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Q1: If one is advised to recite heart sutra 7x, can we split up the recitation? Ans: Any mantra or sutra recitation advice recommended by Guru has greater purpose and special meaning. Therefore, it is better to recite all at one go, on same cushion, in one sitting. Splitting up the recitation is still beneficial but not as effective as reciting all together, according to the advice. Q2: Chanting while driving or walking means a lack of concentration, will that affect the effect of the chanting? Ans: There could be impact. If one’s motivation for chanting is for Dharma, then even if one’s conduct is neutral or non-harmful (i.e. not necessarily virtuous conduct), that can be a cause for liberation. There is difference between virtue and Dharma. Dharma is always virtue but not all virtue is Dharma. For an action to be Dharma, it must be cause for freedom from samsara. Reciting mantra for this life’s purpose is virtue but not Dharma and won’t be a cause to free from samsara. Q3: We are asked to do prayers for members who are sick or have the need for prayers – how does that “personalized” prayer for one person fit in with larger motivation for all beings? Ans: There are two ways to help – dedicate only to liberate that person from illness and suffering OR motivate to dedicate to liberate not only the person who has asked for prayer but also to liberate all living beings as well. Clearly the second way benefits more beings. Motivation is what you are going to do and dedication is whatever has been done.
Q4: What is difference between Buddhism and Taoism? Ans: Buddhism is one of 3 types of practice – (1) to purify the of the 3 lower realms to obtain a higher rebirth such as into the human realms or god-realms, the main teachings to learn are refuge and karma, which are suited to the small capability being (2) to purify the total aspect of samsara and rebirth in the 6 realms, the main teachings are the 4 Noble Truths, the 12 Links of interdependent origination, as this are suited to the middle capability beings (3) to achieve the motivation to bring the greatest benefit to liberate not only oneself but also all beings from the entire 6 realms samsara, the main teachings in addition to those mentioned above, is bodhicitta i.e. great compassion, to lead not only oneself but all beings to enlightenment. Taoism – I don’t know anything about Taoism. But solely from outer aspects, there appears to be prayers to worldly gods but definitely without refuge to Triple Gem. What determines whether you are a Buddhist or not is whether you have refuge in the Triple Gem.
this naturally invokes compassion. the benefits will be enormous. then it would be good to focus on that mantra. Faith also plays a major role.g. The old man learned the correct pronunciation and next day when he recited it properly and circumambulate. without the mind of refuge because remember that worldly gods cannot rescue us from samsara. He recited the mantra totally upside down (incorrectly). If there is confusion or doubt what to use. Different mantras were composed due to different karmic affinities of beings. Buddha manifested into Tara in relation to successful activities. since Mani prayer is for all beings.Q5: Some of our families have worldly gods on altars for sake of parents and grand-parents. which was a most auspicious sign. is it alright to recite Bodhisattva names. This is one of the reasons why we don’t achieve our prayers – it is because we don’t have faith nor conviction in the prayers and in Buddha. if your are asked by parents to offer incense to worldly gods. so your outer aspect can be to do as they would like you to do in order to keep their mind peaceful. a White Umbrella Deity practitioner used to chant the mantra while circumambulating the Potala. may whoever recites this prayer be totally liberated – so if one also has positive motivation when reciting prayers like the 4 Immeasurables. . relates to wisdom. Example. the 5th Dlaia Lama noticed that the mandala had disappeared from the old practiitoner’s corwn! This happened because his faith and conviction already shaken. During the 5th Dalai Lama’s time. Hence. it is a prayer motivation in one’s heart. Each syllable of Mani acts as antidote to sufferings of 6 realms. we recite 4 immeasurables – is this same as motivation or is it just a ritual? Ans: The 4 Immeasurables prayer is not a ritual. Ans: Best if one is able to establish which Buddha aspect one has particular karmic affinity with. Unless one motivates properly. What should we do? Ans: As we have taken refuge. Whichever Buddha you have greatest karmic affinity with. It is therefore impartial and thus powerful. then use Mani mantra (Om Mani Padme Hum). immense prayers and dedications were made – e. Q8: If old parents don’t know how to chant mantra. So the Dalai Lama advised him to revert to his previous manner of recitation. you can recite that mantra. there is no need for us to rely on anything other than Triple Gem but one should still respect others/parents. The 5th Dlai Lama then thought . there is some possibility that one might use mantas selfishly. So if one can consult with someone who can do observation on what prayers to be done due to greater karmic connection. Q7: Why are there so many mantras – how to choose between them? Ans: All mantras have equal benefit as they are of one essence. Q6: Each time we do puja. When prayers were composed by the Buddhas. yet because of his strong faith in the mantra. Manjushri. So Dalai Lama proceeded to correct him.if I correct this practitioner to chant properly. he would be even better. the Dalai Lama observed that the crown of this old practitioner’s head was adorned by the mandala of the White Umbrella deity. there is no harm in offering the incense from the viewpoint of charity to the worldly gods.
