Explanation of the Vajrasattva sadhana

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Part of a series of teachings given during the 2016-2017 New Years Vajrasattva Purification Retreat at Sravasti Abbey.

  • Thinking of our life experiences as like a dream
  • How to relate to Vajrasattva
  • Explanation of the sadhana
  • The meaning of the visualizations
05 Vajrasattva Retreat: Explanation of Sadhana 01-02-17

Transcript of motivation only.

Let’s cultivate our motivation. When you have a really good dream, one that just feels so good, does it make any sense to hold onto that dream afterward? And try and recreate it? Or ponder it and analyze it? Ad nauseum? Or does it make more sense just to say, “Wow, that was a nice dream. I’m glad that happened, but I’m awake now. The dream’s no longer happening. There’s nothing to hold onto now.” Which view is really more accurate? Which one will enable you to be more present in your life?

And when you have a bad dream, when you wake up, yes, there may be a bad feeling, but does it make any sense to hold onto that feeling? Or to think that the nightmare is still happening now? Or that it has some deeper meaning that you analyze again and again and again and again? Or does it make much more sense to say, “Oh, it was a nightmare, but I’m awake now. That is no longer happening.” And let it be. What’s a more realistic approach?

Let’s come back to the good dream. Not only is it transient and not happening now, but when you had the dream, did all the people and things in the dream really exist the way they appear to you? When you were dreaming they all seemed so real. There are real things. But when you wake up, you see that those things are not real. They don’t exist the way they appear. How does that change your feeling about the dream when you see that it doesn’t exist the way it appears?

Similarly, when you have a nightmare, when you wake up you realize not only was the nightmare impermanent but whatever it was that was chasing you, whatever it was that was going to harm you, it doesn’t exist. There was an appearance in the nightmare, but there was no real thing there. So the things in the bad dream don’t exist the way they appear. They are just appearances without anything substantial behind them. So when you see the things in a nightmare in that way, how does that change how you feel?

Now how about in your life when something nice happens, can you see that event as transient, as here and gone with nothing to cling to remaining? Can you see that although the things in our life appear to exist from their own side with some kind of inherent essence that actually they don’t exist that way at all? They’re dependent phenomena that appear due to many causes and conditions including our mind that conceives and designates them. If you think about the good things in your life that way, how does that change how you relate to them? Do you still have as much clinging and expectation or is your mind more accepting?

Similarly, when you have unwanted or suffering events in your life, can you realize that they also are transient? And that although all the people and objects in them including yourself appear to have some inherent or independent essence that makes them what they are, can you see in actual fact nothing has that kind of essence? Everything is composed of parts. It arises in dependence upon causes and conditions. It exists within a web of mutually dependent things. If we see the unhappy events in our life in that way, how does that change how we relate to them especially if we see that there’s no inherently existent me there that is experiencing everything?

Now, within that state of seeing things as transient and as empty of their own essence, then cultivate the loving, compassionate, altruistic intention to become a buddha.

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