In the remainder of the posts in this series, I will explain how to rely upon Dorje Shugden during the meditation session by explaining my understanding of what each line in the sadhana means. After the invitation to Dorje Shugden, which has already been explained, we then make offerings and requests as follows:
Respectfully I prostrate with body, speech and mind.
Here we imagine that from ourself and from all the beings we previously put within the protection circle, we emanate all of our past and future lives. Then with all of these past, present and future emanations of ourself, we prostrate. This creates special merit with him so that he can provide us protection in all our past, present and future lives. Present and future lives are easy to understand. How can he provide us protection in our past lives? He can bless our mind so that everything that happened to us in the past also becomes a cause of our enlightenment. We view our past differently in such a way that it teaches us lessons of Dharma. In this way, no matter when we start our practice, even if it is when we are very old, we can effectively have practiced our whole life.
I offer a mass of inner and outer offerings, blissful tormas,
Alcohol, tea, cakes, milk, and curd,
Both actually set out and mentally imagined, filling the whole of space.
The basic idea is this: whatever we offer to Dorje Shugden, he can then use for our swiftest possible enlightenment. For example, if I offer my house to him, then everything that happens in my house will be emanated by him for my practice, etc. So mentally, we offer everything because we want to use everything for our attainment of enlightenment.
Commitment, fulfilling, reliance, and appropriate substances,
Outer, inner, secret, attractive, and cleansing offerings, filling the whole of space,
I offer these to the entire assembly;
May I fulfil the heart commitment and restore my broken commitments.
This refers to an offering of our practice of the Heart Commitment of Dorje Shugden. What does this mean? It means to not be sectarian with our spiritual practice. If we are sectarian in our practice, it will bring the Dharma into disrepute and it will create many problems for people being able to practice the path that leads to enlightenment, so it is very important for us to not be sectarian. Gross sectarianism is when one tradition claims to have a monopoly on the truth and all the other traditions are wrong. Many wars and much suffering have taken place due to this. Subtle sectarianism is when we mix and match different traditions together. Here, instead of saying one tradition is better than another in a general sense (as in gross sectarianism) we are saying that individual instructions from one instruction are better than individual instructions from another.
To avoid sectarianism, Geshe-la encourages us to ‘following one tradition purely without mixing, while respecting all other paths as valid for others.’ Buddhas emanate many Buddhist and non-Buddhist paths depending on the karmic disposition of beings. Different people will respond to different instructions, and so we are happy for anybody to follow any authentic spiritual path. This can be understood with an analogy of being trapped in a burning room. If we were trapped in a giant burning room and there were many doors out, what would we do? We would find the door closest to us and head straight out. We wouldn’t start towards one door, then change to another, then change to another still because that keeps us trapped in a room. We wouldn’t head towards the average of two doors because that would bang us straight into a wall. We also wouldn’t judge other doors as being wrong for somebody else who is standing right next to it, instead we would encourage them to go out the door closest to them. In the same way, if we are all trapped in the giant burning room of samsara and there are many different spiritual doors out, what do we do? We find the one that is karmically closest to us and we head straight out. We don’t follow one path, then another, then another because then we complete none of them and remain in samsara. We don’t mix together two different traditions because this amalgam of our own creation does not lead to an actual door out. We don’t tell people who are closest to the door of another spiritual tradition, such as a Christian, that they should abandon their Christian path and follow our Kadampa path, instead we encourage them to go out through the emergency exit closest to them. If somebody criticises our practices and says that their practices are superior, we should not become defensive. We can just say, ‘I am happy for you that you feel you have superior practices. I hope you enjoy them.’ We then continue to do what seems best for us. This avoids all problems.
So what is the Kadampa door? It can be summarized in one sentence: “relying upon guru, yidam and protector, I practice the path of lamrim, lojong and Vajrayana Mahamudra.” If we are doing this, if we have chosen this as our path and we are following it purely without mixing while respecting all other paths as valid for others, then we are keeping our heart commitment to Dorje Shugden. Taking such a commitment is our personal choice. Nobody can force this on us, we do so voluntarily. This is not a commitment of the empowerment, it has to be something from our own side we decide to do.
In the next post, I will continue to explain verse by verse my understanding of the meaning of the Dorje Shugden part of the sadhana.