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Vajrasattva meditation and recitation

Image of Vajrasattva
Doing the Vajrasattva practice and reciting the l00 syllable mantra l00,000 times is said to purify the negativities if done properly, with all the factors complete.

Note: the wording in these prayers may be slightly different than in the sadhana you have, but the meaning is the same.

The Vajrasattva meditation and recitation is important because in order to have the realizations of the path, we have to make our mental continuums receptive and ripe for such realizations. Manjushri advised Lama Tsongkhapa that in order to have proper realizations of the high path, three factors must be complete:

  1. Requesting to the Guru inseparable from the meditational deity
  2. Purifying negativities and accumulating positive potential
  3. Practicing the visualization of the sadhana, which is the principal cause of having realizations

Lama Tsongkhapa did many purification practices and later realized the empty nature of phenomena. Although in reality he is the manifestation of Manjushri and so had realized emptiness before, Lama Tsongkhapa did purification practices to set an example for his followers. In that way, we will understand the importance of doing purification practices prior to the actual practice.

One Kadampa master said, “Because the nature of all functional things is impermanent, if someone engages in the practice of purification, accumulates positive potential, practices visualizing the celestial mansion, and does the sadhana with great effort, what may now seem impossible to achieve, like high realizations, will come about one day.”

In India there were many great past masters like Nagarjuna, the two jewels and the six ornaments. In Tibet there also were many highly realized beings. All of them have experienced these high realizations, whereas we have not. It cannot be that they are the only people who can have realizations and we cannot. The difference is that our continuum is still obscured by defilements, disturbing attitudes and karma.

There is no difference as far as the Buddha nature is concerned. Just as these great beings have Buddha nature, we also have both types of Buddha nature: the natural Buddha nature which is the base for achieving the Dharmakaya and the transformational Buddha nature which is the main cause for achieving the form body. These are within our mindstreams. The only difference between us and the highly realized beings is that our mental continuums is still obscured by defilements.

Therefore, the practice of Vajrasattva meditation and recitation is very important, as it purifies these obstacles. Unless we do purification practices to eliminate the negativities, our present store of negativities will continue to increase. It is like borrowing a huge sum of money: the interest keeps accumulating.

Doing the Vajrasattva practice and reciting the l00 syllable mantra l00,000 times is said to purify the negativities if done properly, with all the factors complete. This has been explained in the tantra Ornament of the Vajra Essence. If the recitation is done without all four factors present, we cannot purify the negativities completely. However, if the Vajrasattva meditation and recitation is undertaken properly, with the four opponents powers, and the mantra is recited 21 times a day, it is said to prevent the negativities from increasing. If we recite the mantra l00,000 times, it actually purifies the negativities. The four opponent powers are:

  1. The power of reliance
  2. The power of regret
  3. The power of the antidote
  4. The power of resolve

1. The power of reliance

There are two viewpoints regarding the power of reliance. Some lamas maintain that it refers to the object—be it a statue or a living person—in whose presence we disclose our negative actions. However, according to the tradition of the past great masters like the late Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, the power of reliance refers to taking refuge and generating the bodhicitta.

The reason for identifying these as the power of reliance is this: when a person falls on the ground, he/she has to get up by depending upon that very ground. In the same way, when we commit negative actions, they are directed either towards the Buddhas and holy objects, or towards sentient beings. Therefore, purification of those negativities is done in reliance upon the holy objects and sentient beings. Refuge relates to the former and bodhicitta to the latter.

To take refuge, visualize the objects of refuge at the level of your mid-brow, not too high and not too low. They are the distance of about an armspan from you. There, your root Guru instantly appears in the form of Buddha, who is surrounded by all the meditational deities, Buddhas, bodhisattvas and so forth. Their realizations and cessations appear in the aspect of scriptures beside them, with the marking cloth facing towards you. All of the scriptures resonate the sound of the Dharma.

