100,000 Butterlamp Offering Retreat
“It is very important to practice the offering of butterlamps. Try to complete a minimum of 100,000. It is very good for your realizations on the sutra path. It is excellent for results on the tantric path.” ~ Tsem Rinpoche
His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche has advised on many occasions that it is very beneficial to engage in a retreat of offering 100,000 butterlamps. Such a retreat allows the practitioner to develop deeper wisdom, increase realizations and make a connection with the deity to whom the butterlamps are offered.
Recently, Tsem Ladrang in Kechara Forest Retreat created a butterlamp offering facility in the hope of offering many practitioners the opportunity to engage in this meritorious undertaking.
The Benefits of Light Offerings
The second chapter of Heruka Chakrasamvara’s root tantra advises that, “If you want sublime realisations, offer hundreds of lights.”
In addition, by making light offerings one gains the following benefits:
- You become a light in the world.
- You achieve (when born human) the clairvoyance of the pure flesh eye.
- You achieve the devas’ eye.
- You receive the wisdom of knowing what is virtue and what is non-virtue.
- You are able to eliminate the darkness of ignorance; the concept of inherent existence.
- You receive the illumination of wisdom; even in samsara, you never experience darkness.
- You receive much wealth and enjoyment.
- You are reborn in the deva or human realm.
- You quickly become liberated.
- You quickly attain Enlightenment.
Engaging in Your Own Butterlamp Offering Retreat
Traditionally, a butterlamp offering retreat involves cleaning, preparing and lighting a minimum of 100,000 light offerings along with the requisite prayers. As butterlamps were made of butter or ghee set around a hand-made cotton wick in olden times, the preparation work was immense.
Fortunately, Rinpoche has devised another method for engaging in this retreat, one that is specially tailored to suit busy, modern lifestyles.
The Traditional Retreat
The procedure is as follows:
Wash your hands and clean your mouth.
Sweep and clean the working area very well. As the retreat is an offering to the Three Jewels, the area should be as clean, tidy and beautiful as possible, as the deities will be invoked to that place during the retreat and prayers.
Clean the butterlamp holders very well and prepare the butterlamps. This may include rolling the candle wicks, melting the ghee, pouring it into the butterlamp holders and waiting for it to set.
Having placed all the butterlamps on the altar, purify with incense while reciting OM AH HUM. It is important to purify all offerings in this manner. If offerings are not purified, we may experience strong obstacles to our Dharma practice or disturbing spirit interferences.
Recite prayers such as
- Lama Chopa up until just before the Tsok offering section. Instead of doing a tsok offering, the butterlamps are lit instead).
- Light Offering Prayer by Lama Atisha.
Light the butterlamps while reciting Lama Tsongkhapa’s migtsema mantra.
After lighting all the butterlamps, purify them with incense once again and recite OM AH HUM.
Recite concluding prayers such as:
- “Reviewing the Stages of the Path” until the dedication verses of Lama Chopa.
Recite dedication prayers.
An Alternative, Modern Butterlamp Retreat
As advised by Rinpoche, sincere practitioners who are too busy to engage in a traditional butterlamp retreat can sponsor a retreat or hire people to do the physical preparations instead of doing it themselves.
This benefits both parties:
- The person who sponsors the full cost of the retreat benefits because he directs the money he earns from hard work and effort towards the virtuous act of making offerings.
- The person who physically prepares, makes and lights the butterlamps also benefits because he is doing work in relations to the Three Jewels. Instead of earning money in an ordinary job, he is engaging in good Dharma work instead.
If we wish to sponsor a butterlamp retreat, the money we put towards it should come from a clean source i.e. we should not have obtained the money through negative means, such as from a slaughter-house business, drug trafficking, robbery, etc). We should offer the money with a good, strong motivation that we may gain wisdom, skilful means and attainments that can benefit others through the retreat.
Butterlamp Retreat Tips
When engaging in a 100,000 butterlamp retreat, we can offer as many butterlamps as we wish each day, the more the better! However, we should not skip even one day of making the offerings. If we are physically unable to do so due to travel or sickness, we should offer at least one butterlamp a day, with the prayers, to maintain the continuity. If we miss even one day, we have to start the retreat all over again from the beginning!
For Kechara, Rinpoche has advised to use a central image of Vajrayogini. We visualise that all the lineage lamas, Yidams, Buddhas, Dharma Protectors, dakas and dakinis dissolve into Vajrayogini as we recite prayers and make the offerings.
We should think that we are making offerings not just to a statue of Vajrayogini, but to all the Enlightened Beings. In this way, we make a direct connection to the enlightened body, speech and mind of these Beings, thus creating the karmic cause for us to get closer and achieve these same highly exalted, attained states.
Whichever method of retreat we choose to engage in, we should do it with full faith in the Three Jewels.
Begin Your Retreat Now
If you would like to start your butterlamp retreat by sponsoring butterlamp offerings at Tsem Ladrang in Kechara Forest Retreat, please contact Victor Choi at [email protected]. Payments can be made online and via cheque as follows:
Beneficiary: Persatuan Penganut Buddha Rumah Kechara
Bank Name: CIMB Bank
Bank Acc No: 8003-73-1474
Payee Subject: VY Candle Retreat
Beneficiary Name: Kechara House
Please support us so that we can continue to bring you more Dharma:
If you are in the United States, please note that your offerings and contributions are tax deductible. ~ the tsemrinpoche.com blog team