A lay disciple asked Geshe Potawa which Dharma Practice was the most important if one had to choose only one. The Geshe replied:
If you want to use a single Dharma practice, to meditate on impermanence is the most important.
At first meditation on death and impermanence makes you take up the Dharma; in the middle it conduces to positive practice; in the end it helps you realise the sameness of all phenomena.
At first meditation on impermanence makes you cut your ties with things with the things of this life; in the middle it conduces to your casting off all clinging to samsara; in the end it helps you take up the path of nirvana.
At first meditation on impermanence makes you develop faith; in the middle it conduces to diligence in your practice; in the end it helps you give birth to wisdom.
At first meditation on impermanence, until you are fully convinced, makes you search for the Dharma; in the middle it conduces to practice; in the end it helps you attain the ultimate goal.
At first meditation on impermanence, until you are fully convinced, makes you practise with a diligence which protects you like armour; in the middle it conduces to your practising with diligence in action; in the end it helps you practise with a diligence that is insatiable.
And Padampa Sangye (a famous Indian siddha 11th-12th century) says:
At first, to be fully convinced of impermanence makes you take up the Dharma; in the middle it whips up your intelligence; in the end it brings you to the radiant dharmakaya.
Unless you feel this sincere conviction in the principle of impermanence, any teaching you might think you have received and put into practice will just make you more and more impervious to the Dharma. He also said:
I never see a single Tibetan practitioner who thinks about dying;
Nor have I seen anyone live forever!
Judging by their relish for amassing wealth once they don the yellow robe, I wonder-
Are they going to pay off Death in food and money?
Seeing the way they collect the best of valuables, I wonder-
Are they going to hand out bribes in hell?
Ha-ha! To see those Tibetan practitioners makes me laugh!
The most learned are the proudest,
The best meditators pile up provisions and riches,
The solitary hermits engross themselves in trivial pursuits,
The renunciates of home and country know no shame.
Those people are immune to the Dharma!
They revel in wrong-doing.
The can see others dying but have not understood that they themselves are also going to die.
That is their first mistake.
Meditation on impermanence is therefore the prelude that opens the way to all practices of Dharma.
When is it right to go to the lavatory but not the toilet or when it is right to sit on the sofa in the drawing room but not to sit on the settee in the lounge…These are some of the man-made social rules that are ‘drawn-up’ to divide people – Disgusting…Oops, watch what you wear too – you can be easily judged by what you wear….brown shoes? suits? whatever – mind boggling indeed…
I see no difference at all – only one with a deluded mind would have you believe everthing they believe. In the same way, I see no social difference in the 3 yanas of dharma training but many would disagree with me…
When I came across an article like Judas’ betrayal of his master, I was curious why he did that to his master who is deemed the Messiah?
There are a couple of views on this matter: firstly, he was not a firm believer that his master was the Messiah and secondly, he was a greedy opportunist, who took advantage of his master’s ‘fame’ to loot from the goodwill of his masters followers.
It seems that his master already fore saw his disciple’s betrayal and in the end, he was forgiven together with everyone else – “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
I also wonder sometimes why certain types of people go to houses of worship when in all honesty, they are not there to for self improvement. But, there are those that genuinely want to change but due to strong attachment to worldly matters, in the end, were unable to change permanently and revert to their ‘old’ selves..
I also always wonder why highly attained teachers with their powers of clairvoyance and able to see what is coming with certain students, would still take them in knowing that the teacher-student relation is sealed for ‘life’. I guess it must be the teachers’ great compassion which seem to be able to override the ‘rule book DON’Ts”, thereby allowing the students the ability to collect some form of merits which they would not otherwise receive based on their inherent ‘bad’ behaviour.
Most ‘back sliders’ would support their actions based on worldly intelligence but there is clearly a difference between worldly ‘intelligence and wisdom as the proverbial saying which holds true all the time – “knowledge comes from learning and wisdom comes from living”.
In Buddhism, we say our minds are filled with delusions that focus much on the self, and it’s close relation, the ego.
To end this note, I would like to share a parable I read years ago from the Bible, known as the parables of the two sons. It goes like this:
“There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’” ‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.
“Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.
Which of the two did what his father wanted?” Jesus asked his disciples.
“The first,” they answered and Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.”
Isn’t this a great parable that makes the reader guessing. Just imagine yourself as the father – what do you think?
Some people think if they trust Trijang Rinpoche they are against H.H. Dalai Lama. Some people think if they have faith in H.H. Dalai Lama which they should, they cannot accept Trijang Rinpoche. That is wrong view. Certainly H.H. Dalai Lama is a high incarnation, highly attained and one of the greatest scholars of Buddhism in this world. He really practiced the sacred teachings and became attained…lifetimes ago and incarnate to benefit others. But His Holiness the Dalai Lama was not the only one. Many great beings male and female, high and ‘low’ practiced and became highly attained. Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche was one of these. One highly attained being cannot be better than another one. It’s just how they manifest. Highly attained beings all should be respected and they can manifest as Kings, Queens, ministers, generals, homeless, monks, nuns, scholars, bridges, animals, animate and inanimate beings. Never limit the abilities of enlightened Ones. Therefore we can respect and have faith in both Trijang Rinpoche and H.H. the Dalai Lama. I do. I do not see conflict.