Visualize yourself surrounded by all the beings of the six realms, either in their individual aspects or all of them in human aspect. In either case, they are undergoing the various sufferings of the six realms. Since this is a Mahayana practice of taking refuge, the three causes for Mahayana refuge should be complete:

  1. Dread of both your own and all others’ sufferings in samsara
  2. Strong conviction that the objects of refuge have the power to free you from these sufferings
  3. Strong compassion for all sentient beings, not being able to bear seeing them suffer

With these three causes for taking refuge complete in your mind, recite the refuge prayer in the sadhana. The first two lines of this prayer, “At all times I take refuge in the Buddhas, the Dharma and the Sangha” is like a summary of the refuge. “Buddhas” includes all the types of Buddhas, both those who are enjoyment bodies and emanation bodies according to the sutrayana, and the meditational deities like Guhasamaja, Yamantaka, Heruka and so on that are explained in the tantra. Take refuge in all these Buddhas by thinking, “You are the masters who can really show the path correctly, without any mistakes.”

“Dharma” refers to the verbal doctrine and to the actual Dharma which is the realizations and cessations in the mindstreams of the Arya beings. The Dharma refuge appears in the form of scriptures.

Sangha” refers to all of the Sangha mentioned in the sutrayana—the arya beings and arhats—and to all of the Sangha mentioned in the tantra, like the dakas, dakinis, heroes, heroines and so forth. They assist you by overcoming obstacles on your path and gathering the necessary conditions for your practice of the path.

“…in all of the Three Vehicles, in the dakinis of secret mantra yoga,” shows taking refuge in the Dharma. It refers to the three vehicles as explained in the sutrayana – the vehicles of the hearers, solitary realizers and bodhisattvas. “Secret mantra yoga” refers to all four classes of tantra. Here, “dakinis” refer not to the goddesses but to the tantras of the dakinis, that is, the mother tantras, of which Heruka is the chief one.

“…in the heroes, heroines and powerful goddesses, in the great beings, the bodhisattvas,” is taking refuge in the Sangha. Heroes are those such as Khandakapala. Heroines include Pracandi and others. Empowering goddesses are the partners of the four Dhyani Buddhas and Vajra Varahi. These are the Sangha according to the tantra. Sangha as mentioned in the sutrayana are the bodhisattvas who have attained the irreversible path.

“And above all, at all times I take refuge in my spiritual master,” refers to your own root Guru who is inseparable from the principal deity of the celestial mansion.

Understanding the different ways of relating to the Three Jewels, take refuge in them from the depth of your heart. Go for refuge in these noble objects while simultaneously encompassing all sentient beings in the field of your compassion. When you recite the refuge formula “I go for refuge to the Buddhas…” imagine that you are leading the chanting and that all sentient beings are going for refuge in the Three Jewels with you. This is the way of going for refuge in the causal objects of refuge.

The second type of taking refuge is to take refuge in the resultant refuge objects. This refers to the resultant state of Vajra Dhara that you are aspiring to achieve. Develop the strong aspiration to actualize this state. Think, “I shall achieve the state of Vajra Dhara.” Focusing upon your resultant state of Buddhahood, the purified aspect of your own mind, take refuge in that.

Then generate the altruistic attitude, the mind of enlightenment. To do this, focus upon the suffering of all the sentient beings around you. Think, “Whether or not I remember it, all these beings have been my mothers in my beginningless rebirths. Their kindness to me is boundless both when they were my mother and when they were not. If I think of myself alone and am unconcerned with the welfare of others, the Buddhas and bodhisattvas would be offended. The welfare of the sentient beings is the only thought the Buddhas and bodhisattvas have in their minds. So if I neglected sentient beings, it would not please the holy beings. From my own part, it would not be fair either. Since I have enjoyed the boundless kindness sentient beings have extended to me, it is my responsibility to repay this kindness. Therefore, the responsibility to free sentient beings from their sufferings actually falls upon me.”

