Dorje Shugden Retreat Dorje Shugden Retreat
Compiled from H.E. Tsem Rinpoche's teachings and commentaries on Dorje Shugden's practice, these easy-to-follow retreat instructions and downloadable materials will equip you with the... Dorje Shugden Retreat

(Originally published on

This blog post is a compilation of teachings and commentaries on Dorje Shugden’s practice and retreat by H.E. Tsem Rinpoche. In this post, you will find clear and easy-to-follow retreat instructions and downloadable materials for you to engage in this powerful Dharma Protector’s retreat, which has incredible benefits.

Two versions of Dorje Shugden’s retreat practice are provided – a short Dorje Shugden retreat and an extended Dorje Shugden retreat. Neither require any initiations or empowerment. If you like, the short retreat text can also be used as a daily sadhana to create and maintain a connection to this incredible Dharma Protector.

  1. Introduction

  2. Dorje Shugden Retreat

  3. General Teachings on Dorje Shugden


Why Do We Do Retreats? Why is Dharma Protector Practice Necessary?

Press the ‘play’ button to listen to the teaching or Download File

(Transcript of the Audio Teaching)

Dear friends around the world,

We all have much karma that we have collected from previous lives and this life. When these karmas are triggered, they open up into emotional and physical and environmental states of suffering for ourselves. The best way to eliminate obstacles is the meditation on Emptiness, and to focus and to be single-pointed in this meditation. When we do meditation on Emptiness, it is the most profound and powerful way to eliminate obstacles, obstructions, obscurations and residual klesas. By removing the causes of suffering which is karma, then we will not experience its fruits. Having said that, it is very difficult for many people to do such advanced practices such as single-pointed meditation on Emptiness, yet we still experience the results of our actions from previous lives and this life.

So therefore, we experience many, many types of obstacles… physical, mental, environmental… and it creates problems for us to actually do our Dharma practice, or to fulfill our commitments or to take care of our families. So therefore in Tibetan Buddhism there are many methods to remove obstacles, some of which I have spoken about before that is on this blog. And today, I would like to introduce everyone to the removal of obstacles according to the Dharma Protector tradition.

According to H.H. Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang, he says that there are two types of Protectors: one is enlightened and one is not enlightened or worldly. Worldly Protectors are beings that are not enlightened but they have been bound by powerful oaths or they have sworn allegiance to benefit others. And sometimes they can be temperamental or difficult and they can even, at times, create obstructions when they are not happy. So, only in certain circumstances would we rely on a worldly Protector.

Extra-worldly Protectors (Protectors that are enlightened) are beings who are manifestations of higher Bodhisattvas or Protectors who themselves have achieved enlightenment aeons ago. Within the enlightened class of Protectors, you have two categories again. One is obviously showing their enlightened form, and the second sub-category is that they are in the form of a worldly Protector but their mind is enlightened. Dorje Shugden and Setrap fall into this category of Protectors who appear as worldly Protectors but are actually fully enlightened… in the case of Setrap, being an emanation of Amitabha; in the case of Dorje Shugden, being an emanation of Manjushri.

The reason why these beings appear in the form of a worldly Protector is because they are karmically closer to us to be able to fulfill our wishes and to help us achieve our spiritual goals. So the analogy that I always like to give is: if you have two very close friends that are equally loving and caring and supportive of your actions, and you live in Japan and one friend lives in Northern Japan and the other one lives in, let’s say, United States. If you became sick or if you needed some help and you contacted both these friends, of course the one that is living in Japan, in the same country as you but further away, would arrive quicker than the friend in America although both of them would like to help you very much.

So, the worldly Protectors that are actually enlightened such as Dorje Shugden, remain in samsara in order to benefit others but appear in a worldly form just like that friend in Japan… where they live in the same country as you and therefore are able to arrive in your assistance immediately, very quickly. So therefore, I am introducing here some videos of my talks on Dorje Shugden given in the past, a few years back, that you may listen to, that will help you. Listen to the essence of it, listen to the teachings, and listen to the meaning behind it. You don’t have to be worried about the technical parts. And then, I am offering you two retreat texts that are compiled by myself from traditional sources, but compiled in such a way that it will be easy for the modern, busy and, if I may say, distracted practitioner to still accomplish some benefits through this Dharma Protector. You have a short retreat manual and then you have a long one. Depending on your time and your understanding, you can do either one.

