for those people has that practical benefit.

The benefits of making holy objects

As I mentioned, family members who sponsor the making of a statue or stupa using the deceased person’s ashes, hair, bone or whatever has great benefit. When King Sogyal asked Lord Buddha about the benefits of making holy objects, he explained that equal to that number of atoms that the statue or stupa contains, according to its size, as many millions or billions of atoms it contains, for that many lifetimes the person who sponsored or made that holy object will be born as a king in the “deva human” realm, where the enjoyments are millions of times greater than the most developed human wealth. Then, of course, if in all those coming future lives as a king that person meets the Dharma, the spiritual path, the Buddhadharma, he or she can use all that wealth and power to benefit many other sentient beings.

The next benefit is that as many atoms the stupa or statue has, that many causes to achieve perfect concentration, meditation, shamatha, calm abiding are created. In order to achieve perfect concentration, you have to achieve the nine levels of meditative stabilization. Only then can you achieve perfect concentration, meditation. Otherwise, you can’t really develop perfect meditation free from attachment-scattering and sinking, the two main obstacles that interfere with your realizing perfect concentration.

After achieving these nine levels and thus perfect concentration, you experience extremely refined rapturous ecstasy, bliss of body and mind. Then, after that, you achieve fully characterized shamatha, calm abiding—that level of meditation. Then, on the basis of that, you realize the ultimate nature of the I, the aggregates—the association of body and mind, the base on which I is labeled, the base of the self, the me—you realize the ultimate nature of the base, the aggregates; the very nature of all phenomena—emptiness.

Without realizing emptiness, you cannot be liberated; there’s no way to escape, to be totally liberated, forever, from the whole entire round of samsaric suffering—the suffering of death, the suffering of rebirth, the suffering of old age, the suffering of sickness and all the other problems we experience between death and rebirth. You cannot be free from all the sufferings of the human and deva realms—the sura and asura realms, the realms of those worldly gods—or of the three lower realms—the hell, hungry ghost and animal realms. Why? Because all these sufferings come from karma, are caused by karma. Karma is motivated by delusion. All delusions, wrong concepts, the hallucinating mind, come from the root, ignorance—the unknowing mind.

Where are you?

If you look for the I, if you look for the self, where is it? You cannot find the I from the ends of your hair down to the tips of your toes. You cannot find the I, the self. Where is the me? Where is the I? You cannot find it anywhere from the ends of your hair down to the tips of your toes.

Nowhere can you find your I. Even if you look for it, you cannot find it.

The real I that you always believe to be there, that you always hold on to; believing that there really exists such a real I as it appears to you, that there is a real I in your body, that always walks, sits, sleeps, works and so forth; comes, goes, does all the activities. Actually, if you look for it, try to discover where that real I that appears to you, that you constantly hold on to, is located, you cannot find it anywhere from the ends of your hairs down to the tips of your toes.

Your body is not the I; your mind is not the I. Even the association of your body and mind is not the I; together, even the collection of body and mind is not this real I. Therefore, nothing is the real I. None of this is the real I, and you cannot find any such real I. None of these are the real I. Neither body nor mind, nor even the collection of them together is the real I. If you look for it, you cannot find it anywhere from the ends of your hair down to the tips of your toes. You cannot find it on this base—the association of body and mind. You cannot find the real I in which you believe, which appears to you and which you always hold on to, that you cherish as the most important thing there is—“I’m the most important of all living beings; I’m more important than all the buddhas and bodhisattvas and all other living beings.”

If you look for this real I that you hold on to in everyday life—every minute, every second—you cannot find it. It is not there; it exists nowhere, neither on the base—the association of body and mind—nor anywhere else. This real I, or, in Western psychological terminology, this emotional I, doesn’t exist anywhere, neither on the base—the association of body and mind—nor anywhere else. Since it cannot be found anywhere, it is totally non-existent. When you look for it, you cannot find it anywhere.

But, because the base—the aggregates, the association of body and mind—exists, the I exists. There is a body, there is a mind and there is an association of this body and mind—these things exist. Because of their existence, the mind that sees these aggregates—the base, the association of body and mind—invents the label “I,” the merely imputed I. This is the I that exists; the self that exists is this one, dependent on the base, the association of body and mind, and on the mind that merely imputes the I.

