Purification Practice

I have recently been searching for a spiritual practice that will give me more traction. Over the past few years my faith has wavered as another level of “stuff” is arising to be cleared. Unfortunately, this “stuff” is slippery and I can’t quite get a handle on it, leaving me feeling discouraged and unsure what to do.

In response to this situation, I have gone back to the basics of Buddhist practice: purification practice. These are tried and true traditional practices that people I respect say work in clearing obstacles and preparing one for more advanced practice. I started in March by committing to 100,000 mandala offerings. I estimated this would take me about 600 hours to complete. I decided to do half the offerings traditionally and the other half in the form or mandala art to give away. (See picture of mandala art to the right.) At the rate I’m going, it will take about 4 years to complete.

More recently I started 50,000 prostrations. I have wanted to do these many years ago when I learned that Je Tsongkapa undertook over a million of them during his long retreat. When he started his retreat he had to rely on oracles and people with psychic ability to answer his questions, but by the end of the retreat he was able to be in direct contact with Manjushri and had visions to each of the enlightened beings he had dedicated 100,000 prostrations to. Unfortunately, when I tried to do prostrations years ago, it was a great strain on my body and pulled at my back. However, I am now pleased that I have enough physical healing to allow me to do them without any strain. Anyway, I am making good progress and expect to complete my prostrations in 2039 or sooner.

The one thing I’ve noticed is that days of good solid practice are followed by days of inertia. I think what happens is that stuff comes up and then I require rest as it clears. Once it clears, I am energized again and practice more. I know that Chi Gung will clear things faster for me, but even that sometimes can be a struggle to get to.

In September, I underwent a shamanistic plant ceremony that really awoke me to how stuck I was. After the ceremony, I reached out to a variety of healers to get additional support in clearing blockages and unifying aspects of self. I found that the additional help seemed to keep things moving. I noticed differences in my ability to breath more deeply and have more connection to my body in general from the extra work.

I think one of the more difficult aspects of my journey is having the sense of where I am. I know I am lower capacity, but still am not sure about how to proceed given that knowledge. I look forward to a future where I can help others progress to enlightenment with specific advice that matches their level of ability. Ahhh, the benefits of siddhis and the enlightened mind.

Je Tsongkapa meets Manjushri

Tibetan depiction of the manjushri mantra "oṃ arapacana dhīḥ"I have always been intrigued by some of the stories regarding Je Tsongkapa, a leading figure in Tibetan Buddhism.  I was taught that he was able to be so prolific, and impart such great understanding of the difficult points of what the Buddha taught, due to the fact that he talked directly with Manjushri, the bodhisattva of wisdom.

Spiritual traditions have a tendency to accumulate errors over time, especially in the hands of less realized humans that introduce their own ideas based on thought and not on actual practice and realization.   In the 14th century, Tibetan Buddhism was in such a shamble.  Je Tsongkapa took Tibetan Buddhism, studied with all the great masters of the time, and then cleaned the traditions up by teaching and writing over 10,000 pages of detailed commentaries (without an iPad).  He essentially reorganized Tibetan Buddhism and founded the school that started the tradition of the Dalai Lamas.

Since I have many friends and associates that have direct contact with “spirit guides”, it is not surprising to me that Je Tsongkapa could talk to Manjushri, however, it is surprising to me that Je Tsongkapa could not talk directly with Manjushri at first. Indeed, when he was in his thirties he went to another person (Lama Umapa) that had direct contact with Manjushri.  He would take his questions to Lama Umapa, who would then get the answers from Manjurshi.  As such he began studying with Lama Umapa or should we say Manjushri via Lama Umapa.

Later, after a four year retreat, Je Tsongkapa had cleared enough personal obstacles to be able to “see” Manjushri himself.  The Lama Tsongkhapa website site tells this marvelous story in detail.  Worth the read.

The part that always intrigued me was the fact that if Lama Umapa was able to speak to Manjushri directly, why didn’t he write 10,000 pages of commentary and become the person that reorganized Tibetan Buddhism?  It is intriguing that some people that have “supernatural” gifts have “lower” realizations than people without those gifts.  But wait, here I am judging Lama Umapa as lower simply because he didn’t manifest more.  Actually, he may have simply a different karma.  Perhaps he was already enlightened when he met Je Tsongkapa, but did not have Je Tsongkapa’s desire to write or teach.