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some appropriate words
It is mentioned in the Kadampa teachings that it is a hundred times more powerful to make prayers with your community than alone in your room.
Lama Zopa Rinpoche
A puja consists of meditations, visualisations and prayers, including taking refuge and generating bodhicitta, followed by an elaborate version of the seven limb practice: making prostrations and offerings, confessing one’s negativities, rejoicing in the good deeds of oneself and others, requesting the Buddhas to remain in samsara and teach, and dedicating the merits (positive energy) thus created. Mantras, praises and requests are also usually recited.
The purpose of a puja is to purify one’s negative energy thus clearing away obstacles in life and spiritual practice for oneself and others. One also creates new positive energy and this is dedicated for the fulfillment of one’s own wishes and the wishes of others, including the most profound and expansive wish of all: to become a fully enlightened Buddha for the benefit of all beings.
Everyone is welcome to join the pujas at Tushita!
You may participate at whatever level you feel comfortable: simply observing or reciting along with the group. Just come and see!
Most of our pujas are in the early evening (usually starting around 6:30pm) or late afternoon and are 1 – 2 hours long.
Our pujas are usually conducted in English or Tibetan (phonetics provided) or a combination of both.
Tushita offers the following pujas:
Guru Puja (Lama Choepa)
On the 10th & 25th of the Tibetan month, in mixture of Tibetan and English, approx. 2 hours long.
To find out when Tushita offers the next Guru Puja, please see our Calendar of Events.
The Guru Puja practice consists of making offerings to and requesting inspiration from the Spiritual Master, seen as the embodiment of the Three Jewels, visualised in the form of Lama Tsong Khapa surrounded by the merit field. Spiritual vows and commitments which might have degenerated are also restored through the practice of the tsog (feast offering) and we unite our minds with the holy mind of the Spiritual Master, who is considered the root and life-force of the spiritual path, to receive blessings to generate realisations on the path to enlightenment.
The word puja literally means “to please”, thus Guru Puja means “to please the Gurus, or Spiritual Teachers”. Why should we please them? Because they are fully dedicated to helping us develop our inner potential to be enlightened. In fact, we cannot become enlightened without their skilled guidance, and thus they are more important to us than anyone else. The idea of “pleasing” our Spiritual Teachers is for our own benefit, not for theirs. We need merit, or positive energy for our enlightened potential to grow and become perfect, and one of the best ways to do that is to make beautiful offering and prayers to the Three Jewels and to our Spiritual Teachers. This is what happens in the Guru Puja.
The puja begins with taking refuge and generating bodhicitta, the intention to become enlightened for the benefit of all beings. We then visualise the ‘Field of Merit’ which includes our present Spiritual Teachers and those of the past, as well as Buddhas, bodhisattvas, arhats, aryas and protectors of the teachings – in short, all the objects of refuge. Holding this visualization in front of us we offer an extensive version of the seven limbs: prostrations, offerings, confessing, rejoicing, requesting, beseeching and dedicating merits. Following that are prayers requesting inspiration for our Dharma practice, and then a special type of offering called “tsog” (a Tibetan word which means “collection” or “gathering”). Here we offer plate-fulls of fruits and biscuits, which are distributed afterwards to the participants. The tsog can be eaten by oneself or shared with friends who have faith in the Three Jewels, but should not be given to animals or thrown in a dirty place. Then there are verses requesting inspiration to realize all the stages of the Lam Rim (Graduated Path to Enlightenment). The puja ends with the dedication of merits to the enlightenment of all beings.
Traditionally, the Guru Puja is celebrated on the 10th and 25th days of the Tibetan calendar. Anyone is welcome to attend, but to receive complete instructions on the practice and its meaning, one must have received initiation into the Highest Yoga Tantra.
by Venerable Sangye Khadro, extracted from Amitabha Buddhist Centre Newsletter, Dec 1991
Medicine Buddha Puja
On the 15th of the Tibetan month, in English, approx. 1 hour long.
To find out when Tushita offers the next Medicine Buddha Puja, please see our Calendar of Events.
The Eight Medicine Buddhas made special prayers to benefit beings of degenerate ages, hence in the sutric tradition this is considered one of the most powerful practices, which possesses the greatest and quickest blessings. This practice purifies and heals on all levels – physical, mental, spiritual and environmental. This puja is particularly powerful at Tushita, as we have the Eight life-sized Medicine Buddhas in residence.