That exists, that I exists; the merely imputed I exists.

The merely imputed I that exists is not only like a hallucination, it is a hallucination. Again, because of the aggregates, the mind merely imputes the I; the I exists by way of being merely imputed. But this merely imputed I that exists cannot be found on its base, the association of body and mind; you cannot find even this merely labeled I, which normally exists, on the base, the association of body and mind. However, the merely imputed I exists—it exists in the world, in this temple, right now. You, your self or the I, the merely imputed one, exists now; it exists in this world, in America, in this temple now. It exists in this Memorial Shrine. The merely labeled I is in this temple now, but it is not, you cannot find it, on this collection of body and mind. You cannot find the I, the merely labeled I there.

Besides not being able to find the emotional I, the real I, you can’t find even the merely labeled I on the aggregates. You can find the merely labeled I in this temple; it’s in this temple right now—on the cushion, where the aggregates are sitting. The body is sitting on the cushion—is the merely labeled I there or not? Yes, it is on the cushion; yes, it is on the chair—but is it on the base, the collection of body and mind? No, you cannot find it there—on there, there is no merely labeled I. Where you find the aggregates, the collection of body and mind, there you find the I, the merely labeled I—but there is no merely labeled I on the collection of body and mind, the base. There’s a huge difference—like that between earth and sky—between the merely labeled I and the I that appears to us, the I in which we normally believe.

What is ignorance?

What is ignorance? The point I’m trying to make, to introduce here, is what is ignorance, the root of all delusions, the root of all karma, the root of all suffering? I’m trying to give you an idea of what this ignorance is.

Think how a movie camera imprints a negative film with images of people, mountains, houses and so forth and then later, when the film is developed with chemicals, what the camera has imprinted on the film appears on photographic paper or can be projected on a movie screen.

Like that, while there is no I on the base, the association of body and mind, past ignorance—the concept of the inherently existent I, the concept of the real I, the I that exists from its own side, as not merely labeled by the mind—past ignorance—the wrong concept that apprehends the I, aggregates, all phenomena, subject, action, object, everything, as inherently existent, as real, as existing from their own side—has left negative imprints on our mental continuum. Then, these negative imprints left on our mind by past ignorance project the hallucination of inherent existence.

The moment our mind merely imputes the I, merely imputes the body, merely imputes the mind, merely imputes this and that, these negative imprints left by the past ignorance project the hallucination of inherent existence on to that merely labeled I, that merely labeled body, that merely labeled mind, that merely labeled this and that.

But, right after our mind merely labels the I, it doesn’t appear back to us as merely labeled by the mind. Even though the I, the self, is merely labeled by the mind, when it appears back to us, it does not appear as merely labeled by mind. It appears as if it exists from its own side, as if it has nothing to do with our mind, as if it never came from our mind. It appears as something totally existent from its own side. There are many wrong views there. However, the I merely labeled by our mind doesn’t appear back to us as merely labeled by the mind. It appears back to us as not merely labeled by the mind. That’s a hallucination. That is projected by the negative imprint left on our mental continuum by past ignorance, the concept of the inherently existent I, inherently existent aggregates and so forth. That inherently existent I, the I that appears to us as not merely labeled by mind, is a projection of the negative imprint left on our mental continuum by past ignorance, the wrong concept of holding the I as inherently existent.

When the merely labeled I, the I that is merely labeled by our mind, appears back to us, it doesn’t appear as merely labeled by our mind—it appears back to us as not merely labeled by our mind. Then, we immediately allow our mind to believe that that appearance is correct, that that view is one hundred per cent true. We allow our mind to believe that the I that appears to us as not merely labeled by the mind is something real, that it exists from there. We let our mind believe, hold, apprehend, that that view of the I, the way the I appears, is true. We let our mind hold on to this I that doesn’t exist, this real I (real in the sense of existing from its own side) that is not there.

This concept that holds on to the I that doesn’t exist, the real I that exists nowhere, is what is called ignorance, and this is the way in which we create our own ignorance. Nobody else creates our ignorance; we create it for ourselves. We create our own ignorance, the root of all suffering.

We create our own suffering. That’s why Lord Buddha explained that we are our own worst enemies, but similarly, we are our own guides, our own liberators.

