Teachings from the Mani Retreat
"Because we have met the Buddhadharma, and especially this method—the practice of the Compassion Buddha and recitation of his mantra—it is easy to purify negative karma and collect extensive merit and thus achieve enlightenment. We are unbelievable fortunate."
— Lama Zopa Rinpoche, from his invitation to join the retreat.
Before doing prostrations to the Thirty-five Buddhas, recollect impermanence and death, which is the nature of our life. Think very strongly that your death could happen at any time. Also generate a strong motivation of bodhicitta, even though you also generate a motivation of bodhicitta at the beginning of the sadhana.
Before the recitation of mantra, I want to emphasize that it is very important to again make your bodhicitta motivation very strong. Of course we can think in many different ways to effectively transform our mind into a motivation of bodhicitta, but one way to do it is to think in the following way.
“The numberless hell beings, from whom I receive all my past, present and future happiness, all realizations and enlightenment, are the most precious and most kind ones in my life—I must free them from all their suffering and its causes and bring them to Compassion Buddha’s enlightenment by myself alone.
“The numberless hungry ghosts, from whom I receive all my past, present and future happiness, all realizations and enlightenment, are the most precious and most kind ones in my life—I must free them from all their suffering and its causes and bring them to Compassion Buddha’s enlightenment by myself alone.
“The numberless animals, from whom I receive all my past, present and future happiness, all realizations and enlightenment, are the most precious and most kind ones in my life—I must free them from all their suffering and its causes and bring them to Compassion Buddha’s enlightenment by myself alone.
“The numberless human beings, from whom I receive all my past, present and future happiness, all realizations and enlightenment, are the most precious and most kind ones in my life—I must free them from all their suffering and its causes and bring them to Compassion Buddha’s enlightenment by myself alone.
“The numberless asuras, from whom I receive all my past, present and future happiness, all realizations and enlightenment, are the most precious and most kind ones in my life—I must free them from all their suffering and its causes and bring them to Compassion Buddha’s enlightenment by myself alone.
“The numberless suras, from whom I receive all my past, present and future happiness, all realizations and enlightenment, are the most precious and most kind ones in my life—I must free them from all their suffering and its causes and bring them to Compassion Buddha’s enlightenment by myself alone.
“The numberless intermediate state beings, from whom I receive all my past, present and future happiness, all realizations and enlightenment, are the most precious and most kind ones in my life—I must free them from all their suffering and its causes and bring them to Compassion Buddha’s enlightenment by myself alone.
Also, you can then specifically think, “Every single OM MANI PADME HUM mantra that I recite is for every hell being, every hungry ghost, every animal, every human being, every asura being, every sura being, every intermediate state being. Each OM MANI PADME HUM that I recite is for the benefit of every single one of my most precious, kind mother sentient beings.”
You can also dedicate each OM MANI PADME HUM you recite to the fulfillment of the holy wishes of the virtuous friend. You can dedicate each mantra for the holy wishes of the Compassion Buddha, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, to succeed immediately, especially His Holiness’s important wish for the Tibetan people to have complete freedom in their own country as quickly as possible. You can dedicate as well for the government of mainland China to invite His Holiness the Dalai Lama to give teachings to all the millions of Chinese people and for there to be total religious freedom in China.
In addition, through the generation of loving kindness and compassion, of the good heart, may all wars and killing, famine, disease and all the other undesirable things that are happening in this world stop right now.
If any of your family members or friends have passed away through cancer, AIDS and so forth, also remember them and dedicate for them to achieve as quickly as possible the ultimate happiness of full enlightenment.
During the recitation of mantra, you can do the visualizations as mentioned this morning. Those who have received a great initiation have many meditations they can practice. You can first concentrate on divine pride, then on clear appearance and then put these two together, focusing single-pointedly on the clear appearance of yourself as the deity, as Compassion Buddha, with the deity’s holy body. In the lower tantras, the particular term for this is the transcendental wisdom of non-dual profundity and clarity, whereas Highest Yoga Tantra has the transcendental wisdom of non-dual bliss and voidness.
