Discovering Buddhism at Home -FAQ
Module 8 - Establishing a Daily Practice
Is guru yoga practice different from participating in guru puja like Lama Chopa? Can one participate in guru puja if one hasn’t taken Highest Yoga Tantra empowerment?
A student writes:
In Module 8 we are learning more about managing our daily practice. Consequently we hear more about guru yoga practice. I wonder if guru yoga is different from guru puja? Lama Zopa Rinpoche suggests Shakyamuni Buddha Guru Yoga, Tara, Lama Tsongkapa Guru Yoga, and Lama Chopa. In the FPMT Prayer Book V. 2, Lama Chopa Puja is outlined. In this practice one takes both bodhisattva and tantric vows. However, if this is a non-empowered text, how can one take tantric vows (i.e., without initiation or being given a tantric name - unless one's dharma name is a tantric name)?
Thubten Yeshe responds:
Guru Puja (Lama Chopa) is guru yoga. It is a required bi-monthly practice for some who have taken certain highest yoga tantra empowerments.
For students who have not taken any empowerments I usually recommend Guru Shakyamuni practice, or Lama Tsongkhapa Guru Yoga. It depends a bit on the student which seems most appropriate. If one feels a strong connection to the Gelug tradition and the teachings of Lama Tsongkhapa, then that's the obvious choice. If one is a relatively new student, the guru yoga meditation on the Shakyamuni Buddha is probably a better choice.
Guru yoga has to move us at a very deep level, so we need to feel a connection to the object of the practice we are doing.
With regard to empowerment, one without highest yoga tantra empowerment can attend the celebration of Guru Puja. However, he or she is not permitted to do some of the visualizations contained in the practice.
Hope this helps.
What is concentration practice as described in Module 8? Is it different from single-pointed meditation on the Buddha?
A student writes: (question directed to Kendall)
In session three of Module 8, p.15, you speak about concentration practice. I do not quite understand what you mean by that. I thought that single pointed meditation (as far as one can do that!!!) on the Buddha IS concentration practice. Am I wrong?
Sorry for any confusion. You can certainly use