Making Requests to the Gurus

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Why We Make Requests

Mandala Offerings to Mantra Recitation (LC 43-54)

In this fourth multimedia of the Guru Puja is the Heart Practice series edited by Venerable Sarah Thresher with Megan Evart, Lama Zopa Rinpoche teaches the chanting and instructions for making requests to the gurus and receiving their blessings prior to the meditation on the stages of the path to enlightenment. The sections of the Guru Puja covered here include the mandala offerings to the gurus, the Requesting Prayer to the Lineage Lamas, Recalling the Qualities of the Gurus (LC 43-52), the Special One-Pointed Request (LC 54), Receiving the Blessings of the Four Empowerments (LC 55) and the Mantra Recitation.

INTRODUCTION

As I mentioned before, when Lama Tsongkhapa asked Manjushri about the quickest way to actualize the path to enlightenment, Manjushri replied that three things were needed (1) the purification of obstacles and accumulation of extensive merit, (2) one-pointed requests to the gurus with a devotional mind in order to receive their blessings, and (3) meditation on the stages of the path.

All the practices required for the first of these, the purification of obstacles and accumulation of extensive merit, are contained within the seven-limb practice. The next advice is to make single pointed requests to the gurus with a devotional mind in order to receive their blessings.

Softening the Mind Through the Guru’s blessings

The reason why we make one-pointed requests to the gurus is in order to receive their blessings in our hearts. This softens our hearts so that our minds can be transformed into the Dharma.

“The reason why we make one-pointed requests to the gurus is to receive their blessings in our hearts…so that our minds can be transformed into the Dharma.” 

It is like cultivating crops. First you assemble all the necessary conditions by clearing, ploughing and fertilizing the land. Then you plant the seeds and water them to make them grow. The conditions for the realizations to grow in our hearts are assembled in exactly the same way. We already have buddha nature, the potential for our minds to change from ignorance into the wisdom realizing emptiness, from selfishness into bodhicitta cherishing others and so forth, which is like the planted seed. Now we need to pacify the negative emotions of anger, jealousy and so forth in our minds, which is like clearing the land so the realizations can come. And make one-pointed requests to the guru with devotion, which is like pouring water on the seeds to make the realizations grow.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche making requests to the lineage lamas with hands in the prostration mudra during prayers at Amitabha Buddhist Center, Singapore, 2018. (Photo Ven Tenzin Tsultrim)
Lama Zopa Rinpoche making requests to the lineage lamas with hands in the prostration mudra during prayers at Amitabha Buddhist Center, Singapore, 2018. (Photo Ven Tenzin Tsultrim)

“Making one-pointed requests to the guru with devotion is like pouring water on seeds to make the realizations grow.”

Guru Yoga is the Foundation for All the Practices

All these requests to the guru are done on the basis of guru yoga. This is the mind of devotion understanding that guru is buddha. [A deeper explanation of the guru is given below in the Requests Recalling the Guru’s Secret and Suchness Qualities (LC 51-52).] Generally speaking, what we have to understand is that there is no guru separate from the buddha and no buddha separate from the guru.

“We have to understand that there is no guru separate from the buddha and no buddha separate from the guru.” 

This guru yoga understanding is the foundation for all the various practices in the Guru Puja: Taking Refuge and Generating Bodhichitta (LC 2-6), the Bath Offering, the Seven-Limb Practice (LC 18-42), the Outer, Inner, Secret and Suchness offerings (LC 23-37), the Mandala Offering, the Requesting Prayer to the Lamrim Lineage Gurus, the Special One-Pointed Request (LC 53), the Lamrim Prayer (LC 84-114) that requests every realization from guru devotion up to enlightenment.

Without this understanding of the guru, the essence of your guru yoga practice is lost. If in your mind there is a separation between the guru and the buddha, you don’t have the essence of guru yoga practice. You will regard the buddha as something higher and the guru as something ordinary—an ordinary being filled with mistakes. It is like comparing a vase made of gold to a vase made of cement or earth. As long as you have the superstitious thought that sees the buddha as higher and more special than the guru, you can never achieve realizations.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche bestowing Amitabha Pure Land blessing at Amitabha Buddhist Centre, Singapore, October 2018. (Photo Bill Kane)
Lama Zopa Rinpoche bestowing Amitabha Pure Land blessing at Amitabha Buddhist Centre, Singapore, October 2018. (Photo Bill Kane)

“If in your mind there is a separation between the guru and the buddha, you don’t have the essence of guru yoga practice.”

The great Indian yogi Padampa Sangye, who lived around the time of Milarepa, said in his Hundred Verses of Advice to the people of Tingri

Hold the guru as more special than all the buddhasThen realizations will happen in this life, people of Tingri.

Similarly also, Kadampa Geshe Chayulwa said

If you think that Buddha Vajradhara is more precious than the guru, you won’t achieve realization in this life.

This is how our mind should practice guru yoga. These masters who had great attainments expressed how to regard, apprehend and recognize the guru. If you think that the Buddha and your deity are something different from the guru, that your guru is simply somebody who teaches you Dharma and that’s it—they have nothing to do with your deity or Guru Shakyamuni Buddha—your mind will be filled with mistaken thoughts. Such thoughts can arise and are great obstacles to achieving realizations.

What we have to realize is that the guru, buddha and deity are one. We look at the guru—the Dharma teacher—as the buddha. “Dharma teacher,” “guru,” “buddha” or “deity” are just different labels, different names, but the meaning is the same: deity means guru, guru means deity and so on. We have to train our minds in order to transform them into the realization that sees and feels that the guru is more extraordinary, or special, than even the Buddha. And we do this by using analytical meditation and then fixed meditation, using all the different quotations and reasonings mentioned in the lamrim outline on guru devotion.

Watch Rinpoche on Padmasambhava Explained the Need to Request the Guru (LOP 2014) 3 mins 33 secs. 

Padmasambhava explained

If you don’t know that the guru is buddha, The blessing cannot liberate your mind.

Here, blessing means the guru’s blessing and liberate is liberating your mind from the delusions.

Think of the qualities, Then make requests to the guru.

It is not enough to be a scholar, to know by heart all the Buddha’s teachings, the Kangyur and Tengyur, and to be able to explain the five great treatises of sutra along with tantra. All this is not enough. We need to rely upon a guru.

Watch Lama Zopa Rinpoche teach on Why We Make Requests to the Guru and What the Guru Is (LOP 2010) 34 mins 17 secs.

Mandala Offerings to the Gurus

MANDALA OFFERINGS

Listen to the original teaching on the Mandala Offering (LOP 2009) 2 mins 20 secs.

At the end of the seven-limb practice is a long mandala offering, which is one of the means of collecting extensive merit. It’s very good to offer the long Mandala of Thirty-Seven Heaps, om vajra bhumi ah hum wang chhen ser gyi sa zhi, at this point; and of course if there is time, you can also offer a long mandala in the offering section (LC 32). That way you will be able to offer a long mandala twice. I mentioned before that when Lama Lhundrup led the Guru Puja at Kopan, he would always offer a long mandala in both places. I think the present umdze does it the same way.

Visualize that all the offerings in the mandala are of the most precious quality and numberless. That’s the way to collect the most extensive merit. As you visualize each offering in the mandala don’t just think you are offering one of them, but numberless. And don’t just think you are offering one mandala, but numberless mandalas. You should also visualize the four continents as a pure land, with no suffering and completely wish-fulfilling, and think that all the sentient beings born in this pure land achieve enlightenment. Then visualize that every atom of the mandala has numberless replicas of yourself offering mandalas and that from the atoms of those mandalas beams are emitted carrying mandalas that fill the whole sky. So there are numberless mandala offerings filling the limitless sky and this is what you offer. If you can visualize in this way, you will create an unimaginable number of causes of enlightenment and there is no question that all the other kinds of success will happen by the way.

Visualizing everything as the best quality and numberless collects the most merit and visualizing the four continents as a pure land helps you to be born in a pure land.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche offering a mandala at Buddha Amitabha Pure Land, USA, 2017. (Photo Ven Losang Sherab)
Lama Zopa Rinpoche offering a mandala at Buddha Amitabha Pure Land, USA, 2017. (Photo Ven Losang Sherab)

SAMANTABHADRA OFFERING VISUALIZATION

This is how to do the Samantabhadra (Kuntuzangpo) offering

  • First think that there are numberless mandalas in every atom. 
  • Second visualize beams emitted from each atom carry numberless mandala offerings filling the whole sky.

SPECIAL REQUEST FOR THE THREE GREAT PURPOSES

Listen to the original teaching on the Special Request for the Three Great Purposes (LOP 2009) 14 mins 47 secs.

At the end of the mandala offering make the Special Request for the Three Great Purposes. You can recite this three times in English

I prostrate and go for refuge to the guru and the Three Rare Sublime Ones: please bless my mind.

Please bless me and all mother sentient beings to immediately cease all the wrong concepts from disrespect to the virtuous friend up to the subtle dual appearances of the white appearance, red increase and dark near attainment.Please bless us to immediately generate all the right realizations from respect for the virtuous friend up to the unification of no more learning.Please bless us to immediately pacify all outer and inner obstacles. (3x)
Mandala offering to Lama Tsongkhapa at Olka Cholung where Lama Tsongkhapa completed mandala offerings. (Photo Ven Tenzin Tsultrim)
Mandala offering to Lama Tsongkhapa at Olka Cholung where Lama Tsongkhapa completed mandala offerings. (Photo Ven Tenzin Tsultrim)

The first request is

Please bless me and all mother sentient beings to immediately cease all the wrong concepts from disrespect to the virtuous friend up to the subtle dual appearances of the white appearance, red increase and dark near attainment.

You ask for this to happen immediately, instantly. The second request is

Please bless us to immediately generate all the right realizations from respect for the virtuous friend up to the unification of no more learning.

Here respect (güpa) is devotional respect to the guru. The third request is

Please bless us to immediately pacify all outer and inner obstacles.

Outer obstacles are outer conditions that prevent you from practicing Dharma. For example, being under the control of other people, like the leader of a country or parents who won’t allow you to practice. Inner obstacles are sickness, delusions and all these things. Here it only talks about outer and inner obstacles, but if secret obstacles are mentioned it refers to the delusions. Obstacles can come from both favorable and unfavorable conditions and that is why we need to be able to use both happiness and suffering in the path. Here you are requesting for all these obstacles to be pacified immediately.

These are the three great purposes and this is the way that Lama Tsongkhapa practiced. These three requests are regarded as extremely important: whatever problems you face in practicing Dharma are included here. Therefore it is very important to make these three requests after the mandala offering—then everything comes easily and all the difficulties you are experiencing in your practice of Dharma are pacified and dispelled.

Offering mandala, Drati Khangtsen, South India. (Photo Ven Tenzin Tsultrim)
Offering mandala, Drati Khangtsen, South India. (Photo Ven Tenzin Tsultrim)

“It is very important to make these three requests after the mandala offeringthen everything comes easily and all the difficulties you are experiencing in your practice of Dharma are pacified and dispelled.”

The Importance of the FPMT Prayer Books Being Correct

When Geshe Tsulga checked the FPMT Guru Puja prayer book some years ago he found a mistake in the first request. The English was the same as above but the Tibetan said

Please bless me to immediately pacify all the wrong concepts from the thought of mistakes to the Guru up to the ignorance holding the I and aggregates to be truly existent and believing they are true.

In the English, the prayer talked about the subtle dual appearances of the white appearance, red increase and dark near attainment, which is related to tantra; but the Tibetan talked about believing the false I to be true, which is according to sutra. Actually, I had already noticed that mistake before he mentioned it to me, but the thought didn’t come to immediately change it, so it was left like that. Geshe-la expressed his concern and mentioned how important it was for all the prayers and translations to be correct in the FPMT organization because many people rely on them.

In the past, the English was okay but there were many mistakes in the Tibetan. Also some of the prayers were not in the right place, like in the Eight Mahayana Precepts. Maybe somebody needs to check all the Tibetan and especially the mantras. The mantras are very difficult because they appear differently in different Tibetan texts. In one text there can be a small a or a gigu missing, and in another text there can be something added. It’s like this for the Namgyalma mantra and so on. There always seems to be something missing or something extra. And you would have to know Sanskrit very well, and also know the exact meaning of the mantra and what it should be saying, in order to correct it.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche paints mantra on a rock in Garsha Phakpa, Lahul, India, 2015. (Photo Ven Sangpo)
Lama Zopa Rinpoche paints mantra on a rock in Garsha Phakpa, Lahul, India, 2015. (Photo Ven Sangpo)

Geshe Sopa Rinpoche introduced me to an American lady at the University of Wisconsin who was the Sanskrit teacher and I went to check the long Chenrezig mantra with her. She told me that there are differences in the Sanskrit used in different parts of India. Sanskrit is not always the same in the whole country, it depends which part of India you are in. Then she said, “Anyway, many of the mantras are not right.” I didn’t have the courage to check with her what she meant by that remark. Maybe she doesn’t understand mantra and thinks many of them are mistaken? It could be that she can’t understand some of the very secret things in mantra. I only went to see her one time and this is what she said—that some parts are not correct. But I’m not sure—that’s hard to believe. Anyway, that’s the BBC news—not sure about CNN! I’m joking!

The Power of Mantras Depends on Faith

There is a small short book on how to read Sanskrit by the great translator Kawa Peltsek. Actually there are two books. It seems many geshes and lamas read this and recite the mantra accordingly. I checked some mantras with Kyabje Choden Rinpoche in the past and Rinpoche used to follow Kawa Peltsek.

Rinpoche writes mantra on a souvenir plaque in Manali, India, 2015. (Photo Thubten Jangchub)
Rinpoche writes mantra on a souvenir plaque in Manali, India, 2015. (Photo Thubten Jangchub)

Take the Samayavajra mantra, for example: His Holiness the Dalai Lama recites om ah pranya dhik ha hum and the tantric college monks recite om ah tranya dhik ha hum. His Holiness Ling Rinpoche also used to also recite om ah tranya dhik ha hum because Rinpoche said we should follow the tantric college. The actual Sanskrit way of reciting it is om ah pranya dhik ha hum. But according to this translator Lotsawa Kawa Peltsek, who was an expert in Sanskrit, it is om ah tranya dhikha hum. So I checked this with Samdong Rinpoche, the prime minister of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile (CTA). His Holiness was upstairs in the temple and Samdhong Rinpoche was waiting below to receive His Holiness and escort him to the Kalachakra temple to meet and give advice to the Tibetans who had come from Tibet. Since it was taking time, I went to Samdhong Rinpoche to ask about the mantras. Samdhong Rinpoche’s comment was “Kawa Peltsek doesn’t know Sanskrit!” And he made a tsa to show the mistake, sort of making fun. When I told Kyabje Choden Rinpoche what Samdhong Rinpoche had said, Rinpoche stopped and thought for a while. Then he replied, “Oh, Kawa Peltsek is called lotsawawhich means translator—“If he didn’t know how to translate he wouldn’t be called a lotsawa.” In some ways, that’s true

Anyway, of course the benefit of the mantra doesn’t depend on whether it is recited correctly in Sanskrit or not. The benefit comes from your faith in the mantra. Whatever success, benefit, healing and so on that come from chanting mantra depends on your faith. You have to recite the mantra in the way that causes more faith. It doesn’t depend on pronouncing the Sanskrit correctly or not.

