We are the holders of the tradition of Je Tsongkhapa. The principle defining characteristic of this tradition is the union of Sutra and Tantra. One of the most important things for us to do as Kadampas is to realize this union.
I have worked extensively in the past on the union of the Lamrim and the generation stage of Tantra. But just as important, we need to realize the union of the Lamrim and our reliance upon Dorje Shugden. Ultimately, it is the power of our Lamrim that gives our reliance upon any deity its meaning and power, therefore it is very important to practice meditating on this union.
What follows is not the definitive union, but simply the union as how I currently understand it. As practitioners, our job is to contemplate the relationships between the different aspects of our practice so as to unite them.
When we realize their relationship as perfectly harmonious, mutually reinforcing and non-contradictory, and when we get a special insight or wisdom, then we know we are on the right track. We can work with this over the course of our whole lifetime, gradually deepening our understanding and realization of these connections.
To gain an understanding of the connection, you just make an internal request that it will be revealed to you the connection or relationship between a particular Lamrim meditation topic and an aspect of your practice, like reliance upon Dorje Shugden. Then, just observe what follows.
Briefly, here is a start of my understanding:
- The real nature of Dorje Shugden is the same aspect as the spiritual guide. He is my spiritual guide in the aspect of Dorje Shugden. The spiritual guide manifests himself as Dorje Shugden in order to provide us with protection. Frankly, I think this is my favorite aspect of the Spiritual Guide as he is helping us to solve our daily problems. I need to surrender myself completely to my Spiritual Guide in the aspect of Dorje Shugden and request him to take over completely the ripening of the karma for myself and all beings I come across.
- I have a precious human life in which I can create very powerful karmic connections with the great protector Dorje Shugden. With these connections, he can care for me and protect me in this and all of my future lives, creating the perfect outer and inner conditions for my training leading to my eventual enlightenment.
If I can make my reliance upon Dorje Shugden irreversible, my attainment of enlightenment is guaranteed. He will remove all obstacles that prevent me from attaining enlightenment! Hence, I have placed myself on an uninterrupted fast track plane-ride towards enlightenment.
- I can die at any moment, which means I must use every moment of my life to develop deeper and closer karmic connections with Dorje Shugden. I don’t know how long my opportunity to become closer to this holy being will last, and I cannot afford to waste a minute of it. The biggest risk of death is to lose the chance to practice.
If we lose our chance to practice then we have to wait for countless lifetimes before we start practicing again, and as a result we will have to suffer from delusion and karma for a very long time. Dorje Shugden is our best protection against this risk. His job is to arrange and maintain the outer and inner conditions for our practice.
In other words, he can protect and guide us through the process of death, the bardo and rebirth so that we can continue with our practice in our next life. Our death is actually our must crucial moment, where our reliance upon him can make the most profound difference. Who else would I trust for this most crucial moment of my life? He can maintain the continuum of my practice beyond this life into my next life, until I attain enlightenment. He is my insurance policy against losing my practice.
- If I do not have strong reliance and protection from Dorje Shugden, not only will I likely to succumb to delusion, but more dangerously I will fall into the lower realms at the time of my death. I currently respond with delusion when extreme hardship arrives. There is no more extreme hardship than death.
If I respond to death with delusion, I will fall into the lower realms – at which point I will lose everything. I have completely neglected purifying my negative karma; therefore I have no doubt that I have a mountain of it. What hope do I have of not falling?
It is only through my reliance upon Dorje Shugden that I can avoid this fate. One of the ways he helps is by controlling the karma that ripens. He arranges conditions for us by ripening certain karma in special ways and sequences to create the experience of ‘perfect conditions.’
Just as he does this in life, he can assists us during our death and rebirth process, protecting us against lower rebirth and propelling us to another life in which we can practice. Without his help, my mind alone is not sufficiently trained to ensure that I do not fall. I am not trying to go all fire and brimstone here, but this is the reality of the situation.
I will continue with the rest of the explanations on the relationships between the different Lamrim meditations and our reliance upon Dorje Shugden in future posts. For now, these are the ones that move me the most and that are the foundation for all the other meditations.