Within the Kadampa tradition we are advised to practice the sadhana Heart Jewel as our daily practice. If we are a Tantric practitioner, we engage in the Tantric version of this practice known as the Yoga of Buddha Heruka. In either case, the sadhana beings with the Guru Yoga of Je Tsongkhapa. I will explain things from the perspective of Heart Jewel since it is a common practice.
In general, the practice of Heart Jewel is the method for practicing the entire path to enlightenment. There are three main parts – affectionately called a ‘Heart Jewel Sandwich.’ The first part is the Je Tsongkhapa part – the function of this part of the practice is to be able to draw closer to Je Tsongkhapa and receive his external and internal guidance to be able to realize his Dharma of Lamrim, lojong and Vajrayana Mahamudra. The second part is our Meditation on Lamrim, Lojong and Vajrayana Mahamudra. We do this in the middle of the practice. And the final part is the Dorje Shugden part – this creates the causes to be able to receive Dorje Shugden’s care and protection for being able to gain the realization of Lamrim, Lojong and Vajrayana Mahamudra. This series of posts is primarily about how to rely upon Dorje Shugden, but I will nonetheless give a brief explanation of how to engage in the first two parts of the Heart Jewel sandwich.
To actually engage in the Je Tsongkhapa part, we do as follows:
- Refuge and bodhichitta – here you are establishing your motivation for engaging in the practice. “With the wish to become a Buddha so I can help all the beings around me attain the same state, I will now engage sincerely in the paractice of Heart Jewel, trying to generate the minds indicated by the words.”
- Prayer of the seven limbs and the mandala. This accomplishes two main functions: Accumulate merit – merit is positive spiritual energy. It is like gasoline in your spiritual car. Purify negativities – negative karma prevents us from engaging in spiritual practices and is the substantial cause of all our suffering. It is like lots of traffic and debris on the roads.
- Migtsema prayer and prayer of the stages of the path. These two enable you to receive the blessings of all the Buddhas. Blessings are like spark plugs which ignite the gas of your merit to push you along the road to enlightenment. The migtsema prayer draws you closer to JTK, and enables you to receive the blessings of the wisdom, compassion and spiritual power of all the Buddhas. The prayer of the stages of the path is a special prayer for requesting the realizations of the lamrim.
- At this point in the sadhana we typically engage in meditation on lamrim. Usually people use the book the New Meditation Handbook and cycle through the 21 lamrim meditations explained there, one each day. For more information, we can also attend classes on the Lamrim at our local Dharma centers.
- After our meditation, we recite the dedication prayer from the Je Tsongkhapa part of Heart Jewel.
For more detailed information, we can read in the book Heart Jewel which provides an extensive commentary. Geshe-la has said that this is his most important book. It is available for sale at www.tharpa.com.
We should also take advantage of the opportunity to attend courses on Heart Jewel at our local Kadampa center, and we should make many requests that our local teacher grant the empowerments of Je Tsongkhapa and Dorje Shugden. What is an empowerment? An empowerment in general is establishing a very close connection with a particular enlightened being. The closer our karma with a given enlightened being, the more ‘bandwidth’ they have for being able to help us. It is a bit like making a connection with a very special friend. When we meet somebody very powerful and we have a close connection with them, we can more easily call upon them and ask them for help.
An empowerment is like receiving a personal deity within our mental continuum. We can all appreciate the qualities of the different Buddhas, and think how wonderful it would be to know them and be able to call upon them. But how much more wonderful would it be to have a personal emanation of a Buddha who is available for us 24/7. During the empowerment, we receive our own personal emanation of Dorje Shugden into our mental continuum. We will be able to develop a personal relationship with this Dorje Shugden and he will care for us. Geshe-la once told a very senior teacher about the Dorje Shugden empowerment, “people need this empowerment, they need this protection.”