Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Empowerment of Vajrasattva

This is the sixteenth entry from my fieldwork diary. The original date is 29.08.2010.


When we arrived Drupon Sangyas was already chanting a long mantra silently on his own. He told us that first he had to do this by himself in order to receive the blessings from the lineage masters.


"They also did this in Ancient India. An Indian guru would go to his disciple and bless him near a river. Vajrasattva is the most powerful practice.

If we don't eliminate our previous karma we will suffer. So the Vajrasattva practice helps in purifying oneself. And through Vajrasattva you will destroy your negative karma from past lives.

The reason why we are reborn again and again is due to our karma. For example, hunting animals as a hobby gives rise to negative karma. In India, such activity is prohibited but in the West it is normal. Everyone has Buddha-nature so killing an animal is sinful. If you kill others you will be reborn in one of the 6 lower realms (as a hell-being).

Anger, jealousy and ego give rise to negative karma. For example, when you gossip you hurt other people. If the person you are gossipping about finds out then they will suffer and you will receive bad karma in return. In that way you can never become free of Samsara.

Buddha founded these teachings through his wisdom. He received them from the past buddhas when he became enlightened.
We can achieve enlightenment through meditation. There are all kinds of different buddhas for many different purposes. Green Tara is for good luck. If you wish to have a good and powerful speech you must pray to Mahakala. But never expect any miracles during practice. Just have a very pure mind.

Milarepa used the kapala to remind himself of the impermanence of life. In our monasteries we have paintings on the walls of skeletons to remind ourselves of this.

My job is to show you the dharma, it's my responsibility. We are here at the center for the dharma. And the dharma text is the path through which I can help liberate other sentient beings and guide them towards enlightenment.

Now we will begin with the blessing empowerment. During this ritual you should relax and try not to have any thoughts."


The following is the description that I wrote down of the whole ritual:

OM (white light; the body)
AH (red light; the mind)
HUNG (blue light; the heart & speech)
*These 3 lights go to your body."

1. Recite the Vajrasattva.
2. Meditate.
3. Recite the mantra again.
4. The light of Vajrasattva appears in the sacred vase from the pictures and statues of the Buddha Vajrasattva and the lineage masters.
5. Visualize that this light goes to your head and then down to the rest of your body.
6. Speech transmission (from the mala's light; it goes to your head, your ear, your neck etc and finally to your heart).
8. Purify your heart and speech. You need powerful light from the vajra (Lama Sangyas held a diamond-shaped Buddhist ritual object up in the air for all to see). So visualize the light from the five corners of the vajra.
9. Repeat the samaya after the teacher (a set of vows or precepts given to initiates of an esoteric Vajrayana Buddhist order as part of the empowerment or initiation ceremony that creates a bond between the guru and disciple).
10. Receive the dharma pills/drops (the sacred water from the vase).


Then we all lined up to receive the blessing empowerment of Vajrasattva. When it was my turn, I kneeled and he blessed me by touching the top of my head with the vase and giving me a few drops of the sacred water into my palm. I sipped the water from my hand and rubbed it over my head and hair.
After that we recited the Vajrasattva mantra. It was important not to miss any words of the mantra.



*Individual Tibetan Buddhist practitioners make a symbolic mandala offering of rice or other grain as part of the preliminary Vajrayana practices or Ngöndro. A round 3-tiered metal plate [triya] is used for this purpose.


Drupon Sangyas told us that this was something he did every morning. He used about 8 kilos of rice.


"Doing this will purify your body, mind and speech," he said.


You need:
1. About 3 jars of white rice
2. Small container (a vase) of saffron water
3. A clean metal mandala plate (triya)
4. Optional jewels placed inside
5. A cloth or a long and large apron
6. Small plate or container for old rice



1. Wash hands before you begin your session.
2. Pick up the mandala in the left hand. Scoop up a handful of rice in the right
hand and make a fist. Using the pulse point of the right wrist, clean the mandala plate (going clockwise) as you recite the Vajrasattva.
3. At sarwa siddhi change direction and wipe counter-clockwise. At the end of the mantra, put the rice down on the cloth.
4. Dip the ring finger of the right hand in saffron water. Sprinkle a little water onto the mandala plate and then press the fingertip in a wide circle clockwise. This represents the moisture of bodhicitta. As soon as it touches the plate, the mandala becomes a wide and spacious golden ground with plains and ocean.
5. Drop rice along the mandala rim going counter-clockwise to represent the ring of iron mountains.
6. Place a pile of rice in the center of the mandala plate for Mount Meru. Add the 3rd ring.
7. Place a pile of rice at each direction, starting from your left side in front of you and recite the Vajrasattva as you do this.
8. Repeat the same with the 4th ring.
9. As you say this mantra, slightly rotate the mandala clockwise once horizontally as an offering mudra.
10. Then place the mandala plate down on the cloth, letting the rice spill off.
11. Pick up any rice spilled beyond your cloth and offer outside.
12. Take your mala in your left hand and count. Put your palms together like when you are praying and then bow down (prostrations).
13. Gather all that rice and put it around the vase. Recite the mantra again (repeat it for as long as you can - this will guarantee purity of your body and mind).
14. After you have begun your mandala practice, you will need to replenish or freshen the rice each day. Spread the cloth with the rice on your lap.
Remove a handful of rice, pick out any jewels, and place this old rice in the small plate or container for disposal outside in a clean place (a river is ideal). Add in a handful of fresh, new rice from the reserve jar to replenish the mandala rice.


Drupon Sangyas said, "In the ancient times they did this offering with stone plates. Their hands were bleeding after a while.
When you do this you must be aware of the fact that you are holding the universe in your hands so it is very important to have a pure mind."


*Important side note: These diary entries do not reflect every word the teacher said, and there may be some mistakes or misunderstandings, for which I am sorry and accept responsibility. In a few instances, I have interjected my own interpretation or explanation.

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