Vows, commitments and modern life:  Offering to the Spiritual Guide

The two commitments of the family of Buddha Amoghasiddhi

The two commitments of the family of Buddha Amaghasiddhi function to purify our aggregate of compositional factors and transform it into the wisdom of accomplishing activities.  When we have cultivated this aggregate within our mind, then all of our mental factors transform into the completely pure mental factors of a Buddha.  We literally have within our mind a Buddha’s mental factors.

To make offerings to our Spiritual Guide. 

This commitment is to make outer, inner, secret, and thatness offerings to our Spiritual Guide.

I remember when I first started practicing, I had a lot of difficulty with this whole idea of offering.  It seemed very cult-like, and very strange.  It seemed like it could easily be abused for the self-enrichment of the “guru.”  I think the fact that I have a lot of imprints of miserliness probably didn’t help either.  So I asked a lot of questions until I became comfortable with it all.  Now, every day, I wholeheartedly and without reservation offer, “my body, my mind, my time, my family, everything I own, my friends, my work, my tradition” to my guru, yidam and protector requesting them to “use these things for the swiftest possible enlightenment of all.”

The key point to resolving all of our doubts about offerings is from their side, the Buddhas need nothing.  They already have everything (indeed, they already are everything).  So we don’t make offerings to Buddhas because they need anything, rather we do so because we need to create the karma of making offerings.  The Buddhas are delighted to receive our offerings not because they like receiving things, but rather because they are happy for us because they know the good karma we are creating.  Everytime we give, we create the cause to receive.  Giving different things creates different types of karma.  When we make offerings to the Spiritual Guide, all of the countless Buddhas enter into his body and receive our offerings.  In this way, it multiplies the power of our offering by the number of Buddhas (which is countless).

We normally say there are four different types of offerings:  outer, inner, secret and thatness offerings.  Outer offerings can be divided into two types, normal material offerings and the traditional outer offerings of our practice.  Normal material offerings includes, for example, anytime we give something (like a vacuum cleaner, or new towels, or whatever) to our center, or when we give money for the International Temples Project, or when we give money to help send somebody to a festival.  Our normal material offerings function to create the karma to be able to have all of the outer conditions necessary to be able to practice in the future.  This is fairly easy to understand, by making the Dharma more easily accessible to others today, we create the causes to more easily access the Dharma ourselves in the future.

Traditional outer offerings of our practice include various types of water, food, incense, light and so forth.  Generally speaking, these create the causes to have good health, long life and that we find it easy to gain realizations in the future.  Within the context of our practice, we are not just offering the physical bowls of water, etc., rather within our mind we imagine we fill the entire universe with these offerings and we offer them to the Buddhas before us.  In this way, we can infinitely multiply the power of our giving.  Within our Tantric practices, we likewise engage in a special way of making outer offerings by imagining that all forms, sounds, smells, tastes and objects of touch transform into infinite offering goddesses holding special objects, which we then offer to the visualized guru deity in front of us.  This is an extremely powerful practice that functions to enable us in the future to experience all objects of the senses as nectar giving rise to the realization of great bliss and emptiness within our mind.  In the context of our Tantric practice, outer offerings function to give us the merit we need to complete the path of generation stage.

Inner offerings are where we imagine we transform the impure substances of our body into a completely pure nectar which we then offer to our Spiritual Guide.  There are outer aspects of this practice with nectar pills, and the like, but the real inner offering is an internal one.  First we purify, transform and increase the contaminated substances into pure ones, and then we offer them to the guru deity.  Doing so creates the karma to purify completely our contaminated aggregates and transform them into the pure aggregates of the deity.  In the context of our Tantric practice, inner offerings function to give us the merit we need to complete the path of illusory body.

Secret offerings are where we imagine offering the guru deity in the aspect of the Yidam a consort, and in dependence upon that the guru deity generates a mind of great bliss.  In the context of our Tantric practice, this creates the karma for us to be able to complete the training in meaning clear light.

Thatness offerings are where we imagine that, in dependence upon the bliss generated from the secretness offering, the guru deity realizes the non-duality between his mind of great bliss, the emptiness of his mind of great bliss, and all phenomena (including his emanation bodies).  This creates the karma for us to be able to attain the union of illusory body and clear light, and ultimately enlightenment.

One way to think of this is how different kinds of vehicles need different kinds of fuel.  Cars use regular gasoline, planes use jet fuel, rockets use rocket fuel, and The Starship Enterprise uses dilithium crystals.  In the same way, in our “Trek” to enlightenment, we need different kinds of merit to power us along the different stages of the path, from our daily practice, through generation stage, illusory body, meaning clear light, and finally full enlightenment.  Making outer, inner, secret and thatness offerings gives us this fuel.


5 thoughts on “Vows, commitments and modern life:  Offering to the Spiritual Guide

  1. Hi Ryan,
    I just found your site today and look forward to reading some of your posts. I have a quick question regarding nectar pills. I had HYT empowerment last year at summer festival and have been doing my best to practice Blissful Path which has really deepened my practice. I kept my nectar pill as I was not sure what to do with it at the time. I keep forgetting to ask when I visit my center and was wondering if you could shed some light on the matter? Should I eat it? or keep it to use at a later date when my understanding has deepened? If this is not realy the place to ask, I apologise, let me know

    • The nectar pill is the basis of the inner offering. Physically, what you do is you put it in some clear alcohol (don’t do a whiskey or something colored because it would likely dissolve) in a little jam jar. Then, when you are doing your HYT practice and you come to the inner offering or during the Kusali Tsog offering, you dip your finger into the liquid and imagine you are making inner offerings. See in New Guide to Dakini Land or Essence of Vajrayana on the inner offering. You want to try keep it for the rest of your life.

  2. Thanks for your kindness and generosity in conveying your understandings. They are clear and wonderful to connect with. Much Love Gyaltsen 🙂

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