A Skilful Method for Accumulating Merit
Teachings on the Inner Preliminaries of Kalachakra
By Khentrul Rinpoché Jamphel Lodrö
Rinpoché discusses the importance of accumulating merit and how the mandala offering is an especially skilful method for generating momentum for your practice.
These teachings were recorded at the Rimé Institute in Belgrave, Australia on June 04, 2015.
Ok. Today the subject is mandala offering. I said this many times but I think still worth to say. When we say mandala, we have to know what people getting image in their mind. How many people have idea of mandala in this earth, or in this language using. Among this language using, how many people have idea of what is mandala. We think of that first and then among these people, have some idea of this mandala. In their mind how many percentage people thinking, what image holding in their mind, mandala. I would say majority of people, they holding in their mind, mandala, in their mind, is the sand mandala drawing or the picture of mandala you know, originally meant to be sand mandala, the Kalachakra mandala and the other buddhas mandala, probably people think that. So probably the minority of people thinking two types of mandala. But that is probably very minority, I mean according to who using this language and I’m saying this age, in this century I mean. So maybe the other centuries maybe different, but this centaury who using this language, not many people know this mandala we talking today.
So first I think very important to distinguish the mandala. We often see on the internet, especially we see the Kalachakra mandala, that kind of drawing and sand mandala. So then, distinguish, we talking about mandala in this chapter, in this teaching, we not talking about that mandala. We talking about this three rings on the top of the disc and we have this kind of building mandala. So then we have to know what is the differences, what is representing differently. And why we need offering mandala ok.
So the first one, the flat mandala everybody see often on the internet, that one, is representation of enlightened world, ok. So that means if, Amitabha mandala and then there’s some support, the deities according to Amitabha and if Akshobhya and according to there’s some specific deities, places and like that. So for instance in the Kalachakra, and then you have this 636 deities support or even more, 720, that kind of specific locations for the deities. Why? Because we talking about this enlightened deities. For this reason we talking about their palace or their world, so for this reason there’s many places of specific deities. So for this reason we say this mandala is representation for the enlightened palace or enlightened world. And the purpose of this mandala we making, creating this mandala also, not the main focus is offering. The main focus is identify all this locations and this deities and what they representing in your body, in your mind and in your five aggregates, so on and so forth, if you can. But even you can’t go that much detail but just that deities and that palace is existing, so that’s why you try to creating all some mental picture (? 13.47) with this enlightened world, enlightened deities so mainly for your visualisation and understanding and those things, that is your main focus. So the main focus is not for offering to somebody or someone else.
So this mandala what we talking about today is main focus, is for offering and the purpose accumulation merit. So because everything this particular practice, the Kalachakra particular practice, is for reach our full potential, our sacred truth, the Tathagatagarbha. For this reason we need accumulation merits. We need two accumulations remember. The wisdom and the merits. So the wisdom, and we build through the knowledge and we learn more and more and more, and we understanding more and more, more subtle and subtle, so that is accumulation wisdom. So the accumulation merits is, we generate our mind the positive quality, you know, this generosity and the mindfulness and the thoughtfulness and this appreciation and inspiration and so on. So for this reason, this two always together as like you know, wings of the bird, the bird cannot fly without one wing. So similarly we cannot reach Buddhahood without two accumulations. So this particular mandala offering is for accumulation merits.
So what representing this mandala. Again similar is universe, but more representing in our universe. Our universe means really this samsaric universe. So there’s no strict rule you cannot offering enlightened world, of course you can, depending your capacity. But in this particular practice we focusing the representation of our own world, our own world which means we had, our own possession, this world is kind of our possession because belong to us. Because we have this collective sharing karma, everybody together, for this reason we have entitled to offering this world more than any other universe. So the mental transformation is always important and there’s no limit rules, so of course you can imagine the one hundred thousand universes to offering. However in our offering, our own world and this karma we have, associated with this karma, this world we have much more entitled to offering. So entitled to offering means we have more, we should have more effective result than we offering other universe. For this reason this mandala is designed for representation of our world.
And our world offer to who? Offer to enlightened beings, enlightened universe. So in this particular practice mainly of course this tantrayana practice, so you see as the main yidam deity Kalachakra, as inseparable as your dharma teacher, so that you offer. And then you offer all yidam deities, yidams and buddhas, bodhisattva, dakinis, dharma protectors, everybody you offering.
