Next in the sadhana comes the prayer for prostration:
Your mind of wisdom realizes the full extent of objects of knowledge,
Your eloquent speech is the ear-ornament of the fortunate,
Your beautiful body is ablaze with the glory of renown,
I prostrate to you, whom to see, to hear, and to remember is so meaningful.
To prostrate means to sweep away all impurities and defilements and request all good qualities. So what we are doing here is requesting that all impurities and defilements that obstruct our attainment of the good qualities of our spiritual guide are removed, and we request that we attain these good qualities ourself. The key here, as before, is to really believe that our guru is in front of us, and we are prostrating to him.
The first line means that our guru is omniscient and sees all objects of knowledge. Specifically, he knows all paths, and so knows which ones work and which ones don’t. If we were lost, wouldn’t we cherish meeting somebody who knows the way? The reality is we are lost in the desert of samsara, but we have found somebody who can guide is to the Oasis of Tushita Pure Land. In the second line, ‘fortunate’ refers to bodhisattvas, those who have taken on the goal of liberating all beings. Our guru inside our mind stands ready to reveal to us everything we need to know to accomplish our spiritual goals. Imagine having somebody perfectly reliable we can turn to who will explain to us everything we need. We should feel that hearing his speech gives rise to happiness and great bliss. The third line reminds us that his body possesses all the signs and indications of a fully enlightened being. Specifically, we should feel like we are in the living presence of this great being whose body radiates light putting at peace all around him. He has a power greater than all of the forces of samsara combined, and he is now at our side. With the fourth line, we actually prostrate. If we truly were in the presence of such a great being, prostrating would come spontaneously. We would fall at his feet with all our heart, not in some cult-like submission, but rather out of a mixture of awe and relief of having made it to safety.
Once we have emotionally recovered from realizing we are the presence of such a great being, we then would quite naturally make offerings to him. Remember, we have invited him into our mind, into our home and he has graciously accepted our invitation.
Pleasing water offerings, various flowers,
Sweet-smelling incense, lights, scented water, and so forth,
A vast cloud of offerings both set out and imagined,
I offer to you, O Supreme Field of Merit.
We mentally transform everything in the universe into complete purity and then offer this purity to our spiritual guide and imagine that it gives rise to great bliss. We do not make offerings for the benefit of the spiritual guide, but for our own benefit. Giving creates the cause for receiving, so if offer everything as pure, then that is what we will receive in the future. This is a powerful method for accumulating merit. The key here is to really believe that your guru is in front of you, and you are actually making offerings to him and he is receiving them and actually generating bliss.
The most important offering we can make is ourselves. We offer ourselves into his service. If we were a Christian and Jesus Christ himself came to our home saying he would care for and guide us for the rest of time, surely this would change everything and we would offer ourselves immediately and without hesitation knowing we had been enlisted into a truly higher cause. Inviting Lama Tsongkhapa is exactly the same, we just don’t believe it to be so and so we are not moved to put ourself under his guidance and care. But it is so. He is there. He is ready to guide us. He has a purpose for us.
To assume the mantle of our new purpose, we must first cleanse ourselves of all the dirt and grime which has accumulated on our soul (very subtle mind). We clean ourselves and dress nicely to go to work, and we especially do so when we are going some place important. But now, we are assuming the highest work of all and we will be residing in the hearts of all beings. If we realize this, we will naturally want to cleanse ourselves for a new beginning. We do so with the prayer for purification.
Whatever non-virtues of body, speech, and mind
I have accumulated since time without beginning,
Especially transgressions of my three vows,
With great remorse I confess each one from the depths of my heart.
The terrifying reality is we have spent 99% of our past in the lower realms where we essentially engaged only in non-virtue. The reason why it is dangerous to take rebirth in the lower realms is because once there all we do is engage in non-virtue and create the cause to remain there. We need to realize that this negativity is like a walking time bomb in our mind which can blow at any point in time. So we need to purify it immediately.
We should gather together all the unimaginable non-virtue we have accumulated into our heart in the form of black smoke, and then imagine that at the end of the verse white light rays and nectars flow down from Je Tsongkhapa’s heart and they dispel all our negative karma like turning on the lights in a dark room. We should strongly feel as if we have actually been cleansed of an eternities worth of mistakes. Water and soap clean our bodies every morning in the shower, blessings and faith clean our true selves. We have been given a fresh start.