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Vajrasattva sadhana

Vajrasattva sadhana

Thangka image of Vajrasattva.
Vajrasattva helps us turn suffering into purification and virtue.

Vajrasattva guided medtiation (download)

The power of reliance: Taking refuge and generating the altruistic intention

Visualize about four inches above your head an open white lotus upon which is a moon disc. Vajrasattva is seated upon this. His body is made of white light and adorned with beautiful ornaments and clothes of celestial silk. His two hands are crossed at his heart; the right holds a vajra, the left holds a bell. At his heart is a moon disc with the seed syllable HUM at its center and the letters of Vajrasattva’s hundred-syllable mantra standing clockwise around its edge.

Holding this visualization clearly in your mind, contemplate and recite three times:

I take refuge in the Three Jewels. I will liberate all sentient beings and lead them to enlightenment. Thus, I perfectly generate the mind dedicated to attaining enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings.

The power of regret

Spend some time reviewing harmful physical, verbal, and mental actions you have done, both those you can remember and those you created in previous lives but cannot recall. Generate deep regret for having done these. Have a strong wish to be free from their suffering results and to avoid causing harm to others and yourself in the future.

Seeing Vajrasattva as a combination of the wisdom and compassion of all the Buddhas and as your own wisdom and compassion in fully developed form, make this request:

O Bhagavan Vajrasattva, please clear away all negative karma and obscurations of myself and all living beings and purify all degenerated and broken commitments.

The power of remedial action

From the HUM at Vajrasattva’s heart, light radiates in all directions, requesting the Buddhas to bestow their blessings. They accept the request and send white rays of light and nectar, the essence of which is the knowledge of their body, speech and mind. The light and nectar absorb into the HUM and the letters of the mantra at Vajrasattva’s heart. They then fill his whole body completely, enhancing the magnificence of his appearance and increasing the brilliance of the mantra.

While reciting the mantra, visualize that white rays of light and nectar stream continuously from the HUM and mantra at Vajrasattva’s heart. They flow down through the crown of your head and fill every cell of your body and mind with infinite bliss. Recite the mantra at least 21 times, and more if possible:

om vajrasattva samaya manu palaya/ vajrasattva deno patita/ dido may bhawa/ suto kayo may bhawa/ supo kayo may bhawa/ anu rakto may bhawa/ sarwa siddhi mempar yatsa/ sarwa karma su tsa may/ tsitam shriyam kuru hum/ ha ha ha ha ho/ bhagawan/ sarwa tatagata/ vajra ma may mu tsa/ vajra bhawa maha samaya sattva/ ah hum pey

If you have not yet memorized the long mantra, or if you are pressed for time, you may recite the short mantra:

om vajrasattva hum

While reciting either of the mantras, continue to visualize the flow of light and nectar, and perform the following four visualizations alternately:1

  • Purification of body. Your afflictions and negativities in general, and particularly those of the body, take the form of black ink. Sickness takes the form of pus and blood and afflictions caused by spirits appear in the form of scorpions, snakes, frogs and crabs. Flushed out by the light and nectar, they all leave your body through the lower openings, like filthy liquid flowing from a drain-pipe. Feel completely empty of these problems and negativities; they no longer exist anywhere.
  • Purification of speech. Your afflictions and the imprints of negativities of speech take the form of liquid tar. The light and nectar fill your body as water fills a dirty glass: the negativities, like the dirt, rise to the top and flow out though the upper openings of your body – your eyes, ears, mouth, nose, etc. Feel completely empty of these problems: they are gone forever.
  • Purification of mind. Your afflictions and the imprints of mental negativities appear as darkness at your heart. When struck by the forceful stream of light and nectar, the darkness instantly vanishes. It is like turning a light on in a room: the darkness does not go anywhere, it simply ceases to exist. Feel that you are completely empty of all of these problems: they are non-existent.
  • Simultaneous purification. Do the three above visualizations simultaneously. This sweeps away the subtle obscurations that prevent you from seeing correctly all that exists. Feel completely free of these obscurations.

The power of determination

Address Vajrasattva:

Through ignorance and delusion I have broken and degenerated my commitments. O spiritual master be my protector and refuge. Lord, Holder of the Vajra, endowed with great compassion, in you, the foremost of beings, I take refuge.

Then make the following determination:

I shall do my best not to do these destructive actions again in the future.

Vajrasattva is extremely pleased and says, “My spiritual child of the essence, all your negativities, obscurations and degenerated vows have now been completely purified.”

