The purpose of Dorje Shugden is to arrange the outer and inner conditions for our practice of Je Tsongkhapa’s Kadam Dharma. Every Kadampa sadhana ends with the recitation of the 9-line Migtsema prayer. In many ways, we can say it is our most important prayer, and so therefore amongst all of the things Dorje Shugden protects, this is arguably the most precious object of protection. This prayer is the inner core of what it means to be a Kadampa (the same can be said for the single-pointed request in Offering to the Spiritual Guide). What follows is how I personally engage in the nine-line Migstema prayer. This way of reciting the Migtstema prayer has emerged gradually over time over the 19 years I have been practicing it every day. I have never been taught this by any of my teachers, but it has been what has been revealed to me internally as a possible way of reciting the prayer. Ultimately, though, we need to make our practice of this prayer personal. We want this prayer to be “our prayer.” Christians have “The Lord’s Prayer,” we have the Migtsema prayer. Its meaning, and the ways of practicing it, are infinite. But through gaining deep personal experience of it over a long period of time, practicing it will eventually lead us to enlightenment. In my view, praying in this way sets up perfectly the practice of Dorje Shugden during the meditation break. The prayer is essentially a method for invoking Je Tsongkhapa to accomplish his function in this world.
We are directing the prayer to Je Tsongkhapa. If we are engaging in our daily practice, we can imagine him in the space in front of us. The Je Tsongkhapa of the field of merit. We imagine he is in front of all the beings in the protection circle that we have been imagining are engaging in the practice. If we are at a festival or receiving a Dharma teaching, we can direct the prayer to the Je Tsongkhapa inside the person giving the teaching. We should imagine that we receive all our teachings from Je Tsongkhapa, not the ordinary person. Reciting this prayer in this way strengthens our recognition of this.
Specifically, we can imagine as follows :
We recall the living Je Tsongkhapa in front of us (either in the space in front of us or at the heart of the spiritual teacher). Je Tsongkhapa is the supreme Kadampa Spiritual Guide and by visualizing him with admiring faith it creates the causes for us to become just like him.
Crown ornament of the scholars of the land of the snows,
We imagine that from this Je Tsongkhapa countless emanations of Je Tsongkhapa go out to all of the beings inside of the protection circle, ourselves included, bestowing upon us the qualities of a fully qualified Kadampa Spiritual Guide in the aspect of the body and mind of Je Tsongkhapa.
You are Buddha Shakyamuni and Vajradhara,
We recall the living Buddha Shakyamuni and Vajradhara are in front of us at the heart of Je Tsongkhapa. Buddha Shakyamuni is the supreme Spiritual Guide for teaching Sutra and Vajradhara is the supreme Spiritual Guide for teaching Tantra. By visualizing them with admiring faith we create the causes to become just like them.
Source of all attainments,
We imagine that from Buddha Shakyamuni and Vajradhara countless emanations of themselves (Vajradhara in the heart of Buddha Shakyamuni) go out to all of the beings inside of the protection circle, ourselves included, bestowing upon them all the qualities of a fully qualified Sutra and Tantra Spiritual Guide in the aspect of Buddha Shakyamuni and Vajradhara respectively.
We recall the living Avalokiteshvara in front of us at the throat of Je Tsongkhapa. By visualizing Avalokitehsvara with admiring faith it creates the causes for us to generate within our mind his compassion.
The treasury of unobservable compassion,
We imagine that from Avalokitesyhvara countless emanations of Avalokiteshvara go out to all of the beings inside of the protection circle, ourselves included, bestowing upon them all the compassion of all the Buddhas and all the realizations of the vast path in the aspect of Avalokiteshvara. Unobservable compassion is compassion mixed with an understanding of the emptiness of living beings.
We recall the living Manjushri in front of us at the crown of Je Tsongkhapa. By visualizing him with admiring faith we create the causes to gain his omniscient wisdom.
The supreme stainless wisdom,
We imagine that from Manjushri countless emanations of Manjushri go out to all of the beings inside of the protection circle, ourselves included, bestowing upon them all the wisdom of all the Buddhas and all the realizations of the profound path in the aspect of Manjushri.
We recall the living Vajrapani in front of us at the heart of Je Tsongkhapa. By visualizing Vajrapani with admiring faith we create the causes to develop within our own mind his spiritual power.
