Facebook Answered: Vajrayogini’s Sacred Initiation
Dear Students and Friends,
I would like to share with you the transcript about a talk I did on Vajrayogini in response to the Facebook question: What are the Commitments After Receiving Vajrayogini’s Sacred Initiation.
I hold Vajrayogini’s practice very close to my heart, which is why I have a dedicated section on Vajrayogini in my blog. I am so fortunate and humbled to have received Her practice from my Guru which is H.H. Kyabje Zong Rinpoche, who had received it from His Guru, H.H.Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, who in turn received it from H.H. Kyabje Pabongkha Rinpoche… so whatever I said here is not made up by me but based on what these great masters had taught. It was Pabongkha Rinpoche who recommended and promoted the Vajrayogini practice as a main meditational deity. Vajra Yogini is highly treasured and practiced within the Gelug tradition.
Vajrayogini is a very very sacred practice. In the past no layman could see Her, not even monks. Due to the commitments involved, the Guru does not simply give Her initiations to just any student. So it is very rare to receive Vajrayogini, but She is very powerful and relevant for the people of this age. Vajrayogini is a tantric practice, it is the swift path. It is NOT a path for those who want a shortcut because they are lazy and want the easy way out. No.
So in order to qualify to receive Vajrayogini’s practice, the first thing you need to do is to do your homework! Do you really want it?? Only students who work hard for it, are committed, keep their promises, don’t make excuses and show sincere practice through their actions may qualify to receive her practice. You cannot win a marathon if you never trained for it. So if you want it then you should start training now… don’t give yourself excuses not to… She will bring you to Kechara Paradise within 7 lifetimes. I have briefly explained what the “warm up exercises” for Vajrayogini practice are here. You must prepare yourself ahead of time well, starting now for this practice.
If you care to receive Vajrayogini, do read carefully what I had said about the commitments in the video below… I have roughly explained what tantric initiation it involves as well. It is important for you to have some understanding about it. Read it, contemplate on it and strive towards it. I wish you good luck. If you have received Her, then please listen to what I share with you here. Important.
Facebook question: What are the Commitments After Receiving Vajra Yogini’s Sacred Initiation
This is in regards to the Facebook post on sacred Vajrayogini’s initiation, and what are the commitments afterwards.
Some people have this idea that they don’t have to ground themselves, learn up, and make themselves very stable in the preliminary practices and preliminary teachings, that they feel that tantra is the fastest path, so therefore it bypasses everything else and once they go into tantra they receive the magic initiation from the Lama on the throne and they get the sacred, secret mantra and they just go into their rooms and they recite, that everything will transform, everything will change, everything will be overnight success. Well, it doesn’t really happen that way and that’s not the way tantra was actually presented.
Unfortunately, some people throughout the world have advertised tantra the wrong way, in the first place. The wrong way is to advertise that it is the fastest path, the quickest path, and that if you just rely on tantra alone, you can achieve everything and nothing else is much needed, that it just bypasses. So as a result you get a lot of people running for initiations, running for these secret practices, running for the sacred, running for everything that is tantric in nature.
Well, there are people out there who are qualified to give tantra and they practice, they do get results, some quickly, but most of us including myself are not. So therefore what I like to elucidate is here using Vajrayogini’s tantra as an example, but it definitely applies to Kalachakra and Yamantaka, Guhyasamaja, Cittamani Tara, Heruka, Gyalwa Gyatso Chenrezig, it applies to all of those. And what happens is, during the tantric initiation, in short, I can’t explain too much for those of you who don’t have initiation, as I would be breaking my commitments, but in short, during tantric initiation, you have the preparatory initiation which is 1 day, the first day, then you have the actual initiation the next day and during the preparatory initiation you’re supposed to examine to see if any inauspicious signs or dreams or anything happened that should give you a warning that you shouldn’t get this initiation as you are not ready. From the side of the tantra or the initiation there is no fault, from the side of the receiver, sometimes you are not ready.