Here, the transcendental wisdom of non-dual profundity and clarity means the mind focuses on the deity’s holy body, but at the same time understands that it does not have inherent existence. There is the awareness that what appears to be inherently existent is not true. While that one mind is focusing on the deity’s holy body, at the same time it has that understanding.
How to do this is described in some detail here in the text [pp. 98-99],3 and you can do this meditation while reciting OM MANI PADME HUM. In addition, you can meditate on bodhicitta, using either equalizing and exchanging self with others or the seven techniques of Mahayana cause and effect. While reciting OM MANI PADME HUM, you can reflect on the extensive sufferings of others by following the lam-rim outlines and visualize them being purified of those sufferings. You can also meditate on equalizing and exchanging self with others, then practice tong-len, taking the sufferings of other sentient being upon yourself and giving them your own body, happiness and merits.
Very new people, who haven’t previously attended lam-rim teachings, can visualize nectar beams being emitted from the front-generated Compassion Buddha, the embodiment of universal compassion. The compassion of all the buddhas, which embraces and never gives up you or any other sentient being, manifested in this form of thousand-arm, thousand-eyed Compassion Buddha to guide you and bring you all the different levels of happiness up to enlightenment. Like sunbeams, nectar beams—or just light—are emitted from Compassion Buddha and totally illuminate you, just as a light illuminates a dark room. And just as darkness is dispelled when you switch on a light, all your problems and all the causes of your problems— your negative emotional thoughts and negative imprints— are completely dispelled, completely purified. While you are doing this visualization, recite OM MANI PADME HUM.
If you have cancer, AIDS, or another sickness or any other problem, it is incidentally purified. Mental and physical problems are symptoms, or manifestations, of the negative karmas within you, and you have purified the causes of them, your negative emotional thoughts and the negative imprints left by them on your mental continuum. At the same time as you visualize doing this, chant OM MANI PADME HUM. Recite one or more malas as you purify yourself, then one mala as you purify your family members, then your friends, strangers, and especially your enemies.
Even if you don’t know the lam-rim, even if you don’t know in depth about the different levels of suffering that sentient beings experience, you can see that the world is full of problems. Those who haven’t studied lam-rim can think of all the problems in the world. They can think of all the different sicknesses, of all the heavy sicknesses such as cancer, AIDS and multiple sclerosis, which have no cure or are difficult to cure. They can think of famine, wars and all the other problems that are happening right now. Some people, for example, are experiencing such heavy, suffocating relationship problems that they are mentally in hell.
Beams are emitted from Compassion Buddha to purify and liberate all those beings from all the sicknesses, famines, relationship problems, and the many other problems that they are experiencing. There are so many problems that you can think about. All those sentient beings are purified and liberated from all those problems and the causes of those problems: the negative emotional thoughts of anger, attachment and self-cherishing and the negative imprints left by them on the mind. All of them are completely purified.
During the next part of the recitation, visualize that you receive all the qualities of the Compassion Buddha within you, especially the infinite compassion that embraces all sentient beings. You also receive omniscient mind, which can directly see the minds of all sentient beings and all the methods to bring them from happiness to happiness to enlightenment, as well as the perfect power to be able to reveal all these methods to them. You receive within you all the blessings of the infinite qualities of Compassion Buddha’s holy body, holy speech and holy mind. After that, recite some more malas as you visualize that others also receive the blessings of the infinite qualities of Compassion Buddha.
When the group starts the mantra recitation, it might also be better and more helpful for the new people if it is done slowly. [[[Rinpoche]] chants OM MANI PADME HUM slowly, then moderately quickly, then very quickly.]
While you are reciting the mantra, check your motivation from time to time to see whether it is staying on the right track. If your motivation is not on the right track, if it is not a virtuous motivation but has become one of self-cherishing, attachment and so forth, transform it into the thought of benefiting other sentient beings. Remember, “What I am doing is for sentient beings,” and transform it into a motivation of bodhicitta.
I am not sure exactly when Venerable Dechen, one of the strict retreaters at Shine Land, died—I think it was two or three weeks ago. She was a very strong practitioner who did a lot of practice, especially the preliminary practices. She suddenly passed away. They couldn’t find the cause of her death, but I think that it was nothing that disturbed her mind.