What is a retreat? A retreat is time taken away from our ordinary, daily, mundane activities set aside specifically to focus on deeper meditation, deeper meditational practices to gain some benefits. So therefore a retreat is when we take time away from our normal everyday activities and set aside time to do the practices. Let’s take the shorter retreat manual as an example. It will be good if, every few months, perhaps every three to six months, we do a short retreat on Dorje Shugden in order to get closer to him and also to achieve the accomplishments that he promises by doing his practice, which are compassion, wisdom, activities, insight, clarity, good memory and removal of obstacles… even helping us to achieve resources that we need to do dharma practice. We can set aside a weekend – Friday, Saturday, Sunday or even Saturday and Sunday – and we can do three to four sessions a day. That means we recite, we change the offerings three to four times a day in accordance to the sessions we wish to engage in, and we do the retreat manual in its entirety three or four times a day. But each time we do the manual, we actually focus on the mantra. The mantra can be recited two ways. According to H.H. Trijang Rinpoche’s tradition, it is “OM BENZA WIKI WITANA SOHA”… according to H.H. Kyabje Zong Rinpoche’s tradition, it is “OM BENZA WIKI BITANA SOHA”. Kyabje Zong Rinpoche himself said, “Either way is fine. No difference in accomplishing one’s wishes through either method of recitation.

Now, in the short retreat manual I have enclosed also a picture of a basic altar that you can set up with the offerings to the best of your ability. If you are not able to set up as you see in the illustration, then do the best that you can. Sincerity is the key. And then along with that, you will see downloads of offerings such as Ganze. Ganze is the offering to the Dharma Protector of his clothes, his ornaments, his implements, his environment and sensory offerings. Everything is offered in this Ganze. The Ganze is drawn and illustrated but that is just for us to visualize as vast as space. Therefore, although the Ganze is downloaded and printed out maybe in a 3-inch size or 5-inch size or 8-inch size and is offered up on your altar to Dorje Shugden during retreat, but actually that is just for us to visualize as the size of space: large and big. So, you do the best you can with the offerings. You set up the altar and the offerings as best as you can, and then you proceed.

You can do your retreat in your home, you can do it anywhere in your home, and you can set up the altar anywhere, it is up to you. And you start by following the retreat manual as you see it. The most important part is recitation of the mantra. While you are reciting Dorje Shugden’s mantra, it will be very good to visualize Dorje Shugden in front of you and golden lights coming from his body and entering your body, and within the golden lights are millions and millions and millions of forms of Dorje Shugden’s body, speech and mind. The body is in the form of Dorje Shugden as you see it but in mini form; the speech is in the form of the mantra coming down to you “OM BENZA WIKI BITANA SOHA”; and then the mind is the implements – Dorje Shugden’s sword, Dorje Shugden’s jewel heart, the mongoose and the bowl of jewels. So that – many, many millions and millions of implements falling into you and blessing you – that is Dorje Shugden’s mind. So the body is represented by replicas of his body coming into ourselves, the speech is represented by the mantra, and the implements represent Dorje Shugden’s vajra mind coming and blessing us. So our body, speech and mind become one and closer with Dorje Shugden… ‘closer’ meaning more similar.

In Tibetan Buddhism, when you merge with one’s protective deity or Yidam, it does not mean the deity and us become one. Two consciousnesses cannot become one, that would be illogical. In Tibetan Buddhism, when we say the deity becomes one with us or merges with us, it actually means that we start to take on the qualities of that deity, which is enlightened qualities or enlightened mind. Therefore the merging of a deity with ourselves is not the merging of an enlightened consciousness with our unenlightened consciousness. The merging of a deity is that we are blessed by the deity to start seeing the faults of samsara, to see the sufferings of samsara, and the inherent impermanent nature and the projections that we have put upon samsara, to fool ourselves into thinking that it is a pleasure grove when in fact it is pure suffering. So therefore, the deity blesses us for us to see this and when we see this, we develop renunciation.

By seeing this, we develop renunciation and we realize that we are not the only one with this predicament, that all of our loved ones and the people around us and the people we like and the people we don’t like… in fact, every being in samsara in this world also is in the same predicament and therefore we generate some sort of compassion for these beings, some sort of responsibility, some sort of concern… so Bodhicitta arises in our mind. And realizing that we are living in a supposed pleasure grove, which is actually pure suffering, we develop renunciation, which is an aversion towards samsara. From that, we see everyone is in the same predicament and we develop a compassionate responsibility towards others, that we wish to become a fully enlightened being in order to benefit others and bring them out of suffering. So, some sort of Bodhi mind arises. From that Bodhi mind, we realize that the ultimate view, which is non-dual, that has no delineations, which is a pure view of emptiness, is the only way out of samsara.