get a conducive place. In Buddhism. one gains greater understanding of what is negative and what is positive. Is it advisable to meditate when one is feeling depressed or very sick? Ans: It can be most effective to meditate during this time. More happiness is being created. candle. But meditation motivation is not to float but this is one of the result-sensations. there is a sensation of a very warm light in front. study afflictive thoughts one has. better able to concentrate and a bit more aware of some teachings? Ans: Oh yes. many different levels of meditation – concentration meditation and analytical meditation (to understand the quality of the object of meditation). then do analytical meditation on how depression is harmful and negative. the light can be an obstacle because our delusions start to project lights/images and cause distraction. Sometimes. karma etc. wisdom is enhancing. first one needs so much effort to meditate but later. Some meditators really start to view Buddhas in the form of light.apart from becoming more quiet internally. set aside sufficient time (6 months). Before doing any meditation retreat. Q10: What is happening inside us when we meditate . That why in samatha. one gains a feeling of clarity and lightness as one progresses – one then gains physical pliancy and then mental pliancy = peace.g. If there is some fear during meditation. Some do concentration meditation just to gain some peace by blocking gross mind and using light to focus their mind.is it just one's inner heat moving? Ans: It depends on the individual. do accumulation of merit and purification practices before hand to remove hindrances to one’s retreat. in some cases. Similarly with sickness conditions. Once calmed down. This can be done but understand that doing meditation just for one’s own relaxation or quiet is not creating any positive karma and only creating neutral karma. Buddha taught than if one does want to develop concentration through meditation. it would be good to consult a master. generating great heat.Q9: As Buddhists. it is more beneficial by concentrating on a holy object (e. then do purification prayers. Q12. it is good if one feels much joy without ego (as some joys are delusions).Then do tonglen meditation (exchanging of self for others meditation practice) for other’s suffering to ripen upon onself or think “May my difficulty or depression be sufficient to eradicate all the hardships/depression of other beings”. Inner elements are stimulated due to concentration effect on chakras. there is a big thing happening. Once past 9th state of concentration. Buddha form or mantra syllable) rather than objects like tree. do we need to invoke the Triple Gem or Merit Field before starting meditation? Ans: We should start our meditation (and all actions) with right motivation such as “I’m doing to actualize concentration so that I can actualize enlightenment to benefit beings”. Apply concentration meditation to block depressing thoughts. esp navel chakra. to analyse the cause. sometime one enters into a state as if one is floating.. This will bring the added benefit of accumulation of merit in relation to one’s effort on concentration. why depression come into my mind. Q11. . during one's meditation . one has some control over physical elements and mind.
Some tantric deities image are in the mother-father position . Why does this happen? And why this particular affliction? Ans: One’s karmic seeds could ripen during a retreat (manifesting in strong emotions) and the retreat purifies these results. The mother figure is the wisdom consort (emptiness) and not a female. it is in relation to the different karmic conditions of beings. This could also arise if one didn’t know how to do proper retreat or doing it under stress. Please remember that great Buddhist masters have actualized the Path meditating on these images whilst remaining full monks. Some Buddha forms are quite complex. the imagery might activate some afflictive thoughts in the meditator. Sutras are spoken in relation to purification of various types of minds. can just meditate on the simple form of Shakyamuni Buddha. one must regard Shakymuni Buddha as the main emanator of other Buddha forms. These can only be revealed when you have studied the Buddha’s teachings well (esp. mental condition is gentle. If when looking at the father-mother deity. is not about human relations at all.although we are taught that this represents the union of method and wisdom. Q14. then it is best not to meditate on deities of father-mother form. one projects ordinary male and female relations. yet there is no question on the benefit of reciting them. taken proper initiation from a qualified master and then receive the commentary on the practice. As for the image of the father–mother deity together. there were no Commentaries. Even during the Buddha’s time. as there is a danger of misunderstanding and afflictions arising. cotton mind that is supple. Some Vajrasattva retreaters report that whilst doing the 3-month Vajrasattva retreat. they experience great anger arising within them. Is it alright not understand? Ans: Not necessary to understand every verse. Otherwise. . Results of retreats should be the case of one’s mind transforming from a stubborn rock mind to a gentle. The mother-father image is therefore to remind us of the need to fuse or combine bodhicitta (to benefit all beings) and wisdom realizing emptiness (to understand the true nature of reality) in order to actualize the perfect state of enlightenment. knife. Even the implements e. kind. So one cannot judge by mere appearances but need to learn meanings of significance of different deities and implements.g. No matter how many deities one practice. The male figure represents the Buddha’s method (bodhicitta) and not a man. the Lam Rim). It is very important to learn and understand the symbolism of such images.Q13: Some verses of Sutra are difficult to understand. Q16. still. How does this type of meditation help us overcome afflictions? Ans: When Buddha manifested into different forma. glowing in appearance. this is a total mistake. Q15. bodhicitta and emptiness well. How is this form of representation useful for meditation? Ans: If we don’t understand Lam Rim (the graduated path to enlightenment) or renunciation. holding all vows perfectly. peaceful. has a deep meaning and is the symbol of cutting off ignorance.