The antidote to ignorance

The antidote to this ignorance, the method of eradicating this root of all suffering, is the wisdom realizing the emptiness of the object of ignorance, the wisdom realizing that the object that ignorance holds on to is totally non-existent. This realization, this wisdom realizing emptiness, is the only thing that can directly cut the root of all the suffering, ignorance.

Only through this wisdom can we be completely liberated from the entire round of suffering and its cause—karma and delusion.

Thus, as I was saying before, on the basis of shamatha, you realize emptiness, you achieve great insight. You do analysis on emptiness on the basis of shamatha, which was derived from rapturous ecstasy, through that concentration. That’s what is called great insight. That leads to wisdom, to the third path, the path of right-seeing. That is the wisdom directly perceiving emptiness, the wisdom that actually ceases the delusions.

Developing the wisdom directly perceiving emptiness is what actually ceases the imprints, the defilements, the delusions. That is how you are able to achieve total liberation from all suffering and its causes and achieve ultimate happiness.

There are five paths to nirvana, liberation from samsara—the paths of merit, conjunction, right-seeing, meditation and no more learning.

During the second path you need to have the realization of the unification of shamatha and great insight. That leads to the third, the path of right-seeing. From there you start to cease the delusions, and on the path of meditation, you can cease whatever delusions are left over; you completely cease all delusions. Then you achieve the fifth path, no more learning. This is according to the Hinayana path; this is the Lesser Vehicle path. These are the five Lesser Vehicle paths to liberation.

There are also five Mahayana paths, which lead to enlightenment.

They have the same names. There are the Mahayana paths of merit and conjunction, where again you need the realization of the unification of great insight and shamatha. This also leads to the Mahayana path of right-seeing and to the Mahayana paths of meditation and no more learning—enlightenment. Here, with the thought of bodhicitta, method, you are able to cease even the subtle defilements and thus to achieve full enlightenment.

Therefore, as many atoms a statue or stupa has, by making or sponsoring that holy object—the bigger the better—you collect that many causes of perfect concentration.

More benefits of making holy objects

The next benefit is that, as many atoms as a statue or stupa has, that many causes to achieve the arya path are created by the person who makes or sponsors that holy object. As I just mentioned, there are five [Hinayana] paths to achieve liberation from samsara and there are five [Mahayana] paths to achieve enlightenment for the sake of sentient beings. The arya path means the third, fourth and fifth paths—the right-seeing path and the paths of meditation and no more learning. All these are arya paths, and the person who makes or sponsors a statue or stupa creates as many causes to achieve the arya path as there are atoms in that holy object; collects that quantity of merit to achieve the path that actually ceases defilements.

The final benefit is enlightenment. As many atoms as a statue or stupa has, that many causes of enlightenment are created by the person who sponsors or makes that holy object. The benefit of attaining enlightenment is that after you attain it, you liberate and enlighten numberless other sentient beings from alltheir oceans of samsaric suffering and their cause. You liberate everyone, all suffering beings, from all their suffering and its cause and bring them to enlightenment.

Making or sponsoring holy objects has all these unbelievable benefits.

Therefore, if you dedicate all the merits of making holy objects to the person who died, that person also gets the incredible benefit of receiving a good rebirth. This is, therefore, a very practical way to benefit the family members and the person who passed away.

The benefits of the Medicine Buddha mantra

Now I would like to mention the benefits of the Medicine Buddha mantra so that you can understand the benefits of the Medicine Buddha practice.

Guru Shakyamuni Buddha asked his attendant Kungawo [Ananda], “Do you have any doubts about the Buddha’s explanation of the benefits of reciting the Medicine Buddha’s name and mantra?” Kungawo replied, “I have no doubts whatsoever about what the Buddha explained regarding the power, qualities and benefits of reciting the name and mantra of the Medicine Buddha. The Buddha has inconceivable qualities, therefore, I have no doubts.”

The Buddha also said, “When even animals hear the Medicine Buddha’s name, they don’t get reborn in the hell, hungry ghost or animal realms.”

If we recite the Medicine Buddha’s name and mantra, we receive the benefit of all the prayers that the Medicine Buddha made for us in the past—prayers for all happiness, all good things, the success of our Dharma practice, realizations, whatever; all happiness, temporary and ultimate. We receive whatever the Medicine Buddha prayed for us sentient beings to receive.