We develop a deep respect and insight into shunyata or emptiness. And therefore in this meditation with Dorje Shugden, we gain the Three Principal Paths of renunciation, bodhicitta and correct view. So therefore, with bodhicitta, renunciation and correct view, these are the tools, these are the weapons that we are able to fight our inner samsara with, and with these three tools replacing our delusions, replacing our negative illusions and projections, then we start to become one with the deity. How does that happen? When we take on the Three Principal Paths as part of our being, when our minds start to take on the qualities of the Three Principal Paths, then these are the qualities of a Buddha or our Protector or our deity or our Yidam. Therefore, when our minds start to take on these qualities, we are “merging” with the deity. In other words, we are taking on the qualities of the deity to become an enlightened being.

So therefore in Tibetan Buddhism, when you do retreats, you wish to get closer to the deity, you wish to merge with the deity. Now when you say closer and merge, it has the connotation that the deity enters you and you become one with them. That is not possible. Why? We are separate consciousnesses; two consciousnesses cannot become one. One is enlightened, one is not enlightened. So therefore the words “become closer”… by retreat, by meditation, by mantra, by making offerings, by recitation, by doing prayers with the deity, by merging with the deity, we are taking on the characteristics of the deity more and more. What are the characteristics? The characteristics are inherent in all sentient beings who have consciousness and have the potential to become a fully enlightened being. So the qualities you are taking on are the enlightened qualities of a Buddha.

Therefore, merging with a deity is merging with one’s inner potential of enlightenment. Therefore, when we do this retreat, when we do this practice, the purpose of doing this practice is to develop these three qualities that lead us to enlightenment: renunciation, bodhicitta and shunyata. And by merging these qualities or arising within these qualities… by arising within these qualities, what happens is we have the tools and we have the weapons to fight our inner samsaras. Why? When we are unhappy with the situation around us, we apply shunyata. When we are feeling selfish, when we are feeling “we cannot go on anymore”, when we are feeling spoilt, when we are feeling lazy, when we are feeling unmotivated, then we apply renunciation and along with that, impermanence. And then, when we are feeling very, very “don’t care about anyone, just me, me, me, me, me”, when we are feeling very self-centered, we apply Bodhicitta. Bodhicitta is that all of us are in the same situation.

So these are three very powerful tools that we can use to fight our inner samsara, and that is the whole purpose of doing any enlightened Dharma Protector’s practice. It is to solicit them to gain these qualities in order that we can have these qualities that give us a breathing space to practice Dharma. So doing Protector practice is helpful for doing Dharma practice. Doing Protector practice of any type – Palden Lhamo, Mahakala, Kalarupa, Dorje Shugden, Setrap, Vaishravana – is not particularly Dharma practice per se but they assist us in Dharma practice.

What is Dharma practice? Dharma practice is learning the teachings of the Buddha, whether it is the Kangyur or Tangyur, whether it is something like… as profound as the condensed teachings of the Buddha: Lamrim, Three Principal Paths, etc. To learn these teachings, to meditate and contemplate on them, apply them and gain the results of these teachings to transform our minds from something that is self-centered, unhappy, depressed, angry, into something that is beneficial, that focuses out, that wishes to be of benefit to others, that has repulsion toward self-centered activities… that is Dharma practice. So, when we do Protector practice, we are actually actualizing the blessings of the Protector to help us gain the tools, bless us on the path, and to help us even to gain resources in order to practice the actual Dharma. Therefore, doing Dharma Protector practice during the degenerate age is very helpful because in the degenerate age, everything is degenerated.

There are five types of degeneration – the degeneration of life-span, time, disturbing emotions, view and experience. The five degenerations is according to environment and where we live. These five degenerations actually help and assist our negative karma to open up even more. For example, if you are walking over a smooth floor, the chances of you pricking your feet are almost nil. Whereas if you are walking over broken glass, even very slowly, the chances of you puncturing your feet and bleeding are very high. Kaliyuga is like walking over glass. Kaliyuga is a combined degenerate time as a result of the group of sentient beings living in this era. So the group of sentient beings living in this era create the Kaliyuga, which is an environmental circumstance that helps us to open up more anger, more selfishness, more desire, more hatred, more negative states of mind that are planted in our mind stream from negative karmas from the past. So it is an environment that helps you to open up more negative karma.