It is advised that one should do a retreat on the same cushion .g. Stress comes when one fixes a time to complete the required number of mantras during a retreat. some are deity based and some based on texts e. death. should one's mind be focusing on the concept of bodhicitta throughout the retreat because this could distract the meditator from fully concentrating on the mantra or the deity visualisation? Ans: Yes.g. How to deal with mental excitement? Ans: When mental dullness comes. Although the motivation for all would be the same i.Q17. So if people say a retreat takes 10 days. then hold your mala and chant the mantra. Heart Sutra. these principles need to be learned. . If you can do both i. reciting 110. Conceptual thinking is based on a belief inherent existence. understood and familiarize and once a foundation on these are built.e. the motivation for the retreat must be bodhicitta. a separation between the meditator and the object) and thus cannot grant realisations into selflessness. Yet we are encouraged to meditate on optimum human rebirth.e.e. That is why one uses the same cushion throught that retreat. meditate on precious human rebirth. This is because one need to bless the cushion and spot where one does the practice before retreat. must start by contemplate on the meaning of the Mani prayer. lam rim topics (renunciation. But concepts of dependent arising. When one’s mind too excited. add an extra week so that you can complete without stress.g. it will lead to non-conceptual thinking.these are all concepts too? Ans: Concepts and conceptual thinking are different. qualities of the Buddha . bodhicitta and emptiness) and when you feel tiredness and distraction coming. Q20: It is said that conceptual thinking has the fault of duality (e. There are different types of retreat . During the retreat e. lam Rim etc – at the initial stage.000 Mani mantra. Q19. bodhicitta. meditate on lower realms.some are mantra based. place a double vajra beneath the cushion.g. mantra chanting and meditate. Q18.why is this so? Ans: One should take this instruction literally and do a strict retreat. this would be good but this is difficult to do.
with the thought that “By myself alone.g. Where there is karmic seed. do we first need to receive commentary form the Lama? Ans: Having taken the initiation. 22. The Sutras were written by Arhats who listened to the Buddha's teachings and wrote them down? Ans: Some sutras were written by Arhats from memorization flowing from perfected concentration capabilities. hence Buddha taught those who were there and many were already bodhisattvas. Sutra recitation helps to purify. For the sutras – all found in the Kangyur and Tangyur – those were transcribed by senior Buddha’s disciples. “Buddha’s Umbrella Sutra”. the words say that to recite the Sutra will bring trouble to us at a faster rate but in a more mild form. Only Mahayana practices great compassion i. In the Diamond Cutter Sutra. some sutras were heard during the Buddha’s meditation. one can go into the commitment retreat (of mantra) but one cannot read the commentary until one receives the commentary from a Lama. so is it still beneficial to read the sutra with negative mind. I will liberate all beings from suffering”. when the wind blew and shook the trees and leaves produced the sound of the sutra.Sutra recitation questions 21. Some sutras arose during the Buddha’s meditation where words came from the Buddha’s crown e. This brings unease to the mind even though we still recite it. .e. Ans: Sutra never brings trouble and it is never good to recite sutra with negative mind. Q23: How do we explain that the Perfection of Wisdom as being authentic teachings of the Buddha. This mental unease is negative mind. Hence one can see the great kindness of the Buddha to teach different teachings to various disciples). They do recite them but are unlikely to recite Mahayana Sutras. The problem we are experiencing was already on its way and sutra is purifying one’s negative karma. Most sutras were written on leaves. Shariputra knew who attended which teachings – so asked Arhats to recite from memory and validated the correctness and accuracy of the sutras. Q24: When going on Yamantaka retreat. so make sure one’s mind doesn’t go into emotional state but be instead be more focused on the recitation. Some Lamas conferring the commentary give further retreat commitments re-commentary. many of whom were Arhats and Arya Beings having perfect concentration and memorized the Buddha’s teachings on various topics. All Buddhist practitioners (Theravadans and Mahayana) practice compassion.g. Tripitaka is amongst the famous sutras. as Theravadans don’t accept these as Buddha’s teachings? Ans: Heart Sutra is authentic as taught by Buddha in Rajgir but many Theravadans didn’t attend that teaching. Theravadans also have sutras e. reciting this will ripen that karma resulting in suffering. Some were direct transcripts. He taught Tantra teachings at Amravati – Kalachakra teachings – the disciples there again were Arya bodhisattvas (there were many Theravadans at the time but had no inclination to attend.
During the death process. the same clear light mind arises and can use that as the opportunity to eradicate subtle ignorance to attain enlightenment. at that point. there is a small death and at each experience of death. before experiencing the white light. If that doesn’t happen then one gets reborn into samsara. .Q25: What are the 80 conceptual thoughts? Ans: These are instinctive stages of thoughts based on inherent existence and exist in the gross mind. subtle conceptual mind still exists and thus one continues to accumulate negative mind. red and black visions of the dissolution process. one is able to attain buddhahood. which can then be used as the antidote to counter ignorance. During the white. it is crucial to link our mind/reflect on emptiness. then one will be able to connect to the subtlest mind = clear light mind. Once reaching clear light mind where the subtle mind is totally infused with emptiness understanding. Or in intermediate state (max of 49 days). red and black visions. at the end of each of the 7 days.
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