Every part of Dorje Shugden's form has deep spiritual significance. Its entirety represents the complete path of the Lamrim, thus meditating upon it with...
Like the Buddha, Dorje Shugden’s body manifested from his great attainments. Hence, every part of his form has deep spiritual significance. Dorje Shugden’s entire body represents the complete path of the Lamrim or the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment, and meditating upon it with correct understanding will generate great merits and spiritual attainments. This is a brief explanation of Dorje Shugden’s form:
The meandering wisdom sword of Dorje Shugden is similar in significance to the one that the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri wields. It is a strong indicator that Dorje Shugden’s mind is none other than the mind of Manjushri.
The wisdom sword cuts through the ignorance and delusions that have arisen from our negative karma and obscurations so that we may attain the Buddha’s wisdom. The wisdom sword also symbolises Dorje Shugden’s ability to cut through and purify our negative karma. The meandering blade of the sword is a feature of blades which are designed for inflicting maximum damage. Therefore, it shows just how efficacious Dorje Shugden’s practice is for the purposes of purification, removing obstacles and ultimately to gain merits and attainments.
Dorje Shugden’s golden domed hat is symbolic of the protection he grants to practitioners and upholders of the highest view of Madhyamika, Nagarjuna’s special view of Emptiness as embodied perfectly in Lama Tsongkhapa’s teachings and lineage. The domed hat is traditionally a travelling Tibetan Lama’s hat; thus it symbolises Dorje Shugden’s mobility and swiftness in coming to the aid of sincere practitioners.
Dorje Shugden has three round bulging eyes that represent his clairvoyant ability to perceive past, present and future simultaneously. It is also an indicator of a being who has realised and is able to perceive the conventional and ultimate truths – a Buddha. Such a being is a worthy object of refuge thus one can place total trust in Dorje Shugden.
The heart jewel is a scriptural description of the bleeding ‘enemy’ heart that Dorje Shugden holds in his left hand. This heart is known as the heart of the ‘enemy’ as it represents the source of all our negativities – ignorance. It also symbolises how effective Dorje Shugden’s practice is at ripping out ignorance, which then gives us space to cultivate the wisdom mind which can overcome all obscurations, negativities and delusions.
In another interpretation, the heart jewel is a heart of great bliss symbolising Dorje Shugden’s pure Bodhicitta intent, which is to protect all beings and lead them to full Enlightenment.
The heart also symbolises our innate Buddha-nature which is that of great compassion. This shows that Dorje Shugden supports and protects those who dedicate their lives to others by striving towards supreme Enlightenment.
Resting on Dorje Shugden’s lower left arm is a jewel-spitting mongoose, an ancient symbol of great wealth. This signifies that by engaging in his practice, Dorje Shugden will provide sincere practitioners with all their material and spiritual needs. The most supreme form of wealth that can be bestowed by Dorje Shugden is, of course, the spiritual attainments of wisdom and compassion.
The taming vajra hook held in the crook of Dorje Shugden’s left arm is considered an implement of control, subduing all negativities and wild, harmful delusions that are obstacles for liberation. On the other hand, the taming hook also represents the hooking in of all favourable conditions for Dharma practice to flourish including material assistance, supportive spiritual friends and a spiritual guide of an authentic lineage.
In his previous lives as Duldzin Drakpa Gyaltsen, Panchen Sonam Drakpa and Tulku Draka Gyaltsen among others, Dorje Shugden was a pure fully ordained monk. Hence, he wears the three types of monk robes symbolising that he is a Protector of those who uphold their vows and that he will remove obstacles that lead towards the Dharma. The robes also reflect the importance of the Sangha and of holding one’s vows and commitments.
Tiger Skin Boots
Dorje Shugden wears tiger-skin boots which reveal his manifestation in a worldly form. Although he is a fully enlightened being, Dorje Shugden has taken rebirth as a deva to have a closer karmic affinity to all ordinary beings. Thus, it takes less effort and merits to ‘contact’ him and he is therefore ‘easier’ to propitiate. When compared to other enlightened Dharma Protectors such as Kalarupa, Mahakala, Palden Lhamo and so forth, the boons granted through Dorje Shugden’s practice arise much quicker, especially in times of dire need.
In the Gelug tradition, Dorje Shugden’s mount is a fierce and powerful mythical snow lion. The snow lion is in fact an emanation of Dorje Shugden’s mind and represents fearlessness. Fearlessness is attained when we are victorious in our practice over the three psychic poisons – ignorance, attachment and hatred.
The snow lion’s appearance is intended to be ferocious and frightening. This wrathful demeanour of both Dorje Shugden and his mount symbolise his ability to tame obstructing beings and overcome obstacles so that they do not become a hindrance to the practitioner.