So you may think, “oh, why I offer samsaric world to enlightened beings? That maybe is not such a nice offering because samsara is terrible, impure. This all whole world is come from impure karma, karmic cause and conditions. So how can I offer this to enlightened beings, enlightened world?” You know, so some people may think ok…something like we have very important guest, very respectable guest and we offer dirty food or already gone off, dirty food. You can think of like that, but what you have to understand here is the offering is not…. firstly the offering is not enlightened beings needs. Enlightened beings, enlightened world, enlightened universe, they don’t need anything at all, but the offering is in our mind training, so we need more thoughts, thoughtful, generous and discipline, diligent, perseverance. For this reason we offering.
And also you have to know that enlightened beings doesn’t matter what you offering. So you offering something dirty and revolting for enlightened beings. For them is not dirty and rotten. Why? Because they don’t have that karma. They are free from karma, so our the disgusting and rotting dirtiness is only appears because we have that karma. So if we offering that with your pure motivation, good intention, even if you have some ignorance, still it is beautiful offering becomes, that’s not problem at all. For this reason it is appropriate even our karmic universe, that’s all we have possessed, this is our best we can offer. So that’s why it is appropriate and benefit to offering. For this reason we offering the mandala.
Then maybe you can think of, why is mandala. Why we can’t offer the other beautiful things. Why we can’t buy flower everyday and offer? Why can’t we make other things, beautiful things, beautiful dress, beautiful jewellery whatever. Why can’t offer them? The answer is of course you can, of course you can. Also you can think of, why we can’t offering reality, to some respected beings, really respected spiritual teachers, monks, nuns, whoever. Why we just making something like children and make something like children toy, and making something and offering, there’s buddha’s and something we don’t really see? And pretending we offering the universe. Why we do that? Maybe you can think of that. The answer is, yes you can offer anything. Whatever you said, you can offer the reality. But this particular offering not nihilate other offerings, the offering reality. You can offer food, you can offer drink, you can offer anything, you can offer kind, encouraging, anything.
But we offering this mandala because representation of our universe. That’s very important or we can say symbolic of our world. So the whole world, that’s we got the best, the whole world is the largest we have, the biggest we have, the greatest we have. So why we not offering the symbol of the whole world? You can offering any reality things, as much as you can, anytime and particularly in this, during how long, however long you focus on this mandala offering, you can offer many other things. But the recommendation is you have to offer this mandala. Firstly the representation of the universe. Secondly this is our tradition. Blessed lineage, passed on, the realisation and attainment, has high attainments. This spiritual masters, they attainment extra ordinary attainments, through this practice, for this reason it has been blessed. So that’s why this is our one absolutely necessary we have to practice, we have to offering.
But doesn’t nihilate any other, doesn’t against any other offerings, as much as you can, you can do it. Your personal favourite you can do it. Reality offering, imagination offering, when you visit the shops, garden, anything, even on the television, anything you see is nice, pleasant, beautiful you can offer. This is really important to have this habit in our mind. The respect ones, the enlightened beings, we remember them and we offering them. So you accumulating enormous merit every day. But we have to have this practice, mandala, that’s one of must have. Not should have, one of is must do. Any other generosity actions welcome, but one of this you must, is that.
So now hopefully you understood, what is mandala, what different two mandala’s, representing two different and purpose different, and which one we talking about in this teaching. So that should be clear for you, and these people heard many times, but for the new people you should have clear for this now. Is clear? So how you do practically, and which part of this physical mandala is which part representation, next Joe, the others can teach you.
Ok so this chapter, this practice quite simple. If somebody would like to have much more academic understanding then you can go, you can learn the universe. So you can learn the universe how traditionally taught. What the traditional astronomy. And the scientific astronomy. Why is different? And which one is true, so on and so forth, you can learn a lot if you like academic. But that is not essential. For this practice it is not essential I believe. So the essential is you just know this is one particularly skilful forms of generosity practice. One skilful particularly accumulation merits, that’s you have to know. And specifically, you have to remember, this is obstacle of, clear obstacles of my next attainments, next accomplishment. For this reason again you should have extra effort, with joyful effort, joyful effort. Not you find difficult and unpleasant.
