Meditation - a method for calming and controlling our minds - is core to Kadampa Buddhism and Buddhism in general. There are many kinds of meditation techniques. In General Program classes and events, we focus on the practice of meditation without expectation of any specific spiritual belief system...no concern about any specific spiritual belief prerequisites to General Grogram activities. All are welcome.
However, if you are interested in exploring Kadampa Buddhism from a spiritual point of view, here are some of our most common practices. There are many more practices than these, and all are very simple to perform but very profound in meaning. The Foundation Program and Teacher Training Program help us to become familiar with these practices..
Daily Meditation Prayers (pujas)
If you enjoy meditating with others, chanted prayers and meditations are a great opportunity for you to engage in group meditation. These chanted meditations are also known in Sanskrit as "pujas", meaning "offering", or as "sadhanas", which means "method for receiving attainments" (There is no cost associated with attending pujas) .
Using ancient prayers translated into English, we receive the blessings, protection and guidance of the holy beings. We can make requests for ourselves or for others who need help or protection. These spiritual practices create a strong connection with the Buddhas, and help us purify our negativity and fill our mind with positive, healing energy. These meditations are open to everyone, though you might want to try one of the shorter ones first! People sit on chairs or on cushions on the floor. Pujas are open to everyone. However, it is generally helpful to attend introductory meditation classes before attending these pujas.
Wishfulfilling Jewel Chanted Prayers and Meditation
The daily puja at KMC is Wishfulfilling Jewel, with a period of silence for meditation on Lamrim. By relying upon this practice, we can purify negativity, accumulate merit, and receive blessings. In this way, we will naturally accomplish all the realizations of the stages of the path and attain a very special Dharma wisdom. Please see our calendar for the days and times of our Heart Jewel Prayers.
Wishfulfilling Jewel with Tsog Offerings
This is a weekly puja at Kadampa Centers and everyone is welcome to join in with these chanted prayers and offerings. Read the descriptions below to learn more about the meaning of the prayers as well as the Tsog offering. Please see our calendar for the days and times of our Wishfulfilling Jewel Prayers.
Wishfulfilling Jewel sadhana includes two practices revealed by the Wisdom Buddha Manjushri. The first is a special Guru yoga in which we visualize our Spiritual Guide as Je Tsongkhapa, who himself is a manifestation of Manjushri. By relying upon this practice, we can purify negativity, accumulate merit, and receive blessings. In this way, we shall naturally accomplish all the realizations of the stages of the path of Sutra and Tantra, and in particular we shall attain a very special Dharma wisdom.
The second practice is a method for relying upon the Dharma Protector Dorje Shugdän. Through this, we can overcome obstacles to our practice and create favourable conditions so that we can nurture and increase our Dharma realizations. If we rely upon the Dharma Protector Dorje Shugdän sincerely, our faith in Je Tsongkhapa will naturally increase and we shall easily gain experience of the pure Buddhadharma transmitted directly to Je Tsongkhapa by the Wisdom Buddha Manjushri.
These two practices are the very essence of the New Kadampa Tradition of Mahayana Buddhism. If we practice them regularly and sincerely, we shall reap a rich harvest of pure Dharma realizations, and eventually come to experience the supreme joy of full enlightenment. An extensive explanation of this sadhana can be found in the book Heart Jewel, by Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso.
Tsog’ means ‘collection’ and when we make Tsog offerings we do them collectively, as a group. In this way we accumulate collective karma - we create the cause to progress along the Spiritual Path together. We also accumulate a great deal of merit - positive mental energy - the cause of good fortune.
During a Tsog puja we arrange a table of food and drinks - making it look as beautiful as we can. We imagine that we are preparing a banquet of delight for the holy beings to enjoy. We then invite the holy beings to the place of offerings and imagine they enjoy this blissful banquet.
Afterwards, we enjoy the Tsog offerings with our Spiritual friends. These Tsog puja’s are a great way to get to know your Spiritual friends and to feel a part of a Spiritual Community.
Please bring an offering of your own to add to the table - any food or drink that you feel is beautiful. (No meat or alcohol please.)
Check our calendar for Tsog pujas and please feel free to join in and enjoy. If you like, you can arrive early and help arrange the Tsog offerings.