Such wrath is a common attribute of many Dharma Protectors. In Buddhism, the energies of wrath denote swiftness and extreme compassion for the suffering practitioner who is besieged by inner and outer obstacles.
Dorje Shugden’s snow lion is usually depicted trampling on a naked human form – the ‘enemy’, which symbolises our three poisons as mentioned above. The trampling of the ‘enemy’ into the sun disc also symbolises the elimination of ignorance via the realisation of Emptiness.
The lotus is perhaps one of the most enduring images of Buddhism. Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are usually depicted sitting on lotus thrones and the significance of the lotus has been elucidated in the Buddhist scriptures many times over.
The lotus growing out of the mud is a befitting epithet for an enlightened being who has developed great compassion. Astride his snow lion, Dorje Shugden is atop a thousand-petalled lotus symbolising that he has the great compassion of all the Buddhas, and that all his actions arise from great compassion.
Dorje Shugden’s lotus is crowned by a sun disc or sun cushion, which reveals his direct realisation of Emptiness. It is also a common attribute of wrathful deities’ iconography.
The wisdom fire that surrounds Dorje Shugden is a manifestation of his Bodhichitta, or great compassion. These wisdom flames are emitted from every pore of his body to form a great nimbus of fire surrounding him. Traditionally, the flames are said to burn up our obstacles and mental obscurations. Therefore, the closer we get to Dorje Shugden in our practice, the more Dorje Shugden’s wisdom flames are able to consume our obstacles that keep us away from the spiritual path.
Every detail of Dorje Shugden’s form has great spiritual significance
Please support us so that we can continue to bring you more Dharma:
While trying to find a local buddhist meditation group in my area, I happened upon a website that is connected to Ligmincha Int'l. It is a Bon sect claiming to be the oldest form of Tibetan Buddhism. I searched for a connection with Dorje Shugden and came across a page that had terribly negative comments about him. It said that he was a demon spirit, vengeful and capricious with evil intent, the ghost spirit of an evil king not to be trusted. His practice was discouraged for he would not be helpful. Naturally, I was upset. They also intimated that he appealed to Westerners who didn't know any better. I do not think that the page I got this from was directly connected to the above-mentioned organization. However, it did make me pause because I am new to all of this and don't know how judge it all. Can you offer any
reassurance? Thank you
Answer from Pastors
It's nice to see you here again. Bon is actually the pre-Buddhist religion of Tibet. The first and oldest Tibetan Buddhist sect is actually known as the Nyingma tradition, which basis a lot of its teachings on the life and works of Guru Rinpoche. There are four main schools of Tibetan Buddhism, the Nyingma, Kagyu, Sakya and Gelug. As far as I am aware, the Bon tradition incorporated Buddhist elements over time as it came into contact with these four schools.
Fundamentally however, Bon philosophy is Tibetan in origin, whereas Buddhist philosophy and practice is Indian in origin as that is where Buddhism actually came from. Whereas Buddhist teachings trace back to Buddha Shakyamuni, Bon teachings trace back to a figure known as Tonpa Sherab. All Buddhist schools, as the name of the religion suggests trace their origins back to the historical Buddha. But Bon does not. That does not make Bon an negative tradition in any way. It is a religion in and of itself which should be respected, but from a logical angle is not Buddhist in origin.
Now, some people may say that Dorje Shugden is an evil being, or a spirit. In your comment, you mention that he is the ghost of an evil king. This is certainly not true, and this is clear from his previous life, in which he was a holy and practiced monk. As for being an evil being, I am sure you have read the various articles on the blog section of this website? In it there are many articles about high lamas of different Tibetan Buddhist traditions that all practiced Dorje Shugden. If one were to say that Dorje Shugden was an evil spirit, this would make all of these great masters wrong in their practice. If they were wrong in their practice then they were wrong in all their Buddhist practices. If that was the case, the entirety of Tibetan Buddhism would be invalidated, as these are the very same masters who have passed the teachings down over time.
But this cannot be the case, because we have seen how the high lamas have benefited so many people with their teachings, and how they themselves have shown many signs of being spiritually attained. You can read more about these masters and their works, on the blog section of this site, if you haven't done so already. I really hope this helps.
