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Overview of Vajrayana Meditation

Six Stages of Vajrayana Meditation

(Before you begin your meditation learning, here is a summative description of what entails in each of the stages of Vajrayana meditation.)

I. Taking refuge in the Triple Gem

The Triple Gem refers to Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. To take refuge in the Triple Gem essentially means to aspire for reviving one's inner awakening, maintaining non-judgmental views of the universe, and generating compassion toward all sentient beings in the six realms.

In this stage, you are to recite:

"Namo Gurube (meaning I take refuge in Guru);
Namo Buddhaya (I take refuge in Buddha);
Namo Dharmaya (I take refuge in Dharma);
Namo Sanghaya (I take refuge in Sangha)"

for 7, 21, or 108 times while visualizing:

  1. For Guru, this could be any Buddha form that you choose as the object of visualization.
    Visualize the energies of Buddhas from boundless directions converge on the translucent Buddha Shakyamuni whose pores individually contain three thousand and great thousand over 100 billion universes. Buddha Shakyamuni is presently in charge of the samsara world of three thousand and great thousand over 100 billion universes.
  2. The experience, knowledge, or instruction of the Buddha toward Enlightenment—usually in the form of his speeches and sutra scriptures—is the Dharma.
  3. Sangha comprises enlightened beings from eight to ten bhumi levels, including Pratyeka Buddha, 3-vehicle Buddha, returners, never returners, Bodhisattvas, Mahasattvas.

II. Supplicating for forgiveness

Realizing that your habitual deeds—from previous lifetimes and present lifetime—via mind, speech, body may not be supportive of your aspiration toward enlightenment, you supplicate the Triple Gem for forgiveness of your past ignorance, visualizing while your earnest appeal has been granted, your negativities are consequently cleared away.

III. Taking vows

Having realized past impurities, you promise to yourself and to the Triple Gem that you will never commit any wrongdoings. You promise that you will stay mindful of your deeds—be they in mind, speech, or body forms—to cultivate ten virtues conscientiously.

IV. Chanting mantra

In the beginning being mindful of yourself as a layperson, you visualize a lotus blossoms on top of your head, with its stalk around one feet long. Layered by a shiny sun disc on the lotus seat, it is topped by another layer of a thin, soft, bright, white moon disc. Seated is Chenrezig—or whatever Buddha form—embodying your root guru.

A white OM character appears in the four-face region of Chenrezig; a red AH character appears in his throat region and a blue HUM character appears in his heart region. These three characters slowly dissolve into one, representing a channel that connects you with limitless Buddhas. After all Buddhas hear and receive your requesting message, they simultaneously bless your mind, speech, and body as the white OM radiates to your head region, the red AH to your throat region, and the blue HUM to your chest region. As a result, you turn into a clear translucent self, having intricately united with Buddhas.

The radiating process goes the same—as you keep chanting any mantra (be it OM MANI PADME HUM, Medicine Buddha mantra, or any Buddha mantra)—to your parents, other human beings, and ultimately all sentient beings in the six realms. It co-occurs with the visualizing, blessing, reciting, protecting, and connecting. Recitation may continue to as many times as you wish.

V. Dissolving into luminosity

Visualize sentient beings from hundreds of billions of universes as well as limitless Buddhas and Bodhisattvas dissolve into your root guru who is seated on the lotus on top of your head. All sentient beings, Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and Triple Gem are no different. Likewise, the shining root guru then slowly sinks and dissolves into you. At the present state, you are one with the universes; you are one with beings from six realms; you are one with Buddhas; you are one with Bodhisattvas… There is neither duality nor non-duality.

Concentrate further that you gradually dissolve into a translucent form (similar to a rainbow where you can see but not grasp), and finally into formless, leaving only an luminous essence of the energies of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, sentient beings, and yourself—wisdom—intact.

If you continue to meditate in this state, your mind will reach dharmakaya, your speech will reach sambhogakaya, and your body can reach nirmanakaya (rainbow body). Three levels can be reached within this very lifetime. You may consider maintaining this state even when you eat, sleep, work, etc.

VI. Dedicating merits to all sentient beings

When you feel like completing this meditating session, dedicate your virtues to all sentient beings, visualizing that whatever merits you receive, all will be received by all sentient beings including your father and mother.

Those beings with consciousness but without forms will attain Pureland permanently, whereas those with consciousness and with forms (such as animals, and yourself, etc.) will naturally enter Pureland anytime when the time has come.

Once you resume from your meditation, you maintain the smooth, balanced, and luminous state of mind in whatever activities in which you engage. (sleeping, eating, working, talking, etc.) Over time, you will effortlessly be free from sadness, happiness, anger, attachment, desire, even death—in that your body dissolves into space. Securing permanent liberation from samsara in this lifetime is attainable so long as you are committed to the focus. More powerful than sunshine, the potential billions of your emanations can help limitless universes across time with any kinds of activities.

advanced chenrezig practice essentials

To help you achieve clearer visualization, save this larger Chenrezig photo.

