Training in the Basic Practices

Training in the Basic Practices

These instructions are explained under two headings:


1Generation stage


2Completion stage


The effectiveness of Heruka body mandala practice depends upon receiving the empowerment. There are two ways to receive the empowerment of Heruka body mandala.

The first is a common instruction, and the second is an oral instruction.


According to the first instruction practitioners first receive the empowerment of the five Deities of the outer mandala and then receive the empowerment of Heruka body mandala.


According to the second instruction practitioners receive the empowerment of the Heruka body mandala without receiving the empowerment of the five Deities of the outer mandala. This oral instruction is the main intention of Mahasiddha Ghantapa.









The shrine-

which should contain statues or pictures of Buddha Shakyamuni, Je Tsongkhapa, Heruka, our root Guru, and Dharmapala Dorje Shugden.


Three tormas 

The shapes of the traditional tormas symbolize the development of spiritual realizations.

The central torma is for the principal Deities, Heruka Father and Mother and the four Yoginis, who together are known as the ‘Deities of the great bliss wheel’.

The torma to its left is for the supramundane retinues of Heruka, and

The torma to its right is for the mundane retinues of Heruka. 


Three rows of offerings.


The first row, nearest the shrine, is for the supramundane in-front-generated Deities, The second row is for the mundane Dakas and Dakinis.

Both these rows start from the left side of the shrine, our right, 

The third row, which is for the self-generated Deities, starts from the right side of the shrine, our left,


On a small table in front of our meditation seat we arrange from left to right our inner offering, vajra, bell, damaru and mala. In front of these we place our sadhana text.




Our final goal is to attain enlightenment, the ultimate refuge, in order to benefit countless mother beings. Right now, however, we need to accomplish a refuge that prevents us from falling into lower rebirths.

If we die without refuge, we will lose all the spiritual progress we have made.


To protect ourself from the danger of a lower rebirth, and to create the special opportunity to maintain the continuum of our spiritual practice in life after life, we need to go for refuge to the Three Jewels, avoid non-virtuous actions, and practise giving, moral discipline, patience, effort, concentration and wisdom. If we practise Highest Yoga Tantra on the firm foundation of this basic inner protection, then, even if we do not gain higher realizations in this life, we can at least carry our practice through death and the intermediate state into our future life.


How do we prepare for our future lives? By practising moral discipline we create the cause for higher rebirth; by giving we create the cause for future wealth; by practising patience we create the cause for beauty; by applying effort to our Dharma practice we create the cause to gain spiritual realizations with ease; by practising concentration or meditation we create the cause to experience mental peace; and by increasing our wisdom we create the cause to attain permanent liberation from suffering.


Our main motivation for going for refuge should be compassion. 

Fear of samsaric rebirth and compassion for all those trapped in samsara are the first two causes of Mahayana refuge.

When we develop a mind that cannot bear the sufferings of samsaric rebirth, both for ourself and for all mother sentient beings, we will naturally seek a dependable source of refuge.

The Dharma Jewel, the realizations of the stages of the vast path and the profound path, is our actual refuge; 

The Buddha Jewel is the source of our refuge;

The Sangha Jewel, the assembly of Superior beings, are those who have already accomplished refuge.

Through building the Dharma Jewel within our mind, we become a Sangha Jewel and finally a Buddha Jewel.

To summarize, the causes of Mahayana refuge are fear of taking samsaric rebirth, compassion for all living beings, and faith in the Three Jewels. Cultivating these three causes within our mind encourages us to go for refuge to the Three Jewels and to avoid non-virtuous actions.




We visualize the objects of refuge –the Buddha Jewel, the Dharma Jewel and the Sangha Jewel –as follows. We imagine with strong conviction that in the space before us is the Blessed One Buddha Shakyamuni appearing in the form of glorious Heruka Father and Mother, surrounded by the assembly of Gurus, Yidams, Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Heroes, Dakinis and Dharma Protectors.



Imagining that the principal object of refuge, Guru Heruka, is surrounded by all the other holy beings like the moon surrounded by stars, we recognize the Gurus, Yidams and Buddhas as the Buddha Jewel;


the Bodhisattvas, Heroes, Dakinis and Dharma Protectors as the Sangha Jewel;


and the inner realizations of the stages of the vast and profound paths of all these holy beings as the Dharma Jewel.

we generate deep faith in the Three Jewels.




First we recall the feeling of fear of taking rebirth in samsara in general and in the lower realms in particular, and then, by realizing that countless mother sentient beings are in exactly the same situation as ourself, we generate compassion. Then we develop deep conviction that only the Three Jewels have the power to protect us from these dangers. With these three causes of refuge –fear, compassion and faith –from the depths of our heart we make a strong determination: I will always rely upon Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, and will accomplish them as my ultimate refuge. While concentrating on this determination, we recite the refuge prayer from the sadhana: Eternally I shall go for refuge To Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. These two lines and the two lines on bodhichitta that follow are very blessed and are extracted from Buddha Vajradhara’s Tantric scriptures.


GENERATING ASPIRING AND ENGAGING BODHICHITTA Bodhichitta is a primary mind that spontaneously wishes to attain enlightenment, motivated by compassion and love for all living beings. The way of generating bodhichitta according to Highest Yoga Tantra is superior to the way of generating it according to Sutra. In the practice of Heruka Tantra, for example, bodhichitta is a primary mind, motivated by great compassion, that spontaneously wishes to become Buddha Heruka. This bodhichitta can only be generated by Highest Yoga Tantra practitioners who clearly understand how they can become Buddha Heruka through the practice of the generation and completion stages of Heruka Tantra. When we develop this bodhichitta we enter the path of Highest Yoga Tantra of Heruka. We should know the difference between entering the gateway of Highest Yoga Tantra and entering the path of Highest Yoga Tantra. We enter the gateway of Highest Yoga Tantra by receiving empowerment, but to enter the path of Highest Yoga Tantra we need to develop the uncommon bodhichitta of Highest Yoga Tantra. Initially we generate fabricated uncommon bodhichitta, and later, through continuous training, this transforms into spontaneous uncommon bodhichitta. When we received the empowerment of Heruka body mandala, we entered the gateway of Highest Yoga Tantra of