Sometimes enlightened beings can manifest ‘conflict’ for a higher purpose, the great senior monks of Gaden used to relay to me. I respect all lamas. These are my views. You may have your own and I respect it, but respect my views too. I’ve always for the last 30 years had natural spontaneous faith in H.H. the Dalai Lama. When I first saw a picture of Trijang Rinpoche in Howell, New Jersey, I spontaneously cried from deep natural faith. It still happens now. Whenever I read about His Holiness, I also gained greater faith. It’s from inside of me. Some people say my faith in these beings are ‘questionable’. But you know what, that is their own opinion. They don’t know me. Nor have ever met me.
I do not need to agree to everything these higher beings may share, but that is my level. But I respect all great beings and not say negatives. Just do our practice. Gain compassion. Gain wisdom. Gain tolerance. Bring peace to everyone and everywhere we go and don’t create conflict. This is important. We may speak up or ‘fight’ for our views and rights, but do it in a way that gives honor to our practice and what it stands for.
P.S. For me I make no distinctions between any lamas and their views. Each lama has their way to guide their students to enlightenment. Hence 84,000 teachings by the Sage Shakyamuni the Conqueror. So we should never get into conflicts and criticize this or that lama. In Buddhism we are suppose to be kind to even ghosts, beggars, thieves, snakes and all sentient beings. All deserve compassion. So the least we can do is refrain from negativities. Our job in dharma is not to find who is right or wrong in others, but to find who is suitable for us and respect all other teachers, traditions and their methods. I will never go against any lama or be pulled into criticizing anyone. I have my practice from Kyabje Zong Rinpoche which some may like and some may not, but it suits me and I will continue. I will never give up any practice my guru gave me 31 years ago. No other guru or student will convince me otherwise. I have examined Zong Rinpoche and his teachings in terms of suitability for me and how they helped in my life to become a better person and that is good enough for me. I remain firm and loyal to my teacher/lineage and practice while respecting everyone else’s. I respect all and will continue to. My job in this life is to create peace, compassion and tolerance in my mind and hopefully affect the environment around me to be happy. I have a long way to go, but I will get there. Thank you very much.
I personally really feel warm to see this picture. It is His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche bestowing a set of initiations to His Holiness the young 14th Dalai Lama. Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche had conferred teachings, oral transmissions, commentaries and vast corpus of Dharma to His Holiness the Dalai Lama for over thirty years. This teacher and disciple relationship is sacred and should be respected in Tibetan form of Buddhism. Especially in Tantra where attainments are fully dependent on our respect and trust in our teachers and to never blame, begrudge or abandon him or his teachings. We should never listen to the negative talks of others about our teachers and what he kindly bestowed upon us. If by karma we find it hard to be with a teacher, respectfully ask to be excused but never criticize or justify it publicly or privately. It will not help your mind, the minds of others and our spiritual development.
Sometimes we can have two teachers that manifest opposing views. We can choose the view we find suitable to us and not criticize the other ‘opposing’ view. Dharma is individual. This is especially important for students who have received teachings, practices and initiations from various teachers who have manifested ‘opposing’ views like I have. Which teacher to choose? Our job is not find right or wrong, but to practice the best we can to be a beneficial person in society. Our practice and behavior will show the wisdom of our teacher through us. We choose the teachings that suit us and still respect the teachers who shows ‘opposing’ views. I have teachers who have opposing views of different spiritual practices, so my views have to suit those in the same situation. I am not allowed to choose or have that option so please understand. I have to respect all my teachers. All fifteen of them. You may not be in this situation, but I am. In Gaden, we had to go to various teachers for teachings. That is my humble opinion.
I often get criticized for picking one teacher’s views instead of another. Or coerced to choose. I have teachers who have manifested conflicting views and I have to find a way to come to terms with it peacefully and respectfully. But I know my Dharma enough and I choose the teacher that has impacted a great change in my life. I do not follow teachers because they are famous, well known, wealthy, have many followers or influential. This does not affect my decision alone. Many great lamas had teachers who were simple hermits in caves and in reliance on their teachers, they gained liberation. Read the stories of the 84 Mahasiddhas. I follow the teacher who touches my heart and inspired me to change from a selfish, angry, intolerant and difficult person to be better. After all our actions create our karmas and their effects we dread. So if our actions change due to our mind, this is the kindness of the teacher and how he/she impacted our minds. Ultimately whatever the views of the teacher, he/she has changed my mind to look within and to change from within. To this teacher I owe everything especially my transformations. I don’t care what this teacher prayed to, practiced or not practiced, liked or disliked or still doing. I don’t care if my teacher prays to a tree believing it is Manjushri. I will not criticize any teacher and I will never abandon my teacher who showed me that being tolerant, compassionate and working for others is the true meaning of my life. True spirituality is tolerance, forgiveness, kindness and compassion in action. I am far from it, but I am inspired enough to keep practicing until I achieve these qualities. I thank and bow to my teachers eternally. All of them. I do not see or get involved with conflict. I respect all teachers who train their students with utmost compassion and in the best circumstances they can. I will not point fingers and say this teacher or that teacher is good, bad, wrong, right or whatever. I am not the judge, jury and executioner of any teacher or tradition or practice, but a humble, simple and afflicted denizen of samsara doing my best. We only can decide for ourselves which teacher is right for us and no one else can decide for us.