“ Due to the merits of the three times collected by me and those collected by others, may all those whose names have been mentioned h e re today, as well as all others who have passed away, be born in a p u re land of Buddha where they can immediately become enlightened, or receive a perfect human re birth in all their future lives, meet perfectly qualified Mahayana teachers, and by meeting the Mahayana teachings, achieve enlightenment as quickly as possible.
“May those who are now experiencing unimaginable suffering in the lower realms—where the suffering is so unimaginable that even a second of it is like eons of suffering—immediately be liberated fro m those sufferings and reincarnate in a pure land where they can quickly become enlightened. Or, by receiving a perfect human rebirth, may they meet the complete teachings of the Buddha, the Tibetan Mahayana teachings, and especially Lama Tsongkhapa’s teachings, and be guided by a perfectly qualified Mahayana virtuous friend.”
We can dedicate the next prayer to all the sentient beings who are sick or who have passed away, and especially to all those whose names were mentioned here. Recite “Prayer for Spontaneous Bliss” for all of them.
These mani pills, which come from Dharamsala, have been blessed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Even though His Holiness may not have attended the blessing of the pills every day, His Holiness did come to some of the sessions and recited many prayers.
It is very good if the person who blesses pills is a bodhisattva or a yogi with actual realization of clear light and the illusory body. If a yogi with these realizations of the Highest Yoga Tantra path does the blessing, substances can be transformed and become extremely powerful. Here it is not just that. These pills have been blessed with many prayers by the actual Buddha of Compassion. In addition, many meditators who come down from the mountains, monks and lay people chant OM MANI PADME HUMs to bless these pills.
Mani pills usually multiply, though I don’t know how this would be explained scientifically.
One Sera-je monk, the resident teacher at a Dharma center in Germany, went to Ladakh and organized the recitation of 100 million OM MANI PADME HUMs. They made mani pills during the retreat, and the pills multiplied. The people who had gathered there then developed so much devotion that they themselves started organizing the recitation of 100 million OM MANI PADME HUMs in their own areas . Actually seeing the pills multiply gave them so much faith and inspiration that when they went back to their own homes, they started retreats to recite 100 million OM MANI PADME HUMs .
There are different types of pills. The pills to develop wisdom are blessed with the meditation-recitation of Manjushri or other deities; due to dependent arising, taking the pills helps to develop wisdom. There are also long-life pills, which are blessed by hooking the essence of the holy body, holy speech and holy mind of those who have achieved the realization of immortality. Taking long-life pills is a condition that helps to prolong life. There are also pills for purification, which are blessed with the meditation-recitation of deities for purifying negative karma, such as Mitukpa (Immovable Buddha). It seems there is also a Mitukpa practice to make pills, which you then take for purification.
Here, the mani pills help you develop compassion.
I have some suggestions to make. When we do the Thirty-five Buddhas practice, as well as doing prostrations to each Buddha we should specifically recite the name of each Buddha. I strongly suggest that if you know the names by heart you must recite them. If you haven’t memorized the names, what can be done? But if you have memorized the names, you must recite them. If only one person recites the names, only that person is purified. Reciting even the very first name, that of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, purifies 80,000 eons of negative karma. Of course, listening to the recitation does plant seeds of enlightenment; but if you yourself don’t actually recite the names at all, you don’t purify all those many negative karmas. Therefore, if only one person recites and the rest don’t recite, only that person gets purified.
We are doing prostrations to the Thirty-five Buddhas, but the main point is actually for you yourself to use your lips to recite so that all those many eons of negative karma are purified. I gave the example of the first name; in a similar way, by reciting each of the names once, you purify so many eons of negative karma. I’m not sure, but I think at different times here I have gone through the benefits of reciting the names of each of the Thirty-five Buddhas, explaining how many eons of different negative karmas are purified with each one.
I remember that when we were doing the Most Secret Hayagriva retreat at Vajrapani Institute, I asked everybody to memorize the names of the Thirty-five Buddhas during the retreat. I told everybody that by the time the retreat had finished they at least had to know all the names by heart. I don’t think everybody tried, but some people definitely memorized the names during that time.