So therefore, the next day, the second day is the actual initiation. When you receive the initiation, you have to take certain vows, you have to take certain commitments, you have to make certain promises, and those promises and vows and commitments that you take during initiation are extremely important. They are more important for you to gain attainments, for you to get the result from the initiation. The initiation itself is to plant the seeds into your mindstream, but the actual work happens after the initiation, the actual process of gaining attainments happen after the initiation. There are cases where during initiation some people get attainments but those are far and very distant in between. Those you should not rely and hope on, because we have to look at our qualities, do we have Bodhicitta?, Do we have some realization and understanding of shunyata that is manifested in our daily activities, not just an intellectual understanding? So therefore, simply to hope that we will get some attainments from the initiation itself is the hope of a beggar, the hope of a very poor person wishing to buy a huge, big building but they have no money.
So, like that, what’s important is that whatever we have promised during initiation is much more important after initiation and after whether you meet your Lama or not, whether you’re getting special care from your Lama or not, whether your Lama has, is unfortunately passed away or is still living or not, it doesn’t matter, because during initiation, you have taken oaths and commitments and samayas and promises from your Lama as a deity. So during the initiation of Vajrayogini, you don’t visualize your Lama as a human being or a monk or a teacher, or whatever. You visualize it as taking it directly from Vajrayogini. So whether your Lama is hanging around you or is alive or has passed away, makes no difference because actually during initiation, the correct mode of receiving initiation is to think that you have received the Vajrayogini, or in the case of Yamantaka, Yamantaka.
So therefore, Yamantaka is deathless, Vajrayogini is deathless, therefore if your Lama is around or not, if they’re alive or not it doesn’t make any difference. It should not impact your practice whatsoever. So therefore, during your initiation, you have promised several things, many things in fact but let’s put it in a nutshell that’s easier. After one has received the initiation, one should not talk about the initiation to people who are not qualified, who do not know anything. The reason is because, it might give wrong understanding or misunderstanding, and is your understanding enough to share, so we have be careful about that. So not to reveal tantra to people who are not ready and to reveal tantra to people who have taken tantra but who have lost faith or who have not committed…who have…um… kind of not stuck with the Lama and went away, we’re not allowed to share the tantric practices with them anymore. That is not something I made up, this is what it says.
So therefore, everyday in fact after initiation, it is said that if we want to keep our practice very strict, we should not reveal the images of our Yidam. It should be covered away, it should be not be seen by anyone, whether it is a statue or it is a picture. Now my teacher, one of my teachers, Kensur Jampa Yeshe Rinpoche, the Abbot Emeritus of Ganden Shartse told me that if we were to keep a picture of our Yidam because we just like to see the Yidam, we like to make offerings, we like to have something visual there, it is permissible that if we have one original photo, thangka, a representation fully covered and think that this is my Yidam, this is my main Yidam’s image and put it away behind something that no one can see and then have a second picture or second image that is revealed and open, so the second one can be seen by others, that’s what Rinpoche told me, then you won’t be breaking the commitments of keeping it so called secret, alright?
Then you have to do your 21 Vajrasattva mantras daily, so in the Vajrayogini long sadhana it’s already inclusive. So every single day, you must recite the Vajrasattva mantra 21 times according to the tantra that you have received. The reason is because…because we have heavy habituations, it’s very hard for us to keep our commitments totally pure. So when we do Vajrasattva daily, we stop the karma or infraction of our commitments to increase. So the infraction, the karmic consequences of infracting, or the infraction of it will not increase. Then everyday, we must do the 6 session Guru Yoga. The 6 session Guru Yoga, the short one, if we can do the long one, that is the best, the short one written by Kyabje Pabongkha Dorje Chang or Pabongkha Rinpoche is used. So after the Dalai Lama’s initiation, after initiation in Ganden, Sera, Drepung, all of Ganden, Sera, Drepung, Namgyal monastery, all of these great monasteries, all of these great sanghas, all these practitioners, they use the 6 session Guru Yoga as composed by Kyabje Pabongkha Rinpoche, Pabongkha Dechen Nyingpo in Tibetan and Pabongkha was requested to recite, to uh, compose something short for people who claim they didn’t have time to do the long one. So the short 6 session Guru Yoga you should recite 3 in the morning, 3 at night. If you find that difficult, 6 times per day as and when you like, all right.