Think that the majority of sentient beings do not meet the proper spiritual path and thus lack the right outlook in their actions. Not understanding what is to be avoided and what is to be adopted, they suffer in this cycle of existence without end. Some sentient beings are fortunate enough to meet the Dharma and some are even more fortunate to enter into the mandala, receive empowerments and so forth. But some of them are not fortunate enough to observe the vows and commitments, and then take rebirth in the vajra hell. Thinking in such a way, develop very strong compassion for each and every sentient being.

Generate loving kindness, the wish to place all sentient beings on the path leading toward non-abiding nirvana, the final state of enlightenment. Develop the special attitude, the determination “I shall bring about the great welfare of the sentient beings.”

Then cultivate the bodhicitta, thinking, “At present, I do not have the ability to act for the benefit of sentient beings as I wish to. Therefore, I shall attain enlightenment to be able to lead all sentient beings to the state of Heruka. To do this, I must practice all six perfections according to the sutrayana, and I must also observe the vows and commitments and practice the two stages of the tantrayana.” With such virtuous thoughts and mental preparation, recite the passage for taking refuge and generating bodhicitta.

To visualize Vajrasattva on your crown, first visualize just above your crown, but not touching it, a white PAM which is the nature of the wisdom of bliss and emptiness, the mind of your root Guru, Vajra Dhara. This PAM transforms into a white lotus, with 1,000 or 100,000 petals. Between the top of your head and the lotus, there is an intervening space of about a handspan.

At the center of the lotus, from a white AH which is the nature of the wisdom of bliss and emptiness comes a moon seat, like a crystal mandala base. Do not think the moon which is in the sky is on your head. It is a moon seat. On it is a HUM which is also the nature of the wisdom of bliss and emptiness. It transforms into a five-spoked white vajra, marked with a HUM at its hub. The vajra is one cubit high.

From the HUM at the hub of the vajra, light rays radiate in all directions, touch all the sentient beings, purify their negativities and place them in the state of Vajrasattva. Again, light rays radiate, making offerings to all the Buddhas and bodhisattvas. The rays draw forth their blessings and they absorb into the HUM.

By the force of absorbing rays and blessings, the white five-spoked vajra and the HUM at its hub transform into white Vajrasattva. He sits in the vajra posture and faces the same way as you. He is adorned with celestial garments and ornaments.

Although it is not explicitly stated in the sadhana, Vajrasattva is adorned with six mudras: the crown ornament which has a jewel, bangles, necklace, the elaborate Brahma thread, human ashes and earrings. This is the visualization of the commitment being.

Light rays now radiate from Vajrasattva’s heart and invite the wisdom beings which are identical to the deities you have visualized. Many of them are invited, and before they dissolve into the commitment beings, they merge into one. This one then dissolves through Vajrasattva’s crown and becomes non-dual with the commitment beings.

When the wisdom beings dissolve into the commitment beings, it is helpful if the field of positive potential (the objects of refuge) dissolve with them, through the crowns of the commitment beings. If not, you can do the dissolution of the field of positive potential earlier. When dissolving the field of positive potential along with the wisdom beings into the commitment beings, first dissolve the field of positive potential into the wisdom beings, and then the wisdom beings into the commitment beings.

As the wisdom beings dissolve into the commitment beings, say DZA HUM BAM HO. When you say DZA, the wisdom beings come above the crown of the commitment beings and face the same way as the commitment beings. With HUM, they enter into the commitment beings. With BAM, they merge, and with HO the merging is stabilized.

Again light rays emanate from Vajrasattva, inviting the empowering deities: the five Dhyani Buddhas, their partners and so forth. Request them to bestow the empowerment. They consent, giving the empowerment to Vajrasattva by pouring nectar down through his crown. This fills his body and the excess which spills out of his crown becomes the ornament of Akshobya.

At the heart of Guru Vajrasattva is a HUM on a moon seat. It is surrounded by the l00 syllable Heruka Vajrasattva mantra. Since Vajrasattva, the moon seat and the mantra syllables are all white in color, it may be difficult to visualize them clearly. Therefore, according to the tradition of the masters, to visualize them distinctly, you can visualize Vajrasattva white like a conch, the moon seat white like a crystal, and the mantra syllables white like silver.