Seeing the sickness that beings would experience in the future, the Buddha taught this practice so that these sicknesses could be overcome and so that beings could attain enlightenment. Doing the practice of the Medicine Buddha empowers us to be effective in one’s healing work, if one happens to be in the medical profession. Any activity to help others, whether healing or whatever, should be based essentially on the good heart wishing to benefit others. The practice of the Medicine Buddha can help us to overcome many problems of this and future lives, up to enlightenment, and can also bring immediate benefits.
It is very important that the elaborate Medicine Buddha puja with extensive offerings be done regularly. The offering should be as extensive and as beautiful as possible, and done in order to benefit all FPMT.
Medicine Buddha puja is also something that can be done for people who are dying or who have already passed away, and also for individual success in all kind of activities. This Medicine Buddha practice is extremely powerful and beneficial especially when it is done with extensive offerings beautifully arranged.
It is always the case that there are many students that have no time or very little time to do practice, always too busy. Such people can be encouraged to make regular offerings from their wages for the Medicine Buddha puja, i.e. towards the extensive offerings. In this way they are able to create merit, and as they know it is happening regularly, from their home they can mentally make the offerings to the Guru Triple Gem. Even they can do the mental offerings in their car or the office. This is a very good way to help the centre to develop and also help the individual’s Dharma practice.
Lama Zopa Rinpoche
In Tibetan (phonetics & English translation available), app. 1 1/2 hours long.
To find out when Tushita offers the next Tara Puja, please see our Calendar of Events.
Tara represents the quick wisdom and compassion of all the enlightened beings in a female form.
Praying to Tara eliminates obstacles to the fulfilment of our wishes in general and in particular those of the spiritual path.
Tara breathes life into our spiritual practice and sustains us with boundless energy to traverse the spiritual path.
Sixteen Arhats Puja
In Tibetan, approx. 2 hours long.
To find out when Tushita offers the next 16 Arhats Puja, please see our Calendar of Events.
An Arhat is one who has realised the true nature of reality and severed the root of conditioned existence.
The 16 Arhats were part of the 500 that formed the first council at Rajagrha.
To pray to the 16 Arhats is auspicious as they bring good fortune and help propagate the Dharma and assist Dharma practioners.
Palden Lhamo Puja & Protector Prayers
Palden Lhamo Puja: in Tibetan, approx. 6 hours long
General Protector Prayers: in Tibetan & English, approx. 45 minutes long (done privately)
To find out when Tushita offers the next Palden Lhamo Puja, please see our Calendar of Events.
It is the protector’s vow to protect the Dharama and pure practitioners of the Dharma.
Therefore, if one is keeping one’s commitments and pure morality, the protectors can help you and the activities of your centre. However, if one is not keeping their commitments and pure morality, the protector can act as a strong parent correcting their children’s misbehaviour!
Good to do to avert internal and external obstacles for one’s practice and for being successful in Dharma activities to benefit sentient beings.
Shakyamuni Buddha Puja
On special occasions and wheel turning days, in English, approx. 2-3 hours long.
To find out when Tushita offers the next Shakyamuni Buddha Puja, please see our Calendar of Events.
Shakyamuni Buddha Puja – the source of good collections: A rite of homage, worship (making offerings) and prayer to the teacher, the king of Sages, remembering his previous lives and biography.
The main point of the puja is to develop one’s faith in the Buddha and collect vast merits by thinking about the wonderful things he has done – both in his countless previous lives as a bodhisattva and in his life as Shakyamuni, feeling joyful about them and making offerings, both real and visualized. Although the rite is very long, its structure is straight forward. The framework of the central part of the puja is the seven limbs. These are preceded by various preliminaries aimed at getting the participants into the right frame of mind and as setting up the visualization of the field of merit, to whom the seven limbs are addressed. One also purifies one’s negative karmas by confessing them with regret and creates further merits by auspicious wishes and prayers for the flourishing of the Buddha’s doctrine. These are followed by prayers which comprise the extensive limb of dedication and then saying goodbye to the beings in the field of merit.
ABOUT SHAKYAMUNI BUDDHA PUJA
by Lama Zopa Rinpoche
I want to introduce the Guru Shakyamuni Puja, which I found very beneficial for the mind, and especially, I thought for developing bodhicitta and entering into the Bodhisattva deeds – the extensive, hard Bodhisattva deeds. It gives great inspiration to sacrifice oneself for sentient beings equalling the sky.
