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Receiving teachings.

Receiving teachings.


The discussion groups were fruitful. We learned a lot about the Dharma and made new friends at the same time.

The discussion groups were fruitful. We learned a lot about the Dharma and made new friends at the same time.


Many people took refuge and lay precepts at the end of the retreat.

Many people took refuge and lay precepts at the end of the retreat.


We dedicated the positive potential by reciting “The Extraordinary Aspiration of Samanthabhadra,” also called “The King of Prayers”.

We dedicated the positive potential by reciting “The Extraordinary Aspiration of Samanthabhadra,” also called “The King of Prayers”.

We dedicated the positive potential by reciting “The Extraordinary Aspiration of Samanthabhadra,” also called “The King of Prayers”.



Vajrasattva Practice:
The Path of Purification

Workshop conducted by Ven. Thubten Chodron©
Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery, Singapore.
23 and 24 Apr 2006

Ready for teachings.

| Day 1  |  Day 2  |  Related material from other sections  |


Day 1

Day 1, Part 1. [15 min] : Download mp3 file | Excerpts

Think that we are going on a holiday with the Buddha. The Buddha is our best friend. ~ When we do retreat, we begin to see the difference between what we call ordinary happiness and the happiness that comes through very sincere spiritual practice. ~ Saying "Oh good!" when our mental garbage comes up as we purify.

Visualization. Why we do it and how to do it. ~ Don’t get too hung up on the technicalities. ~ Do we have authority issues? ~ Remember that Vajrasattva is looking at us with 100% acceptance:
Excerpt: Vajrasattva isn’t sitting there going, “Oh gosh! I’m sitting on the head of some jerk who has created all sorts of negative karma!” [laughter]

Day 1, Part 2. [19 min] : Download mp3 file | Excerpts

Vajrasattva Sadhana and Mantra Explanation:
[in Word format] [in pdf format]

SpeakerVajrasattva Practice: Guided meditation by Ven. Chodron [30 min]: Download mp3 file.

How to pronounce the Vajrasattva mantra.

Explanation of the mantra. How do we become close to Vajrasattva? ~ What is meant by 'pleasing Vajrasattva'? ~ When we request Vajrasattva to 'please grant us all powerful attainments', what does it really mean? ~ We request Vajrasattva to not abandon us, but Vajrasattva will never do that. We are the ones who abandon Vajrasattva. ~ The mantra is a request to Vajrasattva, but we are not requesting Vajrasattva to do the work for us.

Day 1, Part 3. [19 min] : Download mp3 file | Excerpts

Partipants reflected on and then discussed the following topics in small groups:

- What does it mean to forgive?
- Who do you need to forgive?
- What is preventing you from forgiving that person?

- What does it mean to apologize?
- Who do you need to apologize to?
- What is preventing you from apologizing?


Forgiving. Refusing to forgive unless the other party acknowledges our pain and apologizes:
Excerpt: "...first, they have to get down on their hands and knees and grovel in the dirt and say, “Oh, I’m so sorry. I hurt you so much!” And then we can go, “Oh yes, I was hurt so much. Oh! Poor me!” And after they’ve groveled enough, then we’ll say: 'Ok, I guess I’ll forgive you.' [laughter]."
- Is it wise to think this way?

What are we teaching our children when we hold on to our anger and grudges? Ven. Chodron explains this using real life examples. ~ Practice forgiving in the Vajrasattva practice

Apologizing. First we generate regret for our negative actions. ~ The basic thing is we’re cleaning up our own mental mess when we apologize; whether or not the other party forgives us is irrelevant. ~ The most important thing is we’ve done our part. ~ Forgiving ourselves and letting go of guilt. ~ Regret and guilt are not the same:
Excerpt: "Sometimes we have this very distorted notion that if we feel really guilty and we feel really terrible, it will somehow atone for the pain we cause somebody else."

Day 1, Part 4. [7 min] : Download mp3 file | Excerpts

Seeking advice on our personal problems. ‘Yes, but…’: good advice is usually not something the ego likes to hear.

Meditation practice: learning to work with our own mind.


Day 1, Part 5. [32 min] : Download mp3 file

Questions and Answers:

  • Why is someone who is a champion of the under-privileged and has a lot of compassion for them not able to forgive her loved ones who have done her wrong in the past?
  • Why is acceptance so difficult? Includes a discussion about 'unfair' and 'undeserved' situations. "There's nothing to whine about, folks!" ~ Acceptance is difficult when we fight reality.
  • How does one keep Buddhist precepts and still be a successful politician or businessman?
  • What does empowerment/initiation mean?
  • How do we get rid of guilt? One way is to learn to evaluate a situation and determine what is our responsibility and what is not.
  • How do we differentiate between guilt and regret?
  • I am trying to be vegetarian but I'm meeting with strong opposition from my family. What should I do? Includes an extensive discussion on parenting.
  • Should our ability to forgive depends on whether or not the other party intends to cause us harm? We should forgive but should we forget?
  • Is one still subject to rebirth after one attains Enlightenment?
  • What are the karmic reasons behind mental illness?

