Y1-SN-part 16b-December 26, 2011
Finding Ease in the Nature of Mind
Recording Date: December 26, 2011
Teacher: Khenpo Singye
Translator: Andrzej Rybszleger (Tibetan – English)
Please generate the wish of attaining enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings so that they can also be liberated from the ocean of samsara, suffering.
The teaching that we are listening is the Semnyi Ngelso, Finding Ease in the Nature of Mind by Longchenpa.
We call it ‘Finding Ease in the Nature of Mind because this text serves the purpose of putting our weary mind which has been wandering in samsara for so long, at ease.
For us to be able to listen to such teachings as Finding Ease in the Nature of Mind is a special occasion. We must appreciate it, knowing that we must have accumulated lots of good karma in our previous lives.
It is important for us to rejoice because we know that this is a fruition of our accumulation of lots of merit in the previous lives.
It would have been very difficult for us to find such an opportunity if we did not accumulate lot of merit in the previous lifetimes.
Whenever you look at the text, or read it, or study and listen to it, we should remember, “I am really fortunate. This is a product of my great karma of the past.”
If we think that this is some ordinary book like [many others we have these days], this is a wrong thinking. It is not an ordinary text.
If we have the opportunity to study and reflect upon this text, Finding Ease in the Nature of Mind, the cycle of Great Perfection, then, indeed, we are very fortunate.
For those who cannot study this text there is a reason from the past – this means that they did not accumulate a good karma. For those of you who can study and listen to it, this is a sign of lot of merit.
Also, if I did not accumulate merit in the previous lives, I would be not able to teach [this] text to you.
There are many different kinds of Dharma teachers and teachings, but to be able to teach such a text – for me it is a sign that I have accumulated some good karma in the past.
Also, for you to have the opportunity to listen to it – that is also a sign of your good karma of the previous lives.
There are so many people in the world but there is just a small group of you who can study this text right now.
Also the translator whom you hear now has probably collected some good karma in the past that he can now study and translate this text.
I will now relate you one story.
Once upon the time in India, in the land of the noble ones, there was a king called ‘Power of Love – Jampe Thob (byams pa’i thob).
He always contemplated on love towards all his people.
Translator’s commentary, “Maybe we have already heard this story, but let us listen to it again.” The king was meditating on love towards all his people, so nobody could be harmed, and the non-human beings who thrived for blood and flesh were very hungry.
One day they came to see the king.
They said to the king, “We are also your subjects, we are living in your kingdom.”
They continued, “Since you meditate on love towards all your subjects, we cannot even harm anyone of them.”
“Since are not able to harm anyone, we cannot get their flesh, blood, and so on.”
They were trying to convince the king, “Since you are meditating on love and compassion towards all your subjects, but we cannot get anything, we cannot get the flesh and blood what we need. What to do in this situation?”
“You also have to think about our happiness.”
Remember, these were the five yakshas, the non-human beings.
The king said, “Alright”.
He said, “Today I will give you my own blood.”
He opened five of his own veins, and fed these five yakshas with his own blood.
As they got this blood, they were very satisfied.
He said to them when they were satisfied,
“Today I gave you my own blood. You drank it until you were full.”
“Because of this merit, in the future when I attain ultimate enlightenment, you will be my five first disciples, the five fortunate ones.”
Those five yakshas were reborn as humans.
The king was reborn as the son of the king Zesang [Suddhodhana].
He was reborn as a prince Thondup (Siddhartha). During six years he underwent penance.
The Buddha was at that time reborn as a prince, and [it was] the lifetime when he achieved enlightenment. His family name was Gautama, he came from the Gautama lineage. But his actual name was Siddhartha, meaning: “Accomplishing every purpose.” As he was born as a prince Siddhartha, we know the story of the Buddha – he renounced his kingdom, and for six years, he underwent penance until he met a girl who offered him some milk which he drank.
After he completed the six years of very strict ascetic practices, he accepted the milk that was offered to him.
