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What is a Puja?
Puja is a ceremony in which offerings and other acts of devotion are performed in front of holy beings.
Pujas (chanted prayers) are an important component of training in a spiritual life. They help us to still our mind, connect with enlightened beings, and receive blessings.
The daily puja at Kadampa Buddhist Centers is Heart Jewel, which is a Guru yoga of Je Tsongkhapa combined with the condensed sadhana of his Dharma Protector and a short meditation on Lamrim
This puja 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 will naturally accomplish all the realizations of the stages of the path of Sutra and Tantra, and in particular we will attain a very special Dharma wisdom.
Relying upon a Spiritual Guide, or ‘Guru Yoga’, is the root of the spiritual path and the foundation of all spiritual attainments. In Kadampa Buddhism, Guru Yoga is practiced in association with Je Tsongkhapa, an emanation of the Wisdom Buddha Manjushri.
The principal Guru Yoga of Je Tsongkhapa is Offering to the Spiritual Guide, which is an extensive practice that is usually performed twice a month, on the 10th and 25th days, at Kadampa Buddhist centers.
It was compiled by the first Panchen Lama, Losang Chökyi Gyaltsän, as a preliminary practice for Vajrayana Mahamudra.
Although the main practice is reliance upon the Spiritual Guide, 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.
Guru yoga is a special method for receiving the blessings of our Spiritual Guide. Here, the term ‘Guru’ does not imply that our Spiritual Guide should be Indian. Our Spiritual Guide is any spiritual Teacher who sincerely leads us into spiritual paths by giving correct instructions.
Thus our Spiritual Guide can be oriental or western, lay or ordained, male or female. These days, for example, it is quite possible to meet a Spiritual Guide who is a western lay female. The term ‘yoga’ in this context indicates a special way of viewing our Spiritual Guide.
Powa, or transference of consciousness, is a profound method for transferring the consciousness of the deceased to the Pure Land of Buddha. After a person dies and before they take their next rebirth, there is an opportunity for those who have some connection with them to guide their consciousness away from the painful rebirths of samsara and into the Pure Lands, worlds created by holy beings experiencing things in a pure way.
Powa Ceremony, a beautiful and powerful ritual practice drawn from the Buddhist Tantras, enables us to benefit the deceased by coming together as a group and making prayers and offerings on their behalf. Then, through the power of our compassionate intention, strong prayer, and concentration on the practice, we transfer the consciousness of the deceased to the Pure Land of the Buddha of Compassion so that they will experience a pure and lasting peace and finally be freed from the painful cycling of suffering and its causes.
Everyone is welcome to participate in these beautiful prayers. Please bring an offering of food or flowers if you wish. We recommend that you arrive about ten minutes early to be seated and relaxed at the start of the session.
The Tara Puja, Liberation from Sorrow, which includes a special prayer Praises to the Twenty-one Taras composed by Buddha, is performed regularly at Kadampa Buddhist centers worldwide.
Tara is a female Buddha, a manifestation of the ultimate wisdom of all the Buddhas. Each of the Twenty-one Taras is a manifestation of the principal Tara, Green Tara. Tara is also known as the ‘Mother of the Conquerors’.
Tara is our common mother, our Holy Mother. When we are young we turn to our worldly mother for help. She protects us from immediate dangers, provides us with all our temporal needs, and guides and encourages us in our learning and personal development.
In the same way, during our spiritual growth we need to turn to our Holy Mother, Tara, for refuge. She protects us from all internal and external dangers, she provides us with all the necessary conditions for our spiritual training, and she guides us and inspires us with her blessings as we progress along the spiritual path.
Wishfulfilling Jewel is a Guru Yoga of Je Tsongkhapa combined with the sadhana of his Dharma Protector. This 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. 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 Shugden. Through this, we can overcome obstacles to our practice and create favorable conditions so that we can nurture and increase our Dharma realizations. If we rely upon the Dharma Protector Dorje Shuden 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.
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 Shugdan. Of these, the last is the principal practice.
Dorje Shugdan 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. During this puja we make extensive offerings, so if you wish please bring a food offering with you. Everyone is welcome.