Intelligent practitioners can take advantage of all opportunities to increase the accumulation of merit easily and swiftly. We need to know how to magnify our virtues. Phakchok Rinpoche reminds us regularly that we need to consistently accumulate merit. Yet, often we ignore the many skillful methods we can find in the Vajrayana path. We can instead remind ourselves to take these opportunities very seriously.
If we remember (and use) these multiplying effects, our practice will improve significantly. We can divide these into several categories:
1. Multiplying Effects of Sacred Sites and Places
The Buddha, bodhisattvas, and great masters have blessed certain physical locations. Practice at these sites where masters achieved siddhis and realization brings superior benefit. We can trust that our practice will bear more fruit if done at these special places. Place really does matter.
To learn more about sacred sites, especially those connected with Guru Rinpoche, please visit our partner site Nekhor. You may find yourself inspired to undertake a pilgrimage soon!
2. Multiplying Effects of Significant Dates
If we practice on special days, the effects of our virtues and practice also increase. Any practice that we undertake on Guru Rinpoche day, the 10th of the lunar month, brings swifter results. Similarly, our meditation improves speedily when we practice at specific times.
These include dates on the lunar calendar of:
- the 10th (Guru Rinpoche day)
- the 8th (Medicine Buddha day)
- the 15th (Amitābha Buddha day)
- New Moon (Śākyamuni Buddha day)
- the 25th (Dākinī day)
- the 29th (Mahākāla day)
- the great days that mark major events in the life of the Buddha: his birth, awakening, first teaching, and parinirvāṇa
- the parinirvāṇa days of great masters
3. Multiplying Effects of Mantras: Making Better Investments
Another method of multiplying is to recite certain blessings before we chant mantras or supplications and aspiration prayers. Here, Rinpoche advises us that Guru Rinpoche taught the following blessing. Rinpoche notes that he personally uses this before he chants mantras. He recommends that we chant the mantra seven times. Next, we blow on our mala, and then proceed to our chanting.
om ru tsi ramani tra bardha na ya soha༔ hri bendza dzi ha mantra dhara bardha ni om༔
OM RUCIRA MANI PRAVĀRDHANAYA SVĀHĀ༔ HRĪH VAJRA JIHVĀ MANTRA DHĀRAVĀRDHĀNI OM༔
We also perform other virtuous activities: we make offerings, circumambulate sacred sites, give money to beggars, and light offering lamps. Before we begin any virtue, we can recite this blessing taught by the Buddha.
Just as with the mala blessing, if we begin our virtuous activities with this blessing then any type of virtue we do will multiply the merit.
4. Multiplying the Merit of Prostrations
We can also multiply the merit of our prostrations with the following mantra:
om namo manjushriyé soha, namo sushriyé soha, namo uttamashriyé soha
OṂ NAMO MAÑJUŚRĪYE SVĀHĀ ǀ NAMO SUŚRIYE SVĀHĀ ǀ OṂ NAMO UTTAMAŚRIYE SVĀHĀ
By reciting this seven times before making prostrations, one prostration will be multiplied into one-hundred thousand.
5. Multiplying The Power of Intention
Finally, we should always remember to perform virtue with the purest intention. We may do a lot of good works, but if we don’t have a purpose, then we aren’t accumulating much merit. But, if we perform virtue with the motivation that all sentient beings will be freed from suffering and attain enlightenment, then all our virtues multiply exponentially. Rinpoche stresses that we should keep all beings in our minds as we move throughout the day. Then even if we are shopping, eating, or walking around, we can still multiply virtue if we see all our activities as benefiting others.
Dedication and Aspiration
Finally, we seal our virtuous activities and dharma practice by dedicating our practice. The best way to do this is by remembering to dedicate, just as the past great bodhisattvas such as Samantabhadra and Mañjuśrī dedicated. By following the example of these great bodhisattvas, we multiply our virtue and ensure that no effort is wasted.
And when we have more time, it is wonderful to recite the aspiration prayers of these great bodhisattvas. For example, we can inspire ourselves by reading the beautiful King of Aspiration prayer found here.