Inner Preliminary practice comes after you have done Outer Preliminary practice. It is important to do Outer Preliminary practice of understanding our precious human life, impermanence, suffering and karma. These Four Thoughts are very important and especially that you really understand these. Then Inner Ngondro you will really find interesting.
These Four Thoughts are important because they are the cause of the renunciation of mind. Then in Inner Preliminary practice you begin with thinking, “who helps this world?” “Who helps your mind?” And “who helps your next life?” Nobody helps. Kings, rich people or god don’t help. Also a very powerful super hero doesn’t help your mind or your practice of Dharma. The only help is Buddha Dharma. Then you really respect Buddha, follow Dharma and are with the great Sangha. This is Refuge.
Refuge and Prostrations
Then you take Refuge with prostrations. We do prostrations because our samsara body, speech and mind aren’t clean and we are living in samsara. Buddha, Dharma and Sangha are not dirty and are very pure. Buddha is Enlightenment, great Master. Dharma is our path. Sangha are Dharma practitioners, our friends on this path.
Then you have great respect for Buddha. Buddha Shakyamuni did meditation and had great enlightenment. He also had great compassion and gave teachings to the Hinayana and Mahayana Sanghas. Then you understand Buddha’s history and how wonderful the Dharma path is. With this understanding, you wish that with this great Sangha of practitioners as well as everyone you see, you really wish to now take Refuge in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. With this wish, you then do prostrations. And you really respect Buddha, Dharma and Sangha and with your body, speech and mind, you really try to do true Buddhism.
Then every day you take Refuge in Buddha Dharma. You do Refuge, prayer and prostrations every day. Then you lose your ego; lose your ignorance, attachment, anger and desire. All these get less and less. Then you become a true Buddhism practitioner. Otherwise, it is very ego. For example, rich people have a big ego. They don’t do prostrations or respect others. These things are not Buddhism. Buddhism is inner respect Buddha Dharma and then doing true Dharma with prostrations and respecting others. It is important we do one lakh that is, 100,000 Refuge and prostrations. When you really respect others and Buddha Dharma, this is Inner Ngondro of Refuge.
Secondly is Bodhicitta. Bodhicitta everyone understands that it means great mind. We are not thinking of our self but of other sentient beings. We have compassion for other sentient beings because of their ignorance and being in samsara. Bodhicitta also means we help sentient beings reach the great liberation. It is these two things which is wisdom. First we have compassion for sentient beings because we really understand suffering and this isn’t good. Then secondly we think of enlightenment. It is not just compassion alone. It is compassion and enlightenment for all sentient beings. That means you aren’t thinking of yourself but of others. We do mind turning because we are not thinking of our self but of others; how to help them and how to benefit for their enlightenment.
Then we think of mother sentient beings. We think first of our mother. Our mother is very important because we are born in samsara. Without her, we would not be born. Mother takes care of everything because we are not able to and don’t know how. Secondly mothers have compassion or caring for their children. All mothers, even animals think of their children. That is really why mother is important to understand. Then we think I want to help my mother sentient beings. Then you do action; kindness, love, patience towards other sentient beings. Then this is exactly not thinking of our self but thinking of other sentient beings. And also help others; be nice, take care of and your mind is turning to thinking sentient beings reach liberation. This is mind not just doing.
First you think of your family; then your community and area, then the whole world and help for all world to reach liberation. This is why Sutra says ‘mother sentient beings’. Another example is, think of your father or friend and who helps you during your life? Who loves you and helps you in your life? For example, father sentient beings, friend sentient beings and greater and greater for everyone to reach enlightenment.
This means when my mom is happy then I’m happy. When my mom is good then I’m good. If my mom is suffering then I suffer. You can think of this way for your father, a friend etc. All sentient beings, not only one person but all have good virtue. If only thinking of mother, then we can realize all sentient beings are the same. We have many life times, billions of life times and so mothers are very important. Of course there may be difficult things but it is important to think of positive things. Because we’ve had many lives, all sentient beings have been our mother. We think of wanting all mother sentient beings to have enlightenment. This is a great mind. This is Bodhicitta.
