Lightly edited Transcription of the Condensed Practice Lama, Yida and Dharmapala according to Zurmang Kagyud tradition - by Zurmang Gharwang Rinpoche at Mangala Vihara Temple, Singapore on 26th February 2002


{slider  Introduction}

Good evening friends.

This evening, according to the programme, we are supposed to discuss the Short Practice of Guru Yoga, Tara and also 4-armed Mahakala. But unfortunately, the Khenpos in Nepal have not completed the translation of the text . This morning, when they called me, they were still checking the print out as they want to make sure that there are no mistakes. So I’m very sorry about that. Maybe on the 10th of this month, during the last day of the Medicine Buddha puja, we will be able to give out the translation to whoever wants to practise it. But I can still briefly discuss this whole practice tonight, I can give you the transmission as well as brief instruction of this three different practices.

So we will now discuss about this important practice. As you know, the practice of the three roots is very, very important. In Vajrayana, we are actually practising according to the Buddha’s teaching, Buddha’s advice; we are following the right steps. The correct way to practise Vajrayana practice is as follows, to follow the Vajrayana tradition, we must first practice the lesser path, followed by the middling path, the superior path and then the Vajrayana path. Actually, they are all co-related. We cannot practice Vajrayana without first mastering the practice of the lesser path, middling path and superior path, you know. So these are important practices.

To have a good foundation of Vajrayana practice one must have a foundation of Theravada, Mahayana and then followed by Vajrayana. So they are all inter-linked. We cannot say that “Vajrayana is superior and this is inferior”, you know, because they are all so important in their own way. So we have to respect all the yanas because all the yanas contain Buddha’s most precious message which is how to temporarily eliminate the suffering, the pain that we have experienced in this life and many lifetimes and how to become a Buddha. So it is so important that we respect the three yanas. In fact, one of the samayas in Vajrayana states that we cannot criticise any other religion. On a relative level, we may see things differently, there is a difference between hell and heaven, there is a difference between sentient being and Buddha. But ultimately, they are all equal, there is no pure, there is no impure, there is no right, there is no wrong. They are all equal in Dharmakaya, in Dharmadhatu. Okay? So, we have to respect everyone.

According to one of the teachings which was given by Shantideva in the Bodhicayavatara he said, “Actually, hell is the most profound heaven”. So this clearly shows that we cannot distinguish between hell and heaven. This is mainly a misconception, a misperception. Ya? For Buddha, hell is heaven, heaven is hell. So there is no difference. That is the reason why we must respect every religion, every individual, every bodhisattva. So this is how we should practice.

{slider Taking Refuge}

Taking refuge in the 3 roots and the 3 jewels

If we wish to follow this tradition, it is very important to take refuge in the three roots and the three jewels. If one wishes to become a Buddhist practitioner...once you have entered the door, you must take refuge from the three jewels. And once you have entered the Vajrayana field, you must take refuge from the three roots. The root of all blessing is your Guru. To attain the root of all accomplishments, to achieve longevity, to achieve prosperity, to perform any kinds of activities related to the Buddhadharma, to achieve the Six Extraordinary Knowledge and so on, you must pray to your yidam. Your yidam could be Tara or Avalokiteshvara, or any deity whom you have had a close association with not only in this life but from many past lifetimes. And

finally, we should also take refuge from the dakinis and the protectors . Protectors are the ones that protect us from all kinds of forces. Internally, we will be protected from hatred, desire, attachment, the five poisons, defilements and so forth. Externally, we will be protected from all kinds of non-being harms. So it is so important to take refuge from these three roots. So once we enter Vajrayana, we have to take refuge from these three roots.

{slider Discple of Vairayana}

 How you will know that you are a disciple of Vajrayana

So how will you know that you are a disciple of Vajrayana? Clearly, through your own experience, you may have different signs. For instance, when you listen to Vajrayana teachings, or when see Vajrayana activities, or when you see Vajrayana’s different forms of Buddhas and bodhisattvas, or when you sincerely engage in Vajrayana activities, if from your heart you think, or if you develop a strong devotion towards these activities, towards this tradition, that is a sign that you are actually a disciple of Vajrayana. There are many such signs. Like for instance, like crying, you know, when you meet Buddha or when you see a Vajrayana teacher or practice, you tend to tend to cry. You feel like crying, you can’t really stop, you know (but of course, I’m not asking you to cry all the time), or you have goose bumps. Ya?

And most importantly, if you have a sense of belonging to this tradition, this clearly shows that you belong to the Vajrayana tradition, you are a Vajrayana student. You should then request... you should look for a good master. You should know yourself, whether you can be a Vajrayana student. Or if you are still unsure, when you meet any Rinpoche or teacher, then you can ask “Can I practice Vajrayana?” And they will definitely be able to tell you whether you are ready or not.

{slider Qualities of Vairayana Student}

The qualities of a Vajrayana student

There are a few important qualities that the Vajrayana student must have. To practice Vajrayana, the first quality is to have sharp intelligence. This also means one must first practice Theravada and Mahayana because these are the very basic and important foundations. Without understanding Theravada and Mahayana, Vajrayana cannot be practiced. So that’s why these three yanas are inter-related.

The second quality is, to make sure that your mind is ripened through initiation or you must ripen your mental continuum through initiation. This means, through initiation, one’s understanding of Vajrayana is ripened, that you can accept Vajrayana practice as your main practice. So this is second important quality.

