We are the tradition of Je Tsongkhapa. Our principle defining characteristic is our union of Sutra and Tantra. One of the most important things for us to do as Kadampas is to realize this union. I have worked extensively in the past on the union of the Lamrim and our generation stage object. But just as important, we need to realize the union of the Lamrim and our reliance upon Dorje Shugden. Ultimately, it is the power of our lamrim minds that gives our reliance upon any deity its meaning and power, therefore it is very important to enjoy meditating on this union.
What follows is not the definitive union, but simply the union as I currently understand it. As practitioners, our job is to contemplate the relationships between the different aspects of our practice so as to unite them. When we realize their relationship as perfectly harmonious, mutually reinforcing and non-contradicory, and when we get a special feeling of wisdom, then we know we are on the right track. We can work with this over the course of our whole lifetime, gradually deepening our understanding and realization of these connections.
To gain an understanding of the connections, you just malke internal requests that it be revealed to you the connection or relationship between a particular lamrim meditation and an aspect of your practice, like reliance upon Dorje Shugden. Then see what comes.
Briefly, here is a start of my understanding:
- The real nature of Dorje Shugden is the spiritual guide. He is my spiritual guide in the aspect of Dorje Shugden. The spiritual guide manifests himself as Dorje Shugden in order to provide us protection. Frankly, I think this is my favorite aspect of the Spiritual Guide, his most useful aspect in terms of helping us solve our daily problems. I need to surrender myself completely to my Spiritual Guide in the aspect of Dorje Shugden and request him to take over completely the ripening of the karma for myself and all the beings of my dream.
- I have a precious human life in which I can create very powerful karmic connections with the great protector Dorje Shugden. With these connections, he can care for me and protect me in this and all of my future lives, creating the perfect outer and inner conditions for my training leading to my eventual enlightenment. If I can make my reliance upon Dorje Shugden irreversible, my attainment of enlightenment is guarranteed. He will not let me not attain enlightenment! I will put myself on an uninterrupted fast track to enlightenment.
- I can die at any moment, which means I must use every moment of my life to develop deeper and closer karmic connections with Dorje Shugden. I don’t know how long my opportunity to become closer to his holy being will last, and I cannot afford to waste a minute of it. The biggest risk of death is losing our practice. If we lose our practice then we may need to wait aeons before we start practicing again, and as a result we will have to suffer from delusion and karma for a very long time. Dorje Shugden is the our best protection against this risk. His job is to arrange and maintain the outer and inner conditions for our practice. In other words, he can protect us through the process of death, the bardo and rebirth so that we can continue with our practice in our next life. Our death is actually his finest hour, where our reliance upon him can make the most difference. Who else would I trust for this most important moment of my life? He can maintain the continuum of my practice beyond this life, and life after life, until I attain enlightenment. He is my insurance policy against losing my practice.
- If I do not have strong reliance and protection from Dorje Shugden, not only will I likely succumb to delusion within this life, but more dangerously I will fall into the lower reams at the time of my death. I currently respond with delusion when extreme hardship arrives. There is no more extreme hardship than death. If I respond to death with delusion, I will fall – at which point I will lose everything. I have completely neglected purifying my negative karma, therefore I no doubt have a mountain of it remaining on my mind. What hope do I have of not falling? It is only through my reliance upon Dorje Shugden that I can avoid this fate. One of the main ways he helps us is he can control what karma ripens. He arranges conditions for us by ripening the karma on our mind in special ways and sequences to create the experience of ‘perfect conditions.’ Just as he does this for us in life, he can do this for us during the death and rebirth process, protecting us against lower rebirth and propelling us to another life in which we can practice. Absent this help, my mind alone is not sufficently trained to ensure that I do not fall. I am not trying to go all fire and brimstone, but this is the reality of the situation.
I will continue with the rest of the relationships between the different lamrim meditations and our reliance upon Dorje Shugden in future posts. For now, these are the ones moving my mind the most and that are the foundation for all the others.