And then you have to do tsok twice a month on the Tibetan, on the lunar 10th and 25th, you must do tsok twice a month and if you cannot make it to tsok for a very good reason, then you need to do your Yidam’s mantra, three times more than a normal commitment. So if you promised to do 3, then on tsok day if you cannot make it you do 9, all right? Then the next one is you have to do your mantra every single day, whatever mantra you commit to, if you break it you have to double it, if you break it again you have to double it, if you break it again you have to double it, so if you promise 3, if you break it you have to do 6, if you break it, you do 12, if you break it you do 24, if you break it you have to do 48. So it’s double the amount, not double from the original, okay. So 48 times 2 and so on…so on if you break it. When can you go back to the original? You can go back to the original if you get that initiation again, all right. If you get the same exact initiation again, it doesn’t need to be the same Lama in case if your Lama has passed away, if you have to get the same initiation again and when you swear in for the number, you cannot swear in the original number, you have to swear in the next number. So, if you swore in 3 originally, the next time you have to swear 6. So let me make that clear, the only way you can clear your breaking of the mantras is if you get that initiation again. If you get the initiation again, you cannot promise what you promised the first time. You have to promise double what you have promised the first time. So it’s the second time towards your Vajrayogini initiation, and the first time you promised 3, the second time you have to promise 6, all right? That is if you are to then from henceforth, you can do the mantra 6 times everyday, and/or more. Of course you should do more, all right?
So uh, next one is, some Lamas ask you to do the short, some Lamas ask you to do the long, some Lamas ask you no mantra, uhh no sadhana, just the mantra, okay. So if you have to do the sadhana everyday of course you do it everyday but that is optional according to what the Lama gave you, but just because you don’t have the commitment, you shouldn’t say “I don’t have to do it.” Because you see, the actual commitment to do is the sadhana, the meditation, the practice, the mantra, Vajrasattva, you know and the 5 Buddha family commitments, the actual practice is the whole thing. So what Lamas are doing now is they’re condensing the commitments everyday, hoping that without the commitment to do it everyday, you will automatically do it anyway. Because if you have to do 10 to become fully enlightened, how could you do 2 every single day to replace the 10 to become enlightened? So if you are supposed to do 10 every single day, you have to do 10 every single day whether you have the commitment or not. For example, if there’s a long sadhana of Vajrayogini for you to do to become enlightened, you got to do the long one. By skipping out on the long one and just doing the short one, you’re not going to get the benefits of the long one. Then you might think why is there a short one. Well, there’s a short one just to keep up the blessings so you overcome your particular problem or obstacle, maybe you’re travelling, maybe you are sick, maybe you’re not well, maybe you have some issues, so it’s just to do for a few days and then you do the long one. Although you don’t have a commitment to do the long one, you should do the long one. If you don’t do it, you don’t break your promise, you don’t break your commitment but neither do you get faster to enlightenment. So therefore, if you are supposed to do 10 things to achieve enlightenment through Vajrayogini’s practice, Yamantaka or Heruka, then you say “Well, I only promised to do two, so I’m gonna do 2 every single day and I’m going to wish for enlightenment through that”. Well you know, that’s not going to happen, because you promised to do…you promised to do two when you should do ten. So if you promise to do, if you didn’t promise to do 10 it doesn’t meant you shouldn’t do 10, does everybody understand that? Alright I am not being tough on this, I am trying to be very clear, very open and very pragmatic about tantric practice, and this applies to Yamantaka, Heruka, Guhyasamaja, all the other ones, so don’t think this is only for Vajrayogini, alright?
The next one is, you should, before your death, actually, this is what Zong Rinpoche told us before at our initiation, before our death we should in fact have the will and the, create the causes and circumstances and actually finish a full length Vajrayogini retreat with fire puja, with offerings and the full ritual. So before we die, we should think “I will learn up how to do that, I will do that and I will finish it” so that’s very important to do before we die. For any strange reason that we make this wish today and tomorrow we die, well, we didn’t break this commitment if our intent was there to do it. We do break our commitment, thinking “Aiyah, I’m not going to do it, I’m not going to do it, aiyah maybe later, aiyah maybe maybe maybe because you know what? You can kind of fool people around you, but you can’t fool your own karma. You can also play games with your own mind, but you can’t fool your own karma. So therefore, before you pass away, you should, you should finish a full-length Vajrayogini retreat, full mantra count, with full ritual, concluding with a fire puja, alright?