The destroyer of the hosts of maras,
We imagine that from Vajrapani countless emanations of Vajrapani go out to all of the beings inside of the protection circle, ourselves included, bestowing upon them all the spiritual power of all the Buddhas and all the realizations of the tantric path in the aspect of Vajrapani.
O Venerable Guru Buddha,
At this point, we are directing our request to all of the Je Tsongkhapa’s we have just generated inside all of the beings in the protection circle. We likewise recall that all of these Je Tsongkhapa’s are by nature our Spiritual Guide. This makes it a practice of guru yoga.
Synthesis of all three jewels,
We recognize the body, speech and mind of all these beings collectively to be all Sangha, Dharma and Buddha jewels respectively.
With my body, speech and mind,
If we don’t have Highest Yoga Tantra empowerments yet, we can think with every aspect of ourselves; if we do have Tantric empowerments, we can think that the deities of the body mandala make the request. This is more powerful because the deities of the body mandala have a closer relationship with Je Tsongkhapa than we do.
Respectfully I make these requests:
Sometimes people get confused with the word invoke or making requests thinking that it is a command. It is not this at all, it is a faithful request, but with confidence because we know our intention is pure and they have the power to fulfill the request, so it will definitely be answered.
Please grant your blessings to ripen and liberate myself and others,
I have been taught two different interpretations of ripen and liberate. The first is to ripen means to place firmly on the path so that you never abandon it. To liberate means to attain liberation, or nirvana. As we recite this, we imagine that he accords these blessings and now all beings have been ripened and liberated. The second is that ripened means enlightenment and liberate means liberation. Either one works and ultimately is the same thing. But I personally like the idea of being “ripened” onto the path. If our path becomes irreversible and we never leave it, then even if we don’t actually attain any of these higher attainments in this lifetime, by being ripened we will enter into a karmic slipstream which inevitably leads to the same result.
And bestow the common and supreme attainments.
We can understand this as follows: The common attainments refer to everything leading up to Buddhahood. In this context, we can refer to interpretative Je Tsongkhapa and all of his abilities. The supreme attainment refers to Buddhahood itself. In this context, we can refer to definitive Je Tsongkhapa, the Dharmakaya from which interpretative Je Tsongkhapa arises.
To summarize this entire series of posts, the practice of Dorje Shugden can be reduced to the following:
- We renew our motivation as a spiritual being – we realize that the only thing that matters is the causes we create because they are the only things we can take with us.
- We request with infinite faith that Dorje Shugden provide us with perfect conditions for our swiftest possible enlightenment.
- We then accept with infinite faith that whatever subsequently arises is the perfect conditions for our practice that we requested.
- We then practice in these conditions to the best of our ability. It doesn’t matter what appears, what matters is how we respond. So we try to respond well.
If we do these four things, I guarrantee you that you will be gradually lead to enlightenment. It will just be a question of time.
There is much much more to say about the practice of Heart Jewel, but I wanted to keep things simple. I strongly encourage everyone to read again and again the book Heart Jewel, which Geshe-la has said is his most important book. We should also take advantage of the opportunity to speak with some senior practitioners about how to establish a daily practice and we should request teachings and empowerments on this practice from our local teacher.
I dedicate any merit I accumulated from doing this series of posts so that every living being joyfully establishes a daily practice of Dorje Shugden. I pray that everything that happens to every living being is perfect for their swiftest possible enlightenment. I request the wisdom to be able to understand how whatever happens to anybody is perfect for their enlightenment and I request that all of the conditions be arranged for me to share this perspective with others in a way that they can accept it. In this way, we can all happily accept everything that happens in our life and swiftly make progress to enlightenment. OM VAJRA WIKI WITRANA SOHA!
6 thoughts on “Reliance on Dorje Shugden: The 9-line Migstema prayer”
Thank you for this very informative series. It has added a lot more depth to my understanding and practice.
So very kind..
Thank you very much for this series,it was for me so important to understand very well what am i doing when i do heart jewell practice,and especially the protector practice.gave me much confidence and motivation to do it.
Thanks for this post. Max advised me to read it to better understand the Migtsema prayer! All the best,
This entire series is literally answered prayer. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
It is wonderful that yogis like kadampa ryan give us realized information however they sincerely give us the freedom to make our own decisions and make our own choices. I tend to grasp at an inherently existent ‘right’ way of doing things but it all depends on what is beneficial for myself and others. Geshe-la’s words are however, completely reliable and are vajra speech. 💕💓💕💓