And finally, you must observe the major and secondary vows. You must ensure that you can keep the major and secondary vows. As you know, Vajrayana is also called the secret yana, mantrayana or vajrayana. We have three or four very different names. But whatever you call it, it’s all the same. Sometimes, it is called, the secret yana. Why is it secret? There is a reason. It is not because we will lose all of its essence if we show it to someone or that we will lose some kind of credibility. That is not the case. If you show someone what you are practising when his or her karma has not ripened, then he or she may criticise the practice of Vajrayana. Then, you are creating bad karma for these people. If they criticise Vajrayana, definitely this will take them to hell. So it is not good to show anyone who doesn’t have an understanding, who doesn’t have any knowledge of Vajrayana. This is one of the reasons.

The second important reason is that, the more secret you can keep it, the better achievement you will gain. The more open you are, the more public you are, the less blessing you will receive and it becomes less effective. So that is the reason why it is called, secret yana.  

{slider Mantras}

Why mantras are effective

It is also called mantrayana because by chanting mantras, you will be able to purify all impurities of body, speech and mind. For instance, when we chant the Tara mantra Om Tara Tuttare Ture Svaha, it contains so much energy and blessing because this mantra has been blessed by Tara. Actually, the wisdom or blessing or whatever you call it, is in mantra form. So whoever recites it can be truly blessed.

Sometimes, we wonder how can the chanting of some words bring us benefit? Words can contain a lot of meaning and it sometimes can contain a lot of powerful forces. For instance, if I said to someone, “You are such a nice person, so honest,” immediately, this person’s expression will be very different. This person will accept your compliments, maybe he will smile at you and he may even treat you to a good lunch! But if you criticise him, if you say, “You are dishonest, you are not a good person, you are ugly,” you know, something like that, immediately, his expression will change.

So if simple words can carry so much energy, why not this blessed word? Blessed words can bring us some form of achievement as they contain a lot of power, a lot of positive energy. Of course, there are differences between ordinary words and words that have been blessed. If you recite just any words then it might not bring any benefit. For instance, if you recite my name, “Zurmang Gharwang, Zurmang Gharwang” it’s a waste of time. It won’t bring anything. But if you recite Tara's or Buddha’s names, it will definitely bring a lot of merit.  

{slider Brief Note on Vairayana}

A brief note about Vajrayana
Of the three names, Vajrayana is the more widely used name. Vajra literally means diamond or which has the quality of a diamond, or an indestructible quality. In other words, it means nobody can refute that we cannot achieve complete enlightenment with the practice of Vajrayana. It was only in Tibet that it was more popular, where it was widely practised and known. As you know, till today the tradition, the lineage, everything is still alive in Tibet.

As I mentioned earlier, even during the time of Buddha, Vajrayana was not publicly known or practised and teaching seminars were not properly held except to a selective audience or selected individuals in indefinite places. But Buddha did predict that in the near future there will be many great masters who will again promote the practice of Vajrayana. And that’s exactly what happened after Buddha attained parinirvana. There were many, many renowned masters like Atisha, Nagarjuna, Asanga and Guru Padmasambhava (whom we all regard as a second Buddha in Vajrayana). Externally, they may appear as an ordinary Mahayana monk, but evidence shows that they practised Vajrayana secretly.

Even to practice Vajrayana, one has to accumulate merit, one has to learn many things before one really understands Vajrayana practice. So that is the reason why it is so important to practise the Theravada and Mahayana traditions first before practising Vajrayana as they are all co-related.

In Vajrayana, the guru yoga, yidam and the Mahakala practice are very important practices. Whatever practice one follows, in the Vajrayana tradition, there are three important steps that you must take.

First, you must receive complete instruction and initiation, full complete initiation. Secondly, you must receive instruction about the practice that you will follow. Finally, you must receive transmission. So these 3 steps must be followed to make your practice more successful and profound. It is essential to follow this.

And in this tradition, as I mentioned before, you must look for a good teacher. You must look for a good teacher because the teacher is the most important in this tradition. There’s a saying, “if you perceive your teacher to be a Buddha, then you have the blessings of a Buddha. If you perceive your teacher to be a Bodhisattva, then you have the blessings of a Bodhisattva. And if you perceive your teacher to be your friend, then you have the blessings of your friend.” So it all depends on your perception of your teacher. It is actually not necessary for your teacher to be a Buddha, you know. I have students but I don’t think I’m a Buddha; I never think that I’m Buddha neither do I think that I’m a bodhisattva but I want to be a bodhisattva! (laughs) But I never think that I’m a Bodhisattva, you know. So, I need to practice to become a Bodhisattva. But, what you receive all depends on your part, how you respect your teacher, you know. So this is very, very important because in Vajrayana, even to realise the ultimate truth, even to realise the true nature of your mind depends on the guru. Studying and making effort for many years by yourself will not bear fruits, you know. You must have the blessing of your guru. Then somehow, somewhere, you will realise the nature of your mind. Like when Tilopa hit Naropa with his shoe, at that very moment Naropa was knocked out. When he woke up, all of Tilopa’s realisation was transferred to Naropa. So it all depends on your guru. That’s why the guru is very important. That’s why in Vajrayana, we have the practice of guru yoga.



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