There are two stages to the practice of this preliminary phase of the profound path: the common and uncommon.
1. Common Preliminary Practices: Meditation for the Recitation of the the Four Causes of Renunciation
Namo means ‘I pay homage.’ To whom do we pay homage? To the one who is always unfailing and will never deceive us, the supreme and constant refuge or protector who is the embodiment of the Three Jewels, our precious root lama. Begin by praying to the lama in this way, with an understanding of why you do so, saying: “Care for me! You know me!”
Then reflect as follows:
“A physical support such as this, adorned with the abundant qualities of the freedoms and advantages, is extremely difficult to obtain. This body that I have now obtained, like everything else that is born, will not last forever, and is bound to die. At that time, this body will be left behind, but the mind will continue, directed by whatever beneficial and harmful actions I have accumulated, and, as a result, I will experience conditions of happiness or suffering, according to the inevitable laws of cause and effect. No matter where I might be reborn, whether in a high state or a low state, wherever I am among the three realms of samsara, I will be forever beset by the turbulent waves of this vast ocean of suffering. As I recognize the reality of this situation, may my mind turn towards the sacred Dharma!”
2. The Uncommon Preliminary Practices
In this there are seven sections.
i. Taking Refuge
Consider your precious root master is actually present in the space before you. He appears in the form of Guru Rinpoche, and he embodies the Three Jewels and all the sources of refuge. Take refuge in him and offer prostrations, thinking: “From now until I obtain the essence of enlightenment, I take refuge in the Lama and the Three Jewels, respectfully, with my body, speech and mind.”
ii. Generating Bodhichitta
Consider that the objects of refuge are your witness, and train your mind in bodhichitta, thinking: “From now until samsara itself is empty, I shall train in the activity of the bodhisattvas in order to accomplish the benefit and wellbeing of all sentient beings (who were once my very own parents).”
iii. Mandala Offering
Taking a plate that is arranged with heaps that symbolize the offerings, think: “In all my lives, my body, my possessions and all my glories, together with all the sources of my merit, I offer to the Three Jewels in order to complete the two accumulations (of merit and wisdom).”
iv. Visualization and Recitation of Vajrasattva
Consider that you maintain your ordinary form and visualize the following: “At the crown of my head, is my own root lama, inseparable from glorious Vajrasattva. From his body flows a stream of bodhichitta nectar, entering at the aperture of Brahma at my crown and filling the whole of my body, purifying all my harmful actions, obscurations, and impairments and breakages of vows and commitments, so that none remains.” Recite the hundred-syllable mantra and the six-syllable mantra as many times as possible, and then, at the end, consider that Lama Vajrasattva is pleased, and, granting his approval, melts into light and merges with your own perception, so that you become inseparably one.
v. Guru Yoga
Consider that in the sky before you your kind root lama appears in the form of Guru Padmasambhava, actually present there before you. Pray to him fervently, thinking, “The embodiment of all the buddhas of the ten directions and three times, incomparable root lama, I pray to you from the depths of my heart with fervent devotion. In this life and in the next, and in the bardo states, guide me with compassion, without ever parting, and grant me your blessings, continuously at all times.”
Recite the Vajra Guru mantra as many times as possible in order to invoke his wisdom mind. Then, consider that rays of light emanate from the three syllables at the Guru’s three centres and dissolve into you, purifying the four kinds of obscuration. While imagining that you are granted the four empowerments in their entirety, recite VAJRA GURU KAYA WAKA TSITTA SIDDHI HUNG and receive the four empowerments.
vi. Transference of Consciousness (phowa)
Make the following prayer as many times as possible and develop the intention to transfer your consciousness: “I pray to the protector Amitabha, the Buddha of Limitless Light, who is inseparable from the lama. By your blessings may I accomplish the profound path of phowa and be reborn in Sukhavati.”
vii. Giving One’s Body
Make the following prayer of aspiration: “Now I dedicate my body, my possessions, and all my merits and even their causes from the past, present and future, all together, to all beings. I surrender them with no feelings of remorse. May I accomplish great waves of benefit for all beings, without hindrance and according to their wishes.”
All these practices should be sealed by the three noble principles: the noble preparation, main part and conclusion.
In response to a request by Jampa Chödzin, a diligent practitioner from the Draksum area of Kongpo, I, Jnana, wrote down whatever came to mind during a single session. May virtue abound!