Last but not least, there is a…… there are tantric clothes, tantric ornaments and tantric instruments that everybody is supposed to carry with them, wherever they go, like a vajra and bell and damaru and all that stuff. Wherever you go you should carry that with you. Well, it’s gonna be a little heavy, and it’s going to be a lot, and there are some things like you know, bone dresses, bone ornaments, bone armlets and bone bracelets and bone skirts, I mean, where are we gonna get that today? So what happens is that there is a sheet, there’s a sheet that is available that is drawn out all the tantric ornaments, all the tantric dress and all the tantric offerings that we need is um, kinda drawn out on a sheet and um we can carry that around, alright.? We can carry that sheet around and that would be all right. If there is a big demand on that, I can actually Xerox or I can blog that piece of paper, and I can put it up on my blog site where people can download it and keep that sheet inside their book, not to be seen by others. So therefore, if that’s kept with you then you keep the tantric commitment of keeping all these items near you that are auspicious and that are necessary for your attainments, alright? So therefore if there is no request for that, you can get it from somewhere else or you have it already that is wonderful. So therefore, in short, after initiation, after initiation, post initiation is much more, much more important than the actual initiation. So we need to get a very good grounding in teachings such as the Bodhisattvacharyavatara, the Wheel of Sharp Weapons, especially the Lamrim, the Three Principle Paths, um if we can, if we can, Ornament of Clear Realization by Maitreya. We should study up on our tantric vows, that’s very important and afterwards, we have to hold our tantric vows. That is one very strong commitment. We should read our tantric vows daily or weekly till we are totally familiar with them. We should read and study up on our bodhisattva vows. Dagpo Rinpoche in France has written a beautiful book on the Bodhisattva vows and everybody should get that and take a read and study it. It is very clear and very precise.
So therefore, uh, after initiation, we should hold our vows very strongly. We should hold our tantric and bodhisattva vows as if we protect our own eyes and if we don’t hold our vows and we do everything else, we’re not gonna get many attainments. You know, sometimes when we get angry or sometimes when we’re not happy or sometimes when we’re dissatisfied, we want to get someone back, or we want to perhaps, say something or do something and we’re satisfied from getting that…getting that person back, well you have to think, is it worth it to get this person back and sacrifice my Vajrayogini practice? Is it worth it to get this person back or get this situation back or just to win or look good or have a face, and then sacrifice my Yamantaka, Guhyasamaja or whatever practice I am doing? Because when you do that you kinda break your vows. So you’re kinda selling out on your tantric practice for that one person. Is that one person and winning over them more important than holding your vows? Because sometimes we get lost in the heat of the moment and the passion and what’s happening, and we have to always think that whatever we say and do, whether it is wrathful or peaceful or you know whatever we say or do, we gotta think it through fast, and if we cannot think it through that shows us that we’re not ready for tantra. We got to think it through fast, clean and clear, and then do what we need to do, because we know clearly what we are doing. We can’t say later “Oh I was angry, sorry I didn’t mean it that way” the deed has been done and the vow has been broken. So therefore, in order to look good over someone and not to lose face, you don’t want to admit you’re wrong, you don’t want to apologize, you don’t want to, you know, come out with the truth, you don’t want to say something that might mean something else to somebody else because you want to look good, you don’t want to lose face, is that worth it? Is that worth it over your vows and your practice? If it’s not, then let the other person win. Very simple.