Then request Guru Vajrasattva to purify the negative karma and obscurations of all sentient beings and purify all degenerated and broken commitments. Light rays radiate from his heart, touch you and the sentient beings and purify the negativities. These light rays re-absorb. Again light rays emanate, at the tips of which are offering goddesses who make offerings to all the Buddhas and bodhisattvas of the ten directions. If you have time, also perform the seven limb practice at this point.

The Buddhas and bodhisattvas are pleased, and light rays from Vajrasattva’s heart draw forth their inspirations, blessings and excellent qualities in the form of light rays. The light rays and blessings absorb into the HUM at Guru Vajrasattva’s heart. This causes nectar to flow from the mantra letters down through Vajrasattva’s body into you. These nectars flow through your crown, fill your entire body and purify the negativities.

2. The power of regret

The first of the four opponent powers, the power of reliance, is completed by taking refuge and generating the enlightened attitude. This was done before visualizing Vajrasattva.

The second power is regret. This is developing strong regret for all the non-virtuous actions you have committed. Reflect upon all the negative actions of body, speech and mind you have done since beginningless time.

Although you may think, “I have not really committed such grave non-virtuous actions,” remember that you have taken rebirth in cyclic existence since beginningless time, sometimes as a being in the lower realms. You have not always taken a human form with all the necessary conditions for Dharma practice. In all these rebirths in the lower realms, you have had many opportunities to indulge in negative actions, and there was hardly any opportunity to engage in virtue. For example, look at the way animals lead their life, the way they indulge in negative actions with such great readiness. By looking at animals’ behavior, you can infer you have committed many negative actions in the past when you were born as an animal.

But even when you took rebirth as a human being, if that rebirth was in a place where Dharma was not prevalent, then how easily and readily you could have engaged in non-virtuous actions without any moral restraint! You may have taken human rebirth many times in situations where you had no idea how to follow the law of cause and effect, how to restrain yourself from negative actions, how to accumulate favorable conditions for Dharma practice or how to accumulate virtuous actions.

Even if you ignore past lives and talk only about this present life, although you may outwardly think that you have not engaged in any grave negative actions, upon probing deeper, you will find that under the influence of emotional afflictions like hatred, attachment, close-mindedness and so forth, you have actually indulged in many negative actions. If these negative actions were to have form, the three realms would be too small to contain them.

No matter how small a negative action may be, if it is not neutralized by the force of purification, it can produce rebirth in the lower realms. Shantideva said, “If one has to take rebirth in a lower realm as a result of doing small negative actions, by the force of all the negative actions you have done in previous lives, there is hardly any chance for you to take rebirth in an upper rebirth, like that of a human being.”

If you probe deeper into your own accumulation of negative actions within this lifetime, you will surprise yourself and wonder, “How could I ever have done these negative actions? Was I crazy at that time?” You will be amazed at the quantity of negative actions you have done. You will discover that emotional afflictions like hatred, closed-mindedness, desire and others are generated in your mind so naturally, so spontaneously, hardly depending on any external circumstances. Under their influence, you do many negative actions. If you consider the non-virtuous actions accumulated so far, you will find there is no choice but to take rebirth in the lower realms.

If a practitioner with monastic vows transgresses the secondary vows, he/she takes rebirth in the reviving hell. If one transgresses a vow from the category of “individual confession,” one is reborn in other hells. If one commits one of the four defeats, one takes rebirth in the lowest hell realm.

Recollect all the negative actions you could have done during this lifetime. Though you may not be able to remember the negativities created in past lives, you can reflect upon them through reasoning and inference, thinking, “I must have done all these negative actions at some time when I was born in all the various realms of samsara.” By recollecting all these negative actions, cultivate a very strong sense of regret, just as someone who finds out he/she accidentally swallowed poison regrets it immediately.