So if I tell you a very little bit, why the scientific universe and this classical universe is different. The purpose, the describe, you know, how you say, the explanation of the universe, the purpose not the same. That’s I think is major importance. So the science purpose, what their purpose? Their main purpose, how we can use this universe for samsara, samsaric benefits. So that’s why very important, good measurement and everything. And the science done so well, I would say very very, well, and this samsaric purpose, so we can’t deny that. Some people try to deny that, some monks, but I thought that was very funny (laughs). We cannot deny that, impossible. If you deny this I believe you even not so, according to the Buddhist doctrine you know, so you should not deny this, that is the reality, one of the reality.
And then on the other hand some people have very critical about the classical explanation of the universe. Which means the representing by this our mandala and they saying, “oh, this is not true. What scientists discover is very true, all of them”. So I would say we should have no problem with this, the scientists what explain the universe, should not be any challenging for this practice, that’s I believe. So ancient time, who describe how universe is how like. Based their own knowledge, yes, but also we cannot measure this enlightened beings, their knowledge. If we try to, if we try to be judgemental, “oh they only have that knowledge, oh they didn’t know”. I think that is a little bit very silly, we judge them, you know, our capacity to judge this realisation sages, you know. Instead they skilful means, what is suitable at that time, that age, based on that time, people’s knowledge, is suitable. Not important in the future one day science, so called science, developed and discover this universe like this, and majority people understand this. That’s not important because that’s total different purpose.
So for us, the major I think, the important of how much gain realisations through this practice, and been blessed, that’s important. So when we offering, we offering exactly way. Even if we visualise it, the universe, we wouldn’t visualise it as the scientific world, as like a bowl and then we have Africa there, America there, Europe, Asia, we don’t do that way. We should do exactly what is the classical way and described in this holy text, with understanding. There is no conflict because different purpose and serves different purpose, different benefits. But if you want to go details, “oh ok, how they describe, this and this and how many continents and how many sub-continents and how the measurement each one”. That’s all fine, but all this is secondary, I would believe, not the primary practice. So for this reason we don’t need talk too much (laughs). So what else should we talk?
Student – What we’re offering, does that include also all sentient beings of the universe and if so that means offering your own body, speech and mind as well? Is that correct?
And there must be many levels of offering of offering your body, speech and mind. Could you explain possibly…
What you mean many levels?
Well I guess it’s quite a difficult thing maybe for most people to comprehend offering your own body, speech and mind. So there would be many different of levels a practitioner would go through….well I guess I have difficulty understanding what that means, offering your body, speech and mind to…
Do you understand my question?
Yes, yes. When we offering the universe, is it important to offer sentient beings? The answer is not necessarily. But you could, you don’t have to purposefully separate the sentient beings at all. But also you don’t really need specifically think of the sentient beings, not necessary. Because depending how you feel. You know when we offering the universe, I feel like we more focus the all beautiful things of the universe, we more focus them and this feeling you know, like pleasant, with this feeling of the pleasant and we offering. So if that sentient beings occurs to you as pleasant and beautiful, then yes. If not you don’t have to and if is neutral is ok, your offering.
But the more important, usually people don’t think that way. People don’t think you have right to offer something you don’t have, something is not belong to you. So that’s why I am saying this universe is belong to us. That’s one thing, so that’s we just learn. The other thing, people don’t think is worthwhile, something offering, not reality, situation is yours. So something people, usually people think offering is something practical. So we cross that gap, yes offering is practical and non practical, both.
Because our mind, the all is training our mind, so mind you can think, you can imagine, you can have that feeling, you can have that attitude, why not. Nobody stopping your attitude, nobody able to stop you attitude and your feeling. So that’s why. Which means skilful means. But if people always do this non practical one all the time and not doing any practical, then maybe have a little bit problem. So you have to try both. Which one easier? Of course the non practical one easier, and then, you should train that first, the easy one. Let’s say you train offering, make habit, everything pleasant, beautiful you sees, your mind first popping in your mind, “oh so beautiful! I ‘m offering Buddha, dharma and sangha. I offer Buddha’s and bodhisattvas”. Kind of like that, or I offering Amitabha pure land, I offering Shambhala or whatever, to Shambhala I mean, to Shambhala offering, you know. Those things, so the Shambhala beauty cannot compare our world beauty, but our world beauty is reality to you, the other one is imagination so you can, in that reason this our world beauty things is more powerful for you so you can offer that no problem.
