Many students have asked what prayers, pujas or practices they can engage in to prolong a Lama’s life and extend the growth of all his activities, projects and wishes.
This may have been a question lingering our minds and troubling our hearts. It shows how important the presence of the Lama – and his health, well-being and longevity – is in our lives. It is important to note that we do not just wait until our Lama is ill, but we should be making aspirational prayers for our Lama’s long life now to prevent illness and premature death.
Rinpoche has recently very kindly given us advice on how we can directly create the causes for our Lamas to live long. The prayers and practices are outlined below. More importantly, however, Rinpoche constantly stresses that committing to our practices and transforming our minds is the best and ultimate way of creating the karma for the Lama to stay with us, continue to teach and fulfil Dharma aspirations.
So, what should we do?
“Tselha Namsum” or the Three Divinities of Longevity – Buddha Amitayus, Mother Namgyalma and the Goddess White Tara – are widely perpetuated for long life prayers and for the increase of stable health.
Before the image, with a pure and good motivation, we can commit to doing a defined number of the long life Yidam’s mantra every day, dedicating the merits collected to the long, stable and healthy life of our Lama. At the end of our prayer session, we should make strong prayers that our spiritual guide may be endowed with health and all the resources needed to enable the Dharma to grow.
What does it take?
Rinpoche has stressed many times that the key to determining a Lama’s long life are the commitments and vows a student makes to their Lama. This includes our refuge vows and any Tantric commitments we have received. Therefore, it is essential that a student who wishes to pray for the long life of one’s teacher be equipped with strong samaya and vows which one has pledged to upkeep.
Students with bad or broken samaya often cause their Lama’s mind to be angry or disturbed. This obstructs the teacher from a focused mind to teach the Dharma for the benefit of many. Vows and commitments should be the pivot of our practice as they are the words of honor which we have pledged to the betterment and advancement of our practice to benefit others. They are the essence of our source of the Dharma – which is the Lama – and thus directly affects the spiritual master’s well being.
How can I start this practice?
We may invite any of the Long Life Buddhas to our homes, individually or collectively as a community, such as in Dharma houses. Our Dharma outlets provide a wide range of supreme quality Buddha images for anyone interested to escort back to their homes. A casing, preferably made of strong and clear glass, should be made to encase the statue and filled with precious stones or pearls as an offering. Before the image of the Buddha, we should place a picture of our Lama to remind ourselves of our intent of prayer.
Outside the glass casing, we can offer butter lamps, sensory offerings and water offering bowls. Set with a pure intention and motivation, we begin by taking refuge and doing our daily commitment prayers. As we finished with our daily prayer, we can then concentrate on reciting the Long Life Buddha’s mantra. Rinpoche will confer the oral transmission for the mantra for all those who are interested in doing this practice.
As we recite the mantra, we should focus our prayers towards the growth and spread of Dharma teachings, for our Lama, Tsem Tulku Rinpoche and all Gurus to live long, for them to have everything that they need for their work, and for all their wishes to be fulfilled.
His Eminence Tsem Tulku Rinpoche goes a step further in his long life prayer to his Guru, H.E. Kensur Rinpoche. He often prays to the Protector for his life to be taken in exchange of his Guru’s, should his Guru suffer a premature death. This shows the sincerity of his long life prayer through his strong conviction towards his Guru.
By doing fervent prayers in dedication to our Lama’s long life, we also pray for the long life of the masters of the world so that they may continue to spread the teachings of Enlightenment. A Buddha’s ability and power is not necessarily confined to blessing one person.
A prayer’s power can go a long way in creating conducive conditions for a Lama to teach the Dharma. This is also a perfect manner to obtain resources and fulfill the needs and wishes of the Lama for his disciples. Rinpoche has said directly that this prayers can and will help his health greatly.
Committing to this practice also creates the karma for all Gurus to live long, for ourselves to always be able to meet with and study under a qualified Guru, and eventually, for us to find our own inner Guru, bringing us to the ultimate goal of Buddhahood.
When you make this prayer of wishing for the long life and success of your Lama and thus, for the growth of Dharma, you gain attainments. When you gain attainments, that is the ultimate offering you can make to the Lamas and the Three Jewels, thus creating the causes for them to remain with us and teach.
Propitiating long life deities helps us generate the merits to enable us and the ones we love to be healthy and strong, by purifying the karma for ill health, disease and accidental death. They also grant long life and the merit to enable us to progress faster in our spiritual path to Enlightenment. Therefore, it is important to combine both the practice of Guru Devotion and long life practices together which propels us further in our spiritual aspirations and endeavours.