Offering to the Spiritual Guide Puja (Lama Chöpa)
A special Guru yoga practice of Je Tsongkhapa's tradition
Offering to the Spiritual Guide is a special Guru yoga of Je Tsongkhapa in conjunction with Highest Yoga Tantra. It was compiled by the first Panchen Lama, Losang Chökyi Gyaltsän, as a preliminary practice for Vajrayana Mahamudra. The main practice is relying upon the Spiritual Guide, but it also includes all the essential practices of the stages of the path (Lamrim) and training the mind (Lojong), as well as both the generation stage and completion stage of Highest Yoga Tantra.
The essence of Guru yoga is to develop a strong conviction that our Spiritual Guide is a Buddha, to make prostrations, offerings, and sincere requests to him or her, and then to receive his or her profound blessings. According to the Guru yoga of Offering to the Spiritual Guide, we develop conviction that our Spiritual Guide is the same nature as Je Tsongkhapa, who is an emanation of the Wisdom Buddha Manjushri.
By relying upon Je Tsongkhapa, our compassion, wisdom, and spiritual power naturally increase. In particular, because Je Tsongkhapa is an emanation of the Wisdom Buddha Manjushri, his faithful followers never experience difficulty in increasing their wisdom. There are many other benefits from practising Offering to the Spiritual Guide. These are explained in the book Great Treasury of Merit, which contains a complete commentary to the practice.
These Pujas normally take place on or near the 10th & 25th of the month - please see our calendar for the days and times for this month.
Melodious Drum Long Protector Puja (Kangso)
The extensive fulfilling and restoring ritual of the Dharma Protector, the great king Dorje Shugdän, in conjunction with Mahakala, Kalarupa, Kalindewi, and other Dharma Protectors
This practice consists of five parts: Praise to Manjushri, the Guru Yoga of Je Tsongkhapa, Self-generation as Heruka, the Fulfilling and Restoring Ritual of the General Protectors, and the Fulfilling and Restoring Ritual of the Great King Dorje Shugdän. Of these, the last is the principal practice.
A Dharma Protector is an emanation of a Buddha or a Bodhisattva whose main functions are to avert the inner and outer obstacles that prevent practitioners from gaining spiritual realizations, and to arrange all the necessary conditions for their practice. Beings in this present time have a strong karmic link with Dorje Shugdän, and so he is the Dharma Protector who is most able to help them. Therefore it is said that, Now is the time to rely upon Dorje Shugdän. Dorje Shugdän always helps, guides, and protects pure and faithful practitioners by granting blessings, increasing their wisdom, fulfilling their wishes, and bestowing success on all their virtuous activities.
There are many brief and middling-length sadhanas of Dorje Shugdän, such as Heart Jewel and Wishfulfilling Jewel. This extensive sadhana is called Kangso in Tibetan, which means Fulfilling and Restoring Ritual, and it is usually performed once a month in Dharma Centres. During this puja we make extensive offerings and perform other practices:
To fulfil our heart commitment to rely upon the Protector sincerely, regarding him as inseparable from the Guru and Yidam, and to practise the pure Dharma of Lamrim, Lojong, and Mahamudra
To restore any degenerate or broken commitments we may have incurred
We begin the practice with Praise to Manjushri to remember that the Guru and Protector are in reality emanations of the Wisdom Buddha. We then perform the Guru yoga of Je Tsongkhapa and, after dissolving the Guru into our heart, perform self-generation as Heruka. We then invite the general Dharma Protectors such as Mahakala, Kalarupa, and Kalindewi, before beginning the actual sadhana of Dorje Shugdän. The fulfilling and restoring ritual of the general Protectors is interwoven with the sadhana of Dorje Shugdän.
Further information on the Guru yoga of Je Tsongkhapa and on the Dharma Protector Dorje Shugdän can be found in the book Heart Jewel, and further information on self-generation as Heruka can be found in the book Essence of Vajrayana.
This Puja normally takes place on or near the 29th of the month - please see our latest calendar for exact day & time.
Green Tara Chanted Prayers
At Kadampa Centers worldwide, the eighth of the month is Tara Day. Tara is a female Buddha, whose name means Rescuer; she is the embodiment of swift compassion. If we rely upon Tara sincerely and with strong faith, she will protect us from all obstacles and fulfill all our wishes. Everyone is welcome and invited to join us for Tara's chanted prayer practice, Liberation from Sorrow.
Please see ourcalendar for day and time.
The Sadhanas (prayer booklets) of Kadampa Buddhism:
All the essential practices of Kadampa Buddhism are included in a series of sadhana booklets prepared by Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso and published by Tharpa Publications.