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Lama Tsongkhapa’s Migtsema

Mantras are the Buddha’s body, speech and mind qualities manifesting in the form of sound. Hence they can affect us deeply and bless our minds. Mantra combined with visualisation and meditation can unlock our subconscious mind to higher states of thinking such as altruism, care, etc. There are many types of mantras, open and secret. But a general all-rounder mantra that encompasses so many qualities that we need is Migtsema.

Tsongkhapa’s Migtsema mantra is a wonderful, peaceful, all-encompassing mantra that is suitable for anyone at any stage of practice. Tsongkhapa’s holy image encompasses the complete 84,000 teachings of Buddha in iconography form. His body is a ‘roadmap’ to Nirvana. Seeing, hearing, contemplating and meditating on the Gentle Tsongkhapa brings incredible blessings for today’s individuals without much time. With so many distractions that we call technology, a short concise practice such as Tsongkhapa’s Gaden Lhagyama is very much applicable.

 

Migtsema/Mantra

MIG MEY TZE WAY TER CHEN CHENREZIG
DRI MEY KHYEN PI WANG PO JAMPAL YANG
DU PUNG MA LU JOM DZEY SANG WEY DAG
GANG CHENG KE PEY TSUG GYEN TSONGKHAPA
LO SANG TRAG PEY SHAB LA SOL WA DEB

Objectless compassion, Chenrezig,
Lord of stainless wisdom, Manjushri,
Conquering mara’s horders, Vajrapani,
Crown jewel of the Sages of the Land of Snows, Tsongkhapa,
Losang Drakpa, at your feet, I pray.

 

Commentary

Mantras are the enlightened energies of Buddha’s body, speech, mind in the form of sound and can deeply bless and affect our minds. When we recite mantras, it is important to maintain a good visualisation and meditation. This taps into the unconscious or subtle mind and can transform the negative delusions of our mind to higher states and qualities of thinking such as compassion, generosity, patience, care etc.

This mantra contains he energies of the three Buddhas as follows:

Objectless compassion, Chenrezig,
(This line is equivalent to reciting Om Mani Peme Hung)

Lord of stainless wisdom, Manjushri,
(This line is equivalent to reciting Om Ah Ra Ba Tsa Na Dhi)

Conquering mara’s horders, Vajrapani,
(This line is equivalent to reciting Om Vajrapani Hung)

Crown jewel of the Sages of the Land of Snows, Tsongkhapa,
Losang Drakpa, at your feet, I pray.
(This line identifies Tsongkhapa as the embodiment of all Masters)

The origin of the Migtsema mantra, which has been described in the autobiography of Lama Tsongkhapa, is a very wonderful story that illustrates Lama Tsongkhapa’s Guru Devotion and the wonderful relationship he had with his teacher, Tsongkhapa extracted a verse from Manjushri’s text and adapted it as an offering to Jetsun Rendawa, the great Sakya Master who was one of Lama Tsongkhapa’s esteemed Gurus.

Je Tsongkhapa offered the verse to his Guru, Jetsun Rendawa, but Rendawa returned the verse to him, saying, “No, this verse is not appropriate for me. You are Avalokiteshvara, you are Manjushri, you are Vajrapani, and this verse is more appropriate for you.” So his own Guru changed the words from “Jetsun Rendawa” to “Tsongkhapa” in the fourth line and gave the prayer back to him.

The actual words first came from Manjushri’s mouth; Lama Tsongkhapa put in his Guru’s name and offered the verse up to his Guru; and finally, his Guru altered the verse to include Tsongkhapa’s name and returned it to him. It was not something Lama Tsongkhapa made up. It was something given to him by his Guru which was extracted from Manjushri’s text. This is now called the Migtsema prayer and it is very holy, powerful and excellent.

 

Reciting Migtsema

 
State Of Mind
 
The number of Migtsema mantras that you wish to recite is up to you. You should do at least 21 mantras every day. It will only take two minutes! You should recite this mantra every single day, especially now that you know the benefits. Simultaneously, you should try to get a statues or a picture of Lama Tsongkhapa and make offerings. It is a beautiful and wonderful practice.

Visualize your Guru here (or all your Gurus if you have more than one) and all the holy Beings of the Gelug lineage tree, containing all the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Yidams, self-realisers, foe-destroyers, dakas, dakinis, arhats and Dharma protectors.