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Day 2

Day 2, Part 1. [27 min] : Download mp3 file | Excerpts

The incredible benefits of a daily practice. Continue with the good habits built up during retreat. ~ ~ Change comes after consistent practice. ~ 'Good' and 'bad' meditation sessions.

Incorporate meditation practice into your own daily routine. In the morning, set the motivation and tone for the day. ~ In the evening, do a review and purify any negativities.

Others' opinions of you are not who you are. Learn to evaluate ourselves. ~ The karma we create depends on our motivation; not on others' praising or blaming. ~ Why others' opinions are not reliable indicators. ~ Does it matter if people praise or blame us when we are dead? ~ What really matters.

A new worldview. We don't have to be like everybody else; it's impossible to do that anyway. ~ Ven. Chodron talks about how she handles praise and blame. ~ We're trying to reformat the 'hard disk' of our mind and changing the 'operating system'.

If we don't work to get out of cyclic existence, what else are we going to do? 'New'! 'Different'! 'Improved'!


Day 2, Part 2. [11 min] : Download mp3 file

Questions and Answers:

  • Why is it that a person who does or intends to do an action that is seemingly wrong can feel calm and peaceful?
  • How do I select a spiritual teacher to guide me on the path to Enlightenment? The teacher I selected may not think I'm a worthy student. Can I practice without a spiritual teacher?
  • I think I have a lot of talent to contribute to society, but I am trapped in a handicapped body and people discriminate against me because I'm handicapped. So I feel frustrated.

Day 2, Part 3. [24 min] : Download mp3 file | Excerpts

Partipants reflected on and then discussed the following topics in small groups:

When have you used your speech:

  • to deceive, to lie or to exaggerate? Why?
  • to create disharmony or division among people? For example, talking behind people’s back, telling one person what others said about them. What was your motivation when you engaged in such speech?
  • in a harsh and insulting way, ridiculing or criticizing people, speaking to them in a very unpleasant manner. What’s your motivation?
  • in idle chatter, just talking about nothing of much use, wasting our own and other people’s time? What’s your motivation?

Note: Think of specific instances for all cases.


An example of how to review the day.

Lying. Why am I doing something that I don't want people to know? ~ Don't ask the people we love to lie for us.
Excerpt: For example, lots of time, if somebody calls and you don’t feel like taking the phone call, then you tell your family member, “Tell them I’m not at home.” You are telling your family member whom you love to create negative karma by lying. And then after they die, you come and ask me what you can do so that they’ll have a good rebirth.

Our self-esteem is related to our ethical conduct.

Divisive speech. Jealousy is the main motivating factor. ~ Rejoicing is the antidote to jealousy. ~ Our ego makes us burn with jealousy.

Harsh words. It is illogical to use harsh speech. ~ We get the exact opposite of what we want. ~ Learn how to manage conflicts. ~ Listen well. ~ People often just want to feel that others are hearing what they say and that their pain is acknowledged. ~ Why are my kids avoiding me? ~ Practice the meditations to overcome anger.

Excerpt: "Sometimes we use the harshest words on the people we love the most. And then we wonder why we don’t have a good relationship with them. It’s like I insult you and I scold you so much that you should realize that you’re wrong and then you should love me. [laughter] That’s what we’re thinking when we use harsh words, isn’t it?"

"When you’re having problems with somebody, it’s very important to listen attentively to what they are saying and not react to it. Usually what happens is we’re reacting. And sometimes we’re reacting not so much to the words they’re saying as to their tone of voice, their body language and the volume of their voice. Somebody could be giving us very important information, but because they’re screaming at us, we don’t listen."

Idle talk. It is not idle talk if done with a good motivation. ~ Idle talk can degenerate into divisive speech.

Our personal weapon of mass destruction.


Day 2, Part 4.
[13 min] : Download mp3 file | Excerpts

Participants wanted to take refuge and the five lay precepts, so Ven. Chodron gave an explanation on taking refuge and the precepts before the ceremony. Why we take refuge and precepts. ~ Precepts are not rules or commandments forced upon us. ~ Precepts protect us and make us more mindful. ~ Having some confidence that we can keep the precepts, but not expecting to be able to keep them perfectly. ~ Ven. Chodron explains each of the precepts and what constitutes breaking them from the root. ~ The precept of not taking intoxicants: do we really have to drink?

Day 2, Part 5. [6 min] : Download mp3 file

Questions and Answers:

  • Question on the annual 3-month retreat at Sravasti Abbey.
  • How does one come out of a blissful meditation session?
  • Why do I feel uncomfortable at the heart when I dissolve Vajrasattva into it?
  • Have a playful attitude when doing our meditation practice. See Excerpt.
  • How often do you purify a negative action? What are the signs of purification?


Day 2, Part 6. [2 min] : Download mp3 file | Excerpts

Ven. Chodron gave some advice to the participants after the refuge and precepts ceremony.

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Click on the links below for more explanation of:

Taking Refuge and Precepts:
    - Q&A on Refuge & Precepts
Lamrim teachings on Taking Refuge:
        Audio | Articles/Transcripts

Prayers: The King of Prayers and other prayers.


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