Prostrating outside the Jokhang Central Temple in Lhasa, Tibet. (Photo Ven Tenzin Tsultrim)
Prostrating outside the Jokhang Central Temple in Lhasa, Tibet. (Photo Ven Tenzin Tsultrim)

“Whatever success, benefit, healing and so on that come from chanting mantra depends on your faith. You have to recite the mantra in the way that causes more faith. It doesn’t depend on pronouncing the Sanskrit correctly or not.”

His Holiness Song Rinpoche explained during the Dharma Celebration that somebody once came to see a lama in Tibet to ask for a teaching. The lama was very busy that day and didn’t have time to give a teaching but he told the man, “Your nose is like a raksha.” “Raksha” are those big rough beads on the very long malas that Indian sadhus wear. So the person who came must have had a big rough nose. But that person didn’t understand and thought he had received a teaching on a mantra. So he started reciting, “Your nose is like a raksha. Your nose is like a raksha.” And he kept on chanting this with total faith until he was able to cure many sick people by reciting it. Then one day the lama had a lump in his throat and the attendant told him, “A very famous healer has arrived in this area. Do you want to see him?” The lama said, “Yes, let’s do that.” So they called the famous healer—but it was that person! When he recited to the lama, “Your nose is like a raksha,” the lama laughed and laughed and laughed—probably he remembered that he had said this to the man before. He laughed so much that the lump burst and pus came out.

The reason that man became a famous healer with the ability to cure many people by chanting, “Your nose is like a raksha,” was due to faith. It was all due to his mind of faith.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche offering mandala with body, speech and mind to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Jangchub Lamrim teachings, South India, 2015. (Photo Paolo Regis)
Lama Zopa Rinpoche offering mandala with body, speech and mind to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Jangchub Lamrim teachings, South India, 2015. (Photo Paolo Regis)

ADDITIONAL MANDALA OFFERINGS AND REQUESTS TO THE GURUS

Listen to the original teaching on Additional Mandala Offerings and Requests to the Gurus (LOP 2009) 2 mins 29 secs.

[When there is time, you can offer additional mandalas and special requests to each of your gurus following the long mandala and request.] This is how my guru Kyabje Serkong Tsenshab Rinpoche used to practice. Rinpoche was the debate partner of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Tibet and later became one of His Holiness’ gurus in India. Rinpoche would offer a short mandala to each of his gurus following the long mandala offering and he taught this practice during a commentary and explanation to the Jorchö practice in Dharamsala given to myself and a group of FPMT sangha.

Kyabje Serkong Tsenshab Rinpoche’s advice was to first recite the prayer for Taking Refuge and Generating Bodhicitta composed by Lama Atisha

SANG GYÄ CHHÖ DANG TSHOG KYI CHHOG NAM LA I take refuge until I am enlightened JANG CHHUB BAR DU DAG NI KYAB SU CHHI In the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Supreme Assembly. DAG GI JIN SOG GYI PÄI TSHOG NAM KYIBy my merits of generosity and so forth, DRO LA PHÄN CHHIR SANG GYÄ DRUB PAR SHOGMay I become a buddha to benefit transmigratory beings.

Then offer the Short Mandala of Seven Heaps

SA ZHI PÖ KYI JUG SHING ME TOG TRAM This ground, anointed with perfume, strewn with flowers,RI RAB LING ZHI NYI DÄ GYÄN PA DIAdorned with Mount Meru, four continents, the sun and the moon:SANG GYÄ ZHING DU MIG TE ÜL WA YII imagine this as a buddha-field and offer it.DRO KÜN NAM DAG ZHING LA CHÖ PAR SHOGMay all living beings enjoy this pure land!

After that, recite the nine-round migtsema

NGÖ DRUB KÜN JUNG THUB WANG DOR JE CHHANGThe Mighty One Shayamuni Buddha, Vajradhara, originator of all the realizations;MIG ME TSE WÄI TER CHHEN CHÄN RÄ ZIGAvalokiteshvara, great treasure of non-objectifying compassion;DRI ME KHYEN PÄI WANG PO JAM PÄI YANGManjushri, lord of stainless wisdom;DÜ PUNG MA LÜ JOM DZÄ SANG WÄI DAGVajrapani, destroyer of the entire host of maras;GANG CHÄN KHÄ PÄI TSUG GYÄN LO ZANG DRAGLosang Dragpa, crown jewel of sages of the land of snow:KYAB SUM KÜN DÜ LA MA SANG GYÄ LATo you, Guru-Buddha, embodying the three refuges,GO SUM GÜ PÄI GO NÄ SÖL WA DEBI make requests showing respect with my three doors.RANG ZHÄN MIN CHING DRÖL WAR JIN GYI LOB  Please grant your blessings to liberate myself and others.CHHOG DANG THÜN MONG NGÖ DRUB TSÄL DU SÖLPlease bestow the general and sublime realizations.NYUR DU KYE RANG TA BUR JIN GYI LOB Please bless me to quickly become like you.

As you recite the mantra, meditate and relate all the meaning to each guru. So with the first line

NGÖ DRUB KÜN JUNG THUB WANG DOR JE CHHANGThe Mighty One Shayamuni Buddha, Vajradhara, originator of all the realizations

Thub wang is the Mighty One and refers to Shakyamuni Buddha; dorje chhang is Buddha Vajradhara; and ngö drub kün jung means originator of all the realizations. The originator of all attainments, the absolute guru, manifests as the Mighty One, Shakyamuni Buddha, to teach sutra and as Buddha Vajradhara to teach tantra.

As you recite this, think one-pointedly of the guru. This guru is the originator of all the realizations from whom all your attainments come: from the root of the path, guru devotion; to the three principal aspects of the path, renunciation, bodhicitta and right view in the causal vehicle and the two stages of tantra, the resultant vehicle; all the way up to enlightenment. Not only do you receive all your realizations from this guru, but also all your past happiness from beginningless rebirth, all your present happiness and all your future lives’ happiness up to enlightenment. Then you are able to liberate the numberless sentient beings in each realm from the oceans of samsaric suffering and bring each one to enlightenment. All of this is due to the guru’s kindness. You receive everything, not just the realizations, from this guru.

Kyabje Serkong Tsenshab Rinpoche (left) with Lama Zopa Rinpoche and Lama Yeshe at Kopan. Rinpoche received many teachings from Serkong Rinpoche including the Jorchö practice.
Kyabje Serkong Tsenshab Rinpoche (left) with Lama Zopa Rinpoche and Lama Yeshe at Kopan. Rinpoche received many teachings from Serkong Rinpoche including the Jorchö practice.

“You receive everything, not just the realizations, from this guru.” 

The next line is

Avalokiteshvara, great treasure of non-objectifying compassion

This guru is also the non-objectifying compassion of all the buddhas manifested in the great treasure, Avalokiteshvara. Then

Manjushri, lord of stainless wisdom

This guru is also all the buddha’s stainless understanding manifested into Manjushri. And

Vajrapani, destroyer of the entire host of maras

This guru is also Vajrapani, destroyer of all the maras without exception. There are four gross maras—the mara of delusions, the mara of the aggregates, the mara of the Lord of Death and the mara of the deva’s son—and four subtle maras. Vajrapani destroys every single one of these maras, gross and subtle maras.

Losang Dragpa, crown jewel of sages of the land of snow

And this guru is Lama Tsongkhapa, Losang Dragpa, who is respected as the crown jewel by all the learned ones of the Snow Land of Tibet and to whose feet all the learned ones of the Snow Land touch their crown. The main object of your meditation is the guru: by focusing your meditation on your root guru, you recognize that he is all three deities and also Lama Tsongkhapa.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Bangalore, South India. (Photo Ven Tenzin Tsultrim)
Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Bangalore, South India. (Photo Ven Tenzin Tsultrim)

“The main object of your meditation is the guru: by focusing your meditation on your root guru you recognize that he is all three deities and also Lama Tsongkhapa.” 

When you come to the sixth line it says that the guru-buddha is the embodiment of the three objects of refuge in one: the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha

KYAB SUM KÜN DÜ LA MA SANG GYÄ LATo you, Guru-Buddha, embodying the three refuges,

Here you replace la ma sang gyä lato you Guru-Buddha—with the names of each of your gurus in turn. Start with your root guru; then continue on with all the other gurus, one by one, in the order in which they became your guru. First offer a mandala to each one and then make this request, looking at each one as the embodiment of all the gurus, Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.

In my case, for example, the first root guru is His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche whose name is Lozang Yeshe

KYAB SUM KÜN DÜ LO SANG YE SHE LA

To you, Lozang Yeshe, embodying the three refuges,

After my root gurus is my first alphabet teacher, Aku Lekshe, who is seen sitting next to me in the photo taken when I was a small child, and so on.

A young Lama Zopa Rinpoche in Solu Khumbu sitting next to his first teacher, Aku Lekshe, who taught Rinpoche the alphabet. (Photo Thomas Weir)
A young Lama Zopa Rinpoche in Solu Khumbu sitting next to his first teacher, Aku Lekshe, who taught Rinpoche the alphabet. (Photo Thomas Weir)

Offer to as many gurus as your time allows: three, four, five and so on. If you have time to finish offering to all of them, do that. If not, you can continue over the following days until you finish all the mandala offerings to all the gurus.

At the end of the request, you pay respect with your body, speech and mind and ask to be granted all the common and sublime realizations and to quickly become like your guru. This is an extremely important guru yoga prayer. You can also visualize that a replica of each guru absorbs to you and you receive all the realizations.

I make requests showing respect with my three doors.Please grant your blessings to liberate myself and others.Please bestow the general and sublime realizations.Please bless me to quickly become like you.

ADDITIONAL MANDALA OFFERINGS TO THE GURUS 

Following a Long Mandala of Thirty-Seven Heaps and the Special Request for the Three Great Purposes 

  1. Recite the prayer for Taking Refuge and Generating Bodhicitta.
  2. Offer a Short Mandala of Seven Heaps.
  3. Recite the Nine-Line Migtsema. When you come to the sixth line, kyab sum kün dü la ma sang gyä la / To you, Guru-Buddha, embodying the three refuges,replace la ma sang gyä laTo you Guru-Buddha—with the name of each guru. Start with your root guru and continue on with all your other gurus, one by one, in the order in which they became your guru, seeing each one as the embodiment of all the gurus, Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. E.g. kyab sum kün dü Tenzin Gyatso la; kyab sum kün dü la ma Zopa la.
  4. At the end, when you offer the mandala, idam guru ratna mandalakam niryatayami, you can visualize that a replica of each guru absorbs to you and you receive all the realizations.

Repeat this 3, 4, 5 or as much as time allows. If you have time to finish offering to all of your gurus, do so. If not, continue over the following days until you finish offering to all the gurus. Then start again.

Watch Rinpoche teach on the Additional Mandala Offerings to the Gurus and the Nine-Line Migtsema (Bendigo, 2018) 4 mins 32 secs.
Additional Mandala Offerings to the Gurus and Nine-Line Migtsema ctd. (Bendigo, 2018) 1 min 57 secs.

RECITING THE NINE-LINE MIGTSEMA

Listen to the original teaching on Migtsema (LOP 2009) 32 secs.

If you haven’t recited the nine-line migtsema already with extra mandalas to the gurus, then after the long mandala and Special Request for the Three Great Purposes, you can recite the nine-line migtsema a few times. I usually try to recite it seven times. It’s up to you how many times you recite it, but you should meditate on the meaning as I just explained and not simply repeat the prayer. You can also do the meditation for purifying and receiving wisdom.

Statue of Lama Tsongkhapa from Idgaa Choidzinling Dratsang, Mongolia. (Photo Ven Roger Kunsang)
Statue of Lama Tsongkhapa from Idgaa Choidzinling Dratsang, Mongolia. (Photo Ven Roger Kunsang)

NGÖ DRUB KÜN JUNG THUB WANG DOR JE CHHANGThe Mighty One Shayamuni Buddha, Vajradhara, originator of all the realizations;MIG ME TSE WÄI TER CHHEN CHÄN RÄ ZIGAvalokiteshvara, great treasure of non-objectifying compassion;DRI ME KHYEN PÄI WANG PO JAM PÄI YANGManjushri, lord of stainless wisdom;DÜ PUNG MA LÜ JOM DZÄ SANG WÄI DAGVajrapani, destroyer of the entire host of maras;GANG CHÄN KHÄ PÄI TSUG GYÄN LO ZANG DRAGLosang Dragpa, crown jewel of sages of the land of snow:KYAB SUM KÜN DÜ LA MA SANG GYÄ LATo you, Guru-Buddha, embodying the three refuges,GO SUM GÜ PÄI GO NÄ SÖL WA DEBI make requests showing respect with my three doors.RANG ZHÄN MIN CHING DRÖL WAR JIN GYI LOB  Please grant your blessings to liberate myself and others.CHHOG DANG THÜN MONG NGÖ DRUB TSÄL DU SÖLPlease bestow the general and sublime realizations.NYUR DU KYE RANG TA BUR JIN GYI LOB Please bless me to quickly become like you.

There is no need to recite the nine-line migtsema again if you already recited it when offering the additional mandalas to the gurus. I mean it’s up to you: if you like reciting the prayer so much that you become addicted—like being addicted to drugs or alcohol—you can recite more. You might become a prayer-holic!

“If you like reciting the prayer so much that you become addicted—you might become a prayer-holic!

Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Kopan 2017. (Photo Bill Kane)
Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Kopan 2017. (Photo Bill Kane)

REQUESTING, PURIFYING AND RECEIVING BLESSINGS

Listen to the original teaching on Requesting, Purifying and Receiving Blessings (LOP 2009) 4 mins 34 secs.

After the nine-line migtsema recite the request to the guru three times

DÜ SUM KYAB NÄ KÜN DÜ KYI NGO WO LA MA RIN PO CHHE LA SÖL WA DEB SO To you, precious Guru, in nature embodying all objects of refuge of the three times, I make requests. (3x)

Then read the visualization in English and imagine nectar emitting from the guru’s pores bringing strong purification and blessings.