As a child I was rather timid to the extent I was somewhat bullied at school. I have this notion that I do not want trouble and so I did not report the bully to the school to my family. This perhaps instilled some martial arts interest in me. From an early age, I love to watch martial arts films.
I came into spirituality some 13 years ago and I treasure everything I learned from my root master His Eminence Tsem Tulku Rinpoche. Dharma as I would call it gave me the confidence in my life and whilst I acknowledged the change, some people claimed I became different, almost to the point of arrogance. Perhaps when they compared one who always acquiesce to one who now understands a little more ‘truth’ and able to debate and take no nonsense, I do seem somewhat arrogant. Hand to heart, this was not my intention. Perhaps, I began seeing other people’s actions as more controlling and do not wish to be subject to any of that, which reminds me of my childhood bully days.
So, with my spiritual journey, I found it tough at times to be consistent because of my attachments to personal secular life: family, work, finance, etc. This is unsatisfactory as dharma is about consistency and effort. Age is catching up too and never was there a morning gone by when I would wake up with aches in my joints, usually the arm joints.
So it was that I was watching a tv series called Tai Chi and decided to sign up at a local gymn. My tai chi sifu is Eddie Ong and he comes from Penang. He is a skilled tai chi teacher who explains in detail the art of tai chi. Tai Chi is a slow art which can be sped up into a deadly form of martial arts. In its slow form, it likens to ‘dancing meditation’.
I felt inspired by the principles of tai chi as it balances my mindset with my spirituality and offers a tranquil way to stay healthy and at the same time bring about inner peace.
Tai Chi practice has many benefits such as:
– Develop skills for self-defense
– Foster self-awareness and confidence
– Increase energy levels
– Maintain or increase flexibility, strength and vitality
– Improve posture, coordination and balance
– Develop the ability to relax and let go of tension
– Develop inner stillness and calm
– Help deal with stress
I was quite amazed when I see people from different backgounds in the class and they have been training, some of whom, more than 10 years. They are very polite and mindful and bow to our sifu when they come into the class. All these are traits for a successful spiritual aspirant.
I say to myself I have to see myself through this tai chi routine as a parallel for my spiritual training. My patience paid off and I have completed the 28 Yang Style in about one year.
In the words of my tai chi sifu, ‘Tai Chi Chuan is about Yin and Yang. It is about seeking harmony and balance. The training is in accordance with the principle and classic concept that will lead to one’s ability to resolving a conflict confidently, and yet calmly. As one progresses and understands Tai Chi as an “Art of Life”, one will grow with it over the course of time. As with nature one cannot forces it to happen. It takes time. It is a process which keeps on evolving.’
In some medical areas, the doctors are known to recommend patients to take up tai chi as a form of physiotherapy, helping to improve body posture and muscular weaknesses.
I love my tai chi and I would recommend anyone, any age to take this up. It is healthy and it helps in mind training, an added boost to my spiritual training.
Would it be better if one say some mantras?
Would it be better if one work for other people?
Would it be better if one renders oneself to be of service to needy people?
Would it be better if one sits in meditation, in a temple perhaps? or
Would it be better if one circumambulate a stupa like Tibetans do?
It appears these are questions many spiritual aspirants ask of erudite masters and each time, the answer they receive was : ” each one of the above is very nice, however, it is better if one does a good practice”
So building a temple is good, but it is better to do a little dharma; meditating is good but it is better to do a little dharma; charity work is good but it is better to do a little dharma…
So what is this dharma business???
Simple: watching one’s mind; watching the direction one takes when one encounters a situation and how one deals with it – positively or negatively…if it is moving in the wrong direction, try to ‘catch’ that moment and ‘stop’ it…it is never too late to change direction, habituate positive energies, and very soon negative emotions will subside and diminish completely…
Religion is just a label. It is the teachings of the religion that help nurture our innate goodness. Therefore I have always encouraged people of different backgrounds to practice their chosen religion with great faith and devotion.
I will never try to distract and convert people from their religious teachers to Buddhism because I believe all major religions in the world teach their followers love, peace and compassion. Kechara is the way it is today not because the beautiful people of Kechara are special, or have incredible abilities that others may not possess, but because they work very hard, long hours and respect others regardless of their social status and background. The results reflect that. There is no special secret, it is just hard work, dedication and everybody can do that. If the growth of Kechara both physically and spiritually amazes you, then I hope that you know of the hard work by dedicated people that goes on behind-the-scenes, and feel inspired to follow their footsteps by applying this good attitude in your own centres.