With delight, Vajrasattva melts into light and dissolves into you. Your body, speech and mind become inseparably one with Vajrasattva’s holy body, speech and mind. Concentrate on this.


Due to this merit may we soon
Attain the awakened state of Vajrasattva,
That we may be able to liberate
All sentient beings from their sufferings.

May the precious bodhi mind
Not yet born arise and grow.
May that born have no decline,
But increase forever more.

Prostrations to Vajrasattva

Visualize Vajrasattva in front of you, and all sentient beings in human form surrounding you. With the exception of the power of remedial action, do the other three opponent powers as above.

The power of remedial action

While prostrating, recite the Vajrasattva mantra continuously. Visualize from a white syllable OM at Vajrasattva’s brow the mantra pours forth in a stream of white letters of light. This sinks into your brow, purifying obscurations of your body.

At the same time, from a red syllable AH at Vajrasattva’s throat comes the mantra as a stream of red letters of light, which sinks into your throat and purifies obscurations of your speech. From a blue syllable HUM at Vajrasattva’s heart comes the mantra as a stream of blue letters of light, and this sinks into your heart, purifying obscurations of your mind.

Imagine all sentient beings around you are prostrating with you and purifying their own body, speech and mind. After each prostration, a replica of Vajrasattva absorbs into you and into each sentient being. Think that your body, speech and mind have been completely purified and are one with Vajrasattva’s holy body, speech and mind.

At the end, do the power of the promise as above. Then Vajrasattva dissolves into you and into all sentient beings, and dedicate the positive potential.

Explanation of the mantra

Om: the qualities of the Buddha’s holy body, speech and mind; all that is auspicious and of great value.

Vajrasattva: (Tibetan: Dorje Sempa) the being who has the wisdom of inseparable bliss and emptiness.

Samaya: a pledge that cannot be transgressed.

Manupalaya: lead me along the path you took to enlightenment.

Vajrasattva deno patita: make me abide closer to Vajrasattva’s vajra holy mind.

Dido may bhawa: please grant me the ability to have a firm and stable realization of the ultimate nature of phenomena.

Suto kayo may bhawa: please have the nature of being extremely pleased with me.

Supo kayo may bhawa: may I be in the nature of well-developed great bliss.

Anu rakto may bhawa: please have the nature of the love that leads me to your state.

Sarwa siddhi mempar yatsa: please grant me all powerful attainments.

Sarwa karma sutsa may: please grant me all virtuous actions.

Tsitam shriyam kuru: please grant me your glorious qualities.

Hung: the vajra holy mind.

Ha ha ha ha ho: the five transcendental wisdoms.

Bhagawan: one who has destroyed every obscuration, attained all realizations, and has passed beyond suffering.

Sarwa Tatagata: all those who have gone into the realization of emptiness, knowing things just as they are.

Vajra: inseparable, indestructible.

Ma may mu tsa: do not abandon me.

Vajra bhawa: the nature of inseparability.

Mahasamaya sattva: the great being who has the pledge, the vajra holy mind.

Ah: the vajra holy speech.

Hum: the transcendental wisdom of great bliss.

Pey: clarifies the transcendental wisdom of inseparable bliss and emptiness and destroys the dualistic mind that obstructs that.

Summary of the meaning of the mantra

O great being whose holy mind is in the indestructible nature of all the Buddhas, having destroyed every obscuration, attained all realizations and passed beyond all suffering, the one gone to the realization of things just as they are, do not forsake me. Please make me closer to your vajra holy mind, and grant me the ability to realize the ultimate nature of phenomena. Please help me to realize great bliss. Lead me to your state, and grant me all powerful attainments. Please bestow upon me all virtuous actions and glorious qualities.

  1. If you are unable to do all four visualizations, visualize all the negativities and afflictions as darkness at your heart. Immeasurable, powerful rays of white light and nectar pour down from Vajrasattva’s heart, entering through your crown. Instantly, the darkness at your heart is dispelled. Concentrate on being filled with light and on the total absence and freedom from all negativities and afflictions. 

Venerable Thubten Chodron

Venerable Chodron emphasizes the practical application of Buddha’s teachings in our daily lives and is especially skilled at explaining them in ways easily understood and practiced by Westerners. She is well known for her warm, humorous, and lucid teachings. She was ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1977 by Kyabje Ling Rinpoche in Dharamsala, India, and in 1986 she received bhikshuni (full) ordination in Taiwan. Read her full bio.