White Tara Sadhana: Refuge
Good afternoon. To pacify life obstacles and have a long life, there’s a very short one composed by the great enlightened being, Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo, for daily practice. I think there’s another one from International Office, but I’m not very sure. I don’t remember clearly, but I think it’s a little more extensive, with the preliminary practices.
However, there is one full meditation practice for attaining long life, at the end of which you do a fire puja, or offering burning practice. We haven’t yet translated that in the FPMT organization, though there might be translations from other traditions. I don’t know if anybody has translated it.
There is a full sadhana in great enlightened being Pabongka’s collection of works, but what I am going to explain here is from the sadhana of the long-life initiation. It’s more or less the same. The practice could be a little more elaborate in other texts, but the essence is here, I think. I didn’t get to translate the sadhana beforehand, and not everybody can read Tibetan; otherwise, copies could be made and read, so that everybody could immediately do the practice. Anyway, I will go over this with just a little commentary, a little description, which might also be helpful in the future when somebody with life obstacles wants to do a long-life retreat. It happens quite often that somebody has a life obstacle and has to do a long-life meditation practice. So, White Tara is a common long-life practice.
There’s a Heruka long-life practice, and it has been translated and is available in English. I’m not sure whether that has been translated into Chinese yet.
I didn’t get to mention this at the beginning, but here it would be very good to do the long-life meditation mainly for the gurus, and in particular for His Holiness the Dalai Lama, because this coming year, in the view of sentient beings, is an obstacle year for His Holiness. I mentioned the coming year, but it has now already started. Recently, at the end of this last year, many monasteries and many Tibetan lay people did huge numbers of various practices, such as long-life mantras and prayers.
For His Holiness to have a long and stable life is the most important thing, more important than anything else in life. His Holiness is the sole object of refuge for all of us sentient beings. He’s the source of all the peace and happiness of all sentient beings, from where all temporary and ultimate happiness comes.
Especially, His Holiness is the one who holds the entire Buddhadharma taught by Buddha: the teachings of the Lesser Vehicle path, the Mahayana Paramitayana path and the Mahayana secret mantra, or Vajrayana, path.
He is the one who holds the entire teaching taught by Buddha. To be able to do perfect work for us sentient beings, Guru Shakyamuni Buddha sacrificed his life for three countless great eons. When born as a king, he made charity of everything—his whole family, his possessions, his wealth, his life—numberless times. He didn’t do that for just one eon but for three countless great eons.
He then practiced morality, patience, perseverance, concentration and wisdom. By completing the two types of merit, he achieved the two kayas. In order to reveal the teachings of the unmistaken, complete path to liberation and enlightenment to us sentient beings, in order to be able to do perfect work for us sentient beings, Buddha sacrificed his life for three countless great eons.
These teachings are still existing in this world, and His Holiness holds and preserves these teachings, as well as causes them to spread and flourish. Due to His Holiness, many other great teachers have also been able to preserve these teachings and spread them in this world to many other sentient beings, including us.
We have met Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism, but actually these teachings came from India. They haven’t been made up by Tibetan people or Tibetan lamas.
They have come from India, from those great pandits and yogis, which means they have come from Buddha.
Therefore, every single understanding of Dharma, of lam-rim as well as of other philosophical teachings, and by understanding Dharma, every single purification that we the opportunity to do in our daily life, every single negative karma that is purified, and every single merit we collect, every single cause of the happiness of future lives, liberation and enlightenment are completely due to His Holiness’s kindness.
It is completely by His Holiness’s kindness that every day we are able to plant the seed of enlightenment, the seed of all the realizations, just by going over a lam-rim prayer.
Within those few minutes it takes to read a lam-rim prayer, we have this incredible opportunity to plant the seed of the whole path to enlightenment, and this is completely by His Holiness’s kindness.
That we’re able to make our life meaningful in so many ways, becoming closer and closer to enlightenment, is totally by His Holiness’s kindness.
When we also think of world peace, His Holiness is the only one who can act as the leader of the entire Buddhadharma, the head of all the Buddhist leaders or great masters.
Even though you might have cancer or some other sickness or life obstacle, when you do long-life meditation, it’s essential that your main motivation is still for your gurus and especially for His Holiness. At this time, it’s especially important to do the long-life meditation for His Holiness.
Since you can’t read Tibetan, I will just go over a little bit of the meditation. Otherwise, if I do it elaborately, even though some parts are done briefly, it will take time.
First is going for refuge. You visualize the object of refuge in space in front of you, with all sentient beings around you. Going for refuge with your heart, you then recite the prayer of taking refuge. First of all, the meditation is the same as when you recite sang gyä chhö dang tshog kyi chhog nam la….