In Buddhism, all enlightened beings’ minds and consciousnesses are equal. The state of an enlightened mind is one that has achieved perfection of wisdom and compassion, which means there is no enlightened being greater than the other. Enlightened beings such as Shakyamuni and Cherezig appear different in our limited minds, but by nature, they are one and inseparable. However, although all enlightened beings are the same, out of their great compassion, they manifest to us in various different forms such as Medicine Buddha, Tara, Manjushri etc. And because samsaric beings like us are affected and influenced by karma, we develop a stronger form of connection and affinity to one (or more) enlightened beings that manifest to aid us in dispelling whatever klesha we hold strongly in our mind.
In a similar way, one manifestation of Dharma is no greater than another because the essence of the teachings are the same. Whether we label ourselves as Buddhists, Christians or any other religion, the practice of Dharma transcends those labels. Practice of one’s religion does not come from the labels we give ourselves, but from actually carrying out compassionate acts as taught by our beliefs. There are many people who identify themselves as ‘Buddhist’, yet they do not truly understand or practice Dharma and there are many people who identify themselves as ‘Christians’, yet they repeatedly sin then beg for forgiveness. Is this the outcome we truly want just because we are so fixated about religious labels?
Dharma is a doctrine. To one who’s not Buddhist, it can simply be taken as advice to live a virtuous life; to a spiritually inclined person, Dharma is the essential teachings to transform the mind towards that of an enlightened being. Although it can be a part of it, Dharma is not just lighting some candles or incense every day, or going to the church or temple every week… at the end of the day, we must observe whether we remain mean, lazy, uncommitted and uncompassionate, or if we transformed to overcome our negative behaviours.
In this respect, the deities of Buddhism can appear in different forms but their essence remains the same. Compassion and love are also taught in other religions such as Christianity, even if the method of delivery to the people is different. In Buddhism there is the Buddha and in Christianity there is Jesus Christ. I will not say that Buddhism is objectively better than Christianity, but Buddhism is just the best for me and that will not change. There are many Buddhists who find that Buddhism is not the best for them and that is okay. And there may be Christians that do not find Christianity is the best for them, and that is okay too… Ultimately, it is who we become at the end of the day that is more important than any label we can put on ourselves.
We should understand this. Dharma cannot be owned by anybody or anything so labelling that only Buddhists can practice Dharma would be very incorrect… and labelling that Christians or anyone of other faiths cannot practice Dharma is not correct either, because there is nothing religious about Dharma; it is about finding ways to become a better person and lead a virtuous life. Anybody can be on the Dharmic path, not just a Buddhist. Before Lord Buddha became enlightened and started to teach, there was no labelling of Buddhism but Dharma existed before and will exist after Buddhism is no longer heard of in this world. Also, Buddha has surely manifested in parts of the universe that we do not know of and at those places, the term Buddhism may not exist. Yet the Dharma remains the same.
This article below illustrates a half-dozen examples on how the Dharma helped some Christians to deepen their relationship with God, and how they strengthened their Christian beliefs and are now better Christians by applying some Buddhist teachings in their lives. I am sharing this not to show that Buddhism is superior to other religions, absolutely not. But as an example of how some people, by keeping an open mind and not trapping themselves within the boundaries of religious labelling, have managed to find more inner peace. I wish everyone to have a great spiritual journey and may you always find peace and happiness.
Why are Christians Turning to Buddhism?
Six Examples by Jay McDaniel
A small but growing number of Christians in the West are turning to Buddhism for spiritual guidance. Many are reading books about Buddhism, and some are also meditating, participating in Buddhist retreats, and studying under Buddhist teachers. They are drawn to Buddhism’s emphasis on “being present” in the present moment; to its recognition of the interconnectedness of all things; to its emphasis on non-violence; to its appreciation of a world beyond words, and to its provision of practical means — namely meditation — for growing in one’s capacities for wise and compassionate living in daily life. As they learn from Buddhism, they do not abandon Christianity. Their hope is that Buddhism can help them become better Christians. They are Christians influenced by Buddhism.
1. Julia is typical of one kind of Christian influenced by Buddhism. She is a hospice worker in New York who, as a Benedictine sister, turns to Buddhism “to become a better listener and to become more patient.” As a student of Zen she has been practicing zazen for twenty years under the inspiration of the Vietnamese Zen teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, whose book Living Buddha/Living Christ gave her new eyes for Christ, proposing that Jesus himself was “mindful in the present moment.” She practices meditation in order to deepen her own capacities for mindfulness, particularly as it might help her be more effective in her life’s calling. As a hospice worker she feels called to listen to dying people, quietly and without judgment, as a way of extending the healing ministry of Christ. Like many people in consumer society, she sometimes finds herself too hurried and distracted, too caught up in her own concerns, to be present to others in patient and healing ways. She turns to Zen practice because it has helped her become more patient and attentive in her capacities to be available to people in a spirit of compassion.