You know the story – he was undergoing this penance with his five friends. They were also ascetics. As they saw him having the milk, something completely unacceptable for him as they were very strict ascetics, they disbelieved him and said, “You are not a proper ascetic, after six years of strict practices you are having milk now?” Therefore, they left him.
These five went to Varanasi and the king Siddhartha, “Accomplishing all purpose”, Gautama himself, went to Bodhgaya, and achieved enlightenment there.
After he achieved enlightenment, he did not teach for seven weeks.
After seven weeks of silence, Indra and Brahmā came in front of him and requested him to teach the Dharma.
As they were both requesting to teach the Dharma, he agreed finally.
Firstly, he did not teach in Bodhgaya but he went to Varanasi and he taught his first sermon there.
Those who were about to come “The five fortunate ones” were there. But they did not believe in him any more, they did not have any faith in him because of the past events. They vowed that if they saw him, they would not even stand up and not show any respect.
But then the Buddha came; they could not help it and they naturally stood up.
As they stood up, they asked, “O venerable one, what brings you here?”
The Buddha replied, “I am not only a venerable one, I am a fully enlightened buddha now.”
As he taught his first sermon to them, the teaching about the four noble truths, then they saw the ultimate nature of reality.
Later on, one of the Buddha’s disciples, Ānanda asked the Buddha, “You have taught so many teachings to so many disciples. Why did you teach this very first Dharma to those five?
And the Buddha replied, “[These five men and I] have a very strong karmic link from the past.” And he told the story which we already have heard.
He said that he was the king and he fed the five yakshas and now they have become his very first disciples.
In a similar way as the Buddha taught his first five disciples because he had karmic connection with them from the past, in the same way, you who are listening and me who is teachings you, if there was no karmic link between us in the past, there would have been no opportunity for us to study the Dharma together.
It is quite important to think about this sometimes.
Since we now remember this, after this brief recollection, we can continue with the text. Remember, we started this text with the freedoms and advantages and went through the text until the seventh chapter about the four immeasurables, which we recently completed. Now we are in the eighth chapter on bodhicitta.
Those who are listening – there must be so many different kinds of people. There must be those who have studied a bit before, those who are very new to Dharma, those who are beginners or seasoned practitioners, and so on.
For those of you who are in the beginning of the path, particularly important is to reflect about the advantages and freedoms of this life.
Even though it does not touch directly those who are seasoned practitioners, for the beginners it is something very important.
If we think about the body and mind, the body is like a plane and the mind is like a pilot.
If we have a good mind but the body is not proper, the situation is quite difficult.
If a very skilled pilot is driving a complete wreck, there is still a danger of that [the plane will fall down.]
If we have a good pilot but a really useless plane, we could not even fly long distances with it, such as from Bhutan to America, or from America to India.
It is a same situation with animals. We can see that some animals are very kind; they have a kind mind. But since they have a body of an animal, they cannot practice the path; they cannot directly become buddhas.
Even if these animals have very good minds, if we told them to recite ‘Om manipadme hum’, or ‘Bendza guru pema siddhi hum’ – they will be not able to do that.
The situation [of having a] good mind but improper body is like the situation with some of those animals.
The other situation is that when we have a very good body but not a very good mind. This is like trying to fly at sixteen, having a very good and new plane and trying to fly that plane.
In the same way, some people do have this very good human body with freedoms and advantages but if they think only about deceiving others; if they have strong emotions, craving, anger, and so on – this means that their minds are not good.
And for such people, if we think whether they can attain buddhahood or not, it will be very difficult for them.
Sometimes there is another situation when there is improper body and also [the] mind is not good. It is like some of the animals who always kill other animals.
The predators always kill others, harm others; this is [an example of] a bad mind in a bad body.
We have those kinds of animals who never harm other animals, who even do not eat insects – they are, for example, the black-neck cranes as we have here in Gangteng. This is like having a good mind in an improper body.
