The bodhisattva approach

Feb 22, 2021



Dear Venerable Robina,


I have a question relating to prostrations. I like doing prostrations but I don’t really know what to do, meaning which mantras or prayers to say, whether to say as many mantras as possible during one prostration or just one mantra with each prostration. 


At the moment my practice is to imagine myself and all other sentient beings from all the worlds and realms and then prostrate and include you as my teacher, Tara, his Holiness, Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa, all gurus in all worlds and realms, all Buddhas in all worlds and realms, all stupas, all bodhisattvas and all awakened beings in all worlds and realms. 


Then I usually do some more prostrations to Tara repeating the Tara mantra.


I like devoting myself but it would feel more complete if I knew what I was doing! I’d be thankful for some advice. 


One question concerning my health: I recollect you telling us in the bodhisattva teachings about your prison friend, who asked if it wasn’t the right thing to do to stop taking medicine to fully experience the suffering and learn from it and take it on for other sentient beings. 


I work with suffering people and try to look upon it as my practice and weave in the Dharma. I have thought that I would like to do what I can to stay healthy so I’ll be able to help people as long as possible on their way. This seems to contradict the bodhisattva approach though. Is that so? 


I hope you are feeling better by now. I am wishing you much health and am saying the long life prayer for you every morning. 




Happy to hear your thoughts, H!


You’re right, in order to help others we need to be strong, healthy and live a long life, for sure. But the bodhisattvas have so much compassion that they would rather suffer than others. But the irony is, this very aspiration doesn’t cause them to suffer at all — the opposite!


It’s the same with generosity, let’s say: a person who always wants to give things actually ends up receiving things!


Prostrations: you love to do them, that’s amazing! There’s one traditional practice called Prostrations to the Thirty-five Buddhas, which I’m sure you know about: you prostrate while reciting the thirty-five names and then recite a prayer of confession. It’s from a sutra. I’m attaching the practice. There is quite a lot of commentary by Lama Zopa Rinpoche.


Also, one can prostrate while reciting the Vajrasattva purification mantra.


And there’s nothing wrong with prostrating to Tara while you recite her mantra.


You’re doing beautifully, H! Keep moving.


Love to you,


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