Excerpts from 'Instructions for the Transitional State' by Julie Rogers

The Practice of Buddha Vajrasattva

Vajrasattva [Tib. Dorje Sempa] is the main deity purification practice in the Vajrayana tradition. This buddha is white in color, symbolizing purity, and holds a dorje (vajra) at his heart and a bell at his hip, signifying the union of skillful means and wisdom. Both during life and the dying process, recitation of Vajrasattva’s mantras brings great benefit to the person for whom the mantra is being practiced and to the practitioner, and has the effect of clearing obstacles, negative habitual propensities, residual conflicting emotions and unresolved karmic debts.

The visualization of Vajrasattva’s image and the recitation of the mantra are utilized in many Vajrayana practices, both preliminary and advanced. In our tradition, the deity generation practice of Vajrasattva is commonly carried out for three days following the death of a Buddhist and may be accomplished by the Sangha community of students, practitioners, lamas, monks and nuns, as well as their friends and family. Please request assistance to practice the formal ritual.

If one wishes to undertake the practice of Vajrasattva on a regular basis, receiving an initiation or empowerment, a reading transmission and instructional teachings from a qualified Buddhist teacher are necessary prerequisites. However, if one aspires to engage in Buddhist practice and Vajrasattva in particular, one may recite the mantra until such time that the empowerment can be received, and Vajrasattva rituals may be attended. If this is the case, seek out the advice and guidance of a Vajrayana Buddhist lama. As well, if we wish to offer support when someone is dying or has passed on, it is appropriate and beneficial to recite either of Vajrasattva’ s mantras, the six-syllable or one hundred-syllable mantra, without the empowerment. Recitation may be done in the presence of the person approaching transition and with the body after death, or in another location.

The practice of repeating the Vajrasattva mantra includes what is known as the ‘Four Powers’. While reciting the mantra and visualizing the image of the deity above the crown of one’s head, one alternately contemplates these as the way to purify obstructions and obscurations. These four are 1) the power of the object, that is, reliance on Vajrasattva as the absolute refuge; 2) the power of release, meaning the desire to cleanse oneself of negativity, involving reflection on faults and mistakes that we wish to purify; 3) the power of remedy, referring to single-pointed focus on the practice; and 4) the power of indestructible determination which is the firm resolve, based in wisdom, to never repeat such thoughts, speech or actions.

When engaging in any Vajrayana practice, including mantra recitation, it is crucial to include both a prayer of refuge and a dedication of merit. Traditionally, one would begin with a prayer of faith and devotion, taking refuge in the Three Jewels of the Buddha (spiritual guide), Dharma (Buddhist teachings) and Sangha (community of practitioners) and one’s spiritual guide or teacher [Tib. lama] before engaging in any practice. Those unfamiliar with Buddhist practice and chanting may initially recall, either vocally or in one’s mind, the motivation to take part in the practice, that of benefiting the friend or loved one, and the ultimate aspiration to take refuge in a spiritual way of life rooted in the practice of compassion and the wish to relieve all beings of suffering. Then, following the mantra recitation, one would simply recall, in prayer, the heartfelt desire that any positive results from the practice be dedicated to the dying or deceased person and the benefit of all beings.

The 6-Syllable Mantra of Vajrasattva

OM VAJRASATTVA HUNG

The 100-Syllable Mantra of Vajrasattva

OM BENZAR SATTO SAMAYA MANU PALAYA BENZAR SATTO TE NO PA TITRA DRI DHO ME BHA WA SUTO KHAYO ME BHA WA SU PO KHAYO ME BHA WA ANU RAKTO ME BHA WA SARWA SIDDHI ME PRA YATTSA SARWA KARMA SU TSA ME TSITTAM SHRE YAM KU RU HUNG HA HA HA HA HO BHA GA WAN SARWA TATAGATA BENZAR MA ME MUNTSA BENZRI BHA WA MAHA SAMAYA SATTO AH

OM is the supreme praise, the Vajrasattva samayas [Tib. commitments]. Grant me your protection, Vajrasattva. Remain firm. Make me totally satisfied. Increase the positive within me. Be loving toward me. Bestow all the accomplishments, as well as the activities. Make my mind virtuous! HUNG is the heart essence seed syllable. HA HA HA HA symbolizes the Four Immeasurables, Four Empowerments, Four Joys and the Four Kayas. HO is the sound of joyous laughter. Bhagawan, all the tathagatas, Vajrasattva, don’t abandon me. I pray that I may become a Vajra Holder. Great Samaya Sattva! AH signifies unity in non- duality.