Due to having made these requests, five-color nectar along with beams of light flow forth from the holy bodies of the Guru and the host of deities, entering my body and mind and those of all sentient beings.

All [diseases, spirit harms,] negative karmas, and obscurations collected from beginningless time and especially all the negative karmas, obscurations, [and degenerated samayas] created in relation to the Guru, such as giving harm to the holy body, disobeying the advice, and disturbing the holy mind of the glorious Guru, generating non-devotional thoughts about the Guru, criticizing the Guru, giving the Guru up, and so forth, are dispelled from the doors of our senses and all our pores in the form of liquid smoke and liquid soot. We are completely purified.

Our bodies become the nature of light, transparent and clear. Our life spans, merits, and all qualities of scriptural learning and realization are developed fully. In particular, all the blessings of the glorious Guru’s holy body, holy speech, and holy mind enter my body and mind, and those of all sentient beings. I and all sentient beings are now under the protection of the glorious Guru.

The Requesting Prayer to the Lamrim Lineage Gurus

THE REQUESTING PRAYER TO THE LAMRIM LINEAGE GURUS

Listen to the original teaching on Requesting Prayer to the Lamrim Lineage Gurus (LOP 2009) 8 mins 49 secs.

After that, chant the Requesting Prayer to the Lamrim Lineage Gurus with one-pointed devotion. There are two versions: long and short. In the past we always did the long requesting prayer from the Jorchö practice, but when we were receiving lamrim teachings from Kyabje Choden Rinpoche I made a shorter one (see FPMT Retreat Prayer Book, pp. 178-82) to be used when there is not much time. This short prayer is taken from the homage to the lineage lamas at the beginning of Lama Tsongkhapa’s Great Stages of the Path to Enlightenment. It is good to do the long one sometimes and not completely forget about it, but when there is no time you can use the shorter one.

CHANTING INSTRUCTIONS

The Importance of Learning the Chanting

Watch Rinpoche explain the Importance of Learning the Chanting for the Requesting Prayer to the Lineage Gurus (Bendigo, 2018) 3 mins 11 secs.

If there is time and you are able to chant the Requesting Prayer according to the chanting lineage that comes from the great enlightened beings and dakinis, you must do so. But of course, if there is no time or your chanting is not good, then it’s okay. There is a difference between chanting rather than reciting the words in English. The chanting comes from the lineage lamas, the holy beings who subdued their minds, generated bodhicitta and completed the path. The chanting came from their wish to benefit sentient beings and it has the special quality of being able to make the meaning of the prayer effective for the mind. It softens the mind so that it can change and be subdued.That is what is needed. Since we haven’t been able to subdue our minds since beginningless rebirth, we need to find any means possible to do this. That’s why it’s important to take the opportunity to learn the chanting and use it as much as possible when there is time.

Pabongka Rinpoche’s Chanting

There are different ways of chanting the Requesting Prayer. According to Pabongka Rinpoche’s chanting, the last line of the request is repeated twice: With the first repetition, you think that white light and nectar emitted from the gurus purifies all the obstacles, negative defilements and wrong concepts. With the second repetition, you generate strong faith that a replica of the guru absorbs into you and you receive all the realizations of that guru. There is a difference in what is to be purified and what is to be received along with the goal to be achieved depending on the lineage of the guru that you are requesting—the lineage of vast conduct, profound view or combined lineages. (See below.)

Here is the first verse of both Requesting Prayers, long and short, for which Pabongka Rinpoche’s chanting is always used

First verse of Pabongka Rinpoche’s Chanting for the Requesting Prayer to the Lineage Gurus (LOP 2010) 1 min 28 secs.

PÄL DÄN TSA WÄI LA MA RIN PO CHHE Magnificent and precious root Guru, DAG GI CHI WOR PÄ MÖI TENG ZHUG LA Please abide on the lotus seat on my crown, KA DRIN CHHEN PÖI GO NÄ JE ZUNG TE Guide me with your great kindness, KU SUNG THUG KYI NGÖ DRUB TSÄL DU SÖL And grant me the realizations of your holy body, speech, and mind.

What to Visualize As You Make the Requests

My idea is that it is easier to remember and become aware of what is to be purified and received before you start reciting the names of the gurus. Then as you recite each name you can concentrate very precisely on receiving the realizations of that guru and not waste time, rather than leaving it to the end. It is important to really feel that a replica of each lineage guru absorbs to you and to really feel that you receive all the realizations of that guru, starting from your root guru onwards.

AN ELABORATE VISUALIZATION FOR THE REQUESTING PRAYER TO THE LINEAGE LAMAS

Here is an elaborate visualization for the Requesting Prayer to the Lineage Lamas: 

When you recite the verse to the Root Guru, a replica of the root guru descends to sit on your crown, introducing you to the merit field in front, asking them to grant their blessings to help you generate the realizations of the path to enlightenment in your heart. Repeat the last line twice

  • With the first request, purify all the wrong concepts and obstacles to the realizations from guru devotion up to enlightenment. 
  • With the second request, a replica of the guru absorbs to you and you receive all the qualities of the guru’s holy body, speech and mind. 

When you recite the Requests to the Gurus of the Lineage of Vast Conduct

  • With the first request, white light purifies all the wrong concepts: particularly the self-cherishing thought for the common path, and the ordinary appearance and impure wind-mind for Vajrayana. 
  • With the second request, a replica of each guru absorbs to you. You receive all the realizations: especially bodhicitta for the common path, and the generation stage realizations and completion stage illusory body for Vajrayana. 
  • You achieve the resultant rupakaya. 

When you recite the Requests to the Gurus of the Lineage of Profound View

  • With the first request, white nectar beams purify all the wrong concepts: especially ignorance—the concept of true existence—for the common path. 
  • With the second request, a replica of each guru absorbs to you. You achieve the wisdom realizing emptiness and the tantric wisdom of clear light. 
  • You achieve the resultant dharmakaya. 

For the Remaining Requests to the lineage gurus from Lama Atisha down to your root guru

  • With the first request, purify both sets of sets of obstacles and wrong concepts.
  • With the second request, a replica of each guru absorbs to you. You generate all the realizations of vast conduct and profound view, from guru devotion up to enlightenment. 
  • You achieve the two kayas, rupakaya and dharmakaya. 

See sidebar below for a simplified visualization.

Namgyal Monastery Chanting

When the monks at His Holiness Dalai Lama’s temple, Namgyal Monastery, chant the Requesting Prayer they don’t repeat the last line. That chanting is said to come from Dagpo Shedrupling Monastery. However, even if you use His Holiness’s chanting, still the first verse to the root guru, päl dän tsa wäi la ma rin po chhe, is done using Pabongka Rinpoche’s chanting and the last line of that verse repeated. Then, even though the last line of the remaining requests is not repeated as before, the visualization of first purifying and then absorbing a replica of each guru should still be done in the same way.

Here is the second verse of the Short Requesting Prayer to the Lineage Gurus, to Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, using the Namgyal chanting

The Namgyal Chanting for the second verse of the Short Requesting Prayer (LOP 2017) 43 secs.

PHÜN TSHOG GE LEG JE WÄ TRÜN PÄI KU Holy body created by ten million excellent virtues, THA YÄ DRO WÄI RE WA KONG WÄI SUNG Holy speech fulfilling the hopes of infinite transmigratory beings, MA LÜ SHE JA JI ZHIN ZIG PÄI THUG Holy mind seeing all objects of knowledge just as they are, SHA KYÄI TSO WO KYE LA SÖL WA DEB
To the principal of the Shakyas, I make requests.

Watch Rinpoche teach on the Namgyel Chanting for the Long Requesting Prayer (Bendigo, 2018) 7 mins 56 secs.

Stop the Chanting After Each Group of Gurus

At the end of the first verse to the Root Guru, the umdze who is leading the chanting should stop. Then begin the chanting again for the next section. If the long requesting prayer is being chanted, the person leading the prayers should stop the chanting when each group of gurus is finished; then restart the chanting again for the next group.

The entire long or short requesting prayer can be chanted using only Pabongka Rinpoche’s chanting or a combination of Pabongka Rinpoche’s chanting and the Namgyal chanting. The verses from Lama Tsongkhapa onwards can also be chanted quickly if there is not much time.

The Guru Puja merit field showing the lineage gurus on either side. (Artist Unknown)
The Guru Puja merit field showing the lineage gurus on either side. (Artist Unknown)

THE REQUESTING PRAYER

Request to the Root Guru

Start with the request to the Root Guru

PÄL DÄN TSA WÄI LA MA RIN PO CHHE Magnificent and precious root Guru, DAG GI CHI WOR PÄ MÖI TENG ZHUG LA Please abide on the lotus seat on my crown, KA DRIN CHHEN PÖI GO NÄ JE ZUNG TE Guide me with your great kindness, KU SUNG THUG KYI NGÖ DRUB TSÄL DU SÖL And grant me the realizations of your holy body, speech, and mind.

As you chant this verse, a replica of your root guru descends to sit on your crown, introducing you to the merit field in front, asking them to grant their blessings to help you generate the realizations of the path to enlightenment in your heart. Repeat the last line twice

KU SUNG THUG KYI NGÖ DRUB TSÄL DU SÖL And grant me the realizations of your holy body, speech, and mind.  (2x)

With the first request, visualize that white light and nectar completely purify all your defilements. With the second request, a replica of the guru absorbs into you, and you receive all the qualities and realizations of the guru’s holy body, speech and mind.

Who is the Root Guru?

Some people in the West think that the root guru is defined as the one who first gave you the refuge vow. But this is not correct. The root guru is actually the guru who first transformed your mind into Dharma. Amongst all the gurus from whom you received teachings, the one who transformed your mind that was not Dharma into Dharma for the very first time, who most benefited your heart, that is the root guru.

“Amongst all the gurus from whom you received teachings, the one who transformed your mind that was not Dharma into Dharma for the very first time, who most benefited your heart, that is the root guru.”

For example, consider the case of Lama Atisha who had 157 gurus. Even though Lama Atisha was already the crown of all the pandit-scholars of Nalanda Monastic University—with its 300 pandits and highly attained holy beings—he traveled for twelve months on a primitive ship, facing great hardships and obstacles, to meet Lama Serlingpa in Indonesia. Then, when he arrived he rested seven days and checked Lama Serlingpa’s qualities by talking to his disciples. And after that, Lama Atisha spent twelve years receiving the complete teachings on bodhichitta from Lama Serlingpa “in the manner of one vessel being completely transferred into the next” as the Tibetan says.

Lama Atisha didn’t just go along to the teachings like in a university or school, but correctly devoted himself to Lama Serlingpa in thought and action without the slightest mistakes, disrespect, heresy or anger, by looking at Lama Serlingpa as buddha and seeing him as buddha. He studied like this for twelve years, integrating listening, reflection and meditation practice and not keeping them separate. As Lama Dromtonpa advised

While I listen to teachings, I reflect, and while I reflect, I meditate.

This is how Lama Atisha studied and practiced. Among the 157 gurus that he had, he felt that Lama Serlingpa was one who benefited him most greatly. That is why Lama Serlingpa was taken as one of Lama Atisha’s root gurus, and the other one was Dharmarakshita.

Watch Rinpoche teach on Who is the Root Guru? (LOP 2010) 15 mins.  

Many people think you can only have one root guru, but Lama Atisha had two root gurus: Lama Serlingpa and Lama Dharmarakshita. These were the gurus who benefited him the most. Whenever Lama Atisha heard Lama Serlingpa’s name, he would immediately prostrate with his palms together and shed tears with the most incredible devotion. This happened even though Lama Atisha was already a pandit, and a great scholar in both common and particularly Buddhist knowledge, with a very extensive understanding of all the five major sutra texts: Pramanavartika, Madhyamaka, Vinaya, Abhisamayalamkara, Abhidharmakosha.

“Many people think you can only have one root guru, but Lama Atisha had two. These were the gurus who benefited him the most.”

In my own case, the first lamrim teaching I received was Liberation in the Palm of the Hand, from His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s guru and younger tutor, His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche, in Varanasi. Rinpoche put this teaching together from the notes he took when receiving these teachings directly from Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo. I think it was his first time he gave this teaching to his disciples. His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche was also Lama Yeshe’s root guru. Among my gurus, who number around twenty-five, I have two root gurus: His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche and His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Anyway, at the beginning of the requesting prayer, you visualize the root guru above your crown recommending you to the merit field. Think of it like when you are trying to find a job, or you have some extremely important business, and somebody with power and influence introduces you to the officials who can help. In the same way, you make request to the root guru who recommends you to the merit field.

Requests to the Gurus of the Lineage of Vast Conduct

Next chant the Requests to the Gurus of the Lineage of Vast Conduct, starting with the founder of the present Buddhadharma, Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, then Maitreya Buddha and Asanga. As you repeat the last line, with the first request visualize that white light purifies all the wrong concepts: particularly the self-cherishing thought according to the common sutra path, and the ordinary appearance and impure wind-mind, the gross mind, according to the uncommon path of Vajrayana.

With the second request, a replica of each guru absorbs into you. You receive all the realizations: for the general path this means especially actualizing bodhicitta; and for the uncommon path, the generation stage realizations—planting the seeds to receive the future result-time three kayas by purifying the ordinary death, intermediate state and rebirth—and the completion stage realizations of the illusory body—able to experience yourself as the deity, the place as the mandala and your actions as the pure holy actions of a buddha. As a result, you achieve the rupakaya.

Watch Rinpoche teach on the visualization for the Requests to the Gurus of the Lineage of Vast Conduct (LOP 2010) 4 mins 27 secs.

DREN PA NYAM ME TÖN PA CHOM DÄN DÄ Teacher Bhagavan, the incomparable guide, GYÄL TSHAB DAM PA JE TSÜN MI PHAM GÖN
Perfect, pure Savior Maitreya, the Conqueror’s regent, GYÄL WÄ LUNG TÄN PHAG PA THOG ME ZHAB
Arya Asanga, whose coming was prophesied by the Conqueror, SANG GYÄ JANG SEM SUM LA SÖL WA DEB To you three buddhas and bodhisattvas, I make requests.

DZAM LING KÄ PÄI TSUG GYÄN YIG GI NYEN
Vasubandhu, crown ornament of this world’s learned ones, U MÄI LAM NYE PHAG PA NAM DRÖL DE
Arya Vimuktisena, who found the middle path, DÄ PÄI SAR NÄ TSÜN PA NAM DRÖL DE
Vimuktisenagomin, noble foundation of abiding faith, JIG TEN MIG JE SUM LA SÖL WA DEB To you three who opened the eyes of the world, I make requests.