Chenrezig Mantra and Its Benefits

The mantra of Chenrezig (Guanyin/Avalokiteshvara) is OM MANI PADME HUM (pronounced as OM MANI PAY-MAY HUNG). Buddha Shakyamuni says that even though he could count the number of atoms in the universe, the benefits of reciting the six-syllable mantra is too vast to count. Anyone who practices this mantra recitation will continually accumulate virtues similar to the unending flow of Ganges River. Their mind will also become purified as bright as gold. If anyone recites this mantra to animals, those animals will have the seed to liberation. In their future lifetimes, they will meet the Dharma and ultimately attain enlightenment. Some of the benefits of chanting this wish-fulfilling mantra OM MANI PADME HUM are as follows:

  • It is equal to reciting mantras of five Dhyani Buddhas.
  • It perfects the six paramitas (same as what all Buddhas have achieved).
  • It purifies all obstacles of beings in the six realms.
  • It clears five negative emotions.
  • It protects against disturbances from spirits.
Syllable Mantra of
Dhyani Buddhas
Perfect six
paramitas
Purify obstacles
in six realms
Clears five
negative emotions
Protects against
harmful spirits
OM Chenrezig dana gods ignorance harmful sons of gods
MA Vairochana sila asura anger mamo/female spirits
NI Vajrasattva patience human pride jelpo/ruling spirits
PAD Ratnasambhava diligence animal desire sadak/land spirits
ME Amitabha samadhi hungry ghost jealousy yama/soul-takers
HUM Akshobya wisdom hell all five negative
emotions above
yaksha/flesh-eaters

Chenrezig teaches this six-syllable mantra as the essence of all Buddha Dharma. If one can get a proper Chenrezig empowerment from a lineage guru and consistently practice it, one holds the key that opens up doors to all Buddhas' teachings. As empowerment helps ripen one’s inner Buddha nature, diligence in practicing this Chenrezig mantra will bring luck, peace, compassion, wisdom, and more importantly enlightenment. Consistent practice is the seed to enlightenment. Without consistent practice, there is no way to gain the fruit of liberation from samsara. After each session of practice, one is advised to dedicate virtues to all sentient beings.

Advanced Practice Instructions

  • After being seated in a comfortable position, you visualize Chenrezig** on top of your head at the brahmacakra. He is seated on a moon disc on top of a full bloomed lotus. Be aware that Chenrezig and your own root guru (or lineage guru) are the same entity.
  • Chenrezig has syllables OM AH HUM (body, speech, mind of Buddha) deep inside his forehead, throat, and heart respectively. Below the HUM is HRI syllable. Seated on a moon disc and full bloomed lotus, HRI is circumambulated clockwise by syllables OM MANI PADME HUM.
  • White OM, red AH, and blue HUM syllables; white HRI syllable
    syllables OM MANI PADME HUM
  • The white OM syllable, red AH syllable, and blue HUM syllable radiate to all directions in the universe, inviting limitless Buddhas' for blessings. These blessed OM AH HUM lights return back to Chenrezig, more empowered than before.
  • OM AH HUM lights again radiate from Chenrezig to six realm beings, turning all realms into Buddha purelands, full of happiness.
    • Hell being realm becomes Buddha Akhsobya pureland
    • Hungry ghost realm becomes Buddha Amitabha pureland
    • Animal realm becomes Buddha Ratnasambhava pureland
    • Human realm becomes Buddha Vajrasattva pureland
    • Asura realm becomes Buddha Amogasiddhi pureland
    • God realm becomes Buddha Vairochana pureland
  • As all beings in the six realms become limitless Buddha’s, all of us become Dharmadatu (=infinity); just as river water flowing to ocean, becomes the same. (This visualization equals to dedicating merits and virtues to all sentient beings.)
  • Next visualize yourself become another Chenrezig, similarly going through all the steps above. The Chenrezig atop your crown is called Yeshe Sempa (wisdom being), whereas the Chenrezig you is called Damtshig Sempa (commitment being). Both beings will merge into one after the end of practice session.
  • Continuously chant the mantra while doing visualization.
  • When ending the practice session: Visualize the Yeshe Sempa Chenrezig sinks into you, the Damtshig Sempa Chenrezig, thus both Chenrezigs become one. Your body transforms into rainbow (=translucent) form, dissolving into clear essence, into emptiness. Mind becomes pure wisdom. The unification of wisdom and emptiness results in nature clear awareness. Maintain in this state of tranquility as you meditate for as long as you wish, or if possible, even after you finish your practice session.

Tips

  • As much as possible, visualize Chenrezig in translucence form instead of what commonly appears in picture images.
  • Even if you have trouble doing the visualization in detail, you should make every effort to visualize the syllables as vividly as possible.

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