Taking refuge should not become just words. To make it a real practice, you should really transform your mind into going for refuge. It is good to think in the way that comes in the motivation at the beginning of Jorchö, after you visualize the merit field and before you take refuge. Thinking in that way makes you feel something, some renunciation of your own suffering and the suffering of other sentient beings.
Then, thinking that Buddha, Dharma and Sangha have the qualities and power to save you and sentient beings from the oceans of samsaric suffering, you then go for refuge together. Your mind is perfected with the causal refuge, useful fear of your own samsara, understanding how it is suffering in nature.
You then perfect your mind with compassion for others, by thinking of others’ suffering.
That’s the second cause. The third cause is faith, which you develop by reflecting how Buddha, Dharma and Sangha have the qualities and the power to help. With your whole heart, you then rely upon and devote yourself to guru, Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. That is the mental factor of going for refuge.
Here, in particular, we are practicing the Mahayana way of going for refuge. Going for refuge without the compassion that reflects on the sufferings of other sentient beings and wishes them to be free from that, but with just the useful fear of your own samsara and faith that Buddha, Dharma and Sangha have the qualities to liberate you from samsara is the Hinayana way of taking refuge.
In Jorchö, it says, “I and sentient beings have experienced the general sufferings of samsara and the particular sufferings of the three lower realms numberless times during beginningless rebirths.” Don’t go immediately to the next part, as it’s extremely important to think well about this very first sentence.
Really think about this first one from the depths of your heart. You have experienced the general sufferings of samsara and particularly the very heavy sufferings of the three lower realms not just one time, not just a few times, but numberless times. Even Buddha’s omniscient mind cannot count the number of times.
You have experienced them numberless times and during beginningless rebirths. It is very good to stop there a little while and think deeply, feel deeply, about it. Feel the depth of the beginningless suffering of your own samsara, as well as that of other sentient beings.
My root guru, His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche, explained in the motivation of the eight Mahayana precepts, that it is something so terrifying that you can’t sleep and can’t eat. It is like somebody who is going to be executed or tortured; they’re so unbelievably frightened that they’re unable to sleep, unable to eat.
Also, according to our present situation, our present state of the mind, in the future we will have to experience suffering endlessly—it’s difficult to see the end of it. If we don’t practice Dharma, if we don’t do something in this life, it’s going to be endless suffering of samsara.
What we have already experienced during beginningless rebirths will be endless, particularly the unbearable sufferings of the lower realms.
No matter how much we human beings regard our human problems as painful or unbearable, they’re nothing, they’re great comfort, compared to the sufferings of the hungry ghosts and animals and especially the hell beings. Their suffering is hundreds, thousands, of times heavier.
After thinking about this, look at your present situation, your present life, and reflect, “I have received a special human body with freedom and richness, which will be extremely difficult to find again. Once it’s found, it has great meaning. I received this. I have met the Buddhadharma, which is extremely rare to meet.”
Even though there is Buddhadharma in this world, it doesn’t mean everybody meets Buddhadharma; it doesn’t mean everybody has refuge in their heart.
The door of entering Buddhadharma is refuge. As Lama Atisha explained in the lam-rim, there was even an abbot—the senior monk facing the assembly of Sangha—of a Buddhist monastery in India who didn’t have refuge in his heart.
So, it’s saying that it is not easy. There are many human beings, but only a small number of them have refuge in their heart, in their mental continuum. And with that as a basis, one is able to understand Buddhadharma and to have realization.
A professor at a university might have intellectual understanding of Buddhadharma and be able to explain it extremely well, but I don’t think you can define that as having met Buddhadharma, because there’s no refuge in their heart. Even though the professor can explain Dharma extremely well, they haven’t entered the Buddhadharma. You have to understand the definition of having met Buddhadharma and of not having met Buddhadharma. You have definitely not entered the Buddhadharma if there’s no refuge in your heart.
It is extremely rare to meet Buddhadharma, but we have met Buddhadharma at this time. It is not there in Jorchö, but I added another thing that is extremely rare to meet: a virtuous friend who can reveal the complete, unmistaken path to liberation and enlightenment, with nothing missing. We have met them at this time.
We can understand this if we look at the world. There are so many sentient beings who don’t meet a guru, who are unable to find a guru, or even if they find a guru, it’s a wrong guru, a nonvirtuous friend, one who cannot reveal the path to liberation and enlightenment, nor even the correct means to achieve the happiness of future lives. They cannot reveal even that Dharma.
Whatever method they teach is the cause of samsara, or even the lower realms. Or even if they find a virtuous friend who is Buddhist, they cannot reveal the complete path to liberation and to enlightenment; they cannot teach the pure, unmistaken path that makes it possible to achieve liberation and enlightenment.