We spend our whole life neglecting all these unbelievably precious Mahayana practices and teachings, methods that are like atomic bombs in purifying all the heavy negative karmas we have collected during beginningless rebirths up to now, and then we die. In so many years, you have never memorized even the names of the Thirty-five Buddhas, and you will die without having memorized them. If you haven’t memorized the names, you cannot recite the names while you are doing the prostrations, unless you use a taperecorder to guide you, unless you take refuge in a tape-recorder. You have to put a tape-recorder as the umze, the chant-leader. That is very sad—very bad and very sad. Not to have memorized the names of the Thirty-five Buddhas after so many years is terrible; it’s extremely lazy.
Of course, you need to see the benefit of doing the practice. Reciting well the prayer with the names of the Thirty-five Buddhas has the power to purify the five uninterrupted negative karmas, which are very heavy negative karmas. You don’t have to experience the results of other negative karmas immediately; they can be interrupted by other lives, and then be experienced after one life or after many hundreds of lifetimes. But these five uninterrupted negative karmas (killing one’s father, one’s mother or an arhat, causing blood to flow from a Buddha and causing disunity among the Sangha) immediately, without the interruption of another life, cause one to reincarnate in the Unbearable Suffering State, the eighth hot hell, which has the heaviest suffering among all the hell realms. These heavy negative karmas are completely purified by reciting the Thirty-five Buddhas’ practice well just once.
This is what Denma Lochö Rinpoche explained. I was wondering why there is no mention in Lama Tsongkhapa’s life-story of his having done hundreds of thousands of prostrations to Vajrasattva, even though Vajrasattva is a very common practice in all four traditions; there is only mention of his doing many hundreds of thousands of prostrations with the Thirty-five Buddhas’ names. When I asked Denma Lochö Rinpoche, this is what Rinpoche answered. There must be a special reason why Lama Tsongkhapa did so many prostrations to the Thirty-five Buddhas. And in the Gelugpa tradition, all the lineage lamas of lam-rim have done many hundreds or thousands of prostrations every day while reciting the names of the Thirty-five Buddhas.
This practice is extremely important. It is what we need. Even if we are going to live for a hundred years, the immediate thing we need to do is to purify our negative karma. Even if we have only five minutes left before we die, the immediate solution is to purify our negative karma, because it is our negative karma that causes us trouble, that causes a heavy death, and all the sufferings after death. Even in the future life when we’re born as a human being, our life will still be filled only with problems. We will be born as a human being, but we will spend our life experiencing sicknesses and many other problems, one after another. We won’t be able to practice Dharma. The immediate solution, not only for our temporary happiness but especially for our ultimate happiness, is to purify our negative karma.
Of course there is an umze, a person who leads the prayer, but those who know the names by heart must recite them, so that by reciting each name you purify many eons of the different negative karmas you have collected. You will then have great success, great profit. Also, with your speech you will collect good karma, or merit. Otherwise, even though you are collecting merit with your body, you will be wasting an incredible opportunity to collect merit with your speech. By reciting the names of the Thirty - five Buddhas, you will collect so much merit and accomplish unbelievable purification.
Also, while it is very nice to have a space between the names of the Buddhas, and I understand that it gives you the chance to recite the name as you are prostrating to that Buddha, my suggestion is that you just keep on reciting nonstop. Keeping a space between the names gives you more time to purify as you are reciting the names of the Thirty - five Buddhas more times, but I suggest that you just go straight through the prayer without repeating the names and without a break between the names. Of course, when you do a certain number of prostrations, such as sets of a hundred prostrations, you can then repeat the same name over and over during each prostration.
By reciting Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s name once, you purify 80,000 eons of negative karma. If you recite the name three times, 240,000 eons of negative karma will be purified—that is unbelievable! We don’t want the pain of a headache or toothache—let alone cancer—for one hour, or even one minute. The thought of purifying the suffering of 80,000 eons or 240,000 eons of toothache or cancer is very exciting. It is unimaginable. Each of the Thirty-five Buddhas’ names is a wish-granting jewel that can liberate you from so much suffering and causes of suffering.
When blessing the vase [p. 133], even though the text says to recite the mantra 101 times, since we are having difficulty finishing the number of mantras, you don’t need to recite that many. You can recite it just ten or fifteen times.