From Julia’s perspective, “being present” to people in a compassionate way is a spiritual practice in its own right. She calls this attention “practicing the presence of God,” and she believes that this listening participates in a deeper Listening – an all-inclusive Love — whom she calls God, and whom she believes is everywhere at once. She turns to Zen meditation, then, not to escape the world, but to help her draw closer to the very God whose face she sees in people in need, and to help her become gentler and more attentive in her own capacities for listening. In her words: “I hope that my Zen practice has helped me become a better Christian.”
2. John, too, is a Christian who practices meditation, but for different reasons. He suffers from chronic back pain from a car accident several years ago. He has turned to meditation as a way of coping more creatively with his pain. “The pain doesn’t go away,” he says, “but it’s so much worse when I fight it. Meditation has helped me live with the pain, instead of fighting it all the time.” When people see John, they note that he seems a little more at peace, and a little more joyful, than he used to seem. Not that everything is perfect. He has his bad days and his good days. Still, he finds solace in the fact that, even on the bad days, he can “take a deep breath” and feel a little more control in his life.
When John is asked to reflect on the relation between his meditation practice and Christianity, he reminds his questioner that the very word Spirit is connected to the Hebrew word ruach, which means breathing. John sees physical breathing – the kind that we do each moment of our lives – as a portable icon for a deeper Breathing, divine in nature, which supports us in all circumstances, painful and pleasant, and which allows us to face suffering, our own and that of others, with courage. “Buddhism has helped me find strength in times of pain; it has helped me find God’s Breathing.”
3. Sheila is an advertising agent in Detroit who turns to Buddhism for a different reason. She does not practice meditation and is temperamentally very active and busy. But over the years her busyness has become a compulsion and she now risks losing her husband and children, because she never has time for her family. As she explains: “Almost all of my daily life has been absorbed with selling products, making money, and manipulating other people’s desires. Somewhere in the process I have forgotten what was most important to me: helping others, being with friends and family, and appreciating the simple beauties of life. Buddhism speaks to my deeper side.”
When Sheila reflects on the relationship between Buddhism and Christianity, she thinks about the lifestyle and values of Jesus. She recognizes that Jesus himself had little interest in appearance, affluence, and marketable achievement, and that he was deeply critical of the very idea that “amassing wealth” should be a central organizing principle of life. She doubts that Jesus would approve of the business culture in which she is immersed, in which the accumulation of wealth seems to be the inordinate concern. For her, then, Buddhism invites her to rethink the values by which she lives and to turn to values that are closer to the true teachings of Christ. “I find this simpler way challenging,” she says, “but also hopeful. I hope that Buddhism can help me have the courage to follow Christ more truly.”
4. Robert is an unemployed social worker in Texas, who feels unworthy of respect because he does not have a salaried job like so many of his friends. He, too, has been reading books on Buddhism, “Most people identify with their jobs,” he says, “but I don’t have one. Sometimes I feel like a nothing, a nobody. Sometimes I feel like it is only at church, and sometimes not even there, that I count for anything.”
Robert turns to Buddhism as a complement to the kind of support he seeks to find, but sometimes doesn’t find, in Christianity. Buddhism tells him that his real identity – his true self, as Buddhists put it – lies more in the kindness he extends to others, and to himself, than in making money and amassing wealth. Like Sheila, he sees this as connected with the teachings of Jesus. “Jesus tells me that I am made in the image of God; Buddhism tells me that I possess the Buddha-Nature. I don’t care what name you use, but somehow you need to know that you are more than money and wealth.”
5. Jane is a practicing physicist who works at a laboratory in Maryland who goes to a local Methodist church regularly. For her, a religious orientation must “make sense” intellectually, even as it also appeals to a more affective side of life, as discovered in personal relations, music, and the natural world. But she also finds God in science and in scientific ways of understanding the world. She is troubled that, too often, the atmosphere of church seems to discourage, rather than encourage, the spirit of enquiry and questioning that is so important in the scientific life. Jane appreciates the fact that, in Buddhism as she understands it, this spirit is encouraged.
This non-dogmatic approach, in which even religious convictions can be subject to revision, inspires her. In her words: “I plan to remain a Christian and stay with my Methodist church, but I want to learn more about Buddhism. I sense that its approach to life can help me see the spiritual dimensions of doubt and inquiry and help me integrate religion and science.”
6. Sandra is a Roman Catholic nun in Missouri who leads a retreat center. Twelve months a year she leads retreats for Christians, Catholic and non-Catholic, who wish to recover the more contemplative traditions of their prayer life and enter more deeply into their interior journey with God. At her workshops she offers spiritual guidance and introduces participants to many of the mystics of the Christian tradition: John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, Meister Eckhart, Hildegard of Bingen. Even as she does this, she herself is on the very journey to God, and she makes this clear to people who come her way.
Sandra turns to Buddhism because she believes that its teaching of no-ego or no-self, when understood experientially and not just intellectually, is itself an essential dimension of the journey to God. She sees this teaching as complementary to, and yet enriching, the teaching of “death and resurrection” that is at the heart of Christian faith. In her words: “Christianity and Buddhism agree that the spiritual pilgrimage involves an absolute letting go, or dropping away, of all that a person knows of self and God. Indeed, this is what happened in Jesus as he lay dying on the cross, and perhaps at many moments leading up to the cross. Only after the dying can new life emerge, in which there is in some sense ‘only God’ and no more ‘me.’ I see the cross as symbolizing this dying of self and resurrecting of new life that must occur within each of us. Buddhism helps me enter into that dying of self.”