Therefore, during the Kaliyuga, we are more easily swayed towards samsara’s false delights and therefore able to open up negative karma faster and quicker. And the negative karma doesn’t run out because as you open your negative karma, you do the actions that create even more negative karma, so whatever fuel you use is immediately refueled. So therefore, during the Kaliyuga, Protector practice is even more important and urgent because the whole environmental situation that we exist in perpetuates more negative states of mind. For example, if you are near the fire, you are going to feel heat; if you are near ice, you are going to feel cold. So if you are near any of these objects, they are going to affect you because of the nature of what they are. Fire is heat, ice is cold; so therefore if you are near ice, you are going to feel cold; if you are near fire, you are going to feel heat because that is their nature. So, if you are in Kaliyuga, its nature is degeneracy – hatred, selfishness, anger, desire, attachment, miserliness. So if you are living in this era… this era, this time is created by the group living in that realm, therefore it will prompt your karma to open more towards the negative. So Dharma Protector practice counters this very, very strongly. Ok? So the purpose of Dharma Protector practice can be Dharmic in nature if our motivation is to gain higher attainments.

As a subsidiary, as a side benefit, obstacles are removed and resources are gathered. Ok? So at the same time, when you do Dorje Shugden’s retreat, what is very powerful is – because he is no other than Manjushri – all of Manjushri’s seven types of wisdoms or types of clairvoyances are granted to us… clarity, good memory, clear understanding of Dharma is granted to us. So therefore, when you do Dorje Shugden practice, although he appears as a Dharma Protector, realizing that his true nature is Manjushri, you will know that you are blessed by Manjushri’s supreme seven types of wisdoms. You are blessed.

So therefore, to do Dorje Shugden’s practice is to counter the Kaliyuga, counter the five degenerations of Kaliyuga. Then, to do Dorje Shugden’s practice is to gain the merit, to gain resources that you need to help you along the path and protection. Why do you gain protection when you do Dorje Shugden’s practice? Because he is Manjushri and Manjushri’s definitive meaning is emptiness. The ultimate protection from samsara is the realization of emptiness. Therefore, when you do Dorje Shugden’s practice, you are tapping into the energy of the Buddha’s realization of emptiness. When you tap into the Buddha’s realization of emptiness, you are countering samsara directly, head on. Therefore by doing Dorje Shugden’s practice, you counter the five degenerations of the Kaliyuga, and you lessen your aptitude to open up the negative karma because you are putting a block. You are also gaining the seven types of wisdoms from Manjushri. You are also creating the karma and the merit to realize emptiness because you are contacting no other than Manjushri. On top of that, you are creating the karma to gain resources and to purify karma that will create more obstacles or have obstacles rule your life.

Therefore by doing Dorje Shugden’s practice, it is very, very beneficial in many, many ways if your motivation is correct, which is the Three Principal Paths… then it becomes a Dharma practice. But I would like to stress here, Dharma practice is not Dharma Protector practice. Dharma practice is the transformation of the mind and Protector practice is to help us in this. Therefore, my team of writers and myself all have worked very hard these past few days and we have compiled and put up from traditional sources Dorje Shugden’s retreat, manual and practice and prayer for everyone to do. You can do the short one every single day as is, or you can do it on special weekends and special timings.

Every few months, take a spiritual break. Take one day off, two days off, three days off, go some place or just in your home. Set aside time, set aside the offerings, prepare and do a Dorje Shugden retreat according to the manual. And when you do a Dorje Shugden retreat, you can recite the short manual two or three times a day and focus on the mantra during each time you are doing it. Ok? So that means you recite the manual from beginning to end but at the mantra part, you do more and you collect. So, let’s say that you do it in the morning… one session, and you do 5000 mantras then you write down “5000 mantras”. Then the second session you do, it could be 2000 mantras, write down “2000”. Then the third session, you can do 1000 mantras, you write down “1000”. So, at the end of the day, that day you have done 8000 mantras. So every weekend, you set a goal. You say, “Ok, this weekend I am going to do 10,000 mantras… this weekend I am going to do 20,000 mantras…”

Make your goal of mantra recitation small and simple so that you don’t feel bogged down, you don’t feel overwhelmed, you don’t feel so tired… because people who do their retreats in the beginning should do it less but with good quality. So therefore, that can be like Friday or Friday evening, then Saturday you can do another three sessions, Sunday you can do another three sessions and finish. If you are busy, you can do one or two sessions on Friday, one or two sessions on Saturday and maybe just one session on Sunday. How many sessions you do per day does not really matter but traditionally in Tibet, we do four sessions per day. Although it is traditional, there is nothing traditional in this sadhana because it has been condensed; it has been highly condensed to suit the busy individual of today. So therefore, you can do this whole thing for a week. Try to finish a minimum of 100,000 mantras of Dorje Shugden per year. That means you can do several retreats throughout the year to finish 100,000. I repeat, you can do several retreats throughout the year to finish up to 100,000 and do a good dedication. The more you do, the more you benefit. It is up to the individual.