It would be good to have offerings of the seven royal signs, or king’s reign, which are in the mandala offering; the eight auspicious signs; the eight substances and so forth around the mandala house. The idea is to have elaborate offerings.
According to some high lamas in Mongolia (or maybe in Amdo), there are also offerings of jewels and medicines in separate containers. The offering of medicine is for you and other sentient beings not to experience sickness. It is similar to when you fill a statue. In the throne of the statue, you put weapons for protection, medicines to guard against sicknesses, and food in the form of grain so that you do not experience famine. It is similar here. In one container you have five different grains, in another many jewels, in another medicine, and in another the five essences. I don’t remember now what the five essences are—I will check. It would be good to have those offerings, and you can also have them during nyung-näs. In separate containers you have five medicines, five grains, five jewels, five scented smells and five essences.
There is a verse for offering all these five sets and dedicating to achieve Buddha’s five kayas and five wisdoms. I think I have translated the verse before, but I will translate it again. There is also extra merit in making these offerings.
Also, in the offering of a vase [p. 126] that is done before the mandala offering and the praise, you pour water from the vase to purify the sentient beings of the six realms. The title says “offering a vase,” but it is not just offering a vase. You pour just a drop of water out and visualize that the negative karma and suffering of the sentient beings of the six realms have been purified. It can be an offering of a vase, but the main point is to purify sentient beings’ karma and delusions.
You can make offerings of cymbals and drums at those places where cymbals are normally played and also in the section of the seven limbs where the sadhana talks about “holy flowers and garlands, cymbals and ointments…” [p. 65]. At that time you should also play music. That is what is normally done.
After the prostrations, after looking at the three circles as empty, it is good to then dedicate the merits by sealing them with emptiness. Even though a dedication was done earlier, one might not have thought about its meaning. Just because the words have been recited doesn’t mean the dedication has been done. Since one has to think about the meaning, dedicating again will be very helpful.
Look at everything—the creator, the action and the negative karma that is created—as empty, and with the continuation of that awareness, dedicate the merits. Even though the words you say are simply “Due to the merits of the three times collected by me and by others, may I achieve Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s enlightenment and lead all sentient beings to that enlightenment by myself alone,” while saying them you should simultaneously have the awareness that all those things are empty. When you say those words, accompany them with the thought that all those things are empty. Whether or not you use the extra words to say that all those things are empty, you should have the awareness of emptiness while you are reciting the prayer of dedication. The awareness that they are empty should be present.
Right after you have sealed the three circles of emptiness, dedicate the merits to achieve enlightenment for sentient beings. While you are dedicating, the idea is to continue the understanding that they are empty.
Also, at the end of the sadhana where there is the verse “ge-wa diyi…” [p. 166], you could do it in this way: “Due to all the merits of the three times collected by me and the merits of the three times collected by others, which are merely labeled, or which are merely imputed by the mind…” (When you think about this precisely, those merits that appear to be something real from their own side— or as Tsapel mentioned, “established from their own side”—are not there. It destroys the object of ignorance, the object that ignorance holds on to.) “…may the merely labeled I…” (When you say “merely labeled I” you should understand that there is no I that exists from its own side. That I that appears to exist from its own side becomes totally non-existent. It is supposed to be like that. It is not that there is a meditator-I and that that meditator-I is looking at a certain object, another I, and that I is what doesn’t exist. That is wrong. The meditator-I itself is nowhere; it is totally non-existent. Not even a small part of that I that is not merely labeled by the mind exists.) “…achieve Buddha’s (or Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s) enlightenment, (here, “Buddha’s” enlightenment means the Thirty five Buddhas’ enlightenment,) which is merely labeled by the mind, and lead all sentient beings, who are merely labeled by the mind, to that enlightenment, which is merely labeled by the mind, by myself alone, who is also merely labeled by the mind.”