As you listen to their stories, perhaps you hear your own desires in some of them? If so, you have undertaken an empathy experiment. You need not be “Christian” or “Buddhist” to do this. There is something to learn from them even if you are not religious at all. Don’t we all need to live by dying? Don’t we all need to listen better? Don’t we all need to inquire and seek truth? There is something deeply human in their searching, and deeply human in our willingness to learn from them, even if we don’t share their faith. And even if we do.
REsource: The Splendour of an Autumn Moon
The Devotional Verse of Tsongkhapa
Indra, king of the gods,
his enemy the Asura leader,
Pramudita, celestial musician king,
naga kings and great rishis
beautify your lotus feet with the jewels of their crowns.
Glorious body bathing in splendour of its golden glow,
voice unrivalled even by melodies of celestial music,
mind brighter than ten million suns,
guide supreme for infinite living beings,
paragon of the Shakyas.
Moon and stars on a cloudless night
appear crystal-clear in the midst of a lake,
so in the clear waters of my untroubled mind
are your qualities reflected one by one.
Fingertips fold at my heart like a lotus touched by moonlight,
single-pointedly I hold you before me.
you of great compassion heed this modest praise.
Ringed by noble bodhisattvas
as the moon is circled by stars,
leading your arhat entourage
as the mighty bull leads the herd,
the skies were filled with a million garlands of golden light
as you soared through the sky
to arrive like the king of swans
in a magical display of corporal power.
At that time thousands of gods and men beheld your face,
awakened by seeds of wholesome deeds stored over ages,
their untamed minds at once loosened
from the chains of countless faults.
Under your Bodhi tree, great warrior,
like a violent wind in a dark storm
you overwhelmed Mara’s hosts
with an army of compassion and wisdom.
Without weapon, without armour,
you routed uaided a million demons.
Other than you, who could fight such battles?
With the fire of love
you scorched the hearts of lustful gods,
while remaining to all a jewel of compassion
without favour or displeasure,
unceasing, even momentarily, in your work for others,
who are unceasing likewise in praise of your qualities.
Mind as deep as ocean,
word resounding like the celestial drum,
body taller even than Meru,
you are meaningful to see, hear, or bring to mind.
Were every living being of every world
to raise simultaneously individual doubts,
in front of each would you simultaneously display
as many creations of body and of word,
and yet you would not have stirred.
Such mysteries of body, speech and mind
are not in the experience of bodhisattvas,
hearers, and solitary practitioners, however they try.
What need to mention Brhma, Indra, and others?
The mighty garuda hawk wings its way
onward, onward through the skies
but on tiring turns and heads for home.
The skies, however, lie unhindered by such limitation.
To talk of your qualities is likewise.
Like a tiny bird yearning to follow the path
travelled by the mighty garuda
in whom the art of flight is perfected,
I long to travel that great highway
to the throne of the ten powers,
but my mind’s eye is of sight too weak
to see the reality of phenomena.
I am impoverished, moreover,
by the lack of bodhi mind and true renunciation,
persecuted constantly by enemy-like delusions of mind,
cast headlong into the pit of grasping to self.
Were I abandoned by you in such wretched state,
what other guardian who gazes on the pitiful
with such tremendous love could I turn to for refuge?
When this realm, sullied by the five remains,
was ignored by others but adopted by you,
what need was there for buddhas and bodhisattvas
to praise and liken you to the white lotus?
Within your deeds however,
No trace of neglect or indifference
toward any disciple is found.
Solely by my own faults, therefore,
am I rendered so unfortunate,
and no failing in attached to you.
Therefore, until under the bodhi tree
I emerge victorious over the hosts of Mara,
I pray to be cared for life after life by you
and never tire of your nectar-like words.
Hello my name is K H Ng and I’m vice president of Kechara. I also guide the pujas in Kechara and conduct Dharma classes. My guru is His Eminence Tsem Tulku Rinpoche. Today I would like to share the mantra recitation for the Dorje Shugden prayers.
First of all, mantra are sacred verbalised formula to enact protection and transformation of the mind. Buddhas can emanate into various forms and also manifest in the form of sound. Therefore mantras of the various Yidams and Dharma Protectors are recited to invoke their blessings and protective qualities.