After you are done with the items that you have offered, you can give it to the birds or you can clear it out in a clean place. Dorje Shugden is the emanation of Manjushri. Therefore, Dorje Shugden himself is label-less and has no labels. Who can practice Dorje Shugden? Some people say it is only Gelugpas and it is only for Gelugpas but I would like to respectfully refute that, because that would mean only the Nyingmas can pray to Guru Rinpoche and only the Gelugpas can pray to Tsongkhapa and that is totally illogical. From the side of Guru Rinpoche, Tsongkhapa and Dorje Shugden they are fully enlightened Buddhas, so who can and cannot pray to them has no limitations. And if there are limitations, they are made up by people of ignorance. Therefore Dorje Shugden will help anyone, any gender, any background. Whether they are Buddhist or not, it does not matter.

Dorje Shugden does not harm anyone because the very nature of a Buddha has no inclination to harm. Therefore, it is impossible to harm anyone. Then, Dorje Shugden will bless and help and assist anyone from any culture, any background who sincerely asks for help. What is important is to ask for help but do not command which way you need to be helped. We do not have the foresight, knowledge, wisdom and clairvoyance to say it should be done this way so that long-term, it will turn out well. We should request help and however the help comes, accept because sometimes the help does not come the way we want, because the way we want may not be beneficial long-term although short-term it might look pretty good. Therefore, to trust and rely on Manjushri’s wisdom, to pray, and then let it go.

So, Dorje Shugden’s practice can be done by anyone, any place, any time, and there are no limitations or restrictions. There is absolutely no harm and it only can benefit. Most important is consistency – consistency in doing the practice. What pleases Dorje Shugden the most according to what he says through the oracles and through the writings of the great Lamas and through many, many people’s experience with him? It is not your offerings, it is not your mantra, it is not your elaborate altar to him. What pleases Dorje Shugden the most is the transformation of our minds from that of a self-centered person to that of a person who focuses out and brings benefit to others and sees the faults of samsara. Why does that please him? Because a Dharma Protector protects us from samsara to reach the Dharma. And when he protects us, he or she protects us from samsara to achieve Dharma… that person becomes an enlightened being and free from samsara.

The ultimate protection of a Dharma Protector is to protect us from ourselves. How does he do that? By blessing our path, our lives, our environment with what we need to achieve enlightenment. So… we need to be poor, by doing his practice we will remain poor. For some of us, we’ll think, “Oh, that’s so scary. You know, that’s not what I want.” What you want and what you need are two different things. If you are going to rely on the Buddha’s wisdom to get what you want, you are not going to get what you want… you are going to get what you need. For some people who do Dorje Shugden’s practice, all the resources come. For some people who do Dorje Shugden’s practice, they become sicker… for some they become more healthy. Why? It is not Dorje Shugden making you sick, poor, rich or healthy. It is Dorje Shugden opening up the karma that you need to experience to purify you of those karmas so that you can go to the next step.

So therefore, when we do Dorje Shugden’s practice, you have to understand… he blesses us with the situation that we need to become attained, to leave samsara, to understand the Dharma, to realize and practice the Dharma. He doesn’t give us what we want and need to increase our greed, increase our self-centeredness, increase our selfishness. That would defeat the purpose of a Dharma Protector. So therefore, what pleases Dorje Shugden? Kindness, compassion, generosity, meditative stabilization, effort, consistency, respect and gaining Bodhicitta and realization of shunyata. This is what pleases him. Why does this please him? Because his whole purpose to arise as a Dharma Protector is to protect us from samsara to achieve Dharma. Hence, he is a Dharma Protector. Ok?

So, the liturgies that you see in Dorje Shugden’s practice are the same as in most Dharma Protectors’ practice, which is you see a lot of graphic, violent types of requests, which is tantric symbology. There is nothing in the Dharma Protector’s practice that will harm another being. Again it is impossible that Dharma Protectors of an enlightened nature could harm another sentient being because they have no karma to harm, they have no inclination to harm… hence, they are enlightened. Therefore the graphic nature of some of the prayers you see in the Dharma Protector practices, such as in Dorje Shugden, will seem very violent but all the violence is directed symbolically to our inner ego and self-centeredness.

So therefore, this Protector practice, in short, has been compiled by myself from traditional sources. I have watered it down to a very simple form, to a very easy form, easy to follow. And there are lots of rituals and rites and meditations and recitations that I have deleted, not because I don’t think you are qualified to do it, but because I do not think you will have the time to do it. So therefore, you do not need initiation, you do not need permission or oral transmission to do the practice that I have here. I have provided it for you to do at your convenience so that you can gain the protection of a great Dharma Protector such as Dorje Shugden.

