Student Reflections on Supplication
As we know, Phakchok Rinpoche has requested that the global sangha accumulate the Six Vajra Line Dusum Sangye supplication. We are slowly making progress, but we’d like to use our first Sharing Practice with Sangha Blog to “reboot” this effort. If each of us were to add just 10 minutes of reciting a day, we could easily reach the goal of 10 million prayers that Rinpoche set for us! But most importantly, we can make supplication meaningful in our own practice.
Why Do We Accumulate Large Numbers of Supplication Prayers?
As we supplicate, we might want to reflect that these numbers are not to benefit Rinpoche himself—he doesn’t get some sort of prize! Instead, out of his tremendous compassion he is offering us this opportunity to amass great merit. Of course the numbers seem very high—but time and time again, Rinpoche teaches on the importance of supplication and of aspiration. The numbers are high because Rinpoche wants us to truly integrate these practices into our very being. Moreover, the sheer vastness of the numbers helps us to go beyond our normal limits–we then engage in opening our minds. When we set our motivation to attain awakening for the benefit of all beings as far as space pervades we also shatter our habits of thinking in a narrow and constricted way. When we embrace the idea of these vast numbers, we take more steps toward changing our limited perspectives.
Making Supplication Second Nature
Supplication should become second nature to us—like breathing. And unfortunately, for most of us obscured beings once or twice a day is not sufficient. We need to push ourselves– we need to check how seriously we take our practice and if we have true renunciation. How can we really do true Guru Yoga if we don’t do supplication sincerely? And then, without Guru Yoga, how will we make progress in the Vajrayana?
So when Rinpoche asks us to accumulate supplication prayers, he is doing it out of love because he knows how crucial these practices are for our progress on the path. In order to progress, we need to have full trust in the teachings and in the power of supplication. But if we don’t get into the habit of doing it regularly, we can’t then really do it when we need it. How can we expect to make progress if we are too “busy” to do the very steps that he repeatedly says make so much impact? The more you think about it, you can see how we stand in our own way.
We all understand that if we repeat good habits over and over then we form new patterns. That’s how supplication will eventually become automatic. Also, Rinpoche has mentioned time and again that at the time of death, we should immediately think of the lama. Again, habits of supplication will help this become second nature. And then we can truly be in a position to receive the teachings we think we want now.
Remembering Teachings on Supplication
No matter how many years we practice and study, until we have attained complete realization, we need to supplicate. It is helpful to regularly review teachings to inspire ourselves. Here is one teaching on supplication from Phakchok Rinpoche. Rinpoche furthermore explains that supplication can also help us to build a sense of dignity.
Learning From Our Own Experiences
Rinpoche often reminds us that we need to practice all the skillful means on the path. And he advises us to learn from our own experiences. We can also benefit from sharing with each other, and understanding how our dharma friends work with different tools such as supplication.
In our first sangha blog, we’ve asked a number of our family to share their understanding on what supplication means and how they integrate it into their practice and lives.
Turning Around Aversion to Supplication
Here are a few things that have sprung up for me in relation to Supplication. I used to be a little averse to supplications! Whenever they were chanted prior to a sadhana I just thought ‘lets get through this quickly so i can practice the main part’—rushing through it as quick as I can. I then learnt through listening to Rinpoche and also hearing from Lama Tenzin Sangpo whilst on a sadhana retreat how important and how relevant supplication is. Supplication to me now is a very important practice of guru yoga and essential to any practice I do. It prepares my mind and is a powerful tool for receiving the blessings of the lineage.Phil Gardner, Wales, UK
Singing Supplication Prayers Such as Dusum Sangye
It is one of my favorite prayers. I remember very vividly the first time I heard it chanted in Tibetan. It was a recording by Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche. Tears filled my eyes. It is a beautiful version of the prayer and I highly recommend to look it up online. I don’t know Tibetan but I enjoy very much reading the transliteration of prayers (in general) and following the tunes to chant them. I find that singing instead of reading makes a big difference in my practice, and in this prayer in particular I usually try to spend some time to actually chant it. I feel the power of the supplication comes in a more powerful way when chanted, maybe because I feel the chanting can come directly from the heart. I hope one day we will have the prayers translated in such a way that we can chant them in other languages too!Gail Phillips, Chile
Supplication Means Prayer
For me, supplication means prayer. It means recognizing that while I am a suffering being, that there is also a field of enlightenment, a field beyond suffering, that can lift me up. In the process of supplication, there is a recognition of my predicament, but also a recognition of a path beyond suffering. And in that recognition, there is this sense of turning my heart, my mind, my life over to that field of enlightenment, that field of awakening, that field that is beyond suffering.
In supplication I find this sense of relief, of letting go, and of connection with something beyond my ordinary struggles. And, I think, in the process of supplication, there is this sense that so many other beings are going through the same struggles, the same suffering that I am, so I can turn that over to that field of enlightenment as well. So for me, supplication helps me to turn my life into a prayer—it helps to turn the ordinary, and not-so ordinary, sorrows and suffering of life into the energy of awakening.
It is a daily practice for me, and I specifically spend time on the Dusum Sangye prayer. While I am doing this kind of ordinary thing, counting numbers of prayers, or accumulating recitations, I try to bring myself to the edge of my life—to the end of my life really—and from there speak the prayers. This helps to make sure the supplication is alive and imbued with the energy of the desire to awaken, the longing to be free from suffering, in the recognition of my own impermanence.Joe Dinan, USA
Supplication Taps Into Intrinsic Nature
For a non-believer with a scientific mind like me, supplication was a tricky practice. It seemed too much like praying to god. In my world there was no god, but I would be a liar if I said I didn’t have the longing for someone who would fully love, support and understand me, someone who could make me free, some sublime being I could fully surrender myself to. However, I came to understand that the kind of trust that was required of me was different, though in a way no less radical than the belief in god. I find it is stated well in those lines which are appended to the Trinley Nyingpo:
The deities wielding the power of awareness-wisdom
Completely and utterly pure
Are primordial intrinsic to myself
And perfect as the nature of the four vajras.
