Buddhist parents often wonder what they can do to help enrich the live’s of their children through the understanding of spiritual practice. Khandro Rinpoche explains that the best thing that Buddhist parents can do is teach their children the habit of using discriminating wisdom. She talks about how to practically do this, and what pitfalls to avoid.
Mandala offering is one of the practices included in ngondro, where someone does over 100,000 of things, e.g. 100,000 recitations of a mantra, prostrations, or in this case, 100,000 mandala offerings.
Why Do Mandala Offerings
In this video, Ven. Thubten Chodron explains the reasons for doing mandala offerings. She explains that its a great way to counteract miserliness and to work with our attachment to things, whether they are our material possessions or our people close to us.
From the karmic perspective, this practice creates vast mounts of merit and also creates the causes for one day having great material resources and support in a future life. This plays particular importance in the bodhisattva practice, where having support and resources are important in order to be able to benefit sentient beings.
How to do Mandala Offerings
To do the practice, of course someone can visualize it, but its better if someone has a physical mandala set to use. In terms of material of the mandala set, I’ve heard that its good to get one of the best quality that one can get (e.g. silver, copper, etc). And for offering substances, the best that one can get. If these means pearls or colored stones, then that works.
I’ve also heard that if someone can not get these things, its better to start with what one has. It’s not good to postpone on the practice on the basis of, “I’ll start once I can afford a really nice set with some pearls.” It’s better to start now, even if that means using a plate with some rice.
Here is information on how the Manadala offering practice is done:
A further detailed commentary on the symbolism about the practice:
My Impressions of this Practice
I recently did a mandala offering ngondro a year ago, but have put off writing it. I actually started this site a way to encourage people to do the precious practice of ngondro, and to encourage people to find teachers and teachings that would be beneficial to them.
I found that personally, this practice was beneficial for me during a time when I had a lot of material comforts. It was very helpful to constantly offer away everything that I have, with an understanding that these things are all impermanent and without true essence, so offering them can be done without a sense of loss.
Though the more I do ngondros, the more I find that I have less to say because I’m not sure I’m not qualified to say something about it. But I would highly encourage someone to try this practice out because it creates the wish to want to give in order to help others. Even if someone actually doesn’t give in reality, just the wish to give is a start and will eventually lead to growth in one’s practice.
His Holiness the Karmapa appears on Google Ted Talks, which are often used to talk about developments in technology and cultural issues. He talks about his life as recognized reincarnated lama, and he encourages others to develop the technology of the heart.
His Holiness Sakya Trizin giving New Year well wishings for 2015.
Many people are familiar with stabilizing meditation, where one concentrates on the breath and brings the mind to a level of concentration. This is what many people view as meditation, this is how many people are introduced into meditation. One other important type of meditation is “analytical meditation.” With analytical meditation, one brings the mind to a conclusion by supporting this conclusion with numerous reasonings and arguments until a clear conclusion arises in the mind. This is similar to how a lawyer might present numerous points about a case until a clear and irrefutable conclusion arises. One then uses analytic meditation to bring a certainty about important topics, such as understanding that one will definitely die, it is uncertain when one will die, and one’s spiritual practice will be the only useful thing at the time of death.
Why Use Analytical Meditation
According to Lama Tsongkhapa, the great 13th century saint, analytic meditation is necessary to constantly familiarize oneself with a way of thinking. Especially if one is familiarized with wrong views, then repeated analytical meditation is necessary to counteract this. He mentions:
Analytical meditation is necessary for meditations such as those on faith in the teacher; the great importance and difficulty in obtaining leisure and opportunity; death and impermanence; karma and its effects; the faults of cyclic existence; and the spirit of enlightenment. This is because these meditations need an awareness that is long lasting, very forceful, and capable of changing the mind. Without this, you will not be able to stop the forces that oppose these meditations, such as disrespect (The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment (Volume 1), pg.112).
Combining Stabilizing Meditation and Analytical Meditation
In this video, Geshe Wangchen talks about stabilizing and analytic meditation, and how to combine them:
Additionally, this resource about teachings that Lati Rinpoche gave might help. Here is excerpt about combining these meditations:
As one meditates on those points serially, first one performs analytical meditation where one brings up all the reasons to establish each point and ascertain each point. At the end of each analytical meditation one switches to single-pointed or stabilized meditation on each point. The purpose of meditating on the points I mentioned is for one to be able to eliminate clinging to this life. One is so attached to this life and the things associated with this life which firmly binds one to samsara. One has to get rid of this clinging to just this lifetime and meditating on those points will help one with this
Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche explains how when someone does something incorrectly or unskillfully, this is caused by confusion. He mentions that this becomes a trap in spiritual practice because people think that they’re mainly to blame, while the problem was actually caused by their confusion. He mentions that identifying oneself with this confusion and creating guilt based off this creates a situation that is impossible to move on from.
Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche talks about defilements or ways of thinking that bind a practitioner and prevent them from moving progressing
In this interesting article from Mandala, an FPMT teacher answers questions such as “How do I challenge orthodoxy in Tibetan Buddhism but still correctly rely on a spiritual guide?” and “How do the ways in which Tibetans and non-Tibetans challenge orthodoxy differ?”
These are common questions that westerners from non-Buddhist upbringings ask when coming into practice. They have questions on how the relationships exists with a spiritual teacher, and how to confront topics that are not culturally accepted, such as rebirth and karma. He recommends not just accepting things because it is stated by a teacher or text, but suggests careful examination:
His Holiness the Dalai Lama often refers to the foundation of Tibetan Buddhism as the “Nalanda Tradition,” which emphasizes studying the Buddhist teachings based not just on faith, but also on rigorous investigation. This emphasis is illustrated by the analogy of a merchant who buys gold only after determining its purity through various tests; in the same way, we need to investigate the Dharma deeply before accepting it, not just taking it at the word of the person who presents it, no matter how impressive or eloquent they may be.
To read this interesting article, click here.
His Holiness the Karmapa talks about the difference between purely religious belief, and the experience someone generates after trying to answer deeper questions.
Venerable Chodron talks about the Buddhist concepts of the 2 truths: Ultimate and Conventional existence. The 2 truths, which are mutually dependent, is often used to explain how things actually exist.
Today marks Lama Tsongkhapa Day. Tsongkhapa is known as being the founder of the Gelug tradition of Tibetan Buddhism and to which His Holiness the Dalai Lama belongs to, and this particular day is a day of celebration for when Tsongkhapa passed away and attained enlightenment within the bardo.
For some suggestions on how to celebrate Tsongkhapa day, read Lama Zopa Rinpoches suggestions here.
Briefly, some ways to celebrate include
Venerable Pema Chodron mentions that at the begining of practice, it seems to be very easy to follow one’s anger and fears. Due to this, people may have doubt that they can awaken more loving kindness and compassion. She explains in understable ways, why this path is possible and accessible to everyone.
Tenzin Palmo explains how to differentiate the difference between the Buddhist definition of love and the normal definition of romantic love.
Ringu Tulku explains how helping others creates a meaningful life.