There’s a question about whether the teachings that are given are pure or not. There can be wrong views about emptiness and other things. Again, there’s a question about whether the teachings you receive and the path you are shown are pure or not. There’s still that question.
So, relating all this to yourself, at this time you have met, besides the actual living Compassion Buddha, many great masters. In the past number of years you have met great masters such as Kyabje Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche, Kyabje Denma Lochö Rinpoche, Kyabje höden Rinpoche and Kyabje Rilbur Rinpoche, who also came to Taiwan to give teachings.
Here at the Taichung Center you have Geshe Gyume as your resident teacher, somebody who has studied well the extensive philosophy, based particularly on Lama Tsongkhapa’s teachings, in a monastery.
You can rely upon, trust, him. Geshe Gyume has studied for many years and gone through all the classes and examinations. I just spent my time playing. For those eight years at Buxa, I just played outside, and instead of learning Dharma, I learned English.
I collected English vocabulary. I just did paintings. I didn’t go through all the procedure of studying. Here you have a teacher you can rely on. There might be problems with the translation; but from the teacher’s side, you have someone who has studied and gone through everything properly.
Also, Geshe Gyume and our other Kopan monks were educated by the most outstanding teacher in the monastery, Geshe Losang, who came here two or three times. He is the most outstanding among the learned ones and has educated many hundreds of monks, producing many learned disciples. Those monasteries have been able to produce many learned geshes, including some of our Kopan monks.
So, there education, good understanding, came from those great teachers. Many of the Kopan monks who are studying there have been able to receive a good education because they have been able to study with such great teachers.
Anyway, if we think of the rest of the people in the world, we see how much they are suffering. First of all, they cannot find a virtuous friend or they find a nonvirtuous friend.
And even if they find a virtuous friend who is Buddhist, there’s still a question about whether or not their teaching is pure.
That’s a big question. Even if they find somebody who teaches and is said to be a master who knows everything, there’s still a question about whether or not their teaching is pure, unmistaken.
Therefore, you can see how much sentient beings are suffering, even those who think they have found a spiritual teacher, a guru. Through this analysis, you then realize how unbelievably fortunate you are. You are the most fortunate one in the world.
A perfectly qualified Mahayana virtuous friend is extremely difficult to find in this world, and you’ve met not just one but many. You have found a guru who has revealed the unmistaken complete path to liberation and to enlightenment.
It is extremely rare to gather all three of these rare things. It’s like an impossible thing has happened. It is like the example in the lam-rim teachings of a blind turtle that lives under the ocean. Being blind signifies not having Dharma wisdom. The turtle doesn’t come up to the surface every day but only once every hundred years.
There’s a ring floating on the ocean. The text mentions a golden ring; it doesn’t say it’s a wooden ring. It would be difficult for a golden ring to stay on the water. Another example used in the teachings is of throwing grain at a glass window and trying to get it to stick, which would be very difficult. That example is related to the difficulty of obtaining a perfect human rebirth.
Anyway, a wooden ring could stay, but a golden ring would sink. The ring is on the water, and it doesn’t stay in one place but moves around, and the blind turtle comes up to the surface of the ocean only every one hundred years.
It’s hard to believe that the blind turtle’s head could ever go through the ring. It’s a kind of impossible thing to happen. Like that, an impossible thing has happened at this time. It’s extremely hard to believe that all these three rare things have been gathered at this time.
“If I don’t make it possible to achieve enlightenment at this time, I will have to experience the suffering of samsara without end. If I don’t do something in this life, if I don’t do something now, to transform my mind and attain the path, I will experience the suffering of samsara without end.”
Next, you think about how you need help to be able to accomplish these things. So, who can help you? “The guru, Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, who are abiding in front of me, have the qualities and the power to help me. I must achieve enlightenment for the sake of all mother sentient beings; for that reason I go for refuge.”
You and all the sentient beings then go for refuge. Here at the beginning of Jorchö, this is the Mahayana way of taking refuge. You go for refuge to guru, Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.
Sorry. Again I went on a long journey, into the cities or mountains.
Huang Chun Roo does a long translation into Chinese.
I haven’t mentioned how to visualize the object of refuge, the refuge merit field. There are different ways of doing this according to what you like. One is called “the all-encompassing jewel tradition.” You visualize all the objects of refuge—guru, Buddha, Dharma, Sangha and everything else—as one aspect.
In front of you, at the height of your forehead and at a distance of a full-length prostration, you visualize a golden throne, beautifully decorated with jewels and raised up by eight snow lions, which signify the qualities of a buddha.
Above this, on lotus, sun and moon disc, is your own root guru in the aspect of the founder of the present Buddhadharma, Shakyamuni Buddha, which encompasses all gurus, Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.
