Heart Jewel

The Essential Practices of Kadampa Buddhism

By Geshe Kelsang Gyatso

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This book is an essential manual for anyone who aspires to be a sincere practitioner of Kadampa Buddhism.

It contains two essential practices that are practiced daily by Kadampa practitioners around the world.

The first, the Guru Yoga of Je Tsongkhapa, is a powerful method for receiving profound blessings and laying the foundation for making genuine progress on the spiritual path.

The second, Relying upon the Dharma Protector, is a special practice for removing obstacles and creating favorable conditions for our spiritual practice by relying upon the Wisdom Buddha, Manjushri.

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Relying upon the Dharma Protector

If we can understand well the nature and functions of Dorje Shugden, we can understand the benefits of relying upon him. Dorje Shugden always helps, guides, and protects pure and faithful practitioners by granting blessings, increasing their wisdom, fulfilling their wishes, and bestowing success on all their virtuous activities.

Dorje Shugden does not help only Gelugpas; because he is a Buddha he helps all living beings, including non-Buddhists. The sun benefits even those born blind, giving them warmth and ripening the crops that become their food; but should they gain their sight, how much more obvious its benefit would be! In a similar way, although Dorje Shugden protects even those who do not make an effort to rely upon him, when our eyes of faith in him open and we rely upon him sincerely we will gradually become more aware of the help we receive from him.

If we sincerely wish to experience the benefits of relying upon Dorje Shugden, we must rely upon him constantly over a long period of time, steadily improving our connection with him. In this way, we will begin to notice his beneficial influence in our lives.

We should understand that the principal function of a Dharma Protector is to protect our Dharma practice, not to help our mundane affairs. Bearing this in mind we should not become discouraged if we do not suddenly become very wealthy, for wealth does not necessarily help spiritual practice and can be a great distraction.

If we rely sincerely upon Dorje Shugden, he will arrange the conditions that are most conducive for our Dharma practice but these will not necessarily be the ones that we ourself would have chosen! Dorje Shugden will bless our minds to help us transform difficult situations into the spiritual path, and he will open the wisdom eyes of his faithful followers, enabling them always to make the right decisions. Although physically they may find themselves alone, inwardly those who put their trust in him will never be apart from a powerful ally and a wise and compassionate guide.

One Lama called Gyara Tulku Rinpoche from Drepung Loseling Monastery wrote a prayer to Dorje Shugden expressing his gratitude. In this prayer, he said:

First you gave me a highly qualified Spiritual Guide
Under whom I studied and practised Dharma.
When through following misleading advice I came close to entering wrong paths,
You immediately hooked me back into the correct path.

This Lama spent many years in a country where he did not even know the language and where conditions were very difficult. However, he became highly respected and many people sought his wise counsel. He realized that all his spiritual progress, happiness, health, and success came from Dorje Shugden and not from himself. In the same prayer, he wrote:

O Duldzin, King of the Dharma, I thank you for your kindness.
Your body is the synthesis of all Sangha Jewels,
Your speech is the synthesis of all Dharma Jewels,
And your mind is the synthesis of all Buddha Jewels.

© Geshe Kelsang Gyatso & New Kadampa Tradition