(Vajra Hero, Tib. dorje
sempa) "Dorsem" is the buddha of purification. As the "action"
or karma protector, he also manifests
the energies of all Buddhas.
Kagyu tantric practitioners focus upon Vajrasattva, in the
form as 'Solitary Universal
Ruler.' Here the deity is an aspect of buddha Vajradhara. The lions
that appear in some representations at the base of the deity's seat show he
shares the essential nature of Shakyamuni buddha.
According to Ven. Bardor Tulku, Mahapandita Naropa
was an embodiment of Vajrasattva.
Vajrasattva (Japanese: Kongosatta) is white, with one face and two hands and
resembles a youth of 16. Half of
his long wavy black hair is gathered on top of his head, the rest curls down his
back and around his shoulders. He
is seated on a moon disc on a white lotus with his torso gracefully curved to
our left in the dancer's pose. His
legs are crossed in the vajra position. In his right hand he holds a gold vajra
to his heart and in his left, at his hip he holds a silent, ie. upturned, bell.
He is lavishly dressed in fine green and red silk garments and is richly
adorned with gold and jewels as befits a prince -- with crown, hair ornaments,
earrings, bracelets, 3 necklaces, anklets, etc.
His face is gentle, and luminescent.
whole radiates as a rainbow.
in the heart of the deity is the
100-syllable mantra which practitioners recite at least 100 000 times as one
of the four preliminary practices.
The invocation mantra is: OM VAJRA SATTVA HUNG
are at least two other widespread forms of the deity:
consort, Vajragharvi (Tib. Yum Dorje
Nyemma Karmo) 19th-century Nyingma
and there is also a Red Vajrasattva Nyingmapa practice associated with long
Join the Prayer4Peace
project: texts for Vajrasattva practice according to
Jamgon Kongtrul the Great.
Vajrasattva, teno patishta.
Ardho me bhava.
Sutokayo me bhava.
Supokayo me bhava.
Anurakto me bhava.
Sarva siddhi me prayaccha.
Sarva karma succha me
Chittam shreyam kuru.
Ha Ha Ha Ha Ho
Sarva Tat'hagat'ha Vajra
Ma me muńcha, Vajri bhava,
Ah, Hung, P'heh!
Guard and protect my commitments.
O Vajrasattva, help me be strong.
Be my constant support.
May I ever be pleasing to you.
May you ever be happy with me.
Hold me in your affectionate regard.
Help me attain all sublime
Help me to act virtuously
and to purify my mind.
Hum! [invocation to and delight in, the Five Buddha Families and
symbolizes: care, compassion, joy, equanimity.]
Vajra of All
Never abandon me,
Great Embodiment of commitment.
[So might it be, So might it endure, So might it remain.]
So Jong or Confession
Any practice of Vajrasattva is related to the practices of confession
(Tib. so-jong) and purification as present in all Buddhist traditions.
The Words of My Perfect Teacher by Patrul Rinpoche is the most
popular text on the Preliminary Practices of Vajrayana Buddhism. The
section on "meditating on the teacher as Vajrasattva to cleanse all
1. How obscurations can be purified through confession.
The main obstacles that prevent all the extraordinary experiences and realizations of the profound path from arising are negative
actions, obscurations and habitual tendencies. "Obscurations" means factors of
negative emotions and conceptualizations that cover and obscure our Buddha nature.
Just as the surface of the mirror has to be cleansed to allow forms to be reflected in it, so too our
obscurations have to be eliminated to allow realization to appear like a refection in
the mirror of the Ground of all. The Conqueror [Buddha Shakyamuni] taught
countless methods of purification for this purpose, but the best of them all is
meditation and recitation related to the teacher Vajrasattva.
Any negative action can be purified through confession: "there is
no harmful act that cannot be purified through confession". However
"purification only takes place when you confess sincerely in the right
way" that is by first arousing bodhicitta -- that is, focusing with pure
intention the desire to aid sentient beings to attain enlightenment without exception.
This True Aspiration is, in itself, a purifier of all past misdeeds.
The Four Powers
1. The Power of Support -- you can take Vajrasattva as your support. But, you can also take any spiritual friend or teacher, or any
representation of the Buddha. You can just imagine yourself sitting in front of
the Buddha and feeling his unconditional kindness beaming to you. . . . you can imagine
your dark deeds leaving you as black tar and dissolving, and the wisdom and compassion
pouring in as light from Buddha.
2. The Power of Regret -- this comes from a true feeling of remorse for all negative actions done in the past. You feel remorse and,
concealing nothing from the Buddha, confess them with strong regret, for nothing
can be purified without strongly felt regret.
3. The Power of Resolution -- remembering the faults, resolve never to commit them again, even at the cost of our
4. The Power of Action as Antidote -- offset the negativities through accomplishing as
many positive actions as you can. These can range from the symbolic, such
as doing prostrations; psychological, such as rejoicing in the merit of others,
or actual, from putting out water for wild animals in your neighborhood,
donating to charity and helping others in practical ways. Or ...
"One day a meditator, a disciple of the peerless Dagpo Rinpoche, told his teacher that he felt regret when he remembered that he had once
made a living from the sale of sacred books.
"Print books," the Master told him. So he set to work, but found that his work got him involved in
many distractions. Disillusioned, he went to see his teacher.
