Tsongkhapa Practice

A Practice for Developing Compassion, Wisdom and Protection

30 April 2009 - 11:47pm Comments Off

by His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche

We all suffer from different types of problems and difficulties. Even when we solve these difficulties other problems crop up. When those are solved then more develop. The reason is because we treat our problems with short-term solutions that only take care of the symptoms of the problems but not the cause. Most of our problems arise from the karma that arose from negative karma done in previous lives and this life. That karma arose from negative action. This arises from anger and ignorance. With the three venues of body, speech and mind we ceaselessly create negative karma that are stored in our mind stream until the conditions arise for it to ripen and we suffer its effects. From ignorance which is deep seated, we view the world and its inhabitants in a wrong way thereby reacting to it in a wrong way creating disastrous results. Ignorance on a superficial level can also include bad memory, lack of wisdom, slow mind that make wrong decisions, etc. Then we have many supernatural and external obstacles such as financial difficulties, charms, spirits, health difficulties and in general overflowing bad luck. All this arises from the fruitioning of negative karma and the lack of the collection of positive karma. Unlike a few hundred years ago where people basically at dawn went to the fields and at dusk return home. Once they return home, there is nothing much to do. So they had plenty of time to do long practices on more than one deity. Now we have airplanes to travel all over the world. Clubs that never close till wee hours in the morning. Telephones to talk to our friends for hours. Countless other distractions like movies, CDs, computers, Internet, restaurants, shopping, and the list goes on. So our distractions are more, thereby less time to develop spiritually which is the real cause to solving our unhappiness at its roots. So we all need a practice that is condensed. Short. Easy. Without many commitments, precepts, complicated visualizations and long prayers that take hours. Something that is simple yet incredibly powerful. We need a yidam (one’s personal meditational deity) that encompasses all of the above and more! Lord Tsongkhapa would fit that description perfectly.

Lord Tsongkhapa embodies the three Bodhisattvas and arises from the heart of Maitreya Buddha. The three Bodhisattvas are Avalokitesvara (Kuan Yin) for countering anger and its extensions. Manjushri (Wensu P’usa) for opposing the most powerful delusion ignorance. Third of the holy triad is Fierce Vajrapani Bodhisattva (Chingamso P’usa) for protection against charms, obstacles, disease that are difficult to heal and disharmony. Since Lord Tsongkhapa emanates from the heart of the Buddha Maitreya then one gains a special connection to Maitreya when he manifests in the future as He is the next Buddha to appear after Lord Shakyamuni. So by adopting the practice of one Tsongkhapa, you get four Bodhisattvas for free!! If we were to do the sadhanas, prayers and mantras of each of the four deities, we will definitely not be able to find the time. Then if we were to take initiations, we will have to take on the 10 refuge precepts, 18 root Bodhisattva precepts and 46 auxiliary precepts!!! Only if we hold those precepts well, then we of the individual practices will there be benefit. How complicated, long, difficult, and mind-boggling. So of us normal, “busy” people if we can just practise one Buddha (Tsongkhapa) and get the benefits of increasing our compassion, wisdom, and protection, it sounds like a good bargain to me. No complicated rituals, initiations, precepts, long prayers and hours upon hours of daily recitation. Tsongkhapa will be definitely perfect for the modern individual who would like a deity practice to cultivate the collection of merits.

Lama Tsongkhapa appears in the form of a 16-year-old youthful monk. His graceful two hands are in the Dharma-chakra mudra (turning the wheel of Dharma gesture) signifying that the highest function of a Buddha is to teach. At each hand between the thumb and index he holds the stem of a lotus with the actual lotuses blooming at his ear level. On the level lotus rests the wisdom sword of Manjushri. Holding this sword represents that Lord Tsongkhapa can cut through our deep ignorance, bad memory, limited intelligence. That relying on Lord Tsongkhapa as our personal meditational deity will increase our wisdom, memory and intelligence. It is very good practice for school going children of all ages. Then the right lotus has a Wisdom text on it represents that Lord Tsongkhapa has fully realized the complete stages of Buddha’s teachings and will bless you to understand it. His legs are crossed in the vajra (adamantine) posture represents that not only has He mastered Lord Buddha’s teachings, but by intense meditation He has gained Buddhahood embodying all the qualities of Lord Shakyamuni Buddha Himself. He wears the robe of a fully ordained Buddhist monk showing us that He held precepts perfectly like Lord Shakyamuni. He also reminds us that whatever precepts we have taken, we should hold it well. He wears a golden pointed Pandit’s hat. In ancient India, the Pandit’s hat can only be worn by accomplished scholars. The colour yellow symbolizes growth of peace, harmony, luck, achievements spiritual/worldly, happiness, wealth and long life. So Lord Tsongkhapa wearing this hat symbolizes he can bestow on you these very sought after qualities. It is pointy at the top, which represents that He has reached the peak in Samsara, which is full enlightenment. Seeing that hat of Tsongkhapa will plant the imprints of Buddhahood in our minds. So seeing a golden yellow hat on Tsongkhapa or our gurus is very auspicious brings luck and portends good omen for the future. His holy Buddha Body is immersed in beautiful golden lights and Lord Tsongkhapa smiles gently and compassionately at you beckoning you to be blessed by Him. Because Lord Tsongkhapa’s holy body has these incredible qualities merely remembering, seeing, and hearing about Him earns one incredible good karma and merits. Therefore keeping a photo, statue or image of Him on your altar definitely brings one good luck, harmonizes your environment and attracts wealth. Even if one is supposed to starve to death, if one has an image of Tsongkhapa it will create the causes for one to get something to pass the difficult times.

Tsongkhapa’s prayer is Threefold. We can do any of the Three:

Long one:


Translation: Tsongkhapa, you are Avalokitesvara great unobservable compassion, (So this first line is equivalent to reciting Om Mani Peme Hung) You are Manjushri, supreme stainless Wisdom. (This line is equivalent to reciting Om Ara Baza Nadee) And Vajrapani, the destroyer of inner and outer Demons. (This line is equivalent to Om Vajrapani Hung) Tsongkhapa, crown ornament of the Masters of the Land of Snows (This line is identifying His as the embodiment of All Masters) O Losang Drakpa I request you, please grant your blessing and I bow To your lotus feet, grant me enlightenment.



Translation: Om represents the Buddha’s body. Ah is Buddha’s speech. Guru is that Tsongkhapa and your spiritual master are one. Benza dhara is Vajradhara Buddha, which is the form Shakyamuni took to teach the Tantras. So Tsongkhapa is one with Shakyamuni and Vajra Dhara. Sumati Kirti is Tsongkhapa’s ordination name. Siddhi represents asking for all accomplishments. Hung and hung represents Buddha’s holy mind.



So one can do the long mantra of Tsongkhapa 7x or more per day and then proceed to either the medium or short one for one rosary a day. It will be an excellent idea to make beautiful water offerings, flowers, milk, biscuits, and anything one purely offers in order to gain good karma and change one’s luck. If one already has a Kuan Yin statue, one can put Tsongkhapa next to it.

So I’ve explained the holy practice of Tsongkhapa and it’s benefits in short for everyone. I pray you engage in the practice and reap the benefits! One should start immediately by chanting any of the three holy mantras to Lord Tsongkhapa. Even buying a statue of Tsongkhapa and dedicating to one’s deceased loved ones brings much benefit to them for their future rebirth. One can keep it at home, give to someone or offer it to a Temple.

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