Becoming Vajrasattva - Foreword
One Solution to All of Life’s Problems: The Vajrasattva Purifying Meditation
I would like to explain the great importance of the Vajrasattva meditation and recitation practice. Why, it is important even for people who believe
merely in the existence of this life alone!
All life’s success—including success in such ordinary things as family and friendship, business, health, wealth, and power—depends upon both purifying negative karmic obstacles and not creating more negative karma. How do we create negative karma? When we engage in the ten negativities out of selfishness and delusion. The deluded minds are those of ignorance, attachment, and anger; the ten negativities are the three of body—killing, stealing, and sexual misconduct—the four of speech—lying, slander, harsh speech, and gossip—and the three of mind—covetousness, ill will, and wrong views. According to the natural law of karma, if you hurt others, you hurt yourself.
It works the other way, too. If you want others to love you, you must first love others. If you help or benefit others, naturally they will help or benefit you. The cause and effect of karma is as simple as this. As for the Vajrasattva purification practice, which is more powerful than negative karma, it can prevent you from experiencing problems that negative karma would otherwise have brought. Thus the practice of purification is one of the most important solutions to problems, and is extremely necessary, even for people who believe there is only one life.
Unfortunately, such people’s hearts are usually not open to learning new things about the reality of life or the nature of phenomena—new philosophies, new subjects. They won’t even analyze new possibilities. All this prevents them from experiencing both temporal and ultimate happiness. If you don’t want relationship problems, business failures, illness, notoriety, or the criticism of others, the practice of Vajrasattva is extremely important.
When it comes to spiritual growth, the Vajrasattva purification practice is even more important. As Mañjushri advised Lama Tsongkhapa, “The way to actualize the path to enlightenment quickly is to do three things: practice purification and the accumulation of merit, make single-pointed requests to the guru, and train the mind in the path to enlightenment.” The practice of Vajrasattva is common to all four traditions of Tibetan Buddhism— Nyingma, Kagyu, Sakya, and Geluk—where it is used to purify obstacles, obscurations, negative karma, and illness. The root tantra Dorje Gyän (Vajra Ornament) states that if you are always unconscious and careless, even small negativities cause great damage to your body, speech, and mind, just as the venom of a poisonous snake will spread rapidly throughout your body, getting worse and worse every day, endangering your life.
The great enlightened being Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo said that if you have killed even a tiny insect and have not purified that negativity by the end of the day with a practice such as the Vajrasattva purification, the weight of that karma will have doubled by the next day. On the third day it will have doubled again, and by fifteen days will have become as heavy as the karma of killing a human being. By eighteen days it will have increased 131,072 times. So you can see, as the weeks and months and years go by, one tiny little negative karma will have multiplied over and over until it has become like a mountain the size of this earth. When death arrives, the karma will have become incredibly heavy.
Here I am talking about just one small negative karma, but every day we accumulate many, many negative karmas of body, speech, and mind. The weight of each tiny negative karma created each day multiplies over and over again, becoming unimaginably heavy. And there’s no question that every day, besides those small negative karmas, we also create many gross negativities. Thus we have accumulated many heavy negative karmas in this life, and in all our beginningless previous lives as well. If you contemplate the continuous multiplication of all these karmas it is unimaginably unimaginable!
The Dorje Gyän states that if you recite the hundred-syllable Vajrasattva mantra twenty-one times every day, negative karmas are prevented from multiplying. The great, sublime realized beings also explain that this is the way to purify whatever downfalls and transgressions you have accumulated. Furthermore, His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche, who is actually Heruka himself, has explained that if recited twenty-eight times each day, the short Vajrasattva mantra (om vajrasattva hum) has incredible purifying power. It not only has the power to prevent any negative karma created that day from multiplying, but it can also completely purify all negativities you have ever created—in that day, in that life, and even since your beginningless rebirths.
These are some of the incredible benefits of practicing the Vajrasattva recitation and meditation. Moreover, it is taught that if you recite the long Vajrasattva mantra one hundred thousand times you can purify even broken root vows of highest yoga tantra. Thus there’s no question that you can purify broken root pratimoksha (individual liberation) and bodhisattva vows through this technique.
Experienced meditators have advised that, in general, it is more important to put your everyday life’s effort into the practice of purification—this is the way to attain spiritual realizations. The Kadampa Geshe Dolpa said that if you practice purification and the accumulation of merit continuously and turn your mind to the path, lamrim realizations that you thought would take one hundred years to achieve will come to you in just seven. Such is the inspiring testimony of the highly experienced meditators who have attained the various levels of the path to enlightenment.
Lama Atisha used to say that there are an inconceivable number of doors to downfall for tantric practitioners who have taken highest yoga tantra initiations. For example, simply looking at an ordinary object such as a vase and seeing it as ordinary is a downfall. Just as a clean mandala left on the altar quickly gets covered in dust, so does your mental continuum collect piles of negativities in a very short time. However, don’t conclude from hearing this that taking secret mantra initiations must make it impossible to reach enlightenment. Lama Atisha said that it is only people who don’t know that secret mantra contains incredibly skillful means of purifying downfalls who think that way.
He said, “Just as one stone can scatter one hundred birds, there is the special skillful means called the practice of Vajrasattva.” What Lama Atisha was saying was that on the one hand, in just one minute, it is so easy to accumulate a torrential downpour of downfalls and negativities—for example, looking at an object as ordinary—but on the other, there is the skillful means of tantra, the practice of Vajrasattva. This one practice will purify the countless negativities of broken root and branch vows, and in this way you can develop your mind in the path to enlightenment.
Therefore, the practice of Vajrasattva is extremely important—both for those who accept the existence of reincarnation and karma and for those who do not. The Vajrasattva commentary in this book is an experiential instruction given by my guru, Lama Yeshe, who even to the ordinary view was a great yogi, and who took care of me like a father takes care of his only child. He gave me not only the necessities of life, such as food and clothing, but also guided me in the Dharma for more than thirty years.
Whoever studies this book and gets inspired to do the Vajrasattva practice and retreat is also being guided by Lama’s compassion: he is liberating you from many eons of negative karma, many inconceivable eons of suffering— in the lower realms and in the human and deva realms as well—and leading you to liberation and full enlightenment.
May whoever sees, touches, remembers, or even thinks or talks about this book never be born in the lower realms, receive only perfect human rebirths, meet a perfectly qualified Mahayana virtuous friend, practice Vajrasattva purification every day, and quickly achieve Guru Vajrasattva’s enlightened state. This is my wish.
Thank you very much.
How to cite this document:
© Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche, Becoming the Compassion Buddha (Wisdom Publications, 2004)