The elaborate merit field that you normally visualize is encompassed in that one aspect. That one aspect encompasses all the beings in the elaborate visualization of the object of refuge: Shakyamuni Buddha, all the lineage lamas of the extensive graduated path, of the profound graduated path, of the blessings of the practice, all the direct gurus, all the deities of the four classes of tantra, the one thousand buddhas of the fortunate eon, the bodhisattvas, the arhats,
including the Sixteen Arhats, all the dakas and dakinis and the Dharma protectors. In the all-encompassing jewel tradition, you visualize the elaborate object of refuge as one aspect.
The other one is as you see in some thangkas or pictures of the Guru Puja merit field, but without the milk ocean.
All the rest is the same. There’s a throne, then above this there are five thrones, with the root guru in the form of Shakyamuni Buddha in the center, Vajradhara at the back, Maitreya on the right side, Manjushri on the left side, and the root guru in front.
Vajradhara is surrounded by the lineage lamas of the blessing;
Maitreya Buddha is surrounded by Asanga and those great pandits, the lineage lamas of the graduated extensive path;
Manjushri is surrounded by Nagarjuna and the great pandits of the graduated profound path; and around your root guru are your other direct gurus.
The root guru is in the aspect that you normally see. But if your guru is blind, lame or something like that, you cannot visualize them in that way; you have to visualize them with a perfect holy body.
Anyway, I’m not going to go through all the details explained in the Jorchö commentary, but will just give you a rough idea. One Jorchö commentary describes how each of the lineage lamas sits, their mudras or positions.
What I heard (from Kyabje Serkong Tsenshab Rinpoche, I think) is that in meditation you visualize the lama’s normal sitting position.
I think Rinpoche might have used the example of Kyabje Kunu Lama Rinpoche,
the great bodhisattva from whom His Holiness received extensive commentary on A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life]] and with whom His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s guru, His Holiness Ling Rinpoche, also studied Sanskrit, the formation and sound of the letters. Kyabje Kunu Lama Rinpoche often used to sit with his knees up like this—not in a public teaching but in his room.
There are then the four Highest Yoga Tantra deities: Guhyasamaja, Yamantaka, Chakrasamvara and Kalachakra. Below them are the other Highest Yoga Tantra deities on those petals.
Next, on separate levels of petals, are the Yoga Tantra deities, the Charya Tantra deities and the Kriya Tantra deities.
There are the thousand buddhas of the fortunate eon on the next level of the lotus petals. On the next levels are the bodhisattvas; the arhats; the dakas and dakinis; and then the Dharma protectors.
All these are on the golden throne. Outside, in the cardinal directions, are the four guardians.
There are detailed explanations of how they all sit facing the root guru, Shakyamuni Buddha. However, one time when I asked His Holiness the Dalai Lama about this, His Holiness said that it doesn’t matter very much. The main thing is to visualize whatever is comfortable for you.
Sorry, I left out one very important group, the Kadampa geshes. Below the Six ornaments and the other Indian pandits, the lineage lamas of the graduated extensive and profound paths, there are three groups. In the center is the Kadam Lam-rimpa group (with Gönpawa in the center), with the Kadam
Treatise group (with Potowa in the center) and the Kadam Instruction group (with Tsultrim Bar in the center) on either side.
The Kadam Treatise group achieve enlightenment by studying the extensive philosophy of Buddha’s teachings.
The Kadam Lam-rimpa achieve enlightenment by studying the integration of the entire teaching, the lam-rim, and putting it into practice.
The Kadam Instruction achieve enlightenment by receiving teachings verbally from the guru and putting those instructions into practice.
When His Holiness Serkong Tsenshab Rinpoche explained according to the Jorchö commentary, there are Maitreya Buddha, Manjushri and all the Indian pandits, and in front of them are the three Kadampa groups, all facing toward the root guru.
So, there are Maitreya and the Indian pandits, then in the front of them are the three Kadampa groups; there are Manjushri and the Indian pandits, then in front of them are the three Kadampa groups.
All of them are facing toward the root guru. That’s how Rinpoche used to explain the visualization. At the back are Vajradhara and all the lineage lamas of the blessing. In front is the root guru, and all the other gurus are lined up from that.
Anyway, basically, His Holiness said that you choose whatever is more comfortable. His Holiness didn’t think it was a big matter.
In regard to visualizing the object of refuge, His Holiness also mentioned that you can take refuge from all the ten directions, since the buddhas are everywhere. Since the buddhas and bodhisattvas are in all ten directions and in no specific place, you can also do that.
When His Holiness Serkong Tsenshab Rinpoche, from whom I received many teachings and many initiations and who is also His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s guru, would give commentaries on Jorchö, the six preparatory practices that are the preliminary to lam-rim, Rinpoche used to say, “You have to visualize even the dob-dobs, because they’re still monks.”