Not only that. Whatever prayers we ourselves make are actualized.

Simply by our reciting the Medicine Buddha’s name and mantra, our prayers become successful. Why? How does this happen? In the past, when the Medicine Buddha was a bodhisattva, with bodhicitta, with unbearable compassion for us sentient beings, with compassion that encompasses all sentient beings, he made countless prayers for the benefit of us sentient beings. He made prayers to pacify our many problems; prayers for us to achieve all temporary and ultimate happiness. The Medicine Buddha made many, many prayers for the welfare of sentient beings in the time of the five degenerations. That time has come; that is our time. Therefore, all the prayers that the Medicine Buddha made in the past will now be answered.

When the Medicine Buddha achieved enlightenment, he gained the many qualities of a buddha, such as the eighteen unmixed Dharmas, the four fearlessness and the ten powers. One of the ten powers is the power of prayer, which is a quality possessed only by a buddha. With a buddha’s power of prayer, whatever prayers were made in the past are actualized, come true. All prayers made in the past succeed. Therefore, by reciting the name and the mantra of the Medicine Buddha, we receive the benefits of whatever prayers the Medicine Buddha made in the past, and whatever we pray for becomes successful as well.

If we recite the Medicine Buddha’s name and mantra, we will constantly be protected by the Medicine Buddha and the protectors in his entourage. His entourage will always protect us, and if we are practicing healing, giving people medical treatment, the medicine goddesses will always help us make the right diagnosis—correctly identify the patient’s symptoms—and give the right treatment.

Therefore, if we do a Medicine Buddha puja before doing jang-wa for a deceased person, the jang-wa becomes very successful, very powerful.

Once in Taiwan there was a person who was in a coma. He wasn’t necessarily a Buddhist, but Geshe Lama Konchog sent a Medicine Buddha picture to be put above his pillow, next to his bed. Geshe-la also did a Medicine Buddha puja that night. After the Medicine Buddha picture was put next to this person’s bed and the puja was done, he awoke from his coma.

There’s another story about someone else who became very sick with some heavy disease and found he could not move his body, could not get up. He was alone in the house, his medicine was in the bathroom, and he was unable to get up off his bed to fetch it. He was lying there thinking how to get his medicine from the bathroom when he suddenly remembered the Medicine Buddha statue that was on the table next to his bed, next to his pillow. When he turned his head to look at the medicine Buddha statue, he saw that it was holding the medicine that had been in the bathroom. His medicine was in the Medicine Buddha’s hand.

Since the statue was right there next to his pillow, he was able to reach and take his medicine.

Some time later, the day that this person was going to die, he was able to put his palms together at his heart. He was not particularly Buddhist or a Dharma student or anything like that, but as he was actually passing away, he put his palms together at his heart and died very peacefully. Even though he was not especially Buddhist and didn’t do strong prayers or anything else like that in his life, at the time of death, he was guided by the Medicine Buddha.

It also seems that recently I heard another story...I don’t remember...something to do with somebody else recovering from a coma through the Medicine Buddha.

There is a whole sutra describing the unbelievable benefits of the Medicine Buddha. I think they read it frequently in Chinese temples.

However, I’m just very briefly giving you the essence, to arouse your trust in and devotion to the Medicine Buddha, to encourage you to do the practice—the meditation and recitation of the name and mantra of the Medicine Buddha—every day.

The Medicine Buddha practice is such an unbelievably easy way to be liberated from suffering; such an easy way to go to the pure land; such an easy way to fulfill all your wishes, to have realizations on the path to enlightenment. Praying to and relying on the Medicine Buddha, which is a very blessed, very powerful practice in such degenerate times, has all these benefits. The Medicine Buddha is a very precious deity to pray to.

It is guaranteed that if you recite his name and mantra every day, you will never again get reborn in the lower realms, in the hell, hungry ghost or animal realms. Besides your succeeding in whatever you wish, your negative karma gets purified as well. Therefore, it is a great loss if you don’t get to recite it every day.

Now we’re going to rush through the puja like an Indian express train!