MÄ JUNG NGO TSHAR NÄ GYUR CHHOG GI DE
Paramasena, who has exalted and marvelous accomplishments, ZAB MÖI LAM GYI GYÜ JANG DÜL WÄI DE
Vinitasena, who trained his mind in the profound path, LAB CHHEN CHÖ PÄI TER GYUR NAM NANG DZÄ Vairochana, a treasury of great waves of conduct, DRO WÄI TSA LAG SUM LA SÖL WA DEB To you three friends of transmigratory beings, I make requests.

LAM CHHOG SHER CHHIN GYÄ DZÄ SENG ZANG ZHAB
Haribhadra, who composed vast treatises on the supreme path of the Prajnaparamita, GYÄL WÄI MÄN NGAG KÜN DZIN KU SA LI
Kusali, holder of all the Conqueror’s instructions, DRO KÜN TSE WÄ JE DZIN GE WA CHÄN Ratnasena, who lovingly cared for all beings, DRO WÄI DE PÖN SUM LA SÖL WA DEB To you three helmsmen of sentient beings, I make requests.

JANG CHHUB THUG LA NGA NYE SER LING PA
Suvarnadvipa, who realized bodhichitta in his holy mind, SHING TA CHHEN PÖI SÖL DZIN MAR ME DZÄ
Atisha, who upheld the tradition of the great vehicle, LAM ZANG SÄL DZÄ TÖN PA RIN PO CHHEPrecious Dromtönpa, who clarified the noble path, TÄN PÄI SOG SHING SUM LA SÖL WA DEB To you three pillars of the teachings, I make requests.

Requests to the Gurus of the Lineage of Profound View

Then make Requests to the Gurus of the Lineage of Profound View, starting with Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, Manjushri and Nagarjuna. Say the last line of each request twice. With the first recitation, white nectar beams enter into you purifying all the general negative karma and wrong concepts: especially ignorance—the concept of true existence—for the common path; and the impure wind-mind for the uncommon path. With the second recitation, a replica of each guru absorbs into you. You achieve the wisdom realizing emptiness and the tantric wisdom of clear light. As a result, you achieve the dharmakaya.

Watch Rinpoche teach on the visualization for the Requests to the Gurus of the Lineage of Profound View(LOP 2010) 2 mins 48 secs.

MA WA DA ME DREN CHHOG SHA KYÄI TOG
Lord Buddha, pinnacle of the Shakyas, supreme guide peerless in explaining emptiness,GYÄL WÄI KHYEN RAB KÜN DÜ JAM PÄI YANG
Manjushri, total unity of all the buddhas’ infinite wisdom,ZAB MÖI DÖN ZIG PHAG CHHOG LU DRUB ZHAB
The supreme arya, Nagarjuna, who saw the profound meaning,MA WÄI TSUG GYÄN SUM LA SÖL WA DEBTo you three crown ornaments of the learned ones, I make requests.

PHAG PÄI GONG PA SÄL DZÄ DA WA DRAG Chandrakirti, who clarified the Arya’s intention, DE SÄ THU WO RIG PÄI KHU JUG CHHE Vidyakokila the Elder, intelligent elder son, GYÄL SÄ RIG PÄI KHU JUG NYI PÄI ZHAB Vidyakokila the Younger, a Conqueror’s son, RIG PÄI WANG CHHUG SUM LA SÖL WA DEB To you three powerfully intelligent ones, I make requests.

TEN DREL ZAB MO JI ZHIN ZIG PA YI Atisha, who saw profound dependent arising just as it is, SHING TA CHHEN PÖI SÖL DZIN MAR ME DZÄ
Who upheld the tradition of the great vehicle, LAM ZANG SÄL DZÄ TÖN PA RIN PO CHHE
Precious Dromtönpa, who clarified the noble path, DZAM LING GYÄN GYUR NYI LA SÖL WA DEB To you two ornaments of this world, I make requests.

Lama Atisha received both the lineage of the vast conduct and the lineage of the profound view. Therefore from Lama Atisha onwards the visualization of what is to be purified and what is to be received are combined.

Watch Rinpoche teach on the visualization for the Requesting Prayer to the Lineage Gurus (LOP 2010) 7 mins 49 secs.

Remaining Requests

Continue making requests to the lineage gurus down to your root guru. All of these gurus held both lineages, so as you recite each name think that you are purifying both sets of obstacles. When you finish reciting each name and a replica of that guru absorbs to you, you receive both sets of attainments and all the realizations of that guru up to enlightenment.

From Lama Atisha comes the old Kadam tradition. This is divided into three groups depending on the disciples’ level of intelligence. First is the Kadam Lamrimpa (Stages of the Path) Lineage: the gurus who achieved enlightenment by practicing the extensive Buddhadharma integrated into the lamrim and then guided sentient in that way

NÄL JOR WANG CHHUG PÄL DÄN GÖN PA WA Gönpawa, magnificent powerful yogi, ZAB MÖI TING DZIN TÄN PÄI NEU ZUR PA
Neuzurpa, who had stable concentration on the profound, DÜL WÄI DE NÖ KÜN DZIN THAG MA PA
Thagmapa, who upheld the whole collection of the vinaya, THA KHOB DRÖN ME SUM LA SÖL WA DEB To you three lamps of the border region, I make requests. TSÖN PÄ DRUB PA LHUR LEN NAM SENG ZHAB
Namkha Senge, who practiced with earnest effort, DAM PÄ JIN LAB NAM KHA GYÄL PO DANG
Namkha Gyälpo, who was blessed by the holy ones, JIG TEN CHHÖ GYÄ PANG PÄI SENG GE ZANG
Senge Zangpo, who abandoned the eight worldly concerns, GYÄL SÄ ZANG PÖI ZHAB LA SÖL WA DEB To you good sons of the victorious ones, at your feet, I make requests. JANG CHHUB THUG KYI DRO KÜN BU ZHIN ZIG With bodhichitta seeing all beings as his children, LHAG PÄI LHA YI JE ZUNG JIN GYI LAB Blessed and guided by the exalted deity, NYIG DÜ DRO WA DREN PÄI SHE NYEN CHHOG Supreme spiritual friend guiding transmigratory beings in degenerate times, NAM KHA GYÄL TSHÄN ZHAB LA SÖL WA DEB
Namkha Gyältsän, at your feet I make requests.

Then, from Kadampa Geshe Potowa there is the Kadam Shungpawa (Extensive Scriptures) Lineage: the gurus who achieved enlightenment by studying and practicing the extensive scriptures and then guided sentient beings that way

GYÄL WÄI DUNG TSHOB SHE NYEN PO TO WA Potowa, the Conqueror’s regent, NAM CHÖ DRÄN DA DRÄL WÄI SHA RA WA Sharawa, unequaled in discrimination, JANG CHHUB THUG KYI KHA BAB CHHÄ KHA WA Chekawa, who realized the advice of bodhichitta, DRO WÄI RE KONG SUM LA SÖL WA DEB To you three who fulfill the hopes of beings, I make requests. LUNG TOG NGA DAG JANG SEM CHIL BU PA
Chilbupa, bodhisattva master of scriptural learning and realization, DRI ME LUNG GI WANG CHHUG KHÄ PÄI CHHOG Lhalung Wangchug, supremely learned one, KHAM SUM DRO WÄI GÖN PO RIN PO CHHE
Gönpo Rinpoche, savior of all beings in the three realms, NÄ TÄN CHHEN PO SUM LA SÖL WA DEB To you three great elders, I make requests. NAM DAG TSHÜL THRIM NGÄ DANG ZANG CHHEN PAZangchenpa, who had the sweet scent of pure morality, DÜL WA BÜM DEI NGA DAG TSHO NA WA
Tsönawa, master of a hundred thousand sections of vinaya, CHHÖ NGÖN GYA TSHÖI THAR SÖN MÖN DRA PA Möndrapa, an ocean of abhidharma, DRO WÄI DREN PA SUM LA SÖL WA DEB To you three guides of transmigratory beings, I make requests. ZAB CHING GYA CHHEI CHHÖ LA NGA NYE PÄ
You who realized the profound and vast Dharma, KÄL DÄN DRO WA KÜN GYI KYAB SU GYUR Who protected all the fortunate beings, THRIN LÄ ZANG PÖ TÄN PA GYÄ DZÄ PA
Who did noble deeds for the vast teachings, PÄL DÄN LA MÄI ZHAB LA SÖL WA DEB Glorious Guru, Chökyab Zangpo, at your feet I make requests.

The last group is the Kadam Män Ngagpa (Pith Instruction) Lineage: the gurus who achieved enlightenment by putting into practice the guru’s advice and teachings and guided sentient beings this way

DRUB PÄI WANG CHHUG CHHEN PO TSHÜL THRIM BAR Tsultrim Bar, great powerful accomplished one, SHE NYEN TSHÜL ZHIN TEN DZÄ ZHÖN NU Ö
Zhönu Ö, who practiced perfect devotion to his spiritual friend, THEG CHHOG LAM GYI GYÜ JANG GYER GOM ZHAB Gyergompa, who trained his mind in the Mahayana path, GYÄL WÄI SÄ PO SUM LA SÖL WA DEB To you three sons of the conquerors, I make requests. MÄ JUNG YÖN TÄN DZÖ DZIN SANG GYÄ WÖN Sangyä Wön, treasure of marvelous qualities, DAM PÄ JIN LAB NAM KHA GYÄL PO DANG
Namkha Gyälpo, who was blessed by the holy ones, JIG TEN CHHÖ GYÄ PANG PÄI SENG GE ZANG
Senge Zangpo, who abandoned the eight worldly concerns, GYÄL SÄ ZANG PÖI ZHAB LA SÖL WA DEB To you good sons of the victorious ones, at your feet, I make requests. JANG CHHUB THUG KYI DRO KÜN BU ZHIN ZIG With bodhichitta seeing all beings as his children, LHAG PÄI LHA YI JE ZUNG JIN GYI LAB Blessed and guided by the exalted deity, NYIG DÜ DRO WA DREN PÄI SHE NYEN CHHOG Supreme spiritual friend guiding transmigratory beings in degenerate times, NAM KHA GYÄL TSHÄN ZHAB LA SÖL WA DEB
Namkha Gyältsän, at your feet I make requests.

All of these gurus held both lineages, so as you recite each name you purify both sets of obstacles, and when you finish reciting each name, a replica of that guru absorbs to you, you receive both sets of attainments and all the realizations of that guru.  

From Lama Tsongkhapa onwards comes the new Kadam Tradition, the Kadam Serma Lineage, or Geluk Lineage

MIG ME TSE WÄI TER CHHEN CHÄN RÄ ZIG Avalokiteshvara, great treasure of non-objectifying compassion, DRI ME KHYEN PÄI WANG PO JAM PÄL YANG Manjushri, master of stainless wisdom, GANG CHÄN KHÄ PÄL TSUG GYÄN TSONG KHA PA
Tsongkhapa, crown ornament of the sages of the Land of Snow, LO ZANG DRAG PÄI ZHAB LA SÖL WA DEB
Losang Dragpa, at your feet I make requests.

DRUB PÄI WANG CHHUG JAM PÄL GYA TSHO DANG Jampäl Gyatso, powerful accomplished practitioner, KHÄ DRUB MA WÄI NYI MA GE LEG PÄL
Khedrub Rinpoche, the sun of expounders of the teachings, NYÄN GYÜ DAM PÄI DZÖ DZIN BA SO JE
Basoje, holder of the treasury of ear whispered instructions, DA ME LA MA SUM LA SÖL WA DEB To you three peerless gurus, I make requests.

ZUNG JUG KU NYE CHHÖ KYI DOR JE DANG
Chökyi Dorje, who attained the holy body of unification,KU SUM NGÖN GYUR GYÄL WA EN SA PA
Gyälwa Ensapa, who achieved the actual three kayas, LUNG TOG NGA DAG SANG GYÄ YE SHE ZHAB
Sangye Yeshe, master of scriptural learning and realization, KHÄ DRUB CHHEN PO SUM LA SÖL WA DEB To you three great learned practitioners, I make requests.

LO ZANG CHHÖ KYI GYÄL TSHÄN DZIN PÄI JE
Losang Chökyi Gyältsän, venerable holder of the banner of Dharma, DE YI THUG SÄ KÖN CHHOG GYÄL TSHÄN ZHAB Könchog Gyältsän, his heart son, LAM ZANG SÄL DZÄ LO ZANG YE SHE TE
Losang Yeshe, who clarified the noble path, JE TSÜN LA MA SUM LA SÖL WA DEB To you three perfect, pure gurus, I make requests.

THUB TÄN PEL DZÄ NGAG WANG JAM PA DANG
Ngawang Jampa, who spread Shakyamuni Buddha’s teachings, DE YI THUG SÄ LO ZANG NYÄN DRAG ZHAB Losang Nyändrag, his heart son, GYA TSHO TA BÜI YÖN TÄN THA YÄ NGA
Yöntän Thaye, who possessed an ocean of views, DRIN CHÄN LA MA SUM LA SÖL WA DEB To you three kind gurus, I make requests.

LO ZANG YE SHE TÄN PA RAB GYÄ JE
Venerable Losang Yeshe, fine developer of the teachings, LO DRÖ ZANG PÖ DRO KÜN NAM DRÖL DZÄ
Lodrö Zangpo, who completely liberated all transmigratory beings, LO ZANG GYÄL WÄI CHHÖ TSHÜL JIN KHÄPA
Losang Jinpa, who excellently imparted the methods of the teachings, TSHUNG ME LA MA SUM LA SÖL WA DEB To you three incomparable gurus, I make requests.

KÄL ZANG NAM DREN ZHI PÄI LUNG TOG TÄN
Guiding the four types of fortunate receptacles with the teachings of scripture and realization, SHÄ DRUB NYI KYI DZIN LA DA DRÄL WA
Stainless holder of both teachings and practice, KA DRIN NYAM ME TSA WÄI LA MA LA Peerlessly kind root Guru, Kelsang Tenzin, GO SUM GÜ PA CHHEN PÖ SÖL WA DEB With great respect with my three doors I make requests.

MANG THÖ DAM PAR SHAR WÄI KYIL KHOR GYÄ You developed the mandala of your learning dawning as instructions, RIM NYI CHÖ PÄI RI DAG ZUG NYÄN SÄL Your practice of the two stages clearly reflects the gentlest of creatures, KÄL ZANG DÜL JÄI MÜN SEL KÜN DÄI NYEN You are a moon dispelling the darkness of your fortunate disciples; TÄN DZIN KHÄ DRUB ZHAB LA SÖL WA DEB
Tenzin Khedrub, at your feet I make requests.