My wish is that when one does this practice one forms the offerings as extensively as possible. This is important because it all becomes the cause of success – to be able to practise, to spread the Dharma and to have all the necessary conditions.
If one accumulates merit by depending on these powerful objects, then it is so easy, and with small hardships one is able to collect great merit. This is the highest method.
The Importance of the Guru Shakyamuni Buddha Puja
It is necessary to understand the importance of the Guru Shakyamuni Buddha Puja as well as of any practices that purify the obstacles and accumulate the necessary conditions, the merits – such as the seven limb practice and mandala offering and the practice of requesting the Merit Field – and that are done in order to receive blessings and for the mind to enter in the Graduated Path.
Lama Tzong Khapa, the Dharma King of the Three Realms, advised that:
When one listens to the teachings, if one cannot comprehend the words: when one reflects, if one cannot understand the meaning; when one meditates, if one cannot generate the realization; when one’s mental capacity is so extremely small depend on the power of the Merit Field.
Practising the seven limbs, purifying obscurations and accumulating merit, mixed with one’s own heart, this is the method that one who has the race of the Mahayana, ripens the race – this is the quick way, the special means of eliminating the obstacles to the path. For this reason, the king Indrabodhi who became enlightened in one lifetime said in answer to the question “What should one do in order to achieve enlightenment?”, “One should practise the Dharma-deeds seven limb.”
The importance of the seven limbs is like that of the seven parts of a horse carriage – all seven are needed for it to function in carrying the person to the place they desire. Similarly, without the seven limbs, there is no way for the practice to carry oneself to enlightenment.
It is said by Lama Tzong Khapa in the Great Lam-rim:
“From the holy Merit Field one receives all the collections of good for this life and future lives, and it is here that one can plant the seed of all happiness and goodness unceasingly in all the four times. May I be able to cultivate this Field of Merit with the spade of devotion!” As it is mentioned in the sutra like this, if this does not get done, then it is an extremely great loss.
When help is badly needed because one is overwhelmed by thick karmic obscurations if one makes requests to the special field, accumulates merits and purifies obscurations, then quickly it works in the right way.
On special occasions and wheel turning days, in English, approx. 1-2 hours long.
To find out when Tushita offers the next Sutra Reading, please see our Calendar of Events.
The recitation of Mahayana sutras is one of the six virtuous practices specifically recommended for purification, and the recitation of this sutra in particular has far-reaching karmic consequences that last for many lifetimes, as the Sanghata Sutra itself explains in detail. Within the sutra, the Buddha provides numerous descriptions of the ways in which the sutra works on those who recite it to clear away their seeds of suffering, and to assure their future happiness all the way up enlightenment. The sutra also includes some forceful teachings on death and impermanence, including a teaching on the physical and mental processes that occur at the time of death.
While reading such a powerfully transformative sutra, which Buddha Shakyamuni taught in order to make the path to enlightenment as easy as possible, we can feel very palpably the Buddha’s incredible kindness for us. At the same time, because this sutra contains the actual words spoken by the Buddha, by reproducing that speech ourselves during the recitation, we are offering our voices to serve as conduits for the presence of his teachings in the world. Thus in reciting the Sanghata Sutra, along with all the benefits we ourselves receive, we are acting in a very direct and powerful way to keep active the teachings of the Buddha, which are so urgently needed in order to alleviate the sufferings of all beings.
Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Lama Zopa Rinpoche has suggested that all FPMT centers recite the Sanghata Sutra. The recitation of this sutra yields enormous benefits for all those who hear or recite it, and has been recommended by Rinpoche specifically in order to generate the merit that will be needed to bring to completion the Maitreya Project, which itself will yield enormous benefits for countless beings.
The Sanghata Sutra is a direct record of a teaching that was given by Buddha Shakyamuni on Vulture’s Peak in Rajagriha. This discourse of the Buddha, like all Mahayana sutras, was memorized by his disciples and later written down in Sanskrit. However, the Sanghata Sutra is unique in that it is a teaching that the Buddha himself had heard from a previous Buddha, and it is also unique in the scope of the effects it has on those who recite it.