I mentioned about Geshe Jampa Wangdu last night. Rinpoche said that you have to visualize even the dob-dobs in the monasteries in Tibet—Sera, Ganden and Drepung.
Their style of life in the monastery is not to follow the monastery rules; they serve food and tea to the other monks and engage in competitions and fights. This is what I heard, anyway.
Rinpoche said that you have to visualize even them in the merit field with namo sanghaya, I go for refuge to the Sangha.
The reason Rinpoche brought up the subject of dob-dobs during the explanation of visualizing the refuge merit field is that, because of their lifestyle, people who don’t practice would normally not respect dob-dobs.
That’s why Rinpoche said that you must visualize the dob-dobs with namo sanghaya.
Also, in the explanation of refuge in Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand, Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo quoted his root guru, Dagpo Jampäl Lhundrup, from whom he received lam-rim teachings, saying that if you are in the line of Sangha doing puja and you criticize all the other Sangha, “Oh, that monk does such and such,”
“This monk has such-and-such a fault” and “That monk made such-and-such a mistake,” the conclusion at the end is that, in that case, they are not the monks that you go to for refuge.
You then have to make a particular refuge prayer, “I take refuge in the Sangha, except for these monks.
I take refuge, but I don’t take refuge in these monks.” You would then have to say this in the refuge to Sangha, gen dün la kyab su chi wo, I go for refuge to the Sangha. This is something that even lay people have to understand.
Also, I think it was mentioned that you see some mistake in everybody, and the only one who has no mistakes is you yourself. The best one is you yourself.
If you haven’t received detailed teachings on the lam-rim, you may not know that when you take refuge in the Sangha, gen dün la kyab su chi wo, it includes all the Sangha. You can see that in Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand and His Holiness Serkong Tsenshab Rinpoche also used to explain in that way.
In our life, when we see Buddhist Sangha, whether from the Chinese, Tibetan or Theravadin tradition, we must respect them and think, “This is the precious Sangha who saves me from samsara, who protects me from samsara.” By thinking that, you then respect them. In taking refuge to the Sangha, you should respect all Buddhist Sangha, no matter what robes they are wearing.
For example, even though Lama Yeshe might have heard complaints from other people about what mistakes a Tibetan monk had made in relation to his vows, when Lama actually met that monk in the road, he would respect him. Even though he had heard other people complain about that monk, Lama would show respect to him. That is great practice.
You collect a lot of merit by respecting Sangha. When you take refuge, taking refuge in Sangha involves refuge vows about what is to be practiced and what is to be abandoned.
So, this is what is to be practiced. Practicing in this way stops many heavy negative karmas of criticizing or disrespecting Sangha, which are obstacles to your attainment.
They are obstacles not only to attainment but to achieving even the happiness of this life, the happiness while you’re in samsara, future-life happiness and things like that.
So, it prevents all those problems; it’s not just that you don’t create obstacles to your attainment.
Both Sangha and lay people have the responsibility to do this practice.
It is your own practice for liberation and enlightenment. But also the Sangha, from their side, need to feel a responsibility to help others’ minds, to protect others’ minds from giving rise to negative thoughts, by not engaging in negative karma.
So much of the vinaya practice has to do with protecting the minds of others, with protecting others from creating negative karma and from losing their devotion, their faith.
There are many things, such as the manner in which Sangha should sit, for example;
Sangha]] shouldn’t stretch out their legs in public and so forth. I’m using that as an example.
It’s not the only thing; there are many others. Sangha shouldn’t behave in a way that makes others lose faith or that harms others’ minds.
In regard to what should be abandoned, it’s not only disrespect to the Sangha, criticizing them out of negative thoughts, which becomes heavy karma because they are living in higher ordination.
Since novice monks and nuns]] are living in the ordination of thirty-six vows, higher than a lay person, a lay person creates more negative karma.
Bhikshus are living in 253 vows and bhikshunis in more than 300 vows, which is much higher.
If others respect and make offerings to those with higher vows, they create more merit; but if others disrespect or criticize them, they create heavier negative karma.
This is what one should abandon, and what one should respect is as I mentioned before. Also, of course, you should respect the robes and the dingwa, or Sangha seat cover, and not step over them.
Not only that but if you see even a piece of red or yellow robes in the road, you have to respect it.
The Kadampa geshes practiced by respecting even a piece of the robes found on the road; thinking of the qualities of the Sangha, they would then put those pieces of robes in a high, clean place. This is what the Kadampa geshes practiced.
What one should abandon is following the wrong guide. Sangha are the ones who guide you to practice morality and inspire and help you to actualize the actual refuge, the Dharma, within you, with cessation of suffering and defilements and realization of true path. A wrong guide does the opposite.
Instead of guiding you and helping you to achieve that, they misguide you; they lead you into wrong views and wrong practice, which interfere with the Sangha’s ability to guide and help you.