So therefore, after, (I’m looking at my notes here), after tantric commitment, sorry, after tantric initiation, once you hold your vows, bodhisattva and tantric vows, once you do your Vajrasattva every single day, 21 times minimum or more, you have to do your 6 session Guru Yoga, you have to do your tsok twice a month, and if you can’t do it, you gotta do your mantra triple, you have to do your daily mantra recitation or more, and you have to do, up to you, what your Lama has given to you, your short or long sadhana. But let me repeat again. just because your Lama didn’t ask you to do it, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it because that is part of the path. That’s what we should be doing to become enlightened, otherwise why did we get the initiation in the first place, okay? And before death, we need to do a full length retreat of Vajrayogini, completed by a fire puja, sealed by a fire puja. How do we do that? If we don’t know how we can get someone to help us, okay? And we should keep our tantric instruments and if we don’t have those then we should keep those on a piece of paper drawn out, because whether they are drawn out or 3D, doesn’t specify so drawn out is fine, okay?
Remember, all these things, post initiation practice for the rest of our life is more important to gain attainments. Once you get an initiation, you don’t have to run for any other initiations. You don’t have to run for many tantric deities. Lama Tsongkhapa recommended, [Tibetan phrase] Guyhasamaja, Heruka, Yamantaka. He recommended for us as his disciples, to do all 3 tantric practices because they complement each other and for these degenerate times, they are very, very beneficial. But you know, as times become even more degenerate after hundreds of years after Lama Tsongkhapa has gone into parinirvana, well, Pabongkha Rinpoche recommended all of us to do Vajrayogini, solely and he kind of said that “Look, this is the synthesis of all the Buddhas. This one counters all the negative attachments arising from desire we have during the kaliyuga. My first teacher, Kensur Lobsang Tharchin Rinpoche, Kensur Lobsang Tarchin has passed away, his incarnation is back, he is from Sera Mae Monastery and he told us, this was his exact words, when I was like 14 and we received the initiation from him at Howell, New Jersey, great master, great Tibetan master and he said “You guys are very lazy, and for lazy people like you who want big attainments, Vajrayogini is the perfect deity.” That’s what he said to all of us, okay. That’s not what Tsem Rinpoche says because Tsem Rinpoche doesn’t know much, but this is what great masters, my Gurus have said and I have full confidence in what they say so I sit here talking to you with full confidence not because I know so much, but because these came from the mouth of very learned masters, so I dare say with a lot of confidence. So therefore, Kensur Lobsang Tarchin Rinpoche said that this would be the perfect Yidam for lazy people. When he said lazy means attached, people who make excuses for not enough time, people who say they don’t have enough knowledge, they don’t have enough merits, well, this includes lazy because his meaning of lazy is very, very pervasive. He is very skillful. He is very compassionate. So therefore, I am not calling you lazy, but I am saying that we are all inundated with samsara and so if we want to combine all the deities into one, Vajrayogini would be totally perfect, totally wonderful for this day and age, all right?
So this is the kind of commitments we need to keep after Vajrayogini and I want to share that with you on this video. I wish you good luck and I really wish that all of you would pursue the Vajrayogini path, and I wish that you would find a qualified master, not me, a qualified master and go and learn and listen. You see, I don’t see my job as being a Guru. I see my job as someone that is pushing you towards finding a Guru, pushing you towards learning the Dharma. I hope inspiring you towards doing more in your life to do Dharma wherever you are. I’m not here to become the Guru of the world, I’m not here to be the master of the world. I am not here to be the maha teacher of the planet. I have no intention and I don’t have the qualification, and I wouldn’t want to be in that kind of position even if I was qualified but I’m kind of here to let you know that I have learnt a lot of things in the last 30 years. I’ve sat at the feet of great Lamas, I’m from Ganden, and uh, well I thought I’d share that with all of you. I thought I’d share that you should go and find your teachers. You should go and rekindle your relationship with your teachers, keep up your relationship with your teachers and be very devoted and find one practice, whether that is Vajrayogini or you know, Yamantaka or Heruka, doesn’t really matter. Find that one practice, go all the way and don’t run for a lot of initiations. After a lot of initiations, unless you are really qualified, you get confused, you’ll have more to do and you won’t understand, I’ve talked to hundreds of people who have got into that situation, alright? One Lama, one practice, one Yidam, one commitment and go all the way with it, and I wish all of you luck, I truly do and I want you to attain something great within Vajrayogini’s practice or any of your practices. Good luck, thank you.
Transcribed by Joey Wong
Proofread by Lily Tan and Yee Ling
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