I wish everyone good luck in their Dharma practice and in order to enter the practice of Dorje Shugden, make a good motivation to achieve the highest attainments to become a fully enlightened being. Whether you pray to Tsongkhapa, Buddha, God, Krishna, Earth Spirits, Devas, Fairies, Gnomes… it does not matter. Dorje Shugden is a fully enlightened being. You can be who you are, as you are, and whatever religion you are in, whatever lineage or sect or practice you are in and still contact Dorje Shugden. I would like to stress very, very strongly: Dorje Shugden is not for one group of people, one school of Buddhism or one sect of people. That is absolutely impossible. Dorje Shugden is for anyone who wishes help, assistance, blessings, wisdom and clarity. Dorje Shugden is a World Peace Buddha and Protector. Therefore I wish everyone good luck.

All of us here are very happy to revive all this information and write-ups and compilations for all of you. And I would like to stress again that the compilation of the short retreat sadhana as well as the longer one is from traditional sources to suit people of today’s temperament. Now, if you take the short retreat manual and the long one that I have provided, they are different from the actual traditional ones done in the monasteries or done by traditional practitioners because they will allocate time and energy and place to do it. All of us may not have the time or the energy or the help to do it. So, I have done it in such a way that it is simple, short and easy. So, if you compare to the traditional manuals you will say, “There are a lot of things missing.” There are not a lot of things missing; it has been purposely omitted so that the remaining compilation will be the gist yet it will still bring you great blessings.

So, I have done this with the motivation of saving everyone out there time. You have to work, you have to pay your bills, you have to take care of your family, you have to even take care of your attachments. So in between, we can allocate some time to do Protector practice. The short retreat manual can be done every day, and during retreats you can do an extended version, which is to do three/four sessions a day. Or you can just do the prayer that I have composed to Dorje Shugden every single day and the retreat sadhana you can do on special allocated times. And then, the very, very long one, if you have any issues or questions, you can contact any of our qualified pastors. On my blog, you will see a section on the homepage to the right: “Questions to the Pastors“. You may ask them, there are many qualified pastors and students who can explain more, who have done the longer retreats, and who are well-versed in the longer retreats for any questions. Ok?

I wish everyone good luck. Sarva mangalam!

Tsem Rinpoche


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A Teaching on Dorje Shugden’s Retreat Practice

By H.E. Tsem Rinpoche


NOTE: Any mention of page numbers in these videos do not apply to any material provided in this article.

Audio files of the teachings above are available for you to listen or download below. Alternatively, for those who prefer reading, click here to download the transcript.

Part 1
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Part 2
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Part 3
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Part 4
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Part 5
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Instructions for a Powerfully Blessed Short Protector Retreat

  1. PREPARE (Optional for the Short Retreat)
    • Buddhist swastika (printed or drawn on a piece of paper)
    • Kusha grass stalks, one long and one short (from a brand new broom)

    The kusha grass must be placed in the center of the Buddhist swastika. Place the longer kusha grass on top of the Buddhist swastika with the stem facing inwards and the tassels facing outwards.

    Place the shorter kusha grass horizontally, perpendicular to the longer kusha grass. The kusha grass can be taped onto the Buddhist swastika to keep it in place. Click here to download the Buddhist Swastika

    • Clean the room
    • Keep it clean and tidy throughout the retreat
    • Select a location where you will be most comfortable and undisturbed.
    • Place the Buddhist swastika with the kusha grass on the position selected.
    • Then, place the cushion over the Buddhist swastika/kusha grass.
    • The cushion must not be moved from its original position throughout the entire retreat
    • Be mindful not to step on and cross over the other participants’ cushions.
  4. ALTAR
  • It is recommended to have the following items on the altar as the object of our offerings and meditations:
    • Image of Lama Tsongkhapa/Yidam
    • Image of the Protector
    • Scripture (placed on the left)
    • Stupa (placed on the right)
    • Image of one’s Guru/lineage lamas

    This diagram shows the recommended minimal offerings for the short retreat. If you wish to make additional offerings for the collection of merits, you can do so..

    This diagram shows the recommended minimal offerings for the short retreat. If you wish to make additional offerings for the collection of merits, you can do so..