Those who kill others, who deceive others – we consider them to have a proper body but improper mind.
If we think about people who have good minds and good bodies, it is like people who have human body with freedoms and advantages and can listen to the Dharma, like us listening now to the teachings of Semnyi Ngelso.
Having a good mind is exactly the situation that we have right now.
Now we are working towards accomplishing the good mind [and] the body that we have [already has] freedoms and advantages.
Now we can connect this to the section of the chapter on bodhicitta. It is the seventh subsection here: g. How a newly born joy is produced in these.
By ultimate bodhicitta, the root text says, “This possesses the essence of the wishing tree of compassion. As for its bearing well the heavy burden of beings, in this world even the gods, like Brahmā and the others, even for themselves, have never dreamed of this, let alone seeking this bodhicitta for other beings; so this creates a joy that has never existed before.”
Entering the Middle way (Madhyamakāvatāra, dbu ma la ‘jug pa) says, “Pratyekabuddhas and shravakas are born from the Lords of Sages. As for those buddhas, they are born from the bodhisattvas. It is the mind non-dual with the mind of compassion, bodhicitta, which is the cause of those buddha children. Therefore, first of all, compassion should be praised.”
“In that way, the wishing tree of compassion bears the burden of the flock of birds of limitless sentient beings. As for that ultimate bodhicitta, those wishing benefit just for themselves and for their fathers, mothers and so forth are without it. Even lords of the world like Brahmā and so forth are without this, even for themselves. Up to now they have cared only for this life. Such an attitude, previously unborn, should be rejoiced in.”
That is what is being said. The Bodhicaryāvatāra says, “Even if we include the love of fathers and mothers who has such an attitude of benefit? Do even those who are gods and highly accomplished sages or does even Brahmā have anything like this? If, before now, none at all of these sentient beings had such an attitude, even for their own benefit, if it was not dreamed of, even in a dream, how did such benefits ever rise for other beings? This wish to benefit by bringing joy to others, which does not arise for one’s own self as well, this specially precious thought of benefiting beings, is a wonder which is born without precedent.”
“This wondrously arisen attitude accomplishes the benefit of both oneself and others. It is the supreme offering to the Tathāgata. The same text says, “This itself is pleasing to the tathāgatas. This itself accomplishes our true benefit. This itself removes the sufferings of the world. Therefore, this itself should always be done by me. Instructing us to arouse bodhicitta, even if we do not attain buddhahood, the Bodhicitta Commentary (byang chub sems ‘grel) says, “As for bodhicitta, without producing it, we will never attain the level of buddhahood. Within samsara, for benefiting oneself and others, no other skillful means exists but this alone.”
The point here is that when this newly produced bodhicitta first arises in our mind, this is a reason for us to really rejoice.
Why should we rejoice? Because we have never even had such an attitude towards our mother, father, spouses, and so on.
What we normally wish for our close ones – father, mother, relatives, and so on, is a temporary happiness in this world. We have never thought about giving them the ultimate buddhahood. This is the thought of bodhicitta.
If we think about developing such a mind towards our spouse, husband or wife, it is not easy.
Some people even deceive each other, even in marriage.
It is possible that husband can have plans to deceive his wife, or a wife plans to deceive her husband.
There are all kinds of situations. Sometimes a wife can leave her old husband behind and tries to find a new one.
Also, a husband can leave his wife and goes looking for another one.
As you see, in such situations, there is no love inspired by bodhicitta.
What we want to say here is that from within all the motivations, the bodhicitta motivation is the supreme one.
If we cannot arouse the bodhicitta motivation in [ourselves], it will be really difficult to attain buddhahood.
You see how important is to us, whoever we are, to let such motivation arouse in our minds.
If we do not generate bodhicitta, we will not become buddhas. We have to do this.
The third part of this chapter is: 3. The liturgy of receiving. First section of it is: a. The preliminaries.
We have two parts here. The first one is: 1). Collection of the concordant conditions.