If dedicated for enlightenment, merits become inexhaustible. As you have heard during the lam-rim teachings or during the Jorchö (preparatory practices) commentary, when you dedicate even a small merit—such as having given one grain of rice to one ant—to achieve enlightenment, that merit becomes inexhaustible. You enjoy the result of having given that charity up to enlightenment. You enjoy the result of all the temporary happiness while you are in samsara, as well as all the realizations of the whole path to enlightenment and the infinite qualities of Buddha’s holy body, holy speech and holy mind. And even after your enlightenment, you enjoy the result of liberating numberless sentient beings and bringing them to enlightenment. So, you enjoy the result, or benefit, of that merit even after you achieve enlightenment. You continuously receive the benefit or use the benefit to liberate numberless sentient beings and bring them to enlightenment.
However, if you don’t seal the dedication of merit with emptiness, the merit is weakened and can be destroyed if heresy or anger arises afterwards. Here the meaning of “destroyed” is not that you make the merit completely nonexistent, as if completely burned. You cannot do that. But if heresy or anger arises, the effect it has is to weaken the merit. Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo explained in his advice to someone who had asked a question about dedication, that if, for example, you collect merit with a motivation of bodhicitta and also dedicate it to achieve enlightenment, it’s like a huge mountain; however, if you dedicate the merits to achieve enlightenment but without sealing with emptiness, the merits can be destroyed, which means they become weaker or lessened. If there is a huge mountain, even though trucks transport many stones away from that mountain, there is still a mountain left; it’s not the same as before, but still a mountain is there. It is like that with the merit. There is so much merit that it isn’t completely destroyed, but it does become smaller if you don’t dedicate the merits by sealing with emptiness. Generating heresy or anger weakens or lessens them. This implies that generating heresy or anger can destroy merits that are not dedicated to achieving enlightenment.
Therefore, sealing with emptiness becomes a very important practice, and this is the reason that at the end of the teachings I often dedicate the merits by applying the words of emptiness to each phenomenon. Even if one can’t meditate, hearing the words of emptiness at least plants the seed to realize emptiness sooner or later. Even if one can’t meditate precisely on emptiness, even reciting and just trying to think about the words still harms the ego; it still harms the ignorance that is the root of samsara. It becomes a preparation for eliminating that ignorance.
The way of guiding meditation is generally excellent, but I think that you could do the front generation faster. Just read straight through it, as it will give more time for recitation of mantra. Generally, though, the way of guiding meditation is perfect—it’s the way it should be done.
PRAYER OF ABIDING IN THE RETREAT We should change the title “Prayer of the Fasting Ceremony” [p. 171]. It is probably in the translation in the book, but it is wrong. If you translate nyung-nä as fasting, it sounds as if the whole practice is simply fasting. Nyung-nä is not only fasting, though fasting is a part of the practice. Nyung-nä means “abiding in the retreat”: nyung means “retreat” and nä means “abiding.” We are abiding away from those activities that create negative karma.
In a nyung-nä, there is abiding in the retreat of the body, one part of which is fasting. But even the abiding in the retreat of the body is not just fasting. By visualizing your own body as the deity’s holy body, you are also abiding in the retreat of the body. By visualizing the pure appearance of the deity’s holy body, you are abiding in the retreat away from the ordinary, impure appearance of the body. And there are also other practices. Even the body abiding in the retreat is not just fasting.
There are also abiding in the retreat of the speech and abiding in the retreat of the mind, so how are you going to apply fasting to the speech or to the mind? That translation of nyung-nä is narrow and wrong; it should be changed to “abiding in the retreat.”
At the end of the nyung-nä text there is an explanation of some of the benefits of reciting Compassion Buddha’s mantra, but otherwise not much of all the extensive benefits has been translated into English.
This is such a wonderful time, especially doing practice to develop compassion and bodhicitta. Without compassion you can’t have the realization of bodhicitta, you can’t enter the Mahayana path, you can’t achieve enlightenment, you can’t achieve the infinite qualities of the holy body, holy speech and holy mind of Buddha. Without great compassion you can’t do perfect work for sentient beings, bringing them to enlightenment. I mentioned this the other night when I arrived, but maybe it was difficult to hear so late at night….
