Yachen Monastery is a famous place for meditation practice, even in such a sublime place, Lama Achuk Rinpoche would always request everyone, “You should all at least recite 100 million Mani mantras.” Some people have finished 100 million, many others are still in the process of completing it.
Lama Achuk Rinpoche has himself completed 100-200 million Mani mantras at least. Therefore, as a follower, we should be like him, reciting the Mani mantra properly.
In Tibet, not to say 100 or 200 million Mani mantras, there are many people who have completed 300-400 million mantras. As for Ngondro, not to mention 3 or 4 times, many people have completed 23, 24, or even 25 times.
In Changdu region, there is an old lady who has completed more than 40 million full prostrations. She does 4000 prostrations daily, without breaking for even one day. It has been 40 over years already. She is neither a renunciant practitioner nor a monastic, but an ordinary nomadic shepherd.
In Lhasa, there is a young girl who works in a restaurant, now she is 21 years old, but whenever she has time, she will recite the Mani mantra, now she has already completed 100 million Mani mantras.
Why do I tell you these things? This is for everyone to reflect on yourself. Have I really practiced the Dharma? Did I put any sincere effort into it? To allow you to realize the faults of not accomplishing the Dharma, and for you to see the positive qualities of other peoples’ practice. To give you the chance to reflect. This is why I am telling you about these people.
If I ask you to do 10 or 20 million prostrations, you will feel it is impossible. What about 1 million or 500,000 then? If you can’t do that, what about 100,000 or 200,000 prostrations? If one does not even have the determination to complete that, then there is really no will to practice the Dharma. Do not find any excuses, if there is a will, there is a way to do it.
To practice the Ngondro once, one must at least prostrate 100,000 times, isn’t that right? If you say that you can’t even do the Ngondro once, then please do not call yourself a practitioner. We should be as courageous as those people who are so diligent, doing the practice with perseverance and no laziness. If you are unable to accomplish all of what they have done, or if 80-90% of what they have done is beyond you, then what about at least half or 10% of what they have done? Shouldn’t you at least consider this?
When death comes, we all have to travel on the same identical path, it is only that when we are alive, how much Dharma we have accomplished differs. So then, shouldn’t we make some preparations for the moment of death? Whether we have money or not, power or not, no matter how carefree you may be right now, when death comes, what everyone faces is the same thing. Whatever external conditions you may be experiencing now, please give some thought and preparations for the moment of death.
Nowadays, whether it is the Tibetan or Chinese practitioners, they give the impression that they are practicing the Dharma, but when we really examine how they practice, then we will realize that what they are practicing is impure and not in accordance to the teachings.
We should reflect clearly on the proportion of negative acts (of body, speech and mind) to positive deeds (of body, speech and mind) that we have committed in the past. Did we accomplish more positive karma or more negative karma? Think well about it! For us to be more carefree and relaxed at the point of our death, for the road to our next life to be smoother, then one has to be really cautious and throw all your energy into creating positive karma and Dharma practice.
When we are practicing the Dharma, please generate a positive motivation, practice for the sake of benefitting all mother sentient beings as vast as space. At the same time, be clear about one thing: when we practice Dharma, we are really accomplishing our own benefit.
People who do not really understand how to practice the Dharma, or who have insufficient faith in the Dharma, or who do not put in their efforts in practicing will end up thinking that the Dharma had deceived them. But whether the Dharma has deceived you or not depends on whether your practice is able to remedy the mental afflictions of desire, anger and ignorance in your mind.
Whether the Dharma deceives you or not, isn’t it so that each of us are able to feel our own pain and happiness? Isn’t the feeling of suffering and joy real to us? If we are not able to use the Dharma to tame our minds, then the Dharma will remain external to us. Even if you try to solve the problem by addressing the external circumstances, in actual fact, you neither know how to practice the Dharma, nor are you actually practicing Dharma.
Practicing Dharma is not about going outwards to change the external circumstances, it is about transforming our minds. If we know how to deal with our minds, then that is true Dharma practice. On the path of Dharma, we should first put effort in taming our minds, after that, we should try to help others through good advice, helping them to slowly transform their minds too.
If I talk too much, people will not understand. Anyway, the gist of it is that to benefit your present and future lives, it is essential to observe two points: firstly, develop the kind heart, secondly, practice the Dharma well. Whether it is the people around you like your parents, children, family, relatives or friends, one should try to benefit them. At the same time, one should give up all harmful intentions and acts towards others.
Pema Trinley Rinpoche
(Pema Trinley Rinpoche is an accomplished Dzogchen master, also a Delog who can die temporarily to travel other realms, and see the karma of beings in the past, present and future. He is famous for his clairvoyance to observe the fates of those who have passed away and giving advice on how to help them. )