Cultivation of a strong sense of regret can be induced by reflecting upon the consequences of these negative actions: the maturation result of rebirth in the lower realms, the result concordant with the causes, the habitual result, the environmental result. If you reflect upon these different effects that non- virtuous actions produce, then you will be able to develop strong fear of getting trapped in a lower rebirth, and you will be able to generate strong regret for having committed these negative actions. If a person has accidentally taken poison and then learns of its effects – that he/she could die – then he/she will develop strong fear and regret for having taken the poison. But if a person takes poison without knowing its effects, he/she would not regret it at all.

All of you here have taken certain vowsvows of individual liberation, bodhisattva vows, tantric vows – so you could have accumulated negativities by transgressing these vows and commitments. Also, recollect the ten non-virtuous actions of body, speech and mind you have done, and reflect that they bring rebirth in the lower realms. Reflecting upon all these negative actions, one Kadampa master said, “If we look deeper, we will find that the negative actions we have committed even when joking are strong enough to throw us into the lower realms. If that is so, we must have negative actions powerful enough to throw us into the lower realms for a long time.”

Recollect all these negative actions and develop strong regret. Having sincere regret is the second opponent power, the power of regret. If you have strong regret your purification will be more powerful. If you lacks this essential factor of regret, it is difficult to purify the negativities.

3. The power of the antidote

The lamrim quotes The Compendium of Trainings, listing six principal antidotes to negative actions: recitation of mantra, meditation on emptiness, prostration, making images of the Buddha, reciting Dharma texts and offering. Among these, the one employed in this purification practice is the recitation of the l00 syllable mantra of Heruka Vajrasattva and meditation on the deity.

The fourth power, that of resolving not to do these non-virtuous actions again in the future, will come after the recitation of the mantra.

To complete the power of the antidote, recite the mantra 21 times or more. The recitation is done in the form of making a request to Vajrasattva. If you cultivated strong divine identity at the beginning of the sadhana, at this point loosen or relax it a little bit. Retain the clarity of the appearance of the deity, but slightly relax the force of your divine identity.

The meaning of the mantra is:

Om = syllable of the vajra body (It is spelled A-U-M, which represent the body, speech and mind of the Buddhas.)

Vajra = indivisible nature, the inseparability of wisdom and bliss.

Sattva = the being who has the wisdom of inseparable bliss and emptiness.

Samaya manupalaya = sustain me by the commitment (protect my commitment)

Vajrasattva tveno patishta = O Vajrasattva, may I achieve you, may I become closer to you (cause me to be supported by you)

Dridho me bhava = may this achievement be stabilized (remain firmly with me)

Sutoshkyo me bhava = may your nature become pleased (may you be pleased with me)

Suposhkyo me bhava = may you make me into the nature of passion (may you be happy with me)

Anurakto me bhava = may you make me the victor (have affection for me)

Sarva siddhi me prayaccha = grant me all the powerful attainments

Sarva karma suchame = grant me all the activities (make all my actions good)

Cittam shriyam kuru = may your glory abide within my heart (make my mind most glorious)

Hum = (represents primordial awareness)

Ha ha ha ha ho = I shall delight in the powerful attainments and in all the activities (the five types of wisdom)

Bhagawan Sarwa Tatagata = calling out to all the Buddhas by name

Mame muncha = do not part from me (do not abandon me)

Vajra bhava = make me the one who can hold a vajra

Maha samaya sattva = call to Vajrasattva by saying, “O One with the great commitment.” The significance of calling out like this is to say, “Just as I have requested, may this request be granted.”

Ah = syllable of the vajra speech (shows the empty nature of all phenomena. The main function of Buddhas’ speech is to teach that phenomena lack inherent existence.)

Hum = (blissful state of Vajrasattva’s wisdom)

Phat = destroy all the delusions and sufferings.

When the meaning of these individual phrases are put together, they mean “O Vajrasattva, you have generated the mind to help all sentient beings and you engage in the activities for their welfare. In accordance with the pledge you have taken, when I do good actions always be pleased with me and regard me favorably. Should I uncontrollably do negative actions, please kindly understand and be patient with me.” Sometimes you do negative actions out of ignorance. By requesting Vajrasattva to be patient with you even in those circumstances, you become aware of the extreme compassion of the deity.