  • Three sets of Sensory Offerings
    • One set of peaceful sensory offerings for the Yidam (eight bowls)
    • One set of peaceful sensory offerings for the Protector (eight bowls)
    • One set of wrathful sensory offerings for the Protector (seven bowls)

Click here to download the Wrathful Flower


  • Five bowls, arranged in the following order from left to right:
    • Tea
    • Milk
    • Tsampa (roasted barley flour) or oats topped with some butter
    • Yoghurt
    • Beer
Overview of the sensory and commitment offerings to be made

Overview of the sensory and commitment offerings to be made


  • Four sets of Torma Offerings
    • One (large jar) for Lama Tsongkhapa
    • One (medium jar) for Lama Tsongkhapa’s Entourage
    • One (large jar) for Dorje Shugden
    • One (medium jar) for Dorje Shugden’s Entourage

Buy an assortment of biscuits and cookies for the above tormas. Fill the jars with the biscuits and cookies, and place each jar on a plate. Fill each plate with more biscuits and cookies to surround the torma jars. If you have an issue with pests and insects, you can use individually-wrapped biscuits and cookies for this. Stick the tear-drop and round shaped cuttings onto the respective torma jars (click here to download the tear-drop and round shaped cuttings).

Overview of the Torma Offerings to be made

Overview of the Torma Offerings to be made

The biscuits and cookies on the plates should be replaced after each retreat session whereas the biscuits and cookies in the jars can only be cleared upon completion of the entire retreat. The torma jars should not be moved throughout the entire retreat.


  • NOTES ON OFFERINGS: In addition to the serkym offering on the altar, all participants are encouraged to offer a serkym of black tea individually if doing a group retreat.If you are engaging in a retreat in a public place e.g. in the Gompa or at the retreat center, it is wonderful to have additional offerings of incense and candles (at your own home) concurrently with the retreat session.Any form of alcohol and beer as offerings is not encouraged in public areas like the Gompa and retreat center.Names or photographs of your loved ones can be put in a sealed envelope and placed under the Protector.A picture of your secret Yidam covered neatly with a khata should also be placed on the altar throughout the duration of the retreat.
  • COMMITMENTS: Participants must observe a vegetarian diet and avoid the five black foods (meat, fish, eggs, onions and garlic).Retreat participants must abstain from consuming alcohol, sexual activity, idle chatter, lying and any form of non-virtuous action until the entire retreat is finished.
  • RETREAT ETIQUETTE: If you are thirsty, you may drink water during the mantra recitation. However, eating is not encouraged.You may take toilet breaks during the retreat session. After toilet breaks, you are advised to wash your hands and rinse your mouth before resuming your prayers.Talking during the breaks is not encouraged.Refrain from walking back and forth during a retreat session. This especially applies in a group retreat to avoid distracting other participants.During the mantra recitation, if you cough, burp or pass wind involuntarily, go back on your mantra count by seven beads.You have to restart the mantra count for that session if you fall asleep.Refrain from wearing make-up or excessive jewelry during retreat sessions.
  • FINAL DAY:On the final day of the retreat, make a good motivation and rejoice over the time well-spent in doing Dorje Shugden’s retreat.As on all days, finish with the completion dedication.
  • COMPLETION OF RETREAT: Clear up all the offerings and cushions.All participants take turns to sweep the floor (use a broom dedicated for the retreat) and visualize that you are clearing all obstacles and negativities. The dust collected is to be disposed outside the retreat vicinity.You are strongly advised to place the Buddhist swastika and the kusha grass under your mattress. This will help to ward off any hindering spirits.

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Dorje Shugden Retreat Prayer Text

NOTE: These Retreat Practices does not require empowerment or initations. It can be done by anyone.

Dorje Shugden Retreat Prayer Text (Short)

Dorje Shugden Retreat Prayer Text (Extended)

Other Resources:

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General Teachings on Dorje Shugden

Wishfulfiller: A Commentary Based on H.H. Trijang Dorje Chang’s Music Delighting the Ocean of Protectors

Press the ‘play’ button to listen to the teaching or Download File. Alternatively, click here to download the transcript.

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  • Fong

    Posted on June 10, 2016 #1 Author

    Thank you for the comprehensive yet concise instructions for the retreat. The part on the merging with the meditation deity, Yidam is good for me as it is an instruction for me to connect my inner self, the enlightened part of me that is staying hidden, my inner Buddha.

    We live in such a harried world that we have forgotten that part of us. All the instructions in the article to help us along is concise and as Rinpoche said, it has been condensed for us. With just this article, we can feel confident to start our retreats at home and not feel that we have missed something out.

    What a great way for anyone to get started. As Rinpoche said, we live in this Kaliyuga age where anything dharmic takes a lot of effort. When we get started, we accumulate merits to help us along and to do more as we collect more merits.