Kyabje Dagpo Rinpoche (Kyabje Pabongkha Rinpoche’s Root Guru) DÜ SÜM KYAB NÄ MA LÜ DÜ PÄI KU Holy body embodying all objects of refuge, LO ZANG JAM PÄL LEG SHÄ DROG KHÄ SUNG
Holy speech skilled in proclaiming the excellent explanations of Losang Manjushri, LAB SUM GYU DRÄ LHÜN DRUB GYA TSHÖI THUG
Holy mind an ocean of the spontaneous wisdom of the three higher trainings and cause and result, DRIN CHÄN TRÜL PÄI KU LA SÖL WA DEB Kind emanation body; to Jampäl Lhündrub Gyatso, I make requests.

Kyabje Pabongkha Rinpoche JAM PA TSHÜL DÄN LA SOG PHAG NOR GYI
Your excellent mind bound by the arya jewels of love, morality, and the rest, THUG GYÜ LEG TAM GYÄL TÄN DZIN PÄI TSO Foremost upholder of the Conqueror’s teachings, NAM ZHII THRIN LÄ GYA TSHÖI GÖ CHÄN KHYÖN
You wore the robes of the ocean-like enlightened activities of the four types; YONG KHYAB JE TSÜN LA MAR SÖL WA DEB To the all-pervading perfect, pure Guru, Jampa Trinlä Gyatso, I make requests.

Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche LO ZANG GYÄL WA KÜN GYI YE SHE NI
Sole embodiment of the transcendental wisdom of all the noble conquerors, CHIG DÜ DRI ME GYÄL TÄN DZIN PÄI TSO
Foremost of upholders of the Conqueror’s stainless teachings, RAB JAM KYIL KHOR GYA TSHO TRO DÜI GÖN
Savior who emanates an ocean of infinite mandalas, DRIN CHÄN LA MÄI ZHAB LA SÖL WA DEB Kind Guru, Losang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso, at your feet I make requests.

Kyabje Ling Rinpoche THUB PÄI TÄN LA THUB WANG NYI PA JELike a second Mighty One for the teachings of the Mighty Ones,LUNG TOG DAM CHHÖ  DZIN PÄI DA DRÄL WAIncomparable in preserving the holy Dharma of the lineage teachings and realization,NAM PAR GYÄL WÄI THRIN LÄ SA SUM LAYour holy actions are fully victorious in controlling the three realms;WANG GYUR JE TSÜN LA MAR SÖL WA DEBTo the perfect, pure guru, Thubten Lungtog Namgyal Trinle, I make requests.

Kyabje Serkong Tsenshab RinpocheNGAG RIG KHÄ WANG NAM NÖN LO DRÖ KYI With intelligence that outshines those with mastery and command over speech and knowledge,GE DÄN LUG ZANG THUB WANG TÄN PÄI CHÜYou are the perfect ripening into a stronghold of the excellent and virtuous Gelug tradition,TÄN DÖN NYING PÖI TOB SU LEG MIN PÄIThe essence of Buddha Shakyamuni’s teachings, and the incomparable true friend;DA DRÄL NÄL JOR CHHEN POR SÖL WA DEBTo the peerless great yogi, Ngawang Gendun, I make requests.

Kyabje Zong Rinpoche LO ZANG GYÄL WA DO NGAG CHHÖ KYI TSHÜL Perfect, kind, and skillful upholder of the banner of the Conqueror’s teachings, MA LÜ THUG CHÜ MÄ JUNG TSÖN DRÜ KYI
Who strove to generate in your mind the entire method THUB TÄN GYÄL TSHÄN DZIN KÄ DRIN CHÄN JE
Of Conqueror Losang Dragpa’s sutra and tantra teachings; PÄL DÄN LA MÄI ZHAB LA SÖL WA DEB Glorious guru, Losang Tsöndrü Thubten Gyältsen, at your feet I make requests.

His Holiness the Dalai LamaJAM PÄL PA WÖI NGAG LAWANG GYUR ZHING
You who have control over Hero Manjushri’s speech, LO ZANG YE SHE GYÄL TÄN DZINPA LA
With a fine mind and transcendental wisdom upholding the Victorious One’s teachings,GYA TSHO TAR ZAB SI SUM WANG GYUR GÖN
Deep as the ocean, savior conquering the three levels of existence: TSHUNG PA ME PÄI DE LA SÖL WA DEB To you, incomparable one, Jampäl Ngawang Losang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso, I make requests.

Kyabje Choden Rinpoche MÄ JUNG LO DRÖZANG PÖ GYÄL WÄ TÄN
Lord of Dharma, with your eminent wisdom and good heart PEL LA JIG ME DA DRÄL CHHÖ KYI JE
Fearlessly spreading the teachings of the Victorious One, KHE WANG GA KYE MANG THÖ NOR BÜ CHHUG
Generating joy in the lords of the learned, rich in the jewel of extensive listening, THA YE DÜL JÄI GÖN KHYÖ SÖL WA DEB To the savior of the infinite beings to be subdued, Losang Gyältän Jigdräl Wangchug, I make requests.

Kyabje Thubten Zopa Rinpoche THUB TÄN CHI DANG KHYÄ PAR TSONG KHA PÄI
With your strong shoulders of learning and practice DRI ME TÄN PÄI GYÄL TSHÄN CHHOG KÜN TU You patiently establish in all directions the stainless banner of DZUG LA ZÖ DANG SHÄ DRUB PUNG PA NI
The Muni’s teachings, and especially the teachings of Lama Tsongkhapa. RAB TÄN THUB TÄN ZÖ PAR SÖL WA DEB To the extremely steadfast Thubten Zopa, I make requests.

All Spiritual Friends RAB JAM SUNG RAB KÜN LA TA WÄI MIG Eyes viewing all the infinite scriptures, KÄL ZANG THAR PAR DRÖ PÄI JUG NGOG CHHOG Supreme gateway for the fortunate traveling to liberation, TSE WÄ KYÖ PÄI THAB KHÄ DZÄ PA YI Engaging with skillful means moved by love: SÄL DZÄ SHE NYEN NAM LA SÖL WA DEB To the illuminating spiritual friends, I make requests.

At the end, chant the verse to not arise heresy even for a second towards the actions of the guru; and with this devotion to see whatever actions the guru does as pure and receive the blessings of the guru in your heart

PÄL DÄN LA MÄI NAM PAR THAR PA LA May I not give rise to heresy for even a second KÄ CHIG TSAM YANG LOG TA MI KYE ZHING In regard to the actions of the glorious Guru. CHI DZÄ LEG PAR THONG WÄI MÖ GÜ KYI May I see whatever actions are done as pure. LA MÄI JIN LAB SEM LA JUG PAR SHOG With this devotion, may I receive the Guru’s blessings in my heart.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche doing prayers at Buddha Amitabha Pure Land, Washington, USA, 2018. (Photo Ven Losang Sherab)
Lama Zopa Rinpoche doing prayers at Buddha Amitabha Pure Land, Washington, USA, 2018. (Photo Ven Losang Sherab)

A SIMPLIFIED VISUALIZATION FOR THE REQUESTING PRAYER TO THE LINEAGE LAMAS

Here is a simple visualization when repeating the last line of each verse in the Requesting Prayer to the Lineage Lamas: 

When you recite the verse to the Root Guru

  • With the first request, purify all the wrong concepts and obstacles to the realizations from guru devotion up to enlightenment. 
  • With the second request, a replica of the guru absorbs to you and you receive all the qualities of the guru’s holy body, speech and mind. 

When you recite the Requests to the Gurus of the Lineage of Vast Conduct

  • With the first request, purify as above.
  • With the second request, a replica of each guru absorbs to you. Generate strong faith that you have received all the realizations of the path of extensive conduct up to the rupakaya. 

When you recite the Requests to the Gurus of the Lineage of Profound View

  • With the first request, purify as above.
  • With the second request, a replica of each guru absorbs to you. Think that you have received all the realizations of the path of the profound view up to the resultant dharmakaya. 

For the Remaining Requests to the lineage lamas from Lama Atisha down to your root guru

  • With the first request, purify as above.
  • With the second request, a replica of each guru absorbs to you. You generate all the realizations of both paths, from guru devotion up to enlightenment, and achieve the two kayas.

See above sidebar for an elaborate visualization.

The Most Important Mindfulness: All the Merit Field is the Guru

Finally what I want to emphasize is that at the beginning a replica of your root guru descends to sit on your crown, recommending you to the lineage gurus. You make the first request to your root guru, then to Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, to the gurus of the lineages of vast conduct and profound view, and down through all the pandits and gurus. But in reality, all of these are your root guru to whom you directed the first request.

Your root guru takes the aspect of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, the present founder of the Buddhadharma, who showed the twelve holy deeds in this world. But there are many different universes, and at the same time as the Buddha is taking birth in this world, he is showing the aspect of the twelve deeds in many other worlds.

So the main thing is to be aware that all of these enlightened masters from the beginning to the end of the prayer are in reality manifestations of your root guru. That is the most important mindfulness. As you go through this prayer and make requests, visualizing white beams from the lineage gurus purifying the wrong concepts and obstacles, then a replica of each one absorbing into you bringing all the realizations of the path to enlightenment, be aware that all of these lineage gurus are your root guru. That is the very essence of the practice. There is no Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, Manjushri, Maitreya, Lama Atisha, Lama Tsongkhapa and so on separate from your root guru. They are all your root guru in different aspects. That is the most important mindfulness, the most important practice and the richness of the prayer.

Watch Rinpoche teach on the Most Important Mindfulness (LOP 2017) 4 mins 13 secs.

“The main thing is to be aware that all of these enlightened masters from the beginning to the end of the prayer are in reality manifestations of your root guru. That is the most important mindfulness, the most important practice and the richness of the prayer.”

The Foundation of All Good Qualities

LAMRIM PRAYER

Listen to the original instruction (LOP 2009) 8 secs.

When the Guru Puja is combined with the Jorchö, at this point we recite the lamrim prayer, The Foundation of All Good Qualities, before going on to the Requests Recalling the Guru’s Qualities (LC 43-52). Of course it depends on time, but this is how they are combined. The prayer can be read in English

The foundation of all good qualities is the kind and perfect, pure guru; Correct devotion to him is the root of the path. By clearly seeing this and applying great effort, Please bless me to rely upon him with great respect. Understanding that the precious freedom of this rebirth is found only once, Is greatly meaningful, and is difficult to find again, Please bless me to generate the mind that unceasingly, Day and night, takes its essence. This life is as impermanent as a water bubble; Remember how quickly it decays and death comes. After death, just like a shadow follows the body, The results of black and white karma follow. Finding firm and definite conviction in this, Please bless me always to be careful To abandon even the slightest negative action And accomplish all virtuous deeds. Seeking samsaric pleasures is the door to all suffering: They are uncertain and cannot be relied upon. Recognizing these shortcomings, Please bless me to generate the strong wish for the bliss of liberation. Led by this pure thought, Mindfulness, alertness, and great caution arise. The root of the teachings is keeping the pratimoksha vows: Please bless me to accomplish this essential practice. Just as I have fallen into the sea of samsara, So have all mother transmigratory beings. Please bless me to see this, train in supreme bodhichitta, And bear the responsibility of freeing transmigratory beings. Even if I develop only bodhichitta, but I don’t practice the three types of morality, I will not achieve enlightenment. With my clear recognition of this, Please bless me to practice the bodhisattva vows with great energy. Once I have pacified distractions to wrong objects And correctly analyzed the meaning of reality, Please bless me to generate quickly within my mindstream The unified path of calm abiding and special insight. Having become a pure vessel by training in the general path, Please bless me to enter The holy gateway of the fortunate ones: The supreme vajra vehicle. At that time, the basis of accomplishing the two attainmentsIs keeping pure vows and samaya. As I have become firmly convinced of this, Please bless me to protect these vows and pledges like my life. Then, having realized the importance of the two stages, The essence of the Vajrayana, By practicing with great energy, never giving up the four sessions, Please bless me to realize the teachings of the holy guru. Like that, may the gurus who show the noble path And the spiritual friends who practice it have long lives. Please bless me to pacify completely All outer and inner hindrances. In all my lives, never separated from perfect gurus,May I enjoy the magnificent Dharma. By completing the qualities of the stages and paths,May I quickly attain the state of Vajradhara.

Requests Recalling the Guru’s Qualities (LC 43-52)

INTRODUCTION

Following the Requesting Prayer to the Lamrim Lineage Gurus and the lamrim prayer, The Foundation of All Good Qualities, come the Requests Recalling the Guru’s Qualities (LC 43-52) yön tän jung nä tshül thrim gya tsho chhe. These verses praise the outer, inner, secret and absolute qualities of the guru. There is no particular chanting for the verses, so it is better to read them aloud in English when the puja is done in the West and let people think about the meaning.  

First, the guru is praised for having the qualities to reveal the sutra teachings of the lesser vehicle (LC 43) and Mahayana path (LC 44). Then, the qualities to reveal the Mahayana tantra (LC 45) are praised: the ten qualities to reveal the lower tantra teachings and ten secret qualities to reveal the highest tantra teachings. After that, the verses speak in different ways about the guru’s kindness (LC 46-48), followed by the outer (LC 49) and inner (LC 50) qualities of the guru. At the end, there are two verses (LC 51-52) with the tantric understanding of what the guru is, which are so profound and secret that some Guru Puja commentaries will not even explain their meaning.

Watch Rinpoche give a short introduction to the Requests Recalling the Guru’s Qualities (LC 43-52) (Bendigo, 2018) 1 min 51 secs.

“There is no particular chanting for the verses, so it is better to read them aloud in English and let people think about the meaning.”

When you recite this prayer, don’t only visualize the root guru. You should visualize all the gurus with whom you have made a Dharma connection, not specifically the root guru, and relate the qualities to all of them. Then at the end, when you do the Special One-Pointed Request (LC 53), you can focus on your root guru. This is important because you need to have a pure mind of devotion towards all your gurus. Otherwise even if you have a good connection to most of your gurus, if there is even one guru towards whom you feel anger and heresy, you won’t be able to generate any realizations.

The Guru’s Qualities According to the Vinaya

The first verse talks about the guru’s qualifications to reveal the lesser vehicle path.

LC 43 YÖN TÄN JUNG NÄ TSHÜL THRIM GYA TSHO CHHE
Source of qualities, great ocean of moral discipline, MANG THÖ NOR BÜI TSHOG KYI YONG SU TAM Treasury brimming with jewels of much hearing, NGUR MIG DZIN PA THUB WANG NYI PÄI JE Master, second buddha clad in saffron, NÄ TÄN DÜL WA DZIN LA SÖL WA DEB Elder, vinaya holder, I make requests to you.

The guru is a source of qualities and a great ocean of moral discipline, who has done extensive listening to Dharma teachings and accumulated a wealth of the collection of merits. He is described as a second Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, having the aspect of wearing robes and being a vinaya holder, living in the higher ordination.