It has six subsections. Once again, the first part is: 1). Collection of the concordant conditions and the second one is 2). The seven-fold service. As said, the first part has six subsections.
The first subsection of the first part is: a) The Object from whom it is received.
The commentary says, “Therefore, since arousing bodhicitta is within our power, in the space in front visualize an assembly of buddhas and bodhisattvas. Do as is explained in The Sutra Describing the Virtues of the Field of Mañjuśrī (‘jam dpal zhing gi yon tan bkod pa’i mdo), and perform the liturgy below. Moreover, the Lamp of the Path to Enlightenment (Bodhipathapradīpa, byang chub lam sgron) says,
“If we do not find a guru, but receive the vow from another, the rite is said to be valid. So in former lives Mañjuśrī by becoming Amwarāja aroused the bodhicitta. The buddha field of Mañjuśrī as explained in the Ornament Sutra (rgyan gyi mdo) is also clarified here. The five eyes of the protectors bring perfect bodhicitta, providing a lamp for all beings, to free them from samsara. Do not produce angry attitudes of avarice and jealousy from now to supreme enlightenment. Pure conduct should be performed, evil deeds and desire abandoned, rejoicing in vows and disciplines, we will train in buddhahood. We ourselves will not quickly proceed into buddhahood while even one sentient being remains outside in extremes. May the measureless inconceivable Buddha fields be abandoned, grasped from labeling names within the ten directions, my karma of body and speech – let me purify it all. Let mental karma be purified and unvirtuous actions not done.”
If you think that you have a power to produce the mind of bodhicitta, you do not necessarily need a guru to do this. Just visualize the buddhas in the space in front of you.
“Bodhicitta should be aroused in that way. If we do not have the power to do this ourselves, the explanation how to do in that case follows.
“If we do not have the power to do this ourselves, or we want to receive it from a guru, as for this precious attitude, the root text says, “This may also rise from a spiritual friend, as a rain of all desires falls from wish-fulfilling things.” The commentary continues, “From a wishing jewel falls a rain of all that is needed or wished-for. So too spiritual friends support the arising of all good dharmas and the birth of bodhicitta.”
“How? By possessing bodhicitta and being competent in training in it, they are able to accept students. The Twenty Vows (sdom pa gnyis shu) says, “Gurus abiding in the vow and capable, since they have the power, therefore they should accept them.” The Bodhicaryāvatāra says, “Competent in the meaning of the great vehicle, excellent in the discipline of bodhicitta, never is the spiritual friend to be let go, even for the purpose of preserving one’s life.” The Lamp of the Path (lam sgron) says, “We should receive the vow from an excellent guru, competent in the liturgy of the vow, who is a master abiding in the vow. Possessing compassion, as well as consenting to give it, such a one should be known as an excellent guru.”
This is the way how you can receive the vow: if you think that you cannot do it yourself, you can receive this vow from the guru. It showed us how to do it.
Also those who take the vows need to be a proper vessel, which means having a proper body.
In order to produce a precious mind, we need a proper body as well.
It is like when we have food, we want to put our food inside clean vessels. Here in this case, the mind is like food; it is like content that stays in the vessel of the body.
How should we create this pure vessel? That was shown in this part.
[The second subsection of the first part is: b) Creating pure vessels]. As for such a one, the root text says, “By a guru free from faults, complete in all the virtues, who for the fortunate student is a producer of joy, who sees the faults of samsara and freedom’s benefits, the excellent dharmas of ultimate and provisional vehicles, along with the limitless praises of bodhicitta are told.” The commentary continues, “As previously taught, telling about the faults of samsara and the virtues of liberation and praising bodhicitta, the guru transforms the mind.”
Proper people are those who think about suffering in samsara – remember the suffering and the benefits of liberation.
If we want to take the vow of bodhicitta, the next subsection of this part tells us how to arrange the objects of worship and offerings: c) Arranging objects of worship and offerings.