There are two types of purification of the ashes that we have to do, and then there are also the [deceased people’s] names written there, so it might be difficult for everyone to follow what’s going on. But you don’t need to waste your time. You can sit there and do your prayers for as long as you want to stay. Those who want to read the text, do the puja together, can do that. Otherwise you can chant mantras, do prayers, as you like. It may take some time, so there’s no obligation to wait until the end. You can leave whenever you like.

MOTIVATION

“The kind mother sentient beings, who are the source of all my past, present and future happiness, are the most precious thing in my life. I find it so unbearable that they have to suffer in the hell realms, where suffering for even one second is like suffering for many eons. Their suffering is so unbearable for me that I must enlighten them, liberate them from suffering, bring them to enlightenment as quickly as possible.

Therefore, I must achieve enlightenment as quickly as possible.

“Each of the numberless hungry ghosts suffering the sufferings of the preta realm is the source of all my past, present and future happiness and is so precious in my life. Their suffering in the hungry ghost realm for even one second is like suffering for eons. Their suffering is so unbearable for my mind. Therefore, I must liberate them from the suffering of the hungry ghost realm and samsaric suffering in general and bring them to enlightenment as quickly as possible. For their sake, I must achieve enlightenment as quickly as possible.

“There are numberless animals, each of whom is the source of all my past, present and future happiness. They are so precious in my life. Their experiencing the sufferings of the animal realm, where suffering for even one second is like suffering for eons, is so unbearable for my mind. I must liberate them from all their suffering and bring them to enlightenment as quickly as possible. Therefore, I must achieve enlightenment for them as quickly as possible.

“Numberless human beings, who are the source of all my past, present and future happiness, are so precious, the most kind and precious thing in my life. Their suffering in samsara, experiencing all the human suffering, for even one second is like suffering for eons. Their suffering for eons is so unbearable for my mind. Therefore, I must liberate them from all their suffering and bring them to enlightenment as quickly as possible. For that, I must achieve enlightenment as quickly as possible.

“Each of the numberless suras and asuras is the source of all my past, present and future happiness. They are so kind. Their suffering in samsara for even one second is like they are suffering for eons. It is so unbearable for my mind. I must liberate them from all their suffering and bring them to enlightenment as quickly as possible. Therefore, I must achieve enlightenment for them as quickly as possible.

“Each of the numberless intermediate state beings is the source of all my past, present and future happiness. Their suffering in samsara, experiencing the suffering of the intermediate state realm, for even a second is like they are suffering for eons. It is so unbearable for my mind. I must liberate them as quickly as possible from all their suffering and bring them to enlightenment. Therefore, I must achieve enlightenment as quickly as possible.

“For all these purposes I am going to do the Medicine Buddha puja—prostration, offering, requesting and so forth. I am going to do the graduated practices of the Medicine Buddha puja.

“Also, the previous generations of my family who have passed away and all the deceased people whose names are written here, including the main ones, whose ashes are here, whose names are written there, are the principals, and then all the rest of the others who have passed away— numberless beings born and suffering in the hell realm, born and suffering in the hungry ghost realm, born and suffering in the animal realm— to liberate them as quickly as possible, I’m going to do this Medicine Buddha puja—for everyone, all those people whose names are here and then all the rest.”

[Puja starts.]

Dedication

This puja is also for all those who are still living; the rest of your family who are still alive, so dedicate the Medicine Buddha puja to their long life and health and, most importantly, their having a meaningful life by actualizing the lam-rim, the steps of the path to enlightenment—especially bodhicitta, the good heart, the ultimate good heart—and being able to make their life most beneficial for other sentient beings—which actually means most beneficial for themselves as well.

Also dedicate for your family members and all the students and benefactors of this organization, including those who built this temple, who sponsored this temple, who gave the money to build this temple, and to Venerable Paul and all the organizers of the temple, who built it for the benefit of many sentient beings, both living and dead.

Dedicate to those who have sacrificed their lives and borne much hardship offering service to others and the teachings of the Buddha through this organization.

“May every one of those living beings who rely upon me, for whom I promised to pray and whose names were given to me have long lives and good health, may all their wishes succeed immediately according to the holy Dharma and, most importantly, may they be able to actualize the lam-rim path in this very lifetime.

“May the business of the husband of the benefactor of our Taichung Center succeed immediately and be free from all obstacles and difficulties.