    When we do retreats with a good motivation enlightenment and visualize the enlightened qualities of the Buddha or Dharma Protector ‘merging’ we are making an aspiration for our Buddha nature to surface or be uncovered. Aspiring for that, we may at least hope to achieve kindness, compassion, generosity, meditative stabilization, effort, consistency and respect. The gaining of Bodhicitta and realization of shunyata will be the ultimate goal for us but also, at this stage for me at least is not in sight yet.

    The journey of a thousand miles start with a single step.

    Thank you, Rinpoche for compiling such a condensed practice for us to get connected with Dorje Shugden the enlightened Dharma Protector.


  • Sock Wan

    Posted on August 23, 2016 #2 Author

    Doing retreat is for us to collect merits so that when our negative karmas ripen, we have at least some merits to help us to overcome the obstacle.

    Doing retreat is also a very good way to calm, observe and train our mind. Very often when we are in retreat, we have many thoughts coming and going, sometimes we lose in our thought and forget we are in a retreat. Sometimes our body feel uncomfortable for sitting for a long time, when this happen we are distracted by our physical pain and lose focus on our retreat. The first retreat I did was a Tsongkhapa retreat, I was so distracted by my sleepiness and physical pain. The second retreat I did was so much better, I could sit still and suffer less physical pain. Once in a while, we need to engage in a retreat to connect with our inner self, our mind.


  • Stella Cheang

    Posted on November 16, 2016 #3 Author

    This is a very profound teaching condensed and shared here with us in lay and simple language. Thank you so much to the team that put this together and make available for our easy access. It is an article worth many rereads. As we engaged in Dharma practice, we are letting go of our self cherishing mind through the application of Buddha’s teachings. Protector practice helps us actualize the blessings of the Protector to gain the tools and resources to practice Dharma, especially during the degenerate age. From this article, I understand that there are five types of degeneration – the degeneration of life-span, time, disturbing emotions, view and experience. Degenerations accelerate our negative karma to open up even more and propel us towards samsara’s delusion. Dorje Shugden practice is to counter these degenerations and allow us to generate merits at the same time. It is therefore important to engage to Dorje Shugden protectors’s practice and be consistent in the practice.


  • Datuk May

    Posted on December 16, 2016 #4 Author

    Retreats are generally conducted by individuals to take a break from normal daily life routine and create peace for a few hours or days to recharge our energies to face the same routine again.

    I like to do Dorje Shugden retreats as explained in this teaching by HE the 25th Tsem Rinpoche, it is not just an escape from daily routine of our lives but rather be back from the retreats with a closer bond with our Protector.

    During the quiet moments in our retreats we have the opportunity without distractions to concentrate on the body, speech and mind of our Protector and generate the blessing to be able to eliminate these qualities to protect us from degeneration. And a natural peace of mind to combat with the delusions of samsara.


  • Alice Tay

    Posted on March 1, 2017 #5 Author

    Dorje Shugden is none other than Manjushri and therefore when we do Dorje Shugden practice, we are blessed by Manjushri for clarity, good memory and clear understanding of dharma. Dorje Shugden Retreat is one of the good practices that enable us leave away the mundane activities so that we can get closer to Dorje Shugden. By doing this practice, we may achieve and develop the good qualities in practicing dharma and lead us to ultimate enlightenment path.

    The best thing to have this practice is we do not need initiation, permission or oral transmission to do this practice. This is very good and convenient for us to gain the protection from Dorje Shugden.

    Thank you for this nice sharing.


  • yin ping

    Posted on November 4, 2017 #6 Author

    Despite our routine schedule, it is good to allocate a day or two to do Dorje Shugden Retreat. Concentrating in the mantra and visualization helps us to be closer to Dorje Shugden. We can develop the mind to see the faults and suffering of samsara and lead us closer to renunciation. By seeing this, we know the fact that we seem like living in a pleasure life but it is pure suffering because of our grasping mind. The realization of renunciation is crucial as it is the gateway for us to enter the spiritual path to liberation.


  • CaseyT

    Posted on September 2, 2019 #7 Author

    Thank you so much for introducing dorje shugden retreat to us. I am a mother of 3 and my time is mostly occupied by taking care of children and work, rarely i have time for myself. Via a friend who went to Kechara few years back and knowing Dorjeshugden is a powerful Buddha to pray to, I started to chant His mantra daily. Amazingly it does give me a peace of mind, clarity of mind and most importantly, my kids love the image of shugden and my eldest son pray to the image every time i do my mantra. It was very soothing after I chant the mantra, i kinda helps me to manage and teach my kids better also, it may sound strange it actually helps my relationship with my husband…thank u so much. I will do the retreat when i have more time, for sure.