And then when we say our body, speech, mind offering, what does mean? Do we have cherish our body, do we have cherish our mind, do we have cherish our speech? Of course we have. So something cherish but still you give somebody, we call generous, so you are doing the same thing with your body, speech and mind. Why is difficult for you mind? Is something difficult to let go or something why people need my body, speech and mind? If is that case I said before remember, is not they needs, it is our mind training. So otherwise, if you find your body, speech mind is terrible and revolting, disgusting, and then you have no cherish, zero cherish, then you don’t have to offer, but probably that is nobody. So
Student – I think this idea of multiple levels, body, speech, mind, I’m wondering, is one level seems to be the external level right, where you have gross actions of body, speech and mind, right. Are there more subtle ways of offering our body, speech and mind that can also help remind us of the qualities….
I think those things not important to worry too much. When you practicing offering, the offering is important, the generous important, the thoughtful important, the mindfulness important. Not so much details, “oh should I do this? Shouldn’t I do this? Should I? Shouldn’t I? Better to this? Maybe not?” Is too much, it is not important really to think of too much. Because you, the purpose you have to remember, the main purpose.
Student – But is there purpose in remembering the qualities…..part of the purpose is to develop merit Yes? So….
Not part of purpose, the main purpose
If that’s the main purpose then reminding ourselves of different qualities and then offering them brings, strengthens…
Yes if naturally, if naturally for you have no difficult at all, you just naturally falls in and if you want to do that, no problem, you can do that. But if is like kind of form of worry, form of you know, and then is not necessary. Because then you forgot the main purpose. So for instance if you have many things offer somebody, many things you can give away for somebody but instead you give them and say, “oh maybe something else better bah, bah, bah. Oh I don’t have that one”. You know kind of like, is wasting time. So whatever you feels, whatever you feels comfortable, whatever you feels is appropriate. This is training of your attitude and your feeling and your mindful and your thoughtful, so for this reason, whatever serves that purpose necessary ok?
Student – So if you have trouble offering something then it’s pretty sure sign you’re attached to it?
Yer, (laughs). You are attached or you misunderstood or something, you know, so that means maybe not necessary, at that stage.
Student – Naropa offered sand and ? mixed together to Telopa. He had nothing to offer at the time. He made a mandala out of it and offered it.
Yep. You know remember during the Buddha time there was ….(name 52.19) one of king. He offering many days, accommodations, food, all Buddha and all his monks and then he offering special day, he offering thousands and thousands of butter lamps everywhere. And one poor woman find tiny bottle for use her shampoo, not shampoo, what you call, this shining hair. Shining hair that time only just bottle, ok, so she instead, shining in her hair and she use this bottle and she doesn’t even have a (?) container so she had to use goats hoof, and she offering. So Buddha, when Buddha dedicate, first he mention that woman’s bottle offering, and then someone asked why? Because, he said, her motivation is much more pure (laughs), her generous is much more stronger, her thoughtful, mindfulness and the perseverance and the tolerance, is a sacrifice. Her only (?) what you call, I should know that name.
Student – It’s’ a little unclear to me how making offerings clears away these obstacles for the future, for the rest of the path. How is making these offerings….I can see that it helps develop generosity but how does it help us remove, what obstacles are we removing?
Ok that’s easy. Because you know like….
We are already removing with Vajrasattva, why is it necessary to have this mandala practice?
(laughs) Vajrasattva is purification, remember. Purification means you remove the negativities, particularly obstacles of this practice, your own practice and your own this next practice and next realisation, next attainments. Yer, vajrasattva purification, purify any type of negative karma yes, but more particularly you dedicating the obstacle of what next preventions. So mandala offering, you not removing, you are accumulating more support to get that realisation ok. So for instance, if you going somewhere on the road you have tree falls on your path. That is obstacle you have to remove, so that is vajrasattva purification doing, cutting tree and removing. But you need vehicle to go, the vehicle is for you, is not removing but supporting you getting there sooner. Otherwise if you walk it takes a month (laughs). So similarly the accumulation merits support whatever you need achieving. The other one removing the obstacles. So in different way you can say, the both is supporting and removing, but if you want to make really different one you want to make, then you have to think that way. Is that clear now? Ok. So maybe we practice, so we practice and if we have some time after, if we need to discuss after, if necessary.
- June 11, 2016
Raw transcript created by Vanessa Mason