It explains to us the stages of the ritual of taking the vow. Then for arousing bodhicitta, the root text says, “In a clean and pleasant place that is beautified by offerings, first set out a statue of Buddha and other things.” The commentary says, “Adorn the shrine room. Scatter flower petals. Set out statues representing the Three Jewels, along with offerings of incense, lamps and so on. Gather implements pleasing to gods and human beings.”
This is how we should prepare offerings when we want to go on and take the vow.
The next subsection is: d) The host of buddhas and their emanations.
How should we visualize? Then as symbolized by the representations in front, the root text says, “Visualize space as being filled with an ocean of buddhas together with their children, like heaped up banks of clouds.” The commentary says, “Visualize, as is taught in the Moon Lamp Sutra that they are welcomed by a feast of incense and music, and joining the palms to invite them, say the following three times: We fully arouse the vast and excellent bodhicitta. May all these beings without remainder be enlightened. May there be no sentient beings who are not vessels. Approach! Approach! Divine ones who possess the ten powers. By the power of your kindness that is never past its time may you who are the Three Jewels, care for the welfare of beings. With mental offerings, and those that are set out here, we supplicate the victorious ones and their retinues. (that is what we should say three times). By that, from the buddha fields of the ten directions, the Three Jewels approach. Visualize that they fill the whole of space.”
That is how we should visualize, that is how we should imagine the buddhas and the retinue of bodhisattvas in front of us.
The next subsection of this part is: e) Establishing the suitability of this.
As to how suitability is established for what is visualized really approaching, the root text says, “It is taught that this really happens, just as we visualize, occurring by the immaculate power of our minds, and also by the compassion of wise and considerate masters.” The Jewel Heap Sutra says, “Whatever victorious ones we visualize they will come before us and remain. Because they always bestow on us their blessings they completely liberate from faults.”
“By possessing the wisdom that knows the buddhas, we supplicate and intend to invite them. Possessing kind compassion, they see us.”
“Because of their buddha activity of accomplishing, they really approach miraculously in an instant. Why? From the viewpoint of the buddhas, sentient beings have no benefits, and they do this to produce benefit for us. When they come such a long way merely for the food offerings, it must be the merit of bodhicitta that makes it suitable for the guests really to approach.”
If we really supplicate, if we really set out those offerings, Longchenpa reassures us here that definitely they will come.
There is a story. Back in a day, in Nālandā university the abbots were debating with non-Buddhists and they were actually losing.
They were very sad and unhappy that they could not even defeat the non-Buddhists views.
At that time, a dakini came and gave a prophecy.
And the dakini said the following, “You, pandits, will not win the battle of philosophical debate.”
“If you want to win a debate, invite my brother, Dorje Thötreng Tsel.”
And how to invite him? “You have to go on the roof of the monastery and recite the seven line prayer.
You have to set out the offerings and supplicate the prayer. So they did that. They set out the offerings and they prayed the seven line prayer and Guru Rinpoche really appeared in front of them.
Guru Rinpoche comes and asks, “Why do you need me here?”
They explained the situation to him and he said that he would help them. He appeared in the form of Guru Senge Dradrok (Gu ru seng ge sgra sgrog), the Lion’s Roar. Appearing in this manifestation, he was able to defeat all the non-Buddhists.
Whenever we pray to the buddhas and bodhisattvas, they know that. They look at us with compassion and consider us.
This story was to show us that whenever we pray, wherever we are, if we pray to the buddhas, they will surely come.
Even if we do not have the fortune to see this happening in reality with our own eyes – if we cannot meet buddhas and bodhisattvas, we should certainly remember that this is really happening.
After that the next subsection here is: f) Inviting, and offering baths, and adornment.
First of all, we invite them, then we give them bath and adornment.
When we invite guests, firstly, before having the meal, they will wash their hands, and so on.
It is similar here.