We use a mala of 108 beads like this as a counter. 100 beads are for the usual number we count and the 8 extra beads are to make up for any mistake we make because sometimes we mispronounce unintentionally and sometimes we skip or miss a bead so the 8 extra beads are to make up for that. It can be of any material. Certain practices require certain different types of mala and then certain practices require you to use your left hand or the right hand and which finger but generally for us we just use any hand we like and any finger but for auspicious reasons, when we do the higher tantric practices which are very profound, if you do the Mother Tantra, then you use the left hand like this. If you do the Father Tantra, you use the right hand. For peaceful activities to require peaceful abilities, peaceful forms or power and clairvoyance, you use your index finger. If you want to increase wealth, increase knowledge, increase harmony, you want to increase prosperity in that area, you will use your second finger. So if you recite it like that with the particular mantra and meditation, it will increase because we have wind channels here. Certain things in your mind that help you go to that direction, that open up things in that direction and then if you want to do controlling activities, controlling spirits, exorcism, stopping negativities, then we use the third finger. The third finger is the control aspect. It will gain you the power to control certain situations, to be of benefit of others. And then last but not least is when all three methods fail, you have to use wrath or ferocity. Wrathful methods, you use the last finger. This is wrath, this is controlling the situation around you and you do the particular mantras.
When we recite the mantras we pull the mala towards us. We pull the mala towards us like this at the heart level. Concentrate and we pull the beads towards us. When we finish the entire 108 beads of the mala, we reach the guru bead. This is nothing sacred, we just skip over it, it’s just a marker, some people turn it around, it is not necessary. We just continue. Also recite the mantra so that you can hear the sound of the mantra yourself. Not too loud but it cannot be silent but you should also not be so loud as to disturb others if you do the mantras in a group or disturb the neighbours.
Dorje Shugden’s mantra has 2 authentic variations. The first variation is,
OM BENZA WIKI WITRANA SOHA
Witrana with a W which descends from Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche’s lineage.
The other is,
OM BENZA WIKI BITANA SOHA
Bitana with a B which descends from Kyabje Zong Rinpoche’s lineage
Both variations are valid pronunciations of the mantra and one should recite according to the lineage of one’s preceptor, from whom one received the oral transmission of the mantra.
For this video, we will use Kyabje Zong Rinpoche’s version which is ‘Om Benza Wiki Bitana Soha’.
The first syllable ‘Om’ refers to the physical aspect of Dorje Shugden. Therefore the recitation of this syllable is likened to calling upon Dorje Shugden. The second syllable of ‘Benza’ or ‘Vajra’, represents Dorje Shugden’s true adamantine nature which is the union of bliss and emptiness of Je Tsongkhapa and of all the other Buddhas. The subsequent 5 Sanskrit syllables ‘Wiki Bitana’ symbolises the 5 attainments for pacification, increase, control, wrathful methods and supremacy. Finally the last syllable ‘Soha’, is a request to bestow these qualities on the practitioners. Therefore the mantra is a request to Dorje Shugden.
O Dorje Shugden, please bestow the pacifying, increasing, controlling, wrathful and supreme attainments.
Next we go through the visualisation that we need to do during the mantra recitations. Visualisation for tantric initiates, we start by visualising that we are transformed into any one of the Yidams of the 4 classes of Tantra. This is why the Yidam sadhanna is usually performed prior to the prayers of Dorje Shugden. However in order to visualise one’s self as the Yidam, the practitioners must have already received the appropriate initiations. Visualisation for non-initiates, one should visualise Lama Tsongkhapa resting on top of their head. In this instance, practitioners should perform Lama Tsongkhapa’s Gaden Lhagyama or Guru Yoga, prior to the prayers of Dorje Shugden.
We then visualise Dorje Shugden in front of us, an arm’s length away. An arm’s length away, similar to visualising Buddha or Tsongkhapa during other meditations. Surrounding him are emanations in the peaceful, increase, control and wrathful forms. We should visualise and believe strongly that Dorje Shugden is one with our guru. This is very important and one should have great faith in this.
Next we visualise lights going out from Dorje Shugden, materialising various offerings to all the Buddhas in the 10 directions. After that, lights flow back into the syllable ‘Hung’ that rests at the heart of Dorje Shugden, the central deity. Surrounding the syllable ‘Hung’ is Dorje Shugden’s main mantra, ‘Om Benza Wiki Bitana Soha’ that moves clockwise around the syllable. The syllable ‘Hung’ is Dorje Shugden’s seed syllable and it represents his awakened mind. Some of the lights branch of and strike the ‘Hung’ syllables at the heart of Dorje Shugden’s other emanations. This includes Shize, or Vairocana Shugden, who rides upon a gentle elephant and has a white mantra garland moving in a clockwise motion around the syllable ‘Hung’ at his heart. And Gyenze, or Ratna Shugden, who rides a divine palomino horse and has a yellow mantra garland moving in a clockwise motion around the syllable ‘Hung’ at his heart. Next we have Wangse, or Pema Shugden, who rides a turquoise dragon and has a red mantra garland moving in a clockwise motion around the syllable ‘Hung’ at his heart. And Trakze, Karma Shugden, who rides a powerful Garuda and has a dark red mantra garland moving in a clockwise motion around the syllable ‘Hung’ at his heart.
From the heart of the 5 emanations of Dorje Shugden, the corresponding light colours flows forth and enters the crown of your head, filling your body with bright golden wisdom light and blessing you. This is a request to Dorje Shugden to perform the pacifying, increasing, controlling and wrathful activities. During this time, you can also visualise your body being healed and your mind gaining the power to easily understand the Dharma and gaining attainments. You should also visualise your prayers and requests being fulfilled by Dorje Shugden.