The Guru’s Qualities According to the Mahayana

Next, the guru is praised for having the ten qualities to reveal the Mahayana path to enlightenment, the path gone to bliss (de war sheg päi lam).

LC 44 GANG DANG DÄN NA DE WAR SHEG PÄI LAM You have the ten qualities suitable for one TÖN PAR Ö PÄI YÖN TÄN CHU DÄN PA To teach the path of those gone to bliss. MA LÜ GYÄL WÄI DUNG TSHOB CHHÖ KYI JE Lord of Dharma, representative of all conquerors, THEG CHHOG GE WÄI SHE LA SÖL WA DEB Mahayana virtuous friend, I make requests to you.  

The ten qualities are: (1) being subdued, (2) pacified and (3) extremely pacified—which show that the guru is living in the three higher trainings of morality, concentration and insight. Then (4) having greater qualities than the disciples, (5) having perseverance, (6) being enriched in the understanding of the scriptures: both the words and realizations, (7) having realized emptiness only, (8) being wise and skillful in explaining the Dharma, (9) having the nature of compassion, and (10) having abandoned discouragement—such as not wanting to give teachings, bear hardships and so on—which means that the disciples will always receive teachings. It is normally mentioned in the teachings that if the guru doesn’t have all ten of these qualities, at least they should have five or something like that. For myself, I don’t even have one!  

The Mahayana virtuous friend who possesses all ten of these qualities is described as a perfect Dharma guide (chhö kyi je) and as a regent, or representative of all the victorious ones (ma lü gyäl wäi dung tshob), in the same way that the Ganden Tripa is the regent of Lama Tsongkhapa.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche gives the lung for the Mahayana Sutra of Golden Light, Bodhgaya stupa, India. (Photo Andy Melnic) 
Lama Zopa Rinpoche gives the lung for the Mahayana Sutra of Golden Light, Bodhgaya stupa, India. (Photo Andy Melnic) 

The Guru’s Qualities According to the Vajrayana

This verse makes requests to the guru as a qualified Vajrayana master, the principal holder of the vajra (dor je dzin päi tso).

LC 45 GO SUM LEG DAM LO CHHEN ZÖ DÄN DRANG You are wise, patient, honest, YO DANG GYU ME NGAG DANG GYÜ SHE SHING Without pretense or guile, your three doors well subdued. DE NYI CHU ZUNG DRI DANG CHHÄ KHÄ PÄI You have both sets of ten qualities, know mantra and tantra, and are skilled in drawing and explaining; DOR JE DZIN PÄI TSO LA SÖL WA DEB Foremost vajra holder, I make requests to you.

It says the guru’s three doors of body, speech and mind are well bound from immoral actions. He possesses great wisdom (lo chhen), patience and sincerity; is without cunning and never hides any personal mistakes; is knowledgeable in mantra and the root tantras; possesses the outer ten qualities required to reveal the lower tantra and the inner, or secret, ten qualities to reveal the highest yoga tantra path; and is expert in the tantric art of drawing mandalas and explaining.

The Guru is Kinder than All the Buddhas

The next three verses talk about the guru’s kindness. Firstly, the guru is kinder than the numberless buddhas

LC 46 SANG GYÄ DRANG ME JÖN PÄ MA THÜL WÄI
To those untamed by countless past buddhas, MA RUNG DÜL KÄI NYIG DÜ DRO WA LA The unruly transmigratory beings of this degenerate age who are difficult to subdue, DE SHEG LAM ZANG JI ZHIN TÖN PA YI You accurately show the good way of those gone to bliss. KYAB GÖN THUG JE CHÄN LA SÖL WA DEB Compassionate refuge savior, I make requests to you.  

Even though numberless buddhas have descended in the past, they were unable to subdue your mind, or to subdue the transmigratory beings of this degenerate time whose minds are evil—thinking in an evil way and engaging in evil actions—and very difficult to subdue. Whereas the guru, the compassionate refuge savior, is able to reveal exactly the pure path of those gone to bliss.

The Guru is Even Kinder than Shakyamuni Buddha

Next, although the present founder Guru Shakyamuni Buddha is kinder than all the numberless buddhas, the guru is kinder still because when the Buddha descended to this world, we were not able to be subdued and so he was unable to guide and subdue us.

LC 47THUB PÄI NYI MA DÜ KYI NUB GYUR TE
When the sun of the Muni sets because of the times, GÖN KYAB ME PÄI DRO WA MANG PO LA You enact the deeds of a conqueror GYÄL WÄI DZÄ PA NYE WAR DRUB DZÄ PÄI For the many transmigratory beings who lack a refuge savior. KYAB GÖN THUG JE CHÄN LA SÖL WA DEB Compassionate refuge savior, I make requests to you.

At this time when the teachings of the Buddha have degenerated, it is the guru who is accomplishing the activities of the numberless buddhas for the many transmigratory beings who lack a guide and a refuge—including yourself. Since we don’t have a pure mind, we cannot see the buddhas directly in their pure aspect and so they cannot guide us directly. It is only by manifesting as the guru who is very close to you that the buddhas can accomplish their activities. Therefore, however many gurus you have, what you must realize is that every single one of them is doing the activities of the numberless buddhas.

His Eminence Ling Rinpoche, incarnation of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Senior Tutuor, teaching at Istituto Lama Tsong Khapa, Italy, 2018. (Photo Piero Sirianni)
His Eminence Ling Rinpoche, incarnation of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Senior Tutuor, teaching at Istituto Lama Tsong Khapa, Italy, 2018. (Photo Piero Sirianni)

“It is only by manifesting as the guru who is very close to you that the buddhas can accomplish their activities. Therefore, however many gurus you have, what you must realize is that every single one of them is doing the activities of the numberless buddhas.”

Sakya Pandita said

Even though the sun’s rays are extremely hot,Without a magnifying glass, fire cannot be produced.Similarly, without the guruThe blessings of the buddhas cannot enter the disciple.

There is a plant in Solukhumbu that can be used to start a fire when it is dried and mashed and the sun’s rays are focused on to it through a magnifying glass, but without a magnifying glass it cannot produce a flame. In a similar way, Sakya Pandita is saying that without the guru, the blessings of the buddhas cannot be received in the disciple’s mind. The quotation goes on to say

Therefore, by pleasing this guru all the buddhas are pleased.The guru is the three rare sublime ones embodied into one.To you the guru, I go for refuge.

Similarly, say you were to fall down a hole into a fire pit and many people above ground sent down a rope to pull you out. If you hold very tightly onto that rope, totally relying on it, they can pull you up. But if you don’t hold onto the rope, no matter how many people try to help you, there’s nothing they can do. In this example, the rope is like the guru, who has been sent to you, manifested for you, by all the buddhas. Since your mind is not purified, even if all the buddhas that exist were to come in front of you right now,you wouldn’t be able to see a single buddha. All you would see is only your present impure view. The Essence of Nectar says

Until we are free from our obscuring negative karma,Even if all the buddhas without exception descended directly in front of us, We have no fortune to see the sublime holy body adorned with the holy signs and exemplifications—Only this present appearance.  

Right now you don’t have the fortune to see the buddhas’ holy bodies in the aspect of buddha, adorned with the holy signs and exemplifications. You only have the karma to see this present appearance, which is the impure appearance of having delusions, suffering and mistaken actions. The present appearance is the projection of your own ordinary, impure mind.

Thinking over this quotation is a very powerful way to immediately cut the thought of the guru having mistakes. The guru appears to be ordinary to your ordinary mind and you believe that appearance to be true. But believing in this ordinary appearance that appears to your ordinary mind becomes an obstacle that blocks you from developing the realization of guru devotion that sees the guru as a buddha. And by blocking the realization of guru devotion, all other realizations of the path to enlightenment, including the three principal aspects of the path and the two stages, are also blocked.

So practice mindfulness of this and also meditate on what the Fifth Dalai Lama said

In the view of your hallucinated mind, your own faults appear in the guru’s actions. All this shows that your own heart is rotten to the core. Recognizing them as your own faults, abandon them as poison.

The mistakes that you see in the guru are not the guru’s mistakes. They are your own. They come from your own mind. You make your own mind superstitious by believing to be true  your mistaken appearance of the guru as one making mistakes and having suffering and delusions. This quotation is telling us to think that all these apparent mistakes are our own mistakes. Whenever the guru tryly appears to have mistakes, think, “that is my own mistake.” By seeing that, understanding that, and realizing that, you will be able to immediately abandon like poison the belief that your superstitious mind is true.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche traveling to Boston to give teachings, August 2018. (Photo Ven Losang Sherab)
Lama Zopa Rinpoche traveling to Boston to give teachings, August 2018. (Photo Ven Losang Sherab)

“The mistakes that you see in the guru are not the guru’s mistakes. They are your own. You make your own mind superstitious by believing to be true your mistaken appearance of the guru as someone who makes mistakes and has delusions and suffering.”

Then it will be like holding on to the rope one-pointedly, without the slightest doubt that your life depends on it. As it says in the Single One-Pointed Request (LC 53)

From now until enlightenment I shall seek no other refuge than you. In this life, the bardo, and all future lives, Hold me with your hook of compassion, Free me from the dangers of samsara and nirvana, grant all realizations, Be my guide forever and protect me from all obstacles.

When you think like this, the numberless buddhas can help you, they can liberate you. It is like the example of the people who send down a rope to pull you out of the fiery pit— where the rope is like the guru who is manifested by the buddhas to guide you. No matter how many billions and zillions of people there are above ground, they can only help you if you hold onto that rope one-pointedly, without any two-pointed mind.

Even the Guru’s Family, Animals, and so forth are a Higher Object of Offering than All the Buddhas

The next verse is about the guru’s pores.  

LC 48 DÜ SUM CHHOG CHÜI GYÄL WA THAM CHÄ LÄ Even one of your pores is for us GANG GI BA PÜI BU GA CHIG TSAM YANG A field of merit more highly praised DAG CHAG SÖ NAM ZHING DU LEG NGAG PÄI Than all the conquerors of the three times and ten directions. KYAB GÖN THUG JE CHÄN LA SÖL WA DEB Compassionate refuge savior, I make requests to you.

Again, this is talking about the kindness of the guru. Even one of the guru’s pores is more special than numberless buddhas. You collect far greater merit by making offering to even one of the guru’s pores than by offering to the numberless buddhas—those who have ceased all the mistakes of the mind and completed all the qualities and realizations—numberless Dharma, numberless Sangha, numberless statues, numberless stupas and numberless scriptures. All those merits are very small compared to the merit from offering to even one pore of the guru.

A young Tenzin Phuntsok Rinpoche, reincarnation of Geshe Lama Konchog, hugs his dog, Dorje, Kopan, Nepal. (Photo Unknown)
A young Tenzin Phuntsok Rinpoche, reincarnation of Geshe Lama Konchog, hugs his dog, Dorje, Kopan, Nepal. (Photo Unknown)

“You collect far greater merit by making offering to even one of the guru’s pores than by offering to the numberless buddhas.”

Requests Expressing the Guru’s Outer Qualities

The next verse says

LC49 DE SHEG KU SUM GYÄN GYI KHOR LO NI Adorned with a sugata’s three bodies and ornamental wheels, THAB KHÄ GYU THRÜL DRA WÄI JO GEG LÄ You manifest from an alluring net of skillful means THA MÄL TSHÜL GYI DRO WA DREN DZÄ PÄI In an ordinary form to lead all beings. KYAB GÖN THUG JE CHÄN LA SÖL WA DEB Compassionate refuge savior, I make requests to you.

The next verse makes request to the guru who possesses the three kayas, the wheel of the ornaments of the One Gone to Bliss (Tib. de sheg, Skt. sugata, i.e. the Buddha) and manifests in a skillful manner in ordinary form as a joyful act to lead us transmigratory beings to enlightenment. It is very hard to subdue us since this is such an over-degenerate time and we transmigratory beings are so stubborn and thick-skulled that it is extremely difficult for us to understand the Dharma, have faith and gain realizations. But the compassionate guru, the object of refuge, manifests and guides us with skillful means to enlightenment.

Requests Expressing the Guru’s Inner Qualities

LC 50 KHYÖ KYI PHUNG KHAM KYE CHHE YÄN LAG NAM Your aggregates, elements, sources, and limbs DE SHEG RIG NGA YAB YUM SEM PA DANG Are in nature the sugatas and wisdom mothers of the five types of buddhas, THRO WÖI WANG PÖI RANG ZHIN CHHOG SUM GYI Bodhisattvas, and wrathful protectors. DAG NYI LA MA CHHOG LA SÖL WA DEB Supreme Guru, in nature the Three Rare Sublime Ones, I make requests to you.  

When we generate the second merit field (LC 9-14) we visualize guru’s five aggregates as the five types of buddha and so on. And around the guru is the merit field: the four classes of tantric deities, the thousand buddhas of the fortunate eon, the bodhisattvas, arhats, dakas and dakinis, Dharma protectors and so forth. Although they manifest differently, they are all enlightened beings and they are all actually the one being—your root guru. Every single atom of the guru’s holy body is all the numberless buddhas and the whole Guru Puja merit field.

So as I mentioned earlier, whenever we receive advice or offer service to the guru, we should practice this mindfulness. By offering even a tiny drop of perfume or scented oil to one pore of the guru’s holy body you collect much greater merit than making offering to the numberless past, present and future buddhas of the ten directions; or to the numberless Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, and the numberless statues, stupas and scriptures. The merit is far greater.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche drawing the syllable AH, 2018. (Photo Ven Roger Kunsang)
Lama Zopa Rinpoche drawing the syllable AH, 2018. (Photo Ven Roger Kunsang)

EDITOR’S NOTE: The next two verses (LC 51-52) require a highest tantra empowerment.

REQUESTS RECALLING THE GURU’S SECRET AND SUCHNESS QUALITIES

Requests Expressing the Guru’s Secret Qualities

Now there are two stanzas left, which describe the secret and absolute qualities of the guru. This can only be explained to those who have received highest tantra initiation. I will translate them line by line.

Watch Rinpoche translate and comment on the meaning of the Requests Expressing the Guru’s Secret Qualities (LC 51) (LOP 2010) 7 mins 23 secs.

LC 51 KÜN KHYEN YE SHE RÖL PA LÄ JUNG WÄI Arising from the play of omniscient transcendental wisdom, KYIL KHOR KHOR LO JE WÄI DAG NYI DE You are the essence of ten million mandala cycles. RIG GYÄI KHYAB DAG DOR JE DZIN PÄI TSO Pervading lord of a hundred types of buddhas, foremost vajra holder, ZUNG JUG DANG PÖI GÖN LA SÖL WA DEB Unified primordial savior, I make requests to you.