Visualize that they listen eagerly and closely and approach in the space of the sky. The root text says, “Then, with joined hands that are filled with a double handful of flowers, invite them to be seated, and, after that, offer to bathe them, also offering garments, ornaments, and the rest.” The commentary says, “Visualize that all the three jewels are in the sky, in the divine palaces that are their own places, more abundant than the worlds of the three thousand-fold world realm. Invite them to be seated on brilliant lotus, jewel, sun, and moon seats.” The Supreme Insight (rig pa mchog) says, “Without exception, you who are lords of sentient beings, divine ones who irresistibly conquer the host of māras, knowing all things without exception just as they are, Bhagavans with your retinues, we ask you to come to this place. When this is said, they approach. In a bath-house many divine youths and maidens wash their bodies with precious jewel-ornamented vases and immeasurable bath-offerings. After these offerings, they dry them with towels.”
“Visualizing that, then offer them clothing, saying these words: In very fragrant excellent bathing-houses with brilliant floors that shine like spotless crystal, whose pleasant pillars blaze with precious jewels, adorned by canopies that shine with pearls, are the tathāgatas and the buddha sons. With many precious vases of perfumed water and an abundance of good and pleasant songs, along with music, we ask to wash their bodies. We dry their bodies with the best of cloths, clean and perfumed with the finest scents. Then to them, with colors that are well-dyed, we offer fine garments that have a matchless fragrance. With excellent garments, fine and soft to touch and many hundreds of excellent ornaments, we may adorn the noble ones Samantabhadra, Mañjuśrī and Avalokiteśvara. With the very best of fragrances, spreading throughout the three thousand-fold world realm, we anoint the bodies of the lords of Sages, that blaze with light like refined and polished gold when this has been said; in their dwellings they take their individual seats.”
That is how we should perform this ritual. First of all, we invite them, then we offer them bath, and so on, dry them, give them clothes. When this is done, they will take their seats.
When they are seated, we say the seven branch prayer (the seven-fold service) – ‘yenla dünpa’ (yan lag bdun pa)
[This is the second section of this part: 2) The seven-fold service]. This has two parts: a) The main topic and b) Its benefits. First of all, the main topic, which has seven parts as the seven-fold practice itself. Let us start now with the main topic.
[The first section of the first part is: i) Prostration]. First, as for the limb of prostration (this limb here is the first part of the seven-fold practice), the root text says, “Then we should join our palms just over the crowns of our heads, like a rising lotus beginning to bloom in a pleasant pond. With melodious praises, emanating countless bodies, we should perform prostrations with reverent devotion.”
You know, when you do prostrations, you should join your palms in a shape of the lotus.
You join your hands like this, like a lotus flower. Not flat like this. Some people also do like that but this is also not correct. You should do exactly like khenpo-la is showing you. The middle fingers do not really touch each other.
For those of you who are new, you should know that first of all, we place our folded hands just over the crowns of our heads, then on our throats, and finally on our hearts.
When we do prostrations, the prostration itself has five parts.
Maybe there are some people out there who are thinking, “I am a great dzokchen practitioner, I’m a great yogi,” but they even do not know how to prostrate.
It like building a house without a stable foundation. It will fall apart.
When we practice Dharma, it is quite important to start from the very basis and then go up higher and higher.
When we prostrate, first of all, when we put our joined hands on the top of our heads, that symbolizes dharmakāya, the throat symbolizes saṃbhogakāya, and the heart nirmāṇakāya.
We should think that we have achieved the qualities of the three kāyas.
In the five-limbs prostration these ‘five limbs’ are the following: the first limb is the head which we place on the ground.
The next two limbs are our two hands which we place on the ground.
The fingers should be stretched out – we do not put our fists on the ground.
Then the remaining two limbs are our knees.
This is the “five-limb” prostration.
We have the distinction between full-prostration…
…and half-prostration. Half-prostration means that we put our heads, hands and knees on the ground (only these five points are touching the ground). The full-prostration is stretching ourselves out on the floor. All our body is in contact with the ground. It says that the benefits of the full-prostration are greater than that of the five limbed prostration.