Then you do actions of the six or ten Paramitas with Bodhicitta; generosity, patience etc. This is the practice of Bodhisattvas or Bodhicitta. You practice the prayer of “may mother sentient beings have happiness” and you really feel this. This is the second Inner Ngondro Preliminary practice.
The third Inner Preliminary practice is Vajrasattva. There are Four Powers in Vajrasattva Practice. The first Power is the Power of Support. First it is important to have Vajrasattva empowerment. Then you know what to visualization. You have the sadhana and you look inside ngondro. It is important to understand we have negative karma. This cleans our negative karma and Vajrasattva is the only help to do this. We have negative karma and when we do other meditation and concentration it is often difficult to do because of heavy karma. Then we do Vajrasattva meditation and it cleans everything: clean body, clean speech and clean mind.
It is important to understand that bad karma is in the past and also in this life. Then you think and realize you have done wrong. It is like taking poison and you’ve done this for thousands of lifetimes. Then we are very sorry and sad for doing this. This is the second Power. Now you wonder what will help?
Then you think, I will never do bad karma things again. This is the third Power. Then you do visualization of Vajrasattva and think of happiness and compassion for other sentient beings. Then Vajrasattva’s whole body as Sambhogakaya, we feel he is blessing our physical body. Then all negative things are cleaned. We do this visualization with mantra. We do one lakh that is 100,000 mantra. This is the Fourth Power.
These are the Four Powers of Vajrasattva meditation. To make it easy I will say it here in a short way. These Four Powers are the important things. The first Power is the Power of support of the Empowerment, Sadhana and Refuge in Vajrasattva. The second Power is saying and feeling you are sorry for all the negative things you’ve done. The third Power is saying I will never do these again. The fourth Power is the Power of action of doing Vajrasattva meditation with mantra. With focusing on these Four Powers then all negativity is cleaned and we feel the blessings come.
You do Vajrasattva meditation every day when you have time. We do it every day because every day we have negative karma. For example, every day we need to eat and drink. This is like what we need to do with this practice because every day we have negative karma. Doing Vajrasattva practice every day is important.
Mandala Preliminary practice
This is very important. We do lucky things. We do Refuge and Bodhicitta, but if we don’t offer and give to sentient beings it means we are attached and thinking only of samsara. It is important we have more virtue and more meditation power. In the three Kaya Mandala: Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya and Nirmanakaya mandala, it is important to offer good things; very beautiful things; good smells and good feelings. For example, offering of flowers and other nature things. You think, “this is very special”. My world has many good things; food to eat; sounds we hear; smells we smell; positive things we think and things from all six consciousness.
Then you think, “I don’t need these and I will offer to the Refuge Tree; the Buddha Dharma and give to all sentient beings”. This is the meaning of the Mandala Offering. For example, our body, speech and mind we offer to Buddha. Then you do Buddha’s mind, Buddha’s activity of teaching things. Then this is Sangha. Nothing is mine but everything is for the Buddha Dharma. You also offer mind, everything to Buddha Dharma. You don’t keep anything. Outside you offer all good things and inside I offer body, speech and mind. I did practice, meditation and all good virtue things I offer to Buddha Dharma. That means you have power, less ego and desire. More thinking of Buddha Dharma and have power of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and you give all this for sentient beings. If you give everything it is wonderful. If you keep something, then you have no power. If you give away, everything comes back. It is very important to do this in mind and not to keep anything. Not to desire anything.
Mandala offering has outer, inner and secret levels. It is important that things from all 6 consciousnesses (eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind) are all offered to all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. You think, “I offer for all sentient beings to reach the great liberation with me”. Not just myself but everyone understands together we have Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya and Nirmanakaya enlightenment. I offer this pure Buddhahood and Buddhaland. Then everyone reaches the great Enlightenment.