First is making request to the secret qualities of the guru

The act or manifestation (röl pa) arising from the omniscient transcendental wisdom (kün khyen ye she).

What is that?

It is the nature or essence (dag nyi) of ten million mandalas (kyil khor khor lo je wäi).

Here mandala refers to both the deity (ten—the support that relies on the mandala) and the mandala (pa—that supports it). The ten million (che wa) doesn’t mean literally only ten million but an innumerable number. It is similar to the Lama Tsongkhapa guru yoga practice, which is called the Hundred Deities of Tushita (gan den lha gyä). That is also not saying that there are only a hundred devas in Tushita, it just means many.

So who is that?

The principal holder of the vajra (dor je dzin päi tso) the owner who pervades (khyab dag) all of the hundreds of types of deities (rig gyäi), peaceful and wrathful, along with their mandalas.

The principal holder of the vajra usually refers to the root guru in the aspect of Vajradhara, but the last line goes even deeper into the meaning of Vajradhara

To the unified (zung jug) original (dang pöi) savior (gön po) I make requests (söl wa deb).

This unified original savior is a very important term. It refers to the ultimate guru (dön dam pai lama), the dharmakaya. The real meaning of principal vajra holder is not just Vajradhara—holding the external symbolic vajra and bell—but the holy mind of dharmakaya, the transcendental wisdom of non-dual bliss and voidness, and it is described as the unified original savior.  

This is something we have to learn. It is the real explanation of dharmakaya. Unified is explained in the word initiation where the meaning of unification is introduced; then original or primordial; and savior or guide is the transcendental wisdom of non-dual bliss and voidness bound by infinite compassion to yourself and to all sentient beings. This compassion is fully developed towards every single sentient being. Therefore, besides having omniscience and perfect power, due to this infinite compassion the ultimate guru is bound to you and to all sentient beings, and because of that has to guide and benefit you all the time.

“The ultimate guru is bound by infinite compassion to you and to all sentient beings, and because of that has to guide and benefit you all the time.”

The next verse goes deeper into this and describes it more.

Requests Expressing the Guru’s Suchness Qualities

Watch Rinpoche translate and comment on the meaning of the Requests Expressing the Guru’s Suchness Qualities (LC 52) (LOP 2010) 2 mins 19 secs.

This verse is making request to the absolute guru

LC 52DRIB ME LHÄN KYE GA WÄI RÖL PA DANGUnobscured, inseparable from the play of simultaneous joy,YER ME TÄN YO KÜN KHYAB KÜN GYI DAGPervading everything in motion and at rest;THOG MA THA DRÄL KÜN ZANG DÖN DAM GYIThe nature of all things, free from beginning or end,JANG CHHUB SEM NGÖ KHYÖ LA SÖL WA DEBAll good actual ultimate bodhichitta; I make requests to you.

The first two lines translate as

The manifestation of the play of simultaneously-born greatest bliss (lhän kye ga wäi röl pa) without obscuration (dri me) Is inseparable (yer me) with everything firm (tän) and moving (yo)

Here what is firm is the place and what is moving are the living beings, so this means something like “the place and the sentient beings.” Another way to translate these two lines would be

The manifestation of the play of simultaneously-born bliss without obscurationPervades all environments and living beings.

In other words, it covers all of existence. It pervades all phenomena and it pervades however many numberless mandalas and deities exist and it does this by going back into one (kün khyab kün gyi dag). In other words, all of this is just one: the dharmakaya, the ultimate guru and nothing else, who is the owner of all.

Having no beginning and no end (thog ma tha dräl) all pure (kün zang)

This dharmakaya has no beginning and no end, it is completely pure.

To the actual bodhicitta (dön dam gyi jang chhub sem ngö), the ultimate reality, I make requests.

Now you can see how all the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha come from the guru. That is what we have to realize. All the buddhas come from the ultimate guru that manifests in a conventional form as the guru of the all-obscuring truth (kun dzob kyi lama), the guru that appears to our ignorance and that our ignorance believes is truly existent.

The ultimate guru is the doer, the unified original guide. It covers all phenomena and—the special thing about buddhas—the moment the karma of the sentient being ripens, it manifests in any form without a second’s delay. For ordinary beings it manifests in an ordinary form that has delusions, suffering and makes mistakes. For those with a pure mind, it manifests in a pure form, in the aspect of a buddha. It manifests in exactly the form that fits sentient beings’ minds without a second’s delay—in an ordinary form for those with delusions and a pure form for those without—and then guides sentient beings. This absolute guru has been manifesting and guiding us not only in this life, but from beginningless rebirths. It has been working for us, benefiting us and and causing us happiness from beginningless rebirths.  

Therefore, all the happiness that we have experienced from beginningless rebirths has come from this unified original guide, which has no beginning and no end. It has been guiding us, manifesting in all kinds of forms from beginningless rebirths, but from our side we cannot recognize this. It will also guide us in the future, until we achieve enlightenment, protecting us from so many sufferings.

“All the happiness that we have experienced from beginningless rebirths has come from this unified original guide, which has no beginning and no end.”

This ultimate guru manifests as a buddha and shows the twelve deeds, like Guru Shakymuni Buddha who showed the twelve deeds for you. This is not the first time the ultimate guru has revealed the teachings by showing the twelve deeds to guide you. It has happened numberless times in numberless universes. While this guru is revealing the teachings here, in another universe the guru is showing enlightenment, in another universe passing away, in yet another universe showing birth and so on, in numberless universes. In every second, the guru is liberating numberless sentient beings from the sufferings of the lower realms and of samsara and bringing them to enlightenment.

So you have received all your happiness from beginningless rebirths from this ultimate guru. You are receiving all the present happiness and you will receive all the future lives’ happiness from that, including the ultimate happiness of liberation from samsara and enlightenment. And it doesn’t stop there. You will then be able to liberate numberless sentient beings from the oceans of samsaric suffering and bring them from each realm to enlightenment. Your ability to do this also comes from the ultimate guru that has been manifesting for you as the guru of the all-obscuring truth numberless times from beginningless rebirth and will continue to do so in the future.

So when you really think in depth about what the guru is, and go down to the root, to the ultimate guru, it is something most amazing.

“When you really think in depth about what the guru is, it is something most amazing.”

That is why at the beginning of the Guru Puja, when we go for refuge, we first take refuge in the Guru, Namo Gurubhyah, rather than in the Buddha, Namo Buddhaya.

LC 3NAMO GURUBHYA I take refuge in the Guru. NAMO BUDDHAYA I take refuge in the Buddha. NAMO DHARMAYA I take refuge in the Dharma. NAMO SANGHAYA I take refuge in the Sangha.  

Taking refuge in the Guru comes first, because it is from the Guru that the Buddha comes, then the Dharma and then the Sangha. Everything comes from the Guru.  

The evolution is most profound and also most secret. It is only in tantra that the detailed explanation appears, not in the sutra teachings. The sutra never talks about the unification, the unified original savior (zung jug dang po gön pö). The dharmakaya is not described in that way, as the transcendental wisdom of non-dual bliss and voidness. Only in tantra, and even that, only in the highest tantra, can the subtle, secret part be completely understood. Therefore, explaining the dharmakaya in this way is the most secret way and can only be explained to those who have received a highest tantra initiation.

Watch Rinpoche explain the Meaning of Guru (LOP 2017) 22 mins 17 secs.
Watch Rinpoche explain There is No Place Where There is No Guru (LOP 2010) 14 mins 51 secs.

The Elaborate Chanting for Requests Recalling the Guru’s Qualities (LC 43-52)

Listen to the original instruction (LOP 2009) 26 secs.

As I mentioned before, it’s better to recite these verses in English. There’s no particular chanting, just go straight.

The Elaborate Chanting for Requests Recalling the Guru’s Qualities (LC 43-52) (Bendigo, 2014) 14 secs.

The Middle Chanting for Requests Recalling the Guru’s Qualities (LC 43-52)

The Medium Chanting for Requests Recalling the Guru’s Qualities (LC 43-52) (Bendigo, 2014) 13 secs.

Special One-Pointed Request (LC 53)

Listen to the original teaching on the Special One-Pointed Request (LC 53) 2 mins 33 secs.
Watch Rinpoche translate and comment on the Special One-Pointed Request (LC 53) (LOP 2010) 2 mins 37 secs.

Next is the Special One-Pointed Request (LC 53)

LC 53 KHYÖ NI LA MA KHYÖ NI YI DAM
You are the Guru, you are the yidam, KHYÖ NI KHA DRO CHHÖ KYONG TE You are the dakini and Dharma protector. DENG NÄ ZUNG TE JANG CHHUB BAR DU From now until enlightenment KHYÖ MIN KYAB ZHÄN MI TSHÖL WÄ I shall seek no other refuge than you. DI DANG BAR DO CHHI MÄI THAR YANG In this life, the bardo, and all future lives, THUG JEI CHAG KYÜ ZUNG DZÖ LA Hold me with your hook of compassion, SI ZHII JIG DRÖL NGÖ DRUB KÜN TSÖL Free me from the fears of samsara and nirvana, grant all attainments, TÄN GYI DROG DZÖ BAR CHÖ SUNGBe my constant companion, and guard me from interferences. (3x)

Here you are completely relying upon the ultimate guru, the unified primordial savior (zung jug dang po gön pö), with all your heart. Like driving a tent peg or a stake into the ground by striking it again and again with a hammer to make it stable, you make this prayer with a very, very strong request to the guru to guide you with the hook of compassion all the time—when you are happy, when you are suffering, in this life, in future lives and when death comes—up to enlightenment.

“Here you are completely relying upon the ultimate guru with all your heart.”

I often say that even if you have only a few minutes or seconds of this life remaining, this is the request you should make. You ask the guru to liberate you from samsara and lower nirvana, to grant all the realizations, to protect you from obstacles every day, every minute and every second and to bring you to the guru’s state of enlightenment.

So this is not just something to chant nicely. No! This is a very serious matter—a really, really serious matter. You have to know that. Practicing Guru Puja is not just chanting wah wah wah and playing music. It is not a simple thing. If you really understand this practice, it is so deep—really, really deep. It tells how you are so fortunate: firstly, to meet with Buddhism, then the Mahayana tantric teachings and, particularly, the highest of the four classes of tantra, which gives the opportunity to study and practice the Guru Puja. Wow, wow, wow. That’s something truly incredible.

“Practicing Guru Puja is not just chanting wah wah wah and playing music. It is not a simple thing.”

Generally it is extremely difficult to be reborn as a human being. But to be born as a human being who is able to practice the Guru Puja is unimaginably fortunate! Therefore, you really must recognize and understand how fortunate you are to be able to do this practice, which can bring the quickest enlightenment.

Watch Rinpoche teach on Guru Puja is Not a Simple Thing (LOP 2010) 2 mins 6 secs.

The Elaborate Chanting for the Special One-Pointed Request (LC 53)

The Elaborate Chanting for the Special One-Pointed Request (LC 53) (Bendigo, 2014) 2 mins 48 secs.
The Elaborate Chanting for the Special One-Pointed Request (LOP 2009) 2 mins 5 secs.

Normally this prayer is recited twice quickly and then chanted slowly the third time. But Geshe Lama Konchog’s idea was that it should be chanted first and the last two times more quickly.

I will chant this one time

LC53

KHYÖ NI LA MA KHYÖ NI YI DAM
You are the Guru, you are the yidam,KHYÖ NI KHA DRO CHHÖ KYONG TEYou are the dakini and Dharma protector.DENG NÄ ZUNG TE JANG CHHUB BAR DUFrom now until enlightenmentKHYÖ MIN KYAB ZHÄN MI TSHÖL WÄI shall seek no other refuge than you.DI DANG BAR DO CHHI MÄI THAR YANGIn this life, the bardo, and all future lives,THUG JEI CHAG KYÜ ZUNG DZÖ LAHold me with your hook of compassion,SI ZHII JIG DRÖL NGÖ DRUB KÜN TSÖLFree me from the fears of samsara and nirvana, grant all attainments,TÄN GYI DROG DZÖ BAR CHÖ SUNGBe my constant companion, and guard me from interferences. (3x)

The Short Chanting for the Special One-Pointed Request (LC 53)

The Short Chanting for the Special One-Pointed Request (LC 53) (Bendigo, 2014) 45 secs.

Receiving the Blessings of the Four Empowerments (LC 54)

The Elaborate Chanting for Receiving the Blessings of the Four Empowerments (LC 54) (LOP 2009) 2 mins 9 secs.

After that is Receiving the Blessings of the Four Empowerments

LC 54 DE TAR LÄN SUM SÖL WA TAB PÄI THÜ
By the force of having thus requested three times, LA MÄI KU SUNG THUG KYI NÄ NAM LÄ Nectar and light rays–white, red and dark blue– DÜ TSI Ö ZER KAR MAR THING GA SUM Stream forth one by one and all together RIM DANG CHIG CHAR JUNG NÄ DAG NYI KYI From the places of my Guru’s holy body, speech, and mind, NÄ SUM RIM DANG CHIG CHAR THIM PA LÄ And absorb one by one and all together into my own three places. DRIB ZHI DAG CHING NAM DAG WANG ZHI THOB The four obscurations are purified and the four pure empowerments are received.KU ZHI THOB CHING LA MA NYI PA ZHIG I achieve the four kayas and am blessed by GYE ZHIN THIM PÄ JIN GYI LAB PAR GYUR A replica of the Guru that happily absorbs into me.

The Elaborate Chanting for Receiving the Blessings of the Four Empowerments (LC 54)

The Elaborate Chanting for Receiving the Blessings of the Four Empowerments (LC 54) (Bendigo, 2014) 1 min 33 secs. 

The Medium Chanting for Receiving the Blessings of the Four Empowerments (LC 54)

The Medium Chanting for Receiving the Blessings of the Four Empowerments (LC 54) (Bendigo, 2014) 30 secs.

The Short Chanting for Receiving the Blessings of the Four Empowerments (LC 54)

The Short Chanting for Receiving the Blessings of the Four Empowerments (LC 54) (Bendigo, 2014) 45 secs. 

Mantra Recitation

Listen to the original teaching on the Mantra Recitation (LOP 2009) 5 mins 2 secs.

Next is the mantra recitation: this is a very important meditation. It is mentioned in Panchen Losang Chökyi Gyaltsen’s Guru Puja

Just merely hearing the holy name of the root guru Eliminates the fear of the lower realms. Even merely remembering the holy name of the root guruEliminates the suffering of samsaraIf one makes request, it grants all the realizations. Think that [the guru] is the essence encompassing the unbetraying objects of refuge, the three rare sublime ones.

