[This is part of an ongoing Lamrim series. All related posts can be found here.]
To honor the copyright holder of the translation of Essence of Ambrosia I am using, I will not simply be typing up all of the instructions from the book verbatim for the contemplations. Rather, I will be including select passages (under fair use) and then summarizing parts of the additional sections. I encourage anyone who wants to follow this Lamrim to 1) find a teacher and 2) buy the book. Yet it is my hope that this series will motivate some to actually engage in the Lamrim practices. These are sutra level meditations, open to all.
Jetsun Taranatha writes…
In order to become acquainted with the characteristics of a spiritual master, and in order to develop the capacity to faithfully attend one, follow these steps during the meditation session
He then instructs to sit in asana (such as the Lotus posture), visualize the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas filling the expanse of space and recite an homage and offering prayer as a preliminary (see this post for further elaboration).
This should be followed by reciting the Seven-Branch Prayer from the Aspiration of Samantabhadra three times while reflecting on its meaning (see link above as well).
Taranatha next instructs to visualize an innumerable number of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas very high in the sky in front of you. And then, directly in front of them, to visualize your Root Lama, surrounded by a very dense gathering of all of the Lineage Masters, supplicating them with the following prayer…
Buddhas and bodhisattvas throughout the universe,
And the perfect lama, my good and truly virtuous master–
Please regard and bless me.
Please pacify my faults completely.
Please awaken genuine insights within me.
Please dispel all obstacles to practicing the Mahayana way.
Taranatha continues by stating that after this prayer you should make (visualized) offerings to the field of accumulation (aka, the merit-field) which you have generated in front of you and then visualize your Root Lama and Lineage Lamas entering your crown and resting in your heart in a pavilion of light. Then visualize the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas disappearing into suchness (i.e. Tathatā). Lastly, to close with a Dedication of Merit, two examples of which are given in the text as follows…
May the roots of my virtuous practice become a cause for attaining the level of buddhahood for the sake of all sentient beings.
By this virtuous activity,
May all beings perfectly gather merit and wisdom,
And obtain the two sacred states
Born from merit and wisdom.
Continue to part 6