Can I trust that at any given time, no matter how unhappy or stuck I feel, my nature is that of the deity? And how can I learn to make it accessible? Supplication gives me a way to tap into this intrinsic nature.
By supplicating I stop the inner struggle for a moment, and at that moment the light of Buddha’s wisdom and compassion can shine. If I didn’t have it within, I wouldn’t be able to see it outside; and the more I find it inside myself, the easier it becomes to relate to its external embodiments and supplicate them, utilizing their manifestation as a way to awaken their essence which is primordial intrinsic to myself.Michal Sahaf, Israel
Supplicating to Feel Stronger and More Stable
If I were hiking a poorly marked trail in bad conditions and running out of daylight, and met some skilled guides who knew the terrain, I would be foolish and arrogant if I didn’t ask for their help. Although I struggled for years with supplication out of a combination of fear and pride, I realize how much I depend upon others. Now, I spend a lot of time supplicating because it makes me feel stronger and more stable and confident when I begin the main part of practice. Regular supplication throughout the day keeps this attitude fresh and vibrant and carries through into all my activities. I don’t feel lonely and unconnected anymore and I connect with my true nature. That’s why the Dusum Sangye chant brings tears to my eyes.Hilary Herdman, Portugal
Practice Until You See the Signs
Normally I practice supplication every morning and night. I chant some different mantras, however, following Phakchok Rinpoche’s advice, I mostly focus on the Guru Rinpoche mantra and the Six Vajra line supplication. I can say I really feel the difference when I do this practice. So many times, I have just thought that I need something, or I need help–and then suddenly, those wishes are fulfilled.
I’ve also shared and discussed this amazing experience with other students in the Hanoi Samye Dharma Stream group. After they have followed these practices, they also have similar experiences. My group and I practice at least 10 malas a day of Guru Rinpoche mantras and at least 1 mala a day of the 6 Vajra line supplication. Thus, my key belief is to practice until you see the signs. If you don’t see changes and signs, it means that either your belief is not strong, or your practice is not enough—or both.Cola Pema Gyalmo, Hanoi, Vietnam
Supplication Prayer as the Soundtrack of My Life
My relationship with supplication is slowly changing and evolving. In the beginning, it felt artificial and uncomfortable. Gradually, it became something my mouth was doing easily, but often not connected with my mind or heart (sometimes, I slip back into this).
Now, more and more, I feel moments of “something”—warmth, tears, expansion, grace, devotion—something positive, present and connected. Hearing or chanting the devotional way of Dusum Sangye fills me and often brings me to tears. I aspire to make Dusum Sangye “the soundtrack of my life”—now, when a song begins repeating in my mind, I intentionally replace it with devotional Dusum Sangye. More and more, it is the song that arises spontaneously. For that blessing, I am very grateful.Kelly Coburn, USA
Supplication as Surrender
Supplication for me is like taking refuge to Buddha Dharma and Sangha in action and thoughts. It is like surrender to Buddha/ Guru Rinpoche whatever situation, it is (usually, if in front of the shrine, it will be like surrender to Guru Rinpoche , when I have somethings difficult. But, when I found myself in a situation where I got things I’ve been aspiring for/ dreamt/ wished, I also remember Guru Rinpoche ‘s blessing) . I think this is what supplicate means. And later on, by doing supplication with our heart, it is like a foundation for further wish/ aspiration is to be in path of awakening the Buddha Nature.
It was a bit awkward to do in the beginning (maybe because of not understanding when chanting), but I guess because of Guru’s blessing, and instructions to not to miss one day, also, Many Khenpo / Lhama teaching what does Dusum Sangye means, I guess later on, it become a trust , and it is just like determination to stick to the path.Minche Drodul Lhamo, Indonesia
Supplication as Humbling Oneself
Supplication is asking for help, admitting that I can’t attain enlightenment by myself. By supplicating, I’m humbling myself and in the process opening up to the blessings of the guru and lineage. I recite lineage supplication prayers before sitting practice. Each sadhana has specific lineage supplication prayers with slightly different names reflecting the history of transmission. This I find inspiring.Doris Motta, Gomde Cooperstown, USA
Feeling the Presence and Gaining Strength and Dignity
Supplication to Guru gives me strength and dignity; especially when I go through obstacles. I call the Guru, feel the presence, and then supplicate. But often I forget the supplication with renunciation; often still dwell in attachment, ignorance & perceive the obstacles I’m going through are the biggest problems. Remembering the Guru again and again; the problems become smaller and smaller, and naturally I become happier.Regine Giovani, Singapore
Supplication Overcomes Arrogance
Supplication overcomes arrogance, but a central issue is how one can supplicate the lineage figures of the past without falling into theism. Intensive periods of practice—one of my retreats began with 10 days of nothing other than continually taking refuge and making offerings—have been very important to me, as have group practice situations. Although I myself find the posting of one’s personal experience to a wide ‘virtual sangha’ a little hard to relate with [I generally prefer to discuss practice issues one-to-one by phone if not in person], we are creating something of a group karmic situation under Rinpoche’s guidance, so it will be best if everyone is inspired to join in!Matthew Zalichin, Gomde Cooperstown, USA
Join the Discussion
Please join in this discussion by posting your comments below! We’re eager to hear from all of you on this topic. What does supplication mean to you—and how do you integrate it in your daily life and practice?