We then start the mantra recitation and we start the mantra recitation by reciting the following verse.
From the heart syllable of
myself visualised as the Yidam,
Light rays emanate.
They strike the HUM syllables
And surrounding mantra garlands
Which matching each deity
In colour, stand upon the sun seats
At the hearts of Dharmapala
Gyalchen Shugden’s five fierce
Families, exhorting them, without
Choice, to perform whatever
Desired peaceful, increasing,
Powerful, or wrathful activity,
Now depending on whether one is praying for health, wealth or a combination of Siddhis, one should recite 3 malas of the corresponding mantra and 7 times of the other 2 mantras. The main mantra to attain a combination of Siddhis is,
OM BENZA WIKI BITANA SOHA
I repeat, OM BENZA WIKI BITANA SOHA.
This is the mantra for us to gain the conditions to practice our Dharma well. To gain and accumulate all types of Siddhis.
The mantra for healing when we are sick and we need health and the ability to practice the Dharma and to heal others, we recite,
OM BENZA WIKI BITANA SHANTI SIDDHI HUNG
Mantra for wealth. We need to gain wealth to create the conditions for us to be able to practice the Dharma. We recite,
OM BENZA WIKI BITANA SOHA
TSESO PALJOR LONG CHO
THAMCHED PUTRIM KURU OM
And then we recite Dorje Shugden’s entourage mantra after we have recited the 3 types of mantra.
OM DHARMAPALA MAHA RADZA
BENDZA BEGAWAN RUDRA PANTSA
KULA SARVA SHATRUM MARAYA
Having recited however many mantras with the successful visualisations, finally we recite the 100 syllable mantras.
OM BENZASATTO SAMAYA
DIDRO MAY BHAWA
SUTO KAYO MAY BHAWA
SUPO KAYO MAY BHAWA
ANU RAKTO MAY BHAWA
SARWA SIDDHI ME PAR YATSA
SARWA KARMA SUT TSA ME
TISHTAM SHRRIYAM KURU HUM
HA HA HA HA HO
BHAGAWAN SARWA TATAGATA
BENZA MA WAY MUN TSA
BENZA BHAWA MAHA
AH HUM PHET
There are additional mantras of Dorje Shugden for requesting different activities. Dorje Shugden’s mantra for health, for long life, increasing life, healing of disease and protection from diseases.
OM BENZA WIKI BITANA AYU SIDDHI HUNG
Dorje Shugden’s mantra for increase, for gaining great merits and increase of all necessary needs, both material and spiritual.
OM BENZA WIKI BITANA PUNYE SIDDHI HUNG
Dorje Shugden’s mantra for control, for control of worldly deities, negative people and nagas and for influencing friends towards the positive.
OM BENZA WIKI BITANA WASHAM KURU HO
Dorje Shugden’s mantra for destruction, for destruction of obstacles and inner and outer enemies.
OM BENZA WIKI BITANA SHATRUM MARAYA PHET
Dorje Shugden’s mantra for obtaining all Siddhis,
OM BENZA WIKI BITANA SIDDHI PALA HO
Dorje Shugden’s mantra for obtaining all attainments supra-mundane
OM BENZA WIKI BITANA SARWA SIDDHI PALA HO
Dorje Shugden’s mantra to grant protection. Visualise that you are in the Protector’s mandala, fully protected from outside interferences, recite when in danger or for dangerous situations. For protection while travelling or while residing in dangerous, hostile places.
OM BENZA WIKI BITANA RAKYA RAKYA HUNG
No we have the Dorje Shugden’s minister’s mantra. Kache Marpo’s mantra,
OM SHRI DHARMAPALA HUNG PHET
Namkar Barzin’s mantra,
OM BIYADA PAR DHARMA DARA SOHA
Apart from reciting these mantras during the prayers, we can also recite the mantra while we are relaxing, perhaps watching TV or sitting on the sofa. We can recite it anywhere actually, except in the restroom. The posture for recitation, normally we would, if possible, do the full Vajra posture or the half Vajra posture or on a cross legged posture. If we cannot sit on the floor, we can actually sit on a comfortable chair. If we can sit on the floor, we can sit with our back straight and our eyes focused at a 45 degree, looking down, half closed and we can focus better that way. For those with back problems, it is highly recommended that we have a smaller cushion to straighten our back, then we can sit on the smaller cushion and straighten our back.
In summary, mantra recitation and especially the Dorje Shugden’s mantra is very powerful to alleviate our mind’s problems and any physical problems actually. Depending on the situation, we choose the mantra that can help that particular situation but in our daily sadhanna, we can actually do the main mantra however many times that we decide and as recommended by your guru.
Personally I would recommend this mantra to be chanted as many times as we can on a daily basis. For me, my experience is that the main mantra of ‘Om Benza Wiki Bitana Soha’ is the most holistic because it actually bestows upon us, all the qualities that we need to have a very fruitful and stable Dharma practice.