If you follow a wrong guide, the Sangha then cannot help you. For example, if you follow a doctor who gives you the wrong diagnosis and wrong medicine, a doctor who is wise in diagnosis and in giving the correct medicine cannot guide you.
This is just a side-talk that happened from talking about refuge. It’s just a little extension from taking refuge in Sangha.
Maybe I will just do this prayer, then we will stop there….
I and all the transmigratory beings, all the sentient beings, who equal the limit of the sky, go for refuge to the glorious holy gurus from this time (which can mean from this moment) until the heart of enlightenment is achieved.
So, the first prayer is going for refuge to the gurus. Then next:
I go for refuge to the fully completed Buddha Bhagavan.
It can be said like that. If we translate the Tibetan word by word, it becomes, “I go for refuge to the fully eliminated and developed Destroyer Qualified Gone Beyond.” So, perhaps it’s simpler to say fully completed Buddha Bhagavan. Chom dän dä is Bhagavan in Sanskrit.
I go for refuge to the holy Dharma.
I go for refuge to the exalted Sangha.
It’s not exotic, but exalted Sangha. It means the arya Sangha. Recite this three, seven or more times. At the end, you recite:
To the guru and the three precious rare sublime ones,
I prostrate and go for refuge.
Please bless my mental continuum.
You then generate bodhicitta.
When you recite the prayer of taking refuge in the guru, visualize that white nectar is emitted. It is also mentioned that it is five-colored nectar but with the white color strongest.
When you visualize achieving realizations, the yellow nectar is strongest.
White nectar is emitted and completely purifies all the negative karmas and defilements collected in relation to the guru, such as breaking samaya, harming the holy body,
going against the guru’s advice, disturbed the holy mind, generating non-devotional thoughts, during beginningless rebirths up to now. There are basically what is to be purified.
With the yellow light you can think that you receive all the guru’s qualities.
When you take refuge in the guru, relying upon the guru, the mind that is taking refuge in the guru should be one of guru devotion, seeing the guru and buddha as one.
This is the opposite to the non-devotional thought that sees the guru and buddha as separate beings.
Going for refuge to the guru should be done with the mind of guru devotion, seeing the guru you have visualized there and buddha as one, like one being, one mind.
For example, when you make noodles in all the different shapes, they’re made of flour. When you make mo-mos, they’re made of flour.
When you make bread, it’s made of flour. You can make billions of different shapes, but even though they have different names, they’re all made of flour. Due to the different designs they have different names, but they’re all made of flour.
No matter how many gurus you have, every single guru is all the buddhas and each buddha, each deity, is all the gurus.
No matter how many gurus you have, even hundreds or thousands, with different styles, different methods, of guiding you, they are all buddha.
It’s like all those different foods: they’re different but they’re all made of flour.
With that mind, you then think that you have received all the Buddha’s qualities. With that guru devotion mind, it’s then easy to think, “I have received the blessings, the qualities, of the guru’s holy body, holy speech and holy mind within me.”
Otherwise, with the ordinary, non-devotional mind, it’s difficult even to say the prayer of receiving these blessings and qualities.
You don’t feel it in your heart because you see the guru as an ordinary being, which makes it difficult to think that you are receiving blessings and qualities.
But with the guru devotion mind it’s easy to do this prayer and meditation of receiving blessings, of receiving the qualities of the guru’s holy body, holy speech and holy mind within you.
For the next ones, I’m not going to go into detail, but just mention the essence.
Next you think that you have purified whatever negative karma you have collected in relation to the Buddha during beginningless rebirths.
This includes giving rise to heresy toward Buddha, disrespecting Buddha statues and all the other things mentioned in the lam-rim. Think that all those negative karmas collected during beginningless rebirths have been purified.
You then receive all the Buddha’s qualities, the skies of qualities of Buddha’s holy body, holy speech and holy mind, such as limitless understanding, compassion and power.
Here you remember all the qualities of Buddha you have heard about and studied in the extensive scriptures that talk about Buddha’s qualities, such as Abhisamayalamkarika, Madhyamaka and so forth. You remember them and then think you have received them.
When you go for refuge to Dharma, one thing that is purified is the very heavy negative karma of avoiding holy Dharma. This involves criticizing the Buddha’s teachings.
Because one is practicing Mahayana, whether Paramitayana or Vajrayana, one criticizes the Lesser Vehicle teachings. From their side being, because of their lack of understanding because they themselves didn’t check, Theravadins criticize the Mahayana Paramitayana teachings as not being Buddha’s teachings.
In a similar way, there are practitioners of Paramitayana —for example, even here in Taiwan—who understand that the Vajrayana teaching is taught by Buddha, that it came from Buddha; those who accept this understand that any problem that happens is an individual person’s mistake and not the mistake of the teachings.
