Learning something new is always difficult without proper guidance. This is especially the case when venturing into unfamiliar territory such as Tibetan Buddhist practice. Here, you will find answers to questions frequently asked by those new to Protector practices.
If, at the end of this article, your questions are still unanswered, get in touch with us and we’ll get back to you as quickly as we can.
Who is Dorje Shugden?
Dorje Shugden is a fully enlightened Dharma Protector who is an emanation of the Wisdom Buddha Manjushri. He is the principal Dharma Protector of the Gelugpa school of Tibetan Buddhism who arose approximately 350 years ago to protect Lama Tsongkhapa’s teachings, particularly Nagarjuna’s Middle View.
What is a Dharma Protector?
A Dharma Protector is a being who compassionately manifests in a specific form, usually fierce or wrathful, to help Buddhist practitioners overcome their spiritual and worldly problems, and provide conducive conditions for spiritual practice. In short, a Dharma Protector will help smoothen a practitioner’s Dharma path.
What does emanation of Manjushri mean?
This means that Dorje Shugden’s mind is essentially Manjushri’s. Buddhas emanate and manifest in different forms due to practitioners’ karmic affinities and needs. Thus, although Dorje Shugden does not look like Manjushri, their mind and qualities are the same.
Why do I need a Dharma Protector?
Most spiritual seekers will face challenges, obstacles and distractions when engaging in Buddhist practice. This makes it difficult to focus on spiritual pursuits wholeheartedly and well. Therefore, having a Dharma Protector is very important.
A Dharma Protector will help dispel your immediate obstacles such as financial problems, illnesses and accidents. The Dharma Protector will also provide favourable conditions for spiritual progress by blessing you with sufficient sustenance, sponsorship, spiritual friends and all the resources to support your practice.
How can Dorje Shugden help me?
By engaging in Dorje Shugden’s practice, you will receive the following benefits:
- Wisdom: You will enjoy a better memory, improved understanding and greater intelligence
- Clarity of mind: With a clear mind, you will be able to face challenges with ease and make better decisions
- Protection: You will be protected from negative energies, black magic, harmful forces and spirit disturbances
- Removal of obstacles: Problems such as accidents and illnesses that can impact your spiritual path will be avoided and averted, or their effects will be lightened
- Wealth: You will enjoy greater success in business, material pursuits, and ease in gaining the necessary resources, material or otherwise, thus allowing you to focus on your spiritual practice
- Healing: You will enjoy the benefits of good health, powerful healing, pacification of diseases and longevity
- Attainments: Most importantly, your spiritual practice will bear fruit and you will gain insight, a deep understanding of Dharma, attainments and realisations
Are all Dharma Protectors the same?
There are two main types of Dharma Protectors – those who are enlightened and those who are unenlightened/worldly.
- Enlightened Protectors are emanations of Buddhas. Examples are Dorje Shugden (emanation of Manjushri), Setrap (emanation of Amitabha) and Mahakala (emanation of Avalokiteshvara)
- Unenlightened Protectors are worldly beings who are oath-bound to protect the Buddhist teachings
Some fully enlightened Dharma Protectors will also manifest in a worldly form; in such a form, they can come to our aid more swiftly due to our karmic affinity.
What is the difference between Dharma Protectors and Buddhist meditational deities?
Through a meditational deity’s (yidam) practice, we accumulate merits, gain attainments and realisations, and eventually achieve their qualities i.e. Enlightenment.
Through Dharma Protector practice, we hope to dispel obstacles and achieve favourable conditions so that we can focus on Yidam practices.
Why are there five different forms of Dorje Shugden?
Dorje Shugden manifests in five unique forms to assist you in different capacities.
- Duldzin Dorje Shugden: this principal form blesses you to attain a combination of siddhis
- Vairocana Shugden or Shize: this “pacifying” form heals illnesses, purifies negative karma and obstacles, and pacifies natural disasters
- Ratna Shugden or Gyenze: this “increasing” form brings prosperity, longevity, attainments and an abundance of all that is good.
- Pema Shugden or Wangze: this “controlling” form brings stability, influence and the power of persuasion
- Karma Shugden or Trakze: this “wrathful” form overcomes the most difficult problems and combats the strongest negativities, black magic and spirit disturbances
Can I just focus on one form of Dorje Shugden instead of all five?
Yes, you can focus on just one of Dorje Shugden’s forms according to your unique situation and needs. You will reap the general benefits of all five forms and the specific benefits of your chosen form.
Why does Dorje Shugden look so fierce?
The main form of Dorje Shugden is Duldzin Dorje Shugden who wears a golden domed hat and the robes of a fully ordained monk. He carries a wisdom sword in his right hand, symbolising cutting away at our ignorance and negative states of mind. In his left hand, he holds a heart jewel representing the wish-fulfilling jewel that will fulfill our deepest wish of enlightenment. The taming hook in the crook of his left hand symbolises his ability to tame all the three realms. His choice of mount is the snow lion, symbolic of fearlessness.
He bestows great wisdom, success, peace and harmony to all those to invoke him with a sincere heart.
Will Dorje Shugden help me if I am not a Buddhist?
Yes! As Dorje Shugden is a fully enlightened being, he will help you and anyone else who sincerely petitions him, even if you have very little faith in him.
