We know in general that Dorje Shugden eliminates all obstacles and arranges all the conditions necessary for our practice. Geshe-la provides some explanation in Heart Jewel how all of the different elements of Dorje Shugden’s mandala help us, but mostly we are encouraged to rely upon him with faith and develop a personal relationship with him. In this way, we come to experience directly how Dorje Shugden enters into and helps with our life. Here, I would like to share how I experience Dorje Shugden’s mandala.
The way I think about it is our Dharma centers exist on the shores of refuge on the island of enlightement surrounded by the ocean of samsara. The Eight Guiding Monks are like our Dharma teachers inside our centers. The Ten Youthful and Wrathful Assistants are like an outer perimeter in the shallows of the ocean of samsara where they both gather living beings and bring them into our Dharma centers and they serve as guards against those in samsara who would obstruct the practice of Dharma within the centers.
The Nine Attractive Mothers are then deeper inside the island enticing practitioners into the forest to practice Tantra. There is a more profound way of understanding the nine attractive mothers as permeating all four elements and the five objects of desire of samsara and nirvana.
Within the charnel grounds there are countless guardians who assist practitioners with their practice, all of whom are, from a certain perspective, also part of Dorje Shugden’s mandala. They guide us through the charnel grounds and deliver us to the iron fence and wisdom fire protection circle which marks the entry into Keajra Pure Land proper. Technically, there is no place that is not Keajra, but conventionally the iron fence and wisdom fire protection circle are like the pure walls around the city of enlightement, within which are the four continents, Mount Meru, and Heruka’s Celestial Mansion.
Kache Marpo is like a spiritual Rambo of Dorje Shugden’s mandala who can go anywhere in samsara or nirvana and rescue, inspire, or protect anybody. In my mandala, a former student named Taro and Kache Marpo are the same being. There are many reasons why for me this is true. Those who knew Taro, who died in Summer 2021, would likely have the same view.
Surrounding the Ocean of Samsara is Dorje Shugden’s protection circle. Everything that happens inside the protection circle is exactly perfect for the swiftest possible enlightenment of all living beings. The beings of samsara do not understand what appears to them in this way, but due to our faith in Dorje Shugden, we receive special wisdom blessings that enable us to see things in this way. When others share their problems with us, we see and understand how whatever has ripened is perfect for their practice. We can then share our perspective with others, helping them see their life through a different lens. In this way, we are able to help them transform their samsaric experience into the quick path to enlightenment.
The Five Lineages of Dorje Shugden each specialize in ripening one of our five aggregates into the five omniscient wisdoms of a Buddha. They do this at the level of Sutra, Generation Stage, and Completion Stage. Dorje Shugden himself is one nature with Lama Tsongkhapa – like a hologram. From one perspective my spiritual guide appears as Guru Sumati Buddha Heruka, but from another he appears as the Great King Dorje Shugden depending on the angle from which I view him. From one perspective, the interpretative appearance of the five lineages is as described in Heart Jewel and as we see at the temple in Manjushri, but from another perspective they permeate the three thousand worlds wherever the respective aggregates they ripen appear. In my mandala, they circle in the space above the four continents around Mount Meru, serving in many ways the function of Chakravatin Kings and their retinues, so that all my guests in the pure land may quickly be ripened in the paths of Sutra and Tantra.
Dorje Shugden is my spiriutal father, caring for me in life after life, providing everything I need for my swiftest possible enlightenment. Like a hologram appearing differently depending on how you look at him, he is my guru, Yidam, and protector. Practically, he is my best friend and his mandala are my closest sangha.
Some may ask, as some always do, “where does Geshe-la explain all of this, where does this understanding come from?” The nature and function of Dorje Shugden are explained in Heart Jewel. Venerable Tharchin explained about his protection circle surrounding the ocean of samsara. The rest is the composite of my understanding after 25 years of daily reliance upon him. There are three types of wisdom – the wisdom arisen from listening and reading, the wisdom arisen from contemplation, and the wisdom arisen from meditation. These three, especially the wisdom arisen from meditation, are primarily experiential understandings – insights gained from our direct personal experience with the instructions and our direct personal relationships with the holy beings. They are living and evolving things. Just because some elements are not explained directly in Geshe-la’s books does not mean they are not part of the body of his teachings waiting for us to discover as we connect the dots he has given us though our personal practice. I do not claim any of this is objectively existent. But it is my honest subjective personal experience based upon my practice of and reliance upon Dorje Shugden. I pray all who read this directly come to experience Dorje Shugden and his mandala in their lives.