However, here even among the Chinese masters, there are some who think that the Vajrayana teachings are not Buddha’s teachings. They look at the Vajrayana teachings wrongly because of their lack of understanding.
From their side they didn’t do the research; they didn’t check all the texts, all the history, as to whether Buddha has taught Vajrayana or not.
They didn’t check the references with His Holiness the Dalai Lama or other great Tibetan masters or geshes as to when, where and who requested all the different tantric initiations and teachings, such as those of Yamantaka, Chakrasamvara, Guhyasamaja and Kalachakra.
All these deities are Buddha’s manifestations, but since they didn’t do the research, they don’t know this, so they then criticize the Vajrayana teachings.
However, those who think, “I am a Mahayanist or Vajrayanist,” then criticize the Theravadins or who think, “I’m a Vajrayanist” then criticize the Paramitayana teachings, the sutra teachings, saying, “Sutra teachings are to be abandoned, because I’m practicing Vajrayana,” create unbelievably heavy negative karma.
Theravadins who criticize the Mahayana teachings, those who are practicing Mahayana who criticize Theravadins, those who are practicing Paramitayana who criticizes Vajrayana, those who are practicing Vajrayana who criticize sutra teachings are all creating very heavy negative karma.
Lama Tsongkhapa mentions this at the beginning of the lam-rim, where it talks about the four advantages of studying and understanding lam-rim. The first advantage is that you understand that these three levels of the teachings of Buddha do not contradict each other.
The second special advantage is that you understand that every single word of all the teachings of Buddha—Lesser Vehicle, Mahayana Paramitayana and Vajrayana—is an instruction for one person to achieve enlightenment.
Third, by understanding lam-rim, you instantly understand the views of the Buddha.
I’m not sure whether this is referring to other views or to the Prasangika school’s view of emptiness.
The fourth special advantage, which is one I’m trying to explain, is that understanding lam-rim prevents the very heavy negative karma of avoiding Dharma.
You don’t criticize all those teachings, because you know that everything is an instruction for one person to achieve enlightenment and you understand Buddha’s ultimate view.
When Kyabje Chöden Rinpoche was teaching on Lam-rim Chen-mo at Land of Medicine Buddha, Rinpoche explained that when it says that avoiding holy Dharma is heavier negative karma than having destroyed all the chötens in this world, the Tibetan word chöten, while it’s the same word as that for stupa, so it sounds as if it means having destroyed all the stupas in this world, it actually means all the objects of offering.
Chö means offering and ten means holy object. The full term is chö pai ten, which is shortened to chöten by cutting out the word for “of.”
So here it’s not just referring to stupas but to having destroyed every single statue, scripture, stupa and other holy object that exists in monasteries and holy places in the world. The negative karma of avoiding holy Dharma is heavier than having destroyed every object of offering in the world.
Avoiding holy Dharma, as I mentioned before, means criticizing all those Buddha’s teachings, while it’s a teaching taught by Buddha. It is like the teachings of the four schools.
All the views of the previous schools’ teachings are steps towards realizing the Prasangika Madhyamaka view.
They’re all part of the process. If one engages in criticizing a teaching that was taught by Buddha, one creates negative karma heavier than having destroyed every single holy object, every single object of offering, that exists in the world.
In the lam-rim there are various different ways explained by which we create negative karma in relation to the holy Dharma, which includes scriptures.
For example, you can’t put even a statue or stupa on top of a scripture, a text. Scriptures are kept higher, because buddhas become enlightened from the teachings. On an altar a Dharma text goes higher.
You don’t put a statue higher and a Dharma text lower. It is not only that you can’t put ordinary materials on a Dharma text, but you can’t put even a statue or stupa on a Dharma text.
It’s different if there’s a danger that a text will be blown away by wind or something like that; you can then put something on it to stop that. At that time, what is normally rejected becomes what is needed, so you can then put things on top. Of course, you don’t put dirty things.
When taking refuge in Dharma, you purify all those negative karmas I have explained. You then think that you receive all the realizations from guru devotion up to enlightenment.
Everything is included in that: cessation of suffering and defilements and true path from the Lesser Vehicle path; cessation of defilements, even the subtle ones, and true path from the Paramitayana path; and from the tantric path, cessation of defilements and the gross mind, which enables achievement of the extremely subtle mind of clear light.
There are two types of clear light: clear light of example and clear light of meaning, which directly sees emptiness. So, they are actualized. You can relate receiving the qualities of Dharma to all three vehicles. You receive all the unbelievable qualities of the ten bhumis.
By taking refuge in Sangha, you purify the heavy negative karma of having criticized Sangha and having taken away without the permission of the leader or representative of the Sangha community things that belong to the Sangha.