Those who can make the time should come to the retreat. Even if you cannot come for all three months, you should come for some weeks—or at least for one week. If you do not give yourself the time, the freedom, to do this, it is very poor, very sad. Of course, it would be best to come for the whole time, until the end of the retreat, but if you cannot do that, while you can give yourself the time and the freedom, you should come for one month or for a minimum of one week. You should attempt to do this. If you have a family, of course it’s not possible for all the family members, the whole assembly of parents and children, to come for the Mani Retreat, but maybe you could take turns. Do whatever you can, whatever days you can do. Give yourself the time to come again and again. Even if you cannot do one week straight, come again and again. Do at least one day, then come another day, then another day. At least come quite often in this way.
We should especially think of death. When the thought of death comes, when we remember death, there’s nothing else that makes sense; everything else is total nonsense. When we think of death, so much of what we do in life doesn’t make sense; it’s all just nonsense. The only thing that makes sense is Dharma practice. Only Dharma will benefit us at the time of death and after death. The only thing that we can carry with us and can enjoy in our future life is Dharma—nothing else.
This practice of the meditation-recitation of the Buddha of Compassion will especially benefit us. Reciting OM MANI PADME HUM has merit as limitless as the sky. Even Buddha can never finish explaining the unbelievable purification and collection of extensive merit brought by reciting OM MANI PADME HUM.
This is a special means to develop compassion. Intellectual study alone cannot bring you the realization of compassion and bodhicitta. With the intellectual understanding, you then have to purify your mind and collect extensive merit. On the basis of those preliminary practices, you then receive this special deity’s blessings by reciting OM MANI PADME HUM. It is through this that the realizations of great compassion and bodhicitta then come. Reciting OM MANI PADME HUM is one of the most powerful means of developing compassion and bodhicitta.
Doing specific meditation on the Buddha of Compassion and reciting the mantra are like soil and water, the conditions that together enable a seed to produce a sprout, or like the pieces that are all put together to enable a clock or watch to show time. The mind works in a similar way.
The preliminary practices and the meditation-recitation of Compassion Buddha persuade the Compassion Buddha’s holy mind. Purifying negative karmas, or obstacles, and collecting extensive merit enable us to receive the blessings of Compassion Buddha , and through these blessings we then receive realizations. And the benefits of compassion are as limitless as the sky. After hearing the lam-rim and having studied it and also other teachings, we can understand the benefits of compassion. Compassion has limitless benefits for you and for all other sentient beings.
And I would like to mention something to the Sangha. Because there was intensive study before, of course you need a break. However, unless the Sangha need to go out to give Dharma talks or things like that, they should be the main people here doing the retreat, reciting the 100 million OM MANI PADME HUMs. Apart from those kind of activities, it is not permitted; the Sangha must do the retreat. That is one point that I want to mention. The Sangha must be the main ones to take responsibility for this retreat of 100 million OM MANI PADME HUMs. Except for special activities like giving Dharma teachings, the Sangha are not permitted. The Sangha must continue the retreat.
The lay people should also do as much as possible to fulfill this practice. This is the first time such a retreat has been done in the FPMT. I don’t know whether other traditions such as the Kagyu or Nyingma have done such a retreat in the West, but this is the first time it has happened in the Gelugpa tradition. So, take responsibility for the retreat as much as possible.
At the end we will make an offering of this recitation to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, for all his holy wishes to succeed, especially his wish to spread Dharma and, in particular, for the freedom of Tibet. The retreat will also be dedicated for His Holiness to benefit all the people in mainland China by going there and, like the sun rising, bringing peace and happiness and spreading the Dharma. The retreat is not only for one’s own enlightenment, but also for all these other purposes. As I mentioned earlier today at the beginning of the mantra recitation, it is also for world peace.
So, I’m extremely happy with those who have helped in the Mani Retreat that is happening here. Is it “Mani Retreat” or “Money Retreat”? “Mani” or “Money”? Maybe we will get some Money Retreat by the way. We’re doing a Mani Retreat, but it will become a Money Retreat. Anyway, I’m just joking!
So, I think that’s all. Thank you. Thank you very much.
3 Page numbers refer to Nyung Nä: The Means of Achievement of the Eleven-Faced Great Compassionate One, Avalokiteshvara of the (Bhikshuni) Lakshmi Tradition, composed by Losang Kälsang Gyatso, the Seventh Dalai Lama, compiled and translated by Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche and George Churinoff. Wisdom Publications: Boston, 1995.