May all the businesses they have be even more successful than they wish and may all the wealth that they receive be most meaningful, most beneficial for all sentient beings and the teaching of the Buddha.

“May the business of the benefactor who sponsors our translator training center in Dharamsala, which has been having difficulties recently, become most successful and may the wealth he receives be most beneficial for sentient beings and the teachings of the Buddha.

“May all our meditation centers be able to spread the teaching of Lama Tsongkhapa in the minds of all sentient beings.” Dedicate for our centers to receive whatever they need to be successful.

Also dedicate for the social service centers, all those various projects, the schools and so forth, to be most beneficial, successful, and to receive all the needs for that to happen.

“May all the projects of this organization, including all the projects at Land of Medicine Buddha—the 100,000 Medicine Buddhas temple and the 100,000 stupas project—and all the hospices, succeed immediately by receiving all they need to do so.

“May the 500-foot Maitreya Buddha statue succeed, be completed as quickly as possible, by receiving all the needs.”

Also dedicate for the long life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the Buddha of Compassion, and for all other holy beings, all our virtuous friends, to have stable lives and for all their holy wishes to succeed immediately.

Dedicate for Lama Ösel Rinpoche to have a long life, to be able to complete his studies and, like Lama Tsongkhapa, to be able to benefit sentient beings like the sky, through showing the same qualities that Lama Tsongkhapa possessed.

Dedicate this Medicine Buddha puja to all those people who have cancer and AIDS, those very heavy diseases for which there is no cure, to those who are comatose, to those who are suffering greatly from illness.

Dedicate this Medicine Buddha puja to all those who have life obstacles, those who are dying today—there are many people dying in this world, even today, even now—dedicate this Medicine Buddha puja to all of them.

And to all those people who do good things for others, who serve others, dedicate this Medicine Buddha puja to their success.

[Puja continues.]

Rejoicing

Rejoice in your own past, present and future merits. Without merit, good karma, we can’t achieve any happiness, any success in business, in Dharma practice, in anything. We can’t have any happiness, can’t achieve any happiness without merit—including the happiness of enlightenment and realizations. Merit is so precious; merit is so precious. Think, “I have created numberless merits in the past, numberless merits in the present time and will create numberless merits in the future—how wonderful it is! How happy I am!” You can think one way or the other. Like this, rejoice in your own merits of the three times, feeling happiness again and again by thinking of the merits, the numberless merits—how wonderful they are. Think this again and again, how wonderful it is. Feel happiness in your heart.

By rejoicing in your own past, present and future merits, your skies of merits of the three times are increased—all your merit is doubled. In this way, the Medicine Buddha puja becomes very, very powerful, and then when we dedicate all these merits to others, it becomes really very effective for both yourself and others.

[Puja continues.]

Remember all the offerings down there outside the LMB gompa, those inside the gompa, the offerings made here at the temple, all the water bowls—thinking of them as nectar and offering them to the Medicine Buddha—all the lights...you can also offer the almost three hundred water, nectar offerings and the just under four thousand light offerings at the Aptos house. When we make all those offerings to the Medicine Buddha, meditate that the Medicine Buddha is inseparable from your guru, your virtuous friend, as well as His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Rely upon the Medicine Buddha with all your heart. Think that whatever prayers you have made in the past, “May I and all sentient beings receive immediately whatever I have prayed for. May it succeed immediately.” Then, if there is anybody for whom you would like to pray, think of that person, or if there is any particular project whose success you want, pray also for that.

[Puja continues.]

Now rejoice in others’ merits, the merits of all sentient beings, including the bodhisattvas and buddhas. They have collected vast merit in the past and present and will collect vast merit in the future, and through this they have received much happiness. Then sentient beings receive much happiness from them, including ultimate happiness. Bodhisattvas use all their merits to complete the path and to serve us sentient beings, to benefit us sentient beings. Rejoice in all these merits of the three times, thinking, “How wonderful it is!”—think again and again, “How wonderful it is!” Each time we rejoice like this, “How wonderful it is!” feeling happiness at others’ merits, we again collect skies of merits, each time.

[Puja continues.]

Dedicate for the Buddha of Compassion, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, to have a stable life and for his and all other holy beings’ holy wishes to succeed immediately.

Next Chapter:

Chapter 33: March 2-a »