If you take possessions, money or food offered by benefactors with devotion to Sangha, you receive pollution.
Those are purified. Not offering to the Sangha things that have been offered to the Sangha or, when other people have offered things to the Sangha, saying, “This is too much to offer to the Sangha,” and giving it back is heavy negative karma.
So, quite a number of details are mentioned in lam-rim, in the section of what is to be purified when you take refuge in Sangha.
It also includes, especially if you are a manager of the Sangha, being stingy and offering the Sangha very little when there are plenty of offerings to the Sangha.
Even if you haven’t done such things in this life, you have done them in the past lives.
If you’re not Sangha in this life but are lay, you haven’t been involved in such things, but you may have collected these negative karmas during your beginningless rebirths. So, you purify all those.
You then receive the Sangha’s qualities.
You receive the bodhisattvas’ qualities of bodhicitta, the six paramitas and so forth; the arhats’ qualities of the three higher trainings;
the dakas’ and dakinis’ qualities of the transcendental wisdom of nondual bliss and voidness; and the protectors’ qualities of the four actions.
The pacifying action pacifies sicknesses, spirit harms, negative karmas, defilements and obstacles; the increasing action increases life, fortune, good karma, wisdom and realizations;
the controlling action gives control over sentient beings and possessions, over whatever is needed to practice Dharma and to benefit other sentient beings and the teaching of Buddha;
the wrathful action is used to separate from the body the consciousness of evil beings who harm holy beings and many sentient beings and transfer it to a pure land.
Doing that stops that evil being from continuing to engage in very heavy negative karma and having to suffer for many eons. So, you receive within you the four actions that protectors possess.
This meditation is very important. This visualization is also the cause of success, in Dharma practice or any other activity.
So, maybe we will stop here.
I probably need to translate the sadhana. It will be easier if it is translated first, then we can recite it, whether or not there’s a commentary. I just expanded the section on refuge a little, but the rest is easy and doesn’t need commentary.
Shall I explain it now, or in the next session? Maybe I’ll explain it in the next session. Now we’ll have a total break, a complete break—not even breathing.
Due to all the merits of the three times collected by me and by others, may all the Maitreya statues to be built in different parts of the world be accomplished as quickly as possible.
As well as this, may all the other holy objects to be built in different parts of the world (the quickest way to cause sentient beings to purify and collect extensive merits and to bring them to enlightenment) be completed without any obstacles and by receiving all the necessary conditions.
May we also be able to continue to serve all the monasteries, the main places in this world where there is extensive learning of Buddhadharma, and to offer service to the Sangha.
May the Sangha in this organization preserve and spread Dharma to sentient beings. May all the building of monasteries and nunneries in different parts of the world, to preserve and spread Dharma, be accomplished.
May all the various social service projects be accomplished, especially the heart of education, universal education, which will help young people to develop all the important qualities of the human mind: loving kindness, compassion, tolerance, respect, forgiveness and so forth.
May they be educated in and practice all these qualities, and everyone grow up to become a source of the peace and happiness of all sentient beings, particularly in this world.
May the hospices, the hospitals giving medicine to various sick people, the eye clinic operating in Tibet, the projects to give food and shelter in Mongolia, the prison project, the printing and distributing of Dharma books in the world, to educate and awaken sentient beings and bring them to enlightenment—may all the various social service projects be most beneficial to all sentient beings by receiving all the needs.
Every center has its own projects, such as buying a house, establishing programs to spread Dharma or social service. May all the projects that each center has be accomplished and be most beneficial for sentient beings.
May they be able to illuminate this world and reduce the suffering; may they bring perfect peace and happiness in this world.
[[[Rinpoche]] recites the two Lama Tsongkhapa dedication prayers in Tibetan: Chhö kyi gyäl po…. and Dag dang zhän gyi….]
So, those who need to go, can go.
[[[Rinpoche]] recites the protector prayers in Tibetan, with accompanying music.]
Actually, I wasn’t planning for it to happen like this at the end of every initiation.
That’s why I returned the money to the Sangha. I myself feel very strange about it. If you want to offer to the center, you can put it there.
Otherwise, I myself feel a little strange if this happens after every initiation.
I just wanted to express that. But, of course, you can leave offerings to the center there.
If I’m doing many sets of initiations, with a hundred different initiations, you would have to make offering every night. That would be strange. But leaving a donation there for the center is good.
[[[Rinpoche]] continues the protector prayers.]
Four-Arm Mahakala. In Chinese.
[The group recites Nagarjuna’s Praise to Mahakala in Chinese while Rinpoche recites in Tibetan.]
Rinpoche continues the protector prayers.
Rinpoche continues the protector prayers.
Rinpoche concludes the protector prayers.
So, good morning.