The request continues, “May I have firm realizations of the grounds and paths and all perfections of rebirth in the higher status. May I achieve all activities and powerful attainments in my mind, ultimately leading to the achievement of the glory of supreme enlightenment.” Reflecting upon the meaning of this mantra, recite it in the form of a request. The recitation of the l00 syllable mantra done with the appropriate visualization is the actual power of the antidote.

If you have close friends or relatives or people that you have to take care of, you can visualize them around the HUM at your heart. When purifying your negativities, visualize their negativities being purified at the same time. If you can manage, it is also good to visualize all sentient beings around the HUM at your heart and do the purification. If not, visualize them seated around you. I have seen a text which explains to visualize the sentient beings around you when purifying, but I have not seen a text saying that you can visualize them around the HUM. But the past masters have given this oral instruction.

While reciting the l00 syllable mantra, visualize nectars flowing from the mantra syllables at Vajrasattva’s heart, down through his body, through the moon seat and lotus, and down through your crown into you. When doing the purification of negativities by the nectars descending and flowing through your body, there are three types of visualizations that can be done:

  1. Expelling downward
  2. Expelling upward
  3. Expelling spontaneously

1. Expelling downward

Imagine the nectars and light rays descend from above through your body. They flow down and wash away all the negativities of your body and obscurations in the form of black, ink-like liquids that come out of the anus, the secret organ, and from the pores of your body. Illness in the form of blood, phlegm and pus and harmful spirits, and interfering forces in the form of frightening animals like scorpions and snakes come out from the orifices of the lower part of your body. When a volcano erupts, the lava washes away all the trees and things in that place. Likewise, the nectar forcefully washes away all negativities.

Visualize that the negativities, illnesses and spirit harms in these different aspects go under the earth. If you are doing this purification practice together with the practice of longevity, then visualize a yama under the ground, with his mouth gaping and wide open. All the negativities, illnesses and spirit offenses go into his mouth. He is very pleased and satiated. At the end, his mouth closes and is blocked by either a crossed vajra or a thousand-spoked wheel. Although all the negativities are purified during the visualization of expelling downward, think that chiefly the negativities of the body are being purged and washed away.

2. Expelling upward

Imagine the nectars and light rays descend from Vajrasattva into your body and fill you from the soles of your feet up. The nectars fill your entire body and all the negativities, diseases and spirit offenses come out of your sense faculties – your mouth, eyes, ears, nose etc. It is like pouring water into an empty bottle: any dirt on the bottom is carried upward and spills out the top. During the meditation of expelling upward, all the negativities, and chiefly those of speech are purified.

3. Expelling spontaneously

Visualize all the negativities, illnesses and spirit harms gather at your heart in the form of a black heap. When the nectars and light rays descend through your crown and strike that heap, it is like turning on a light in a dark room. Just as darkness is dispelled instantly when a light is turned on, the heap of negativities, illnesses and spirit harms instantly disappears when the nectar and light rays touch them. In this visualization, all negativities are purified, with special emphasis placed on the negativities of the mind.

Having done these three visualizations individually, at the end do them simultaneously. The negativities and so forth emerge from your anus, secret organ and come out of the entrances to the sense faculties at the same time as the heap of negativities at your heart is instantly dispelled. In this way, the three visualizations are performed together at the end and all the negativities of body, speech and mind, together with their imprints are purified.

If you do these three visualizations thinking that the first is for purifying negativities, illnesses and spirit harms of the body, the second those of the speech and the third those of the mind, then do all three visualizations. However, during one visualization, like that of expelling downward, if you imagine all your negativities of body, speech and mind are purified, then it is not necessary to perform all three visualizations during one session. It depends on how you meditate.