I noticed a picture of someone's altar on the blog and it seemed to have Lakshmi and Lord Shiva together with Dorge Shugden. Is it permissible to have Hindu gods on a Buddhist
altar? I have suffered all of my life with religious OCD i.e. Scrupulosity, which means that I worry about every little thing in my practice; that I may be doing, saying or thinking something wrong or not appropriate or even insincere. Eventually, what happens is that from worrying about doing something wrong, I wind up doing nothing. I have Hindu items which
are hindering me from my setting up of a new altar for Dorge Shugden, as I do not know what is the respectful way to dispose of them. I would appreciate any suggestions you have. I would also appreciate any help you might render in order to help me overcome this debilitating condition as it has wrecked my spiritual life. Thank you very much.
Answer from Pastors
Dear Philip Strumolo,
It is nice to see you here again. From a strict Buddhist perspective, we do not include other deities together with the Buddhas (enlightened beings) on out altar. However, there is nothing wrong with doing so if your aim is to create a sincere connection with Dorje Shugden and given your circumstance.
The main reason for this is that Dorje Shugden is an enlightened being, that means everything he does comes from unbiased compassion. Since everything he does is from compassion, he will not 'conflict' with other deities if placed on the same altar. So, there is nothing wrong with doing so. It will not create a problem whatsoever.
If you prayer to and create a connection with Dorje Shugden, you should concentrate on the recitation of his mantra. Not just reciting, but concentrating on the sound and energy of the mantra. This is very important.
For your specific circumstance, Dorje Shugden's mantra can help, as can the mantra of Lama Tsongkhapa, which is included in the Diamond Path, which is the daily prayer text. This is available here: http://www.dorjeshugden.org/practice/diamond-path-a-daily-sadhana-of-dorje-shugden. Lama Tsongkhapa's mantra has the benefit of calming one's mind and can help deal with OCD as well. Dorje Shugden's mantra can have the same effect, because in essence both Lama Tsongkhapa and Dorje Shugden are both Manjushri in nature, but manifested for specific purposes and with certain practices to help people in their spiritual path. I hope this helps.
I've always been been able to dark entities since I was a teen. I used to have a lot of night terrors and and a dark thing used to render me immobile during the night. Even my sister could see it at times.
And it always approached from the left side - there's a sensation of something* touching the left side of the body when it happens. It's just very disturbing.
I happen to come across D.S post and am wondering how the effects manifest. I need help as it's really affecting me.
Answer from Pastors
It's nice to see you here. And let me just say that I know what you are going through. I have also been similarly afflicted by entities such as these in the past.
From the sounds of it, it seems that you have a karmic connection with a particular entity from a previous life, alternatively in this life you have the karma to be sensitive to these types of entities so you have these types of experiences.
The article starts off with a quick explanation how we can be afflicted by spirits and black magic and then goes on to explain a very powerful practice that helps to stop things like this from happening. It is a very long article, so please take your time to read it. While this particular form of Dorje Shugden may appear very frightening, he is actually very compassionate. The article will explain more.
This practice is very powerful and I have personal experience with this practice, as well as know people who have overcome similar disturbances using this practice. I hope this helps. Thank you.
Is the above-mentioned center related to you in any way? I do not see Dorge Shugden mentioned on their website. I have noticed that they refer to themselves as The New Kadampa Buddhists. I, especially at this point, do not wish to get off to a wrong start if they do not promote Dorge Shugden practice. A social setting is not imperative for me. I need a practice that will help me improve my life and finally bring some worthwhile happiness and peace to me. I do not wish to get involved with contradictory opinions but to have my own solid practice. I hope this makes sense to you. I thank you for your kindness and for your answers.
Answer from Pastors
Dear Philip Strumolo,
Nice to see you hear again. The above centre is not associated with us. However, they do indeed practice Dorje Shugden very strongly. Their courses are known to be very good, as long as you yourself put in the effort in your learning and meditation, and the Dharma that they practice stems from our same Gelugpa lineage. Their teacher is very learned and has spiritual attainments, therefore his centres can be trusted. I hope this helps. Thank you.
I am a beginner in this practice and no
immediately ready to set up my altar. However, can you use the same space that was once used a an Hindu altar? Can one purify that space ? or must one use a different table? There is a space constraint .issue. Yet I do not wish to offend our holy teachers.
Answer from Pastors
Dear Philip Strumolo,
You can use any space you like that is available to you, as long as it is a respectable area. Actually, there is no way to offend the enlightened beings, as they are above all emotions and concepts. However, from our side we should be as respectful as possible when setting up an altar space for the representations of the enlightened beings.
If you are using a space that has been used for something else before, you should clean it well. And then you purify it with incense reciting the mantra "Om Ah Hung" are you do so. So, you light incense, and then wave it over the space while reciting the mantra. Then you can set up the altar there.
If you are making offerings on the altar, then you can use the same procedure to purify and bless the offerings once they are made. I hope this helps. Thank you.