Visualize all this in the light and dissolving into Lama Tsongkhapa. And he is there in front of you. Why visualize 500 deities when you do not even know where they are, what they are or what they look like. They cannot even fit into the room! Instead, visualize one nice image of Lama Tsongkhapa, small, simple, clean with his two disciples. It is very simple yet bestows all the same blessings as if we propitiated the entire Gelug lineage tree.

When we recite the Migtsema, do not think about mundane matters; things like “How many sales did I make in my store today” Did I turn off the kettle?” Do not think about these things. The attainment of Enlightenment is in the mind. By just reciting the prayers, you will collect some good merit, but you will not become enlightened. It is not possible. You must do the meditations also.

 

Mala

 
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While you are reciting the mantra, hold your mala (your string of prayer beads) and sit straight, in a meditation posture if possible. Hold your mala up in your hand – practically, the left hand is better for Tantra (as this activates certain energy and wind channels within your body) but using the right hand is also fine. As you finish reciting the complete mantra once, you pull one bead towards you.

The total number of beads in a mala should be 108. The best beads are made of bodhi seeds or lotus seeds. Crystal is also very good and is excellent for gaining compassion. It would be best if you could use a mala with bodhi seeds; if not lotus seed, crystal, wood, sandalwood or any other material of your choice is also permissible.  Use what you feel most comfortable with at this stage and find a size that suits you best.

Bodhi seed mala.

Bodhi seed mala.

A mala that is blessed by your teacher is excellent. If not, you can bless it yourself. Recite Migtsema three times and bless the mala by blowing directly onto it. The mala should not be taken into the toilet; if it is, you should bless it again. It should not be kept on the floor, stepped under, or used in ways such as for decoration or as ornaments. Your mala should be kept very clean as befitting for a holy object. If you keep it wrapped around your hand or if you wear it around your neck, keep it as clean and beautiful as possible.

The mala should be used. If you are using it well for your mantras, the colour of your mala will reflect that. If your mala is very light and clean, it will reflect that you have not used it very much! A mala is not beautiful because it has ornaments, gold and silver. It is beautiful when it has turned dark and shiny from being used; malas like these will become very powerful.

While you recite the mantra, make sure that the mala is always clean and nice. Do not give your mala to other people to use. It is yours. If some people have negative energy, the energy will go onto the mala; then when you take it back, that negative energy comes to you. It is better to keep your mala to yourself. This is very important.

It would be good if you have two malas – one mala can be used for Lama Tsongkhapa’s practice, at home and another can be used for general, for going out or travelling. Or you can just keep one mala – that would also be fine.

When the great meditators of the past die, people will then for the first time find their malas in boxes or hidden away inside their meditation caves. They would have never shown their malas during their lifetime. These high meditators, who have very high attainments, keep everything covered. Tantric practice is very secret. The mala is not something ordinary; it is very secret and very powerful. If you do your practices well, it can become an object of great protection to give to people.

Do not think that you do not have power because you are not a Lama. No, believe that the mantra itself has power and Lama Tsongkhapa has power. If you recite Migstema and blow the mantra on the mala, it will become powerful.

 

Appropriate behavior when reciting Migtsema

When people recite the Migstema, you should not burp, fart, talk, laugh, sneeze, cough or fidget and move around. If you do, you must recite the mantra seven times extra to correct this disrespect.

However, if you are doing a long retreat, you can pause to take a drink. You can get up, put your mala down and go to the bathroom if you need to. After you finish, rinse your mouth, wash your hands, return to your meditational seat and start again. But do not talk or do anything unnecessary. Do not stop by the kitchen on the way back and get a cheese sandwich! Then, if you did 100 malas of mantras already, you can start the 101st round. You would not have broken the session.

If you stop or break the session, you will have to start all over from the beginning. For example, if you did 1000 mantras, you cannot count the 1000; you must start from 1 again! If you accidentally fall asleep, the mantras that you have done up until that point do not count! If on a particular day you have intended to recite 6000 mantras and you fall asleep at the 5999th mantra, it is too bad! You will have to start all over again at 1 for that day. All the mantra counts from the previous days are still counted and not erased; it is only the amount for that particular day that you fell asleep that is erased. Of course, when you are doing a retreat, it is much better if you do not fall asleep at all!

When you recite the mantra, there should not be music or talking. Sit straight with a good posture. It is very important. Then, you will gain the benefit in doing the visualization together with the mantra.

While you are reciting Migtsema, there are many ways to do visualizations of Lama Tsongkhapa. You can do the visualization in many, many ways to purify your karma.


Extracted from the blog of His Eminence Tsem Tulku Rinpoche and the Tsongkhapa Boxset.

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