According to oral instructions, visualize the bodily negativities are purged during the visualization expelling downwards, the negativities of the speech while expelling upwards, the negativities of mind while expelling spontaneously. The negativities of body, speech and mind and their imprints are expelled by doing all three of the above visualization simultaneously.

If you meditate like this, then divide the 21 recitations of the mantra into groups of five each: five repetitions for expelling downward, five for expelling upward, five for expelling spontaneously and five for all three simultaneously. Recite the mantra once more to make 21. Another way is to count seven each for the first three visualizations to make 21, without doing the three visualizations simultaneously. There are different ways to do it. You can choose.

There are many visualizations that can be done during the Vajrasattva meditation and recitation. At the end of however many mantras you recite, develop the strong conviction, “I have actually purified all negativities.” It’s important to generate this conviction because having lingering doubts about whether the negativities have actually been purified is harmful.

If this purification practice is undertaken properly, with all the four opponents powers complete, then there is no reason why you should not be able to purify the negativities. The Buddha himself said that certain types of actions are negative and doing them is creating negative karma. The Buddha also said that negative actions can be purified by certain techniques. So if it is true that committing certain actions accumulates non-virtue, then it also should be true that these non-virtues can be purified by specific techniques and methods that have been prescribed. There is no reason for the Buddha to lie. No matter how strong and forceful the negative actions may appear, they have the nature of being able to be purified by doing the proper practices.

Past accounts prove that negativities can be purified by doing a practice complete with the four opponent powers. For example, King Ajatasattu committed a grave negative action by killing his own father. By the force of having great regret and doing the appropriate purification practices, he was able to achieve realizations within his lifetime. Angulimalla killed 999 people. He later strongly regretted his actions and engaged in correct methods to purify them. Thus he also achieved high realizations in his lifetime.

It is effective to seal this purification practice by reflecting upon the emptiness of inherent existence of the circle of three – the purifier, the purification practice and the object to be purified.

4. The power of resolve

Then recite the prayer in which you take refuge in Vajrasattva and develop firm resolve not to do these negative actions again. “Through ignorance and delusions…” This means that you did not foresee the unwanted consequences of these negative actions. “I have broken and degenerated my commitments.” This is explicitly the power of regret. Implicit in this is the power or resolve never to do those actions again.

Say to Guru Vajrasattva, “I take refuge in you alone, you who are the embodiment of all Three Jewels. By the force of your compassion, please protect me and other sentient beings from doing these negative actions again in the future. With your compassion, protect us and lead us to the final goal, enlightenment.”

Vajrasattva says to you, “O child of a good family, your negative karma, obscurations and all degenerated and broken commitments are now cleansed and purified.” When he calls out to you using this term of endearment and of intimacy, “O child of a good family,” try to experience great bliss. If not, imagine experiencing great delight and rejoice at having purified your negativities.

With great affection for you and being very pleased with you, Vajrasattva now dissolves into you through your crown. He enters your central channel and becomes inseparable with your very subtle body, speech and mind. Concentrate on your body, speech and mind being inseparable from those of Vajrasattva, your root Guru.

To summarize, do the Vajrasattva meditation and recitation with all four powers complete. Taking refuge in the Three Jewels and generating bodhicitta is the power of reliance. Recollecting all the negative actions and developing a strong sense of regret or repentance is the power of regret. Actually doing the meditation and recitation of Vajrasattva with strong and stable visualization is the power of the antidote. Developing a strong resolve never to indulge in such actions in the future is the power of resolve, also called the power of turning away from the negative actions. Several visualizations can be done while reciting the mantra: expelling downward, expelling upward, expelling spontaneously. Or you can imagine receiving the four empowerments in the form of blessing.

By practicing all four opponent powers properly, you can actually purify negativities committed over a long period of time. This is the power of the Dharma, and it is the kindness of the Dharma. Although you may not be able to recall the past lives during which these negative actions have been done, still by the force of strong practice, you can purify all these negativities in a short time. With this, the explanation of the Vajrasattva meditation and recitation is complete.

Guest Author: Lati Rinpoche