"Printing these texts brings up too many distractions," he said. "Is it true that no
method of confession is more profound than remaining in the essential nature?"
The Dagpo Rinpoche was delighted and told him he was perfectly right. "Even if
you have committed negative actions as colossal as Mount Meru itself," he
said. "They are purified in one instant of seeing that nature."
The visualization of Vajrasattva, and indeed all phenomena, arise from the unaltered state and return to it.
"There is indeed no deeper way to cleanse oneself of past misdeeds than to meditate on bodhicitta and to maintain the flow of the
And so no matter what practice one does, that is the essential point.
We may want to end our purification/confession with this prayer:
"I have heard the beneficial instructions, but have left them as words. I have practiced them a little, but have been fooled by
distraction. Bless me and all phantom beings like me, that we may extract the
essence of the generation and perfection phases."
~ j. s. to the
kagyu email list
BB to the Kagyu email list:
We . . . come across Dorsem [Dorje Sempa] quite a bit on a daily basis, usually on one of these
1. At the beginning and end of a sadhana or other Dharma event. At
the beginning so as to purify our stream of mind so as to enter the
mandala with the right mind-set, becoming ready to engage in whatever we are about to one-pointedly and fully. At the end,
so as to confess and make amends for whatever omissions or mistakes we have committed
during the main part out of delusion, obscuration or inattention.
2. As a part of the Fourfold Ngondro, the purposes of which are to accumulate
tremendous amount of merit, purify all negative karmic stains and "test out the water" of the Tantras. Though it is by all intents and purposes a complete
practice in and of itself, it does enable one to engage in the so-called "higher
practices" free of obstacles from the outside and inside (i.e., wrong views and improper clingings).
In both of these cases, the Dorsem that we visualize and the corresponding 100-Syllables are usually of the Yoga
Tantra type, which comes out of, among others, the Tattvasamgraha Tantra, where he is clearly identified as the Lord of All Mandalas and the Five Buddha Families, supplication to whom is the same as supplication to any particular deity. It is partly on this basis
that the purification purposes are accomplished. In this case he is visualized as being of the peaceful and sometimes
singular form, as opposed to the semi-wrathful form that is in the Anuttarayoga
Tantra, especially in connection to the Mother Tantras like Cakrasamvara.
The 100-Syllables are also sometimes substituted with names and phrases to be adapted to individual practices, e.g., instead of "Vajrasattva," it might be
Whereas Lord Shakyamuni was the nirmanakaya that taught the sutras, Dorsem was the
sambhogakaya aspect that taught the tantras. The highest teachings of Dzogchen and Mahamudra are said
to have flown directly from the dharmakaya Samantabhadra, who manifested in the
form of [Vajradhara] Dorje Chang, for Samantabhadra is formless and neither moves
nor stirs. All these three aspects are, of course, never separate and ultimately there is not any difference between the
sutras, tantras and mahamudra.
3. So, why would such an important figure of the Tantras be practiced on almost as,
those with less than pure vision might suspect, a subsidiary role? He is not, for there are many
practices, especially in the Anuttarayoga Tantras, that actually focus on
Dorsem as the main yidam. This is especially true as far as the
Nyingmapas are concerned -- one of their main root tantras, which
in fact is the basis for almost everything that comes from the Kama [kamtsang] (long "oral")
tradition, is the "Magical Net," in which Dorsem is the main yidam. In more practical terms, Dorsem is the focus of
practice in Terdag Lingpa's tradition, Karling's shi-tro, and as one of the Three Roots
in some Nyingthig systems. I am of course not privy to the details of these highly-esoteric practices.
So, like many of the folks out there, I run to Dorsem when I have done something bad, the rule being that one should reflect on one's deeds, speech and thoughts during each of the six sessions of the day and, if necessary, do Dorsem to get purified before
the vow-breakage or stain be beyond repairs. It is important to do so right away because, even though in the ultimate sense these stains and so on are illusory, incidental and
temporary, if we let them stick around without recognizing them as stains, they do
add to our collection of karmic tendencies, making it more possible for us to repeat the same and cling to them as real.
done with the proper motivation ("for the sake of all sentient beings,") visualization
(clear perception of Dorsem and the flow of purifying nectars,) conviction (that one really is confessing past
wrongs and is resolving to never repeat them) and dedication of merit, Dorsem purification can prevent the stains from fostering
into something more serious, create the causes for ripening conditions that exhaust
these karmic stains without too harmful an impact, and accumulate wisdom and merit that
ultimately will lead to our realization of the empty nature of these stains and the samsaric deeds
that produce them.
Purification is NOT penance -- in fact, since the way karma is said to work, once karma is accumulated, it sticks until it is exhausted by ripening or until it is rendered dispensible by virtue of one's attainment of Enlightenment, there is simply nothing that can be done to reverse or undo it. Even a lot of good karma is
not an antidote per se for negative karma -- they are simply two different things
that are not like the debits and credits of an account balancing each other out.
The "Higher Vows" that many Vajrayana practitioners have taken, as it was pointed out before, are easily broken.
Therefore, Dorsem should never be far from one's mind in order to make amends, as nothing is
more important than keeping vows intact in Vajrayana. . . . ."
May we attain the stage of Vajrasattva and place all sentient beings in the stage with us!" ~ BB
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