How do I begin practising Dorje Shugden?
It is easy! If you have a busy schedule and don’t have much time for prayer, you can recite this short request to Dorje Shugden daily. You may also wish to download a photo of Dorje Shugden. Dorje Shugden’s short prayer and mantra can be recited anywhere and at any time.
Can I do Dorje Shugden’s prayers without initiation?
Yes, you can. It is permissible and safe to engage in Dorje Shugden prayers and mantras without initiation, as long as you use the appropriate texts meant for those without initiation.
Where can I find the Dorje Shugden prayer for those without initiation?
H.E. the 25th Tsem Rinpoche has composed a short prayer and a daily Dorje Shugden sadhana for those without initiation. You can also visit the practice section of this website for more prayers to Dorje Shugden.
What is Dorje Shugden’s mantra?
OM BENZA WIKI BITANA SOHA
Do I need a Dorje Shugden shrine to engage in his practice?
Although recommended, it is not necessary to have a shrine in order to engage in Dorje Shugden’s practice. In his compassion, Dorje Shugden will hear your prayers as long as you are sincere and genuine.
If you are able to and would like to set up a Dorje Shugden shrine or altar, read this article for more information.
Can Dorje Shugden’s practice be combined with other prayers?
Yes, you can combine Dorje Shugden’s prayers with any other practices you are doing. There is no conflict from his side. You can recite the daily sadhana of Dorje Shugden or just his mantra after your main practice.
I have my own Protector practice. Can I still engage in Dorje Shugden’s prayers?
Yes, you can add Dorje Shugden practice, either his full sadhana or just the mantra, after your main Protector practice.
Do I owe Dorje Shugden anything for helping me?
No. As an enlightened Protector, Dorje Shugden does not need any rewards or “payments” for helping you, unlike worldly deities. Dorje Shugden will aid you as long as you invoke him with a sincere heart.
Is Dorje Shugden practiced only by the Gelugs?
No. After Dorje Shugden was enthroned as a Dharma Protector, he was first propitiated by the Sakyas before becoming widespread among the Gelugpas.
If I want to stop this practice, can I? Will Dorje Shugden be angry and harm me?
As an enlightened being, Dorje Shugden will not harm you or anyone, least of all for stopping his practice. However, if you have received Dorje Shugden’s life entrustment initiation (sogtae), it is strongly recommended that you do not stop practising unless you have received permission from your teacher to do so.
I want to learn more about Dorje Shugden. Where can I find a teacher?
There are many erudite masters who have established monasteries and Buddhist centres all over the world whom you can learn from. These are just a few:
- His Holiness the 101st Gaden Tripa of Thar Deu Ling, France
- His Holiness Trijang Chocktrul Rinpoche of Trijang Buddhist Institute, USA
- His Eminence Gangchen Rinpoche of Albagnano Healing Meditation Centre, Italy
- His Eminence Gonsar Rinpoche of Rabten Choeling, Switzerland
- His Eminence Yongyal Rinpoche, the abbot of Serpom Monastery, India
- His Eminence the 25th Tsem Rinpoche, founder of the Kechara organisation in Malaysia
- His Eminence the 13th Kundeling Rinpoche of The Atisha Charitable Trust, India
- His Eminence Daknak Rinpoche of the Chinese Gandenpa Buddhist Centre, Taiwan
- His Eminence Achok Rinpoche of Gadenpa Buddhist Center, USA
- His Eminence Zava Damdin Rinpoche of Delgeruun Choira Monastery, Mongolia
- Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, founder of the New Kadampa Tradition, the largest Tibetan Buddhist organisation in the world
- His Eminence Kensur Rinpoche Lobsang Phende, the abbot emeritus of Shar Gaden Monastery, India
- His Eminence Zawa Tulku Rinpoche of Tsongkhapa Meditation Centre, Canada
Who are the past lineage masters of Dorje Shugden?
Past great masters who have relied on Dorje Shugden include:
- His Holiness the 5th Dalai Lama Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso
- His Holiness the 11th Dalai Lama, who installed Dorje Shugden as the Protector of the Gelugpa tradition.
- His Holiness the 10th Panchen Lama.
- Tagpu Pemavajra, the great mahasiddha and yogi
- His Holiness Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche
- His Holiness Kyabje Ling Rinpoche, senior tutor of H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama
- His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, junior tutor of H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama
- His Eminence Taktra Rinpoche, the Regent of Tibet after the death of H.H. the 13th Dalai Lama.
- His Holiness Kyabje Zong Rinpoche
- His Eminence Kyabje Zemey Rinpoche
- His Eminence Kyabje Sokpu Rinpoche
- His Eminence Kyabje Dagom Rinpoche
- His Eminence Kyabje Denma Gonsa Rinpoche
- His Eminence the 2nd Domo Geshe Rinpoche, regarded as an emanation of Lama Tsongkhapa by H.H. the 13th Dalai Lama.
- His Eminence Serkong Dorje Chang, regarded as an emanation of Vajradhara by H.H. the 13th Dalai Lama.
- His Eminence Kensur Losang Tharchin Rinpoche
- His Eminence Kensur Jampa Yeshe Rinpoche
- His Eminence Kyabje Lati Rinpoche
- Lama Thubten Yeshe, founder of the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT)
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