In the Tantra of Decorating the Samaya

Meditating on the mere appearance of the guru in your heart for even a short time is far more meaningful and meritoriousThan meditating on the completion stage for two million eons having completely given up distractions (duzi).

And in the Tantra of the Abhidharma

Whoever visualizes (lit. decorates) the kind guru in their heart, on the crown, or in the palms of their hands, Will definitely receive the blessings of one thousand buddhas—Because the guru is the embodiment of all the buddhas.

This last quote is saying that wherever you visualize the guru, the blessings of all the buddhas will definitely enter into that place. It mentions one thousand buddhas, but it means all of them.

So at this point, if you have received a highest tantra empowerment, you visualize that the guru has entered into your heart and [recite the mantra]. Even though there are different mantras for different deities but the main thing is the guru. They are all the root guru’s holy mind. Lopbon Sangye Yeshe said

There is not even the name “buddha” before the guru.

This means that all the buddhas are manifestations of the guru, who is the dharmakaya. All the buddhas’ transcendental wisdom is of one taste with the dharmakaya, which is the ultimate nature of all the buddhas. All the buddhas are manifestations of that ultimate guru. Therefore there is no buddha before the guru; there are only buddhas after the guru. So whichever deity’s mantra you want to recite, what you actually meditate on is that oneness with the ultimate guru.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche Solo Khumbu, Lawudo gompah, 2015. Photo Bill Kane.
Lama Zopa Rinpoche Solo Khumbu, Lawudo gompah, 2015. Photo Bill Kane.

“There is not even the name buddha before the guru.”

MEDITATING ON THE GURU

Better to think of the Guru for a single instantThan to meditate on a deity for millions of years:Pray to your Guru and Lord.Better to utter once the name of the teacherThan to recite the names of the deities from the four classes of tantra:Pray to your Guru and Lord.Better an instant uniting your mind with the Guru’sThan one hundred years of contemplation or a hundred practices of the perfection phase:Pray to your Guru and Lord.Devotion is the essence of the generation and perfection phases,Praying to the Guru is the essence of recitation,Constant union with the Guru’s mind is the essence of spiritual practice:Pray to your Guru and Lord.From a Buddhist tantra. See also Heart of the Path, LYWA, p.425.

First there is the root guru’s mantra, which is extremely important. It is said in a Buddhist tantra

It is more powerful to meditate on the guruAnd recite the guru’s mantraThan to meditate on the graduate completion path of the deityFor hundreds of thousands of eons.

So you can recite the mantra of the two root gurus

His Holiness the Dalai LamaOM AH GURU VAJRADHARA BHATTARAK MANJUSHRI VAGINDRA SUMATI JNANA SHASANA DHARA SAMUDRA SHRI BHADRA SARVA SIDDHI HUM HUM (21x)

Lama Zopa Rinpoche OM AH GURU VAJRADHARA MUNI SHASANA KSHANTI SARVA SIDDHI HUM HUM (21x)

Then Lama Tsongkhapa’s mantra

OM AH GURU VAJRADHARA SUMATI KIRTI SIDDHI HUM (7x)

And after that, Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s mantra

TADYATHA OM MUNE MUNE MAHA MUNEYE SVAHA (7x)

Geshe Senge Rinpoche at Tushita, Dharamsala, 1986. Left to right: Dagri Rinpoche, Bakula Rinpoche, Geshe Senge Rinpoche, Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Jhado Rinpoche and Keutsang Rinpoche. (Photographer unknown)
Geshe Senge Rinpoche at Tushita, Dharamsala, 1986. Left to right: Dagri Rinpoche, Bakula Rinpoche, Geshe Senge Rinpoche, Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Jhado Rinpoche and Keutsang Rinpoche. (Photographer unknown)

Then recite the mantra of the three types of deity: Yamantaka, Heruka and Guhyasamaja. This is according to Geshe Sengye Rinpoche’s advice and practice. Reciting these deities’ mantra is a way of practicing the integration of the three deities, which is an extremely special quality of Lama Tsongkhapa’s teaching.

Yamantaka OM HRIH SHTRIH VIKRITANANA HUM PHAT (7x) Heruka Father and MotherOM SHRI VAJRA HE HE RU RU KAM HUM HUM PHAT DAKINI JVALA SHAMVARAMOM VAJRA VAIROCHANIYE HUM HUM PHAT SVAHA (7x) Guhyasamaja OM AH VAJRA DHRIK HUM HUM (7x)

The mantra for Heruka father and mother should be combined. This was the advice of my root guru Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche. Rinpoche told Gen Jampa Wangdu that the mother’s mantra, om vajra vairochaniye hum hum phat svaha, must be recited after the fathers’ tantra, om shri vajra he he ru ru kam hum hum phat dakini jvala shamvaram, and not separately as in the sadhana. Gen Wangdu had already completed the Heruka body mandala retreat, but after receiving this advice he did the retreat again.

After this you can recite the Vajrayogini mantra

Vajrayogini OM OM OM SARVA BUDDHA DAKINIYE VAJRA VARNANIYE VAJRA VAIROCHANIYE HUM HUM HUM PHAT PHAT PHAT SVAHA (21x)

I added Vajrayogini mantra. This was not Geshe Sengye’s advice. Geshe-la just said to do the three main deities. But if you have a commitment to recite the Vajrayogini mantra, then by reciting it here it is done. After that, recite the Vajradhara mantra

Vajradhara
OM AH [GURU] VAJRADHARA HUM (7x)

Then recite om ah hum, the heart mantra of all the buddhas

Mantra of the Vajra Holy Body, Speech, and Mind of All the Buddhas OM AH HUM (7x)

When I was at Sera Monastery in Buxa, my class was the lowest and the class leader’s name was Chophel. Later, when we started Kopan Monastery, Chophel became the cook in the early days, but I don’t know what the food was like. Anyway, he went to see Kyabje Serkong Tsenshab Rinpoche who was staying in the shrine room at Yangsi Rinpoche and Tsenla’s parents’ house to confess. Chophel had been a monk before, but then he disrobed, and I think he had stopped doing all the prayers and commitments from the many initiations he had taken at Buxa. Rinpoche asked him to do three prostrations—maybe to return the vows. And then Rinpoche advised him to recite om ah hung to purify the missed commitments. The reason Rinpoche advised this is because om ah hung is like the heart mantra containing all the numberless buddhas’ holy body, speech and mind.

There is a very profound and secret meditation to be done when you chant om ah hung. However, I won’t explain it here because there may be people who haven’t received a highest tantra initiation. It’s very important to put all your effort into doing this meditation and chant the mantra. This yoga is very important because it connects your body, speech and mind to all the numberless buddhas.

When I received the Vajra Garland (Dorje Trengwa) initiations at Tushita, Dharamsala, from Kyabje Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche, there was no sadhana, but it had a commitment to recite one mala of om ah hung. However you don’t have any commitment so you can recite any number of mantra. You can do it just a few times, but while you are reciting it, make sure the meditation is done very precisely. Don’t just chant the mantra.

Finally, at the end of the mantra recitation, dedicate the merit

Due to the three time merits collected by me, the numberless sentient beings and buddhas, May I achieve that enlightenment, And lead all the sentient beings to the guru’s enlightenment by myself alone.

Additional Resources for Study

FPMT Retreat Prayer Book

Contains the current version of the Guru Puja practice put together by Lama Zopa Rinpoche for use at retreats and for daily practice, the Lama Chöpa Jorchö, along with other prayers.

More Free Teachings by Rinpoche on Guru Puja

Three teachings on Guru Puja available for free download in pdf form.

A short commentary on Guru Puja given by Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Langri Tangpa Centre, Brisbane, Australia, 1991. Edited by Ven. Ailsa Cameron.

The Heart of the Path: Seeing the Guru as Buddha

This book is essential companion reading for anyone wanting to understand and practice the Guru Puja. It contains a wealth of essential teachings by Lama Zopa Rinpoche covering the topic of guru devotion in extensive detail.

Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand

Classic discourses on the lamrim tradition by the great Pabongka Rinpoche, which are essential reading. Excellent for additional information on the preliminary rites of Jorchö and the meditations for guru devotion.

Liberation in Our Hands 3 Vols.

An alternative translation of the above in three volumes.

Manjushri’s Innermost Secret

Kachen Yeshe Gyaltsen’s commentary on the First Panchen Lama’s Guru Puja. Many of these teachings were previously held as sealed-in-secret oral instructions that swiftly guide the spiritual practitioner to the state of complete enlightenment through the full spectrum of teachings on the lamrim and mind training (lojong) as well as the generation and completion stages of highest yoga tantra, all of which are centered around, and grounded in, deep heart-felt faith and devotion for one’s spiritual guide.

This text is restricted to those who have received a Highest Yoga Tantra empowerment.

Teachings from the Medicine Buddha Retreat

Teachings from a three-week Medicine Buddha retreat led by Lama Zopa Rinpoche in California in 2001, including several sessions on Guru Puja.

Teachings from the Vajrasattva Retreat

Teachings from a three-month Vajrasattva Retreat in California led by Lama Zopa Rinpoche in 1999, with several instructions on the Guru Puja practice.

Union of Bliss and Emptiness  

Teachings on the Guru Puja practice given by His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama during the FPMT-sponsored Second Dharma Celebration, EEC2. Translated by Thubten Jinpa.

Study Module

Living in the Path: Guru is Buddha

Often referred to as “the heart of the path” and “the foundation of all good qualities,” the essence of guru devotion is to see the guru as a buddha. In this module, Lama Zopa Rinpoche explains how to do just that and at the conclusion that the Guru truly is a buddha.

More Video Materials

Watch these videos in full for more on the guru and the requesting prayer. Available for free download and streaming on FPMT Online Learning Center.

September 16, 2010. Session 1: One-pointedly Requesting the Guru.

September 16, 2010. Session 2: Your Heart and the Guru’s Heart Become One.

September 19, 2010. Session 2: Disaster Insurance.

Miscellaneous Photo Credits

Cover photo: Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Kopan, 2017. Photo Bill Kane.

Chapter title: Mandala Offerings to the Gurus: Lama Osel offering to Lama Zopa Rinpoche during long life puja, ABC, Singapore, 2016. Photo Bill Kane.

Chapter title: The Requesting Prayer to the Lamrim Lineage Gurus: His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Jangchub Lamrim Teachings, South India. Photo Bill Kane.

Chapter title: The Foundation of All Good Qualities: Kopan Monastery at prayer. Photo Bill Kane.

Chapter title: Requests Recalling the Guru’s Qualities: His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Jangchub Lamrim Teachings, South India, 2015. Photo Bill Kane.

Chapter title: Special One-Pointed Request: Lama Osel Rinpoche takes blessing from Lama Zopa Rinpoche, long life puja, ABC, Singapore, 2016. Photo Bill Kane.

Chapter title: Receiving the Blessings of the Four Empowerments: Lama Zopa Rinpoche prepares to give initiations, Bendigo, Australia, 2018. Photo Ven Roger Kunsang.

Chapter title: Mantra Recitation: Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Aptos House, 2013. Photo Ven Roger Kunsang.

Chapter title: Additional Resources for Study: Mani mantra, Ganden Monastery, Tibet. Photo Ven Tenzin Tsultrim.

About the Guru Puja is the Heart Practice Series

“All the previous holy beings of our tradition also did this Guru Puja as the heart practice. It has few words but encompasses so much. It has great blessing and the profound vital points.”

Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo quoted by Lama Zopa Rinpoche

Lama Zopa Rinpoche, long life puja, Kopan, Nepal, 2017. (Photo Bill Kane)
Lama Zopa Rinpoche, long life puja, Kopan, Nepal, 2017. (Photo Bill Kane)

Guru Puja is the Heart Practice contains a wealth of teachings and instructions on the Guru Puja, which Rinpoche emphasizes is to be taken as the very heart of our practice, just as it has been for generations of great masters and yogi-practitioners of the past. It also introduces chanting and the lineage of chanting to be used for the Guru Puja within the FPMT.

The multimedia series was edited by Venerable Sarah Thresher and is based on six sessions taught by Lama Zopa Rinpoche at the first Light of the Path retreat in North Carolina, 2009. These are supplemented by other multimedia material taken from similar teachings given by Rinpoche at retreats around the world, along with links to related materials.

Part One: The Importance of Practicing Guru Puja  Part Two: An Introduction to the Chanting Lineage of the Guru PujaPart Three: The Seven-Limb PracticePart Four: Making Requests to the GurusPart Five: The Tsog Offering (restricted)Part Six: The Lamrim Prayer to the Verses of Auspiciousness

The Guru Puja is a highest yoga tantra practice.

About the Heart Advice Series

The goal of the LYWA Heart Advice Series is to preserve and make available Rinpoche’s unique style and lineage of teachings and practices. Heart Advice is a series of core teachings — the “heart advice” — taken from the experiential instructions of Lama Zopa Rinpoche. You can read more about the goals of the Heart Advice Series here.

The main resources for the Heart Advice titles are Rinpoche’s major retreats, commentaries and transmissions given since 2008, although other Archive materials supplement these.

The first title in this series was Bodhisattva Attitude: How to Dedicate Your Life to Others.

The Heart Advice Series is dedicated to the long life and perfect health of Lama Zopa Rinpoche, to his continuous teaching activity and to the fulfillment of all his holy wishes.

About LYWA Multimedia

LYWA hopes that these multimedia presentations will serve to immerse you in these precious teachings and will enhance your meditation and practice. By weaving Archive resources together in this multidimensional way we intend to offer you the means to deepen your experience of the teachings – almost as if you had attended the teachings in person.

This fourth chapter in Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s Guru Puja is the Heart Practice, Making Requests to the Gurus, joins the first chapter, The Importance of Practicing Guru Puja, the second chapter, “An Introduction to the Chanting Lineage of the Guru Puja,” and the third chapter, “The Seven-Limb Practice” and adds to our growing collection of multimedia titles including Lama Yeshe’s The Best Answers Come Through Meditation, The Nature of the Mind, and Freedom – Courage – Realization and Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s The Merely Imputed I and the Bodhisattva Attitude multimedia series which includes Everything Depends on Your Attitude, Cutting the Concept of Permanence, Give Up Stretching the Legs, Four Wrong Concepts and The Bodhisattva Attitude. Explore the complete collection of LYWA multimedia titles here.

We welcome your questions, comments and suggestions!

Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive

These multimedia titles are made possible by the kind supporters of the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive who, like you, appreciate how the Archive makes the teachings of Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche freely available in myriad formats on the LYWA website for researching, listening, reading, downloading and ordering, shared daily with our social media communities and distributed worldwide as audio books, ebooks and many free books.

Please join us in sharing the Dharma with everyone everywhere for the happiness and benefit of all beings. Learn how by visiting us at LamaYeshe.com.

Thank you so much!

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