Engaging in the actions of Heruka

After the meditation on the self-generation, there are a number of practices we engage in.  From my perspective, it seems the main purpose of these practices is to gain some experience with engaging in the actions of a Buddha.  This serves a couple of different purposes.

First, by engaging in the actions of a Buddha now, we create the causes for the Buddhas to engage in those actions for us, which will then help accelerate our path to enlightenment.  As we advance further along the path, we can then engage in the actions of a Buddha in a more qualified way and thus create even better causes for the Buddhas to engage in these actions towards us.  This creates a virtuous circle, like a train picking up momentum along the track.

Second, by engaging in the actions of a Buddha now, we realize how incredible it is to be a Buddha.  This then greatly increases our desire to become one, making our bodhichitta more intense and qualified.  This then increases the power and effectiveness of all of our spiritual practices.

Third, we create the reliquary of our future enlightenment.  In Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life, Shantideva discusses how as a Bodhisattva we create the reliquary of a Buddha which continues to provide benefit to living beings even after we have passed into nirvana.  This is actually a very important concept to understand.  Basically, the actions we engage in as a bodhisattva set in motion a self-perpetuating series of actions that continue forever after our enlightenment.  There are a couple of analogies that can help us understand how this works.  Imagine an infinite ocean, and on one end I create a giant tsunami sized wave.  This was one action, but the wave will keep going in all directions long after the initial action.  This is how I understand “the great wave” of Je Tsongkhapa’s deeds.  Alternatively, in space there is no friction.  So if I have a rocket ship in space and for a period of time it expends energy/fuel pushing the rocket in a certain direction, then the rocket will keep going forever in that direction long after the thrusters have fired.  It is the same with our actions as a bodhisattva.  While a tantric bodhisattva, we engage in the actions of a Buddha – namely we train in liberating beings, bestowing blessings, making offerings, engaging in prayers, etc.  These actions are like the making of the initial wave or the firing of the thrusters in the rocket in space.  The effects of these actions will continue to provide benefit to living beings forever, even after I have already attained enlightenment.

With this understanding, what then are some of the main actions we engage in as a Buddha?

  1. Mantra recitation – these are special prayers and requests we make on behalf of all living beings, requesting that the function of the mantra be accomplished for the benefit of others.
  2. Torma offerings.  A torma offering is a mind that is happy to offer everything one has, to use all of the resources at one’s disposal, for the sole purpose of gaining Dharma realizations.  So by making torma offerings, we are creating the causes so all resources within our pure land are used for one single purpose – gaining Dharma realizations for living beings.
  3. Tsog offerings.  To make progress along the path, we need to be rich in merit.  Rich societies can accomplish their wishes more easily than poor ones.  When we make Tsog offerings, we are infusing our pure land with an extreme abundance of merit and inner wealth so that all beings within our pure land can easily fulfill all of their spiritual wishes for realizations.
  4. Great Mother practice.  Here we remove all obstructions for all of the beings in our pure land and create the echo of the Heart Sutra within our pure land which will resonate forever teaching the perfection of wisdom to all beings.
  5. Dorje Shugden practice.  Dorje Shugden’s retinue is like both the army of the pure land providing protection and security so people can focus on their practice and they are also our spiritual trainers like training officers at boot camp helping forge people into highly qualified “special forces” bodhisattvas.  So by engaging in this practice, we provide those services to all of the beings in our pure land.
  6. Dedication.  We should engage in our dedication practice while maintaining divine pride, viewing each dedication as a special prayer we make on behalf of all of the beings in our pure land, wishing that these prayers ripen for each and every being.

Your turn:  What are some enlightened actions you can engage in today?  What would Heruka do if he was living your life?

3 thoughts on “Engaging in the actions of Heruka

  1. Thanks Ryan. When I first viewed this there was a revolving ad at the bottom of the blog flr Makers Mark whiskey. Made me think that transforming enjoyments might be a good contribution 😉

    • Hello. It might also be a sign that I need to sign up for the ad-free version of WordPress! 🙂 On transforming enjoyments (be it chocolate, sex, drugs or rock and roll), the key point is understanding where the pleasure comes from. Normally we think the pleasure comes from the object, and so we naturally start relating to the object as a cause of our happiness. In reality, the pleasure comes from the side of our mind. If we have a deluded mind, we can’t enjoy anything external, even the most normally pleasant things; if we have a peaceful mind, we can enjoy everything external, even the most normally unplesant things. So just recalling where the pleasure comes from protects us from generating attachment for it. This alone is a huge practice. We can also recall that any pleasant feelings we have come as a result of our past practice of virtue, so we can thank our former self from having been a good boy! We can also recall that any pleasant feeling is the result of receiving blessings, so we can strengthen our undestanding that all of our happiness is ultimately dependent upon Buddha’s blessings. From a tantric point of view, the key is to realize that the power of any object is created by the mind. We mentally empower every object we consume with the power to heal our body of all sickness, heal our mind of all delusions, conquer death permanently and bestow upon our mind uncontaminated bliss. The most powerful medicine ever developed is a sugar pill (placebo effect). What this really means is the most powerful medicine ever developed is a positive mind believing in the medicine itself. If we use this fact to empower everything with the ability to accomplish these functions, then we can transform all of our enjoyments. On the last point of bestowing uncontaminated bliss, one powerful way of doing this is to recall that every object is by nature our own mind of bliss and emptiness, and by consuming the object of desire we release a packet of bliss and emptiness that was “trapped” inside the object. This bliss then floods into our own mind. We can do this with every object we consume, even things we don’t like (especially things we don’t like). But we need to be very honest and careful with all of this. Usually we are just looking for some rationalization for indulging ourselves in our attachment and we latch onto the Tantric teachings as a good excuse. The rule I use with myself is I don’t intentionally seek out pleasant objects to transform with Tantra, rather if I happen to experience them as I go through my life I try remember to transform them. It’s not a perfect rule, but it does help protect somewhat against this danger. On transforming objects we otherwise abandon with our Pratimoksha vows (like intoxicants), yes, in theory, it could be done. But the question is do we actually have the power to do so or is this just an excuse. I personally don’t have this power. Given my limited ability set, my operating assumption is if I am breaking my Pratimoksha vows, it is certain I am not engaging in any Dharma practice by doing so. The only exception I have found to this is when I am at a reception for my work and somebody hands me a glass of champagne or wine. I hold it, I take a little sip when there is a toast, but that’s it. It would be more akward to make a big scene about how I don’t drink, etc., so to just let the evening flow without unnecessary drama for anybody, I do this. This seems to me to be a cherishing of others so it is OK.

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