The Sanghata Sutra is one of a special set of sutras called dharma-paryayas, or ‘transformative teachings’ that function to transform those who hear or recite them in particular ways. One very powerful benefit is that at the time of death, any person who has recited the Sanghata Sutra will have visions of Buddhas who will come to comfort them during the death process. A further benefit is that wherever the Sanghata Sutra is established, the Buddhas are always present, as explained in the text itself. As such, the recitation can bestow a powerful blessing on the place where it is recited.
For many centuries, the Sanghata Sutra was among the most widely read and copied of all Mahayana sutras. In the 1930s, an archeological excavation conducted in northern Pakistan under British colonial rule, unearthed a library of Buddhist texts. This archeological dig was extremely important for historians, in that it yielded a large cache of manuscripts written in the fifth century AD, a much earlier period than can be found anywhere in India itself. Among these many important manuscripts, the text of which we find the largest number of copies was the Sanghata Sutra, more even than the Lotus Sutra, the Diamond Cutter Sutra or the Perfection of Wisdom sutras that nowadays are more familiar to us. Although the Sanghata had been translated into many languages of early Mahayana Buddhism, including Chinese, Khotanese and Tibetan, until that excavation in the 1930s, the original Sanskrit had been lost.
In more recent times, after first encountering the Sanghata Sutra while staying at Geshe Sopa la’s monastery in Madison last year, Lama Zopa Rinpoche decided to copy the sutra by hand in gold, and has asked his students to recite the text on numerous occasions. On the anniversary of September 11, Rinpoche requested that all his students worldwide recite the sutra as many times as possible in order to prevent further attacks.
For more information about the Sanghata Sutra, including amazing stories & experiences of people who read it, please visit: www.sanghatasutra.net.
GOLDEN LIGHT SUTRA
At the beginning of the Sutra of Golden Light, Buddha Shakyamuni, the Tathagata, the Arhat, the Fully Enlightened, calls to anyone experiencing misery and affliction, bad health, poverty, loss, abuse, ill will, fear, nightmares, or other harms. He says to make the mind virtuous and to come and listen.
This “King of Glorious Sutras,” contains everything needed, from daily happiness to complete Enlightenment. It contains a heart-rending practice of confession and rejoicing, profound teachings on dependent arising, reliable assurances of protection, guidelines for ideal government, and awe-inspiring stories of the Buddha’s previous lives, in which the Buddha shows how, even before he had completely eliminated the delusions, he liberated countless beings from the ocean of suffering through compassion and personal courage. The Sutra of Golden Light moves us to do what has to be done and clearly describes the result.
On July 10, 2007, while attending the Deer Park Summer Course, Beth Simon made this request to Lama Zopa Rinpoche: “Please tell me what would please you”. Rinpoche told Beth to recite the Sutra of Golden Light and to tell her friends to recite it.
Rinpoche said, “This is what I want. This is what I ask. This will make me happy.”
For all the benefits of reciting the Golden Light Sutra please click here.
For more information about the Golden Light Sutra, including downloadable versions of the sutra in various languages, audio versions, experiences and dedications please click here.
Tushita’s monthly pujas are scheduled according to Tibetan dates of the lunar calendar. Please note that the Tibetan calendar is very different from the standard Western dating system, and that a date in a Tibetan month will not match a ‘normal’ calendar.
For Western dates of each of these pujas, please see our Calendar of Events.
Please contact the Tushita office for more information & exact times and if you would like to make a donation & dedication for the puja (not required!).
- Guided Meditation on February 20, 2017 9:30 am
- Movie Day on February 20, 2017 2:00 pm
- Losar on February 27, 2017
- Sutra of Golden Light Reading on February 27, 2017
- Introduction to Buddhism on March 2, 2017
- Guru Puja on March 7, 2017 6:30 pm
- Chotrul Duchen on March 12, 2017
- Medicine Buddha Puja on March 12, 2017
- Introduction to Buddhism on March 20, 2017
- Introduction to Buddhism on April 6, 2017
Tushita is a centre for the study and practice of Buddhism from the Tibetan Mahayana tradition. We're located in Northern India, in the forested hills above the town of McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala - the seat in exile of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.
Tushita aims to provide a friendly and conducive environment for people of all nationalities and backgrounds to learn about and put into practice the teachings of the Buddha. With this in mind we offer regular drop-in events and courses on introductory Buddhist philosophy and meditation, as well as intermediate level courses and group retreats for more experienced students.
February to November
Monday - Saturday
9:30 - 11:30am
a break for lunch and then...
12:30 - 4:00pm