In India these customs of making prostrations still exist. For example, in front of very venerable people, people would bow their heads and touch the ground with their forehead. That is also a form of prostration.
The meaning of prostration is to show respect to the object of prostration.
In Tibetan, prostration is ‘chak tsel’ (phyag ‘tshal); [phyag is actually a Honorific form for ‘hand’. Khenpo is using a different meaning here]; ‘chak’ means to break (‘chak’ for breaking is written ‘chag’). What do we break? We break, using true respect, our afflictions of mind.
‘Tshel’ means to ‘beseech’, or ‘ask’. What do we ask? After having destroyed the afflictions, we want to obtain all the good qualities.
If we think in ordinary situations, for example, when we bow to someone out of respect, and those who receive this respect – they like it. Probably they will even give us some gifts.
First they would only think of giving us some small amount of money, but if we really showed them respect nicely, and they liked it, they might give us much more than they intended in the first place.
Sometimes, some important person is thinking about giving something to the small ones; for example, king to a subject, etc. First he thinks about giving one thousand, but if this subject is behaving rudely, he might change his original idea and give just one hundred instead of one thousand.
That is true.
We do prostrations to the Three Jewels, even though it does not serve the purpose of pleasing them because they are the buddhas. But for us, in order to accumulate the twofold accumulation, we need to do it.
Therefore, while doing prostrations, the Great Liberation (thar pa chen po) says, “Like a lotus that is just beginning to blossom, join the palms of the hands over the crown of the head. Prostrate to the buddhas of the ten directions with measureless numbers of bodies, like a mass of clouds.”
The Good Action (bzang po spyod pa) says, “Having the power of aspiration for good action, holding all the conquerors vividly in mind, bowing with bodies as many as the universe has atoms we prostrate without reservation to all the victorious ones.”
When we do prostrations we should visualize as many bodies as we can.
While doing prostrations, we should visualize our father on our right side…
…and our mother on our left side.
In front of us, we should visualize our enemies.
All around us, in all directions, we should visualize our spouses, relatives, beings we do not know – all the sentient beings from the six classes. They are all there around us and together with them we prostrate.
Of course, in front of us, we should visualize the objects of refuge – the Three Jewels, and so on. If we do such visualizations – seeing our bodies as innumerable, together with all sentient beings – even if we cannot do more than one prostration, even this one prostration can bring us immeasurable merit.
If you can do such visualization and only perhaps three prostrations a day, even then the merit will be great.
Many people in Bhutan and Tibet engage in doing hundred thousand prostrations.
There are many people who would do 200, 300, 400, 500 thousand or even more prostrations.
Even if you do this many prostrations, but you cannot really visualize properly as it was explained, even if there are some benefits, they are not really that great.
For you as practitioners it would be a very good to have some daily schedule for doing prostrations. If you can, it is very good to do hundred, if you can do more, then thousand, up to ten thousand is possible per day. If you cannot do hundred, then do just three prostrations, if you cannot do three, then do just one.
But if I tell you this, some people might have secondary thoughts.
There is no need to have these secondary thoughts.
It depends on your own abilities.
I am not telling you to do more than you can. Do as many prostrations as you can, no more.
If you want to do lot of prostrations, you need to be quite fit.
And those of you who do not have good bodies, those who have problems with legs, hands, and so on, you can just visualize.
Visualize just as explained, and prostrate.
The next part here is: b) The benefits.
As for the merits of this, the root text says, “The merits of this are as many as the atoms of the earth, all that are to be found in its many oceans and mountains. There are no merits like them within the three-fold world. After having had bodies of universal monarchs, as many as our bows or the atoms in Indra’s world, we will finally gain the level of the highest peace.”
The commentary says, “What has merits equal to those of prostration for the sake of arousing bodhicitta? There is no such thing within the three worlds. This is because, if we prostrate, trying to do only good, so much merit is obtained.” The Vinaya Scriptures say, “O monks, if you prostrate with faith to a stupa containing the Tathāgata’s hair and nails, as for the ripening of that, as many actions as Brahma does without the arising of anger, as many as the atoms reaching up to the golden ground of Indra, that many times you will experience the happiness of a universal monarch, and go among gods and human beings.”
These are the actual benefits of doing prostrations.
Within the seven-fold supplication, the first one is always the prostration.
Once, again, ‘chak’, means to ‘break’ or to ‘get rid of’. What we are getting rid of? It is our own afflictions. We are creating a pure environment.
We are creating a pure environment so that all the good qualities in our mind can arise. It is like cleaning the house If we really clean our house very properly, everything is spick-and-span, and if we have any guests, they would say, “This is really nice and neat.” In the same way, if our mind is clean like that, then all the good qualities can arise. This explains the other part of the word which is ‘tsel’.
That is the main meaning of the word ‘prostration’.
The main reason why we prostrate is because we want to show respect.
I just talked about respect to you.
Whether you are doing the full-prostration or the five-limbed prostration, if you have a wish to do hundred thousand…
… then many people do it in retreat. Many Bhutanese and Tibetans do hundred thousand prostrations while staying in retreat.
If you only do the five-limbs prostrations, it will perhaps take a month to complete hundred thousand.
But all depends on how fit you are.
If you are fit then you are able to do it.
If somebody is a little bit overweighed, or some parts of the body are too big, or if somebody is a little bit disabled, then it can take two or three months.
The amazing story is about Penor Rinpoche: when he was younger, he completed hundred thousand full prostrations in eleven days.
There are many people who do it like that.
In the Dharma, we have so many different methods. Since many of you have to work, there are also other ways to accomplish hundred thousand prostrations. Of course, it is very good to do it in retreat, but there are also different ways to do it.
The best would be to complete the hundred thousand prostrations in retreat.
The other way to do it just to have a plan and to stick to that schedule of doing a certain number of prostrations every day, until you complete hundred thousand. You can promise yourself that you will do thousand per day – ten thousand per day is really a whole day’s work. So, you can do thousand or a bit less until you get the number of hundred thousand.
If you promise to yourself, “I will do that number of prostration per day until I reach hundred thousand” – that is also very good.
Some places we do the prostration by dividing the time. We say for example, that this month we do that much, and so on. Not according to the number but according to the time.
Actually, when we do ngöndro, we need five-fold hundred thousand accumulation.
We count it as following: hundred thousand prostrations, bodhicitta repetitions, Vajrasattva mantras, mandala offerings, and hundred thousand of Guruyoga prayers.
These are skillful means to be able to practice properly what we call the actual practice – the Great Perfection.
For those of you who wish to do prostrations, those who wish to do hundred thousand prostrations, then just like we explained – when you touch with your folded hands the top of your head, you think, “I obtained the qualities of the body”; when you touch your hands to your throat, you think, “I obtained the qualities of the speech”; and finally, while placing hands at your heart, you think, “I obtained the qualities of the mind.” The qualities of the body, speech, and mind are all there.
When we touch our limbs, hands, knees, and forehead, to the ground, we should think, “Now I have destroyed the suffering of all the six classes of beings.
As you are rising up again, you should think, “After having pacified their suffering, now I endow them all the qualities, now they attain enlightenment.”
You should remember, first of all, multiply your body to immeasurable number. Not only you, are prostrating. Visualize that on your right side is your father; on your left side is your mother; in front of you – your enemies; all around you -your relatives, friends, and all six classes of beings… and [all of you in that visualization] do prostrations together.
If you cannot visualize that, if you only think that you alone are doing prostrations, then the benefits will not be very great.
But if we can visualize properly, as just explained, then even if we do only one prostration or three prostrations, still benefits will be immeasurable.
For many of you it is quite possible to do hundred thousand prostrations. For instance, people who are young with a good body; young boys, young girls, for you to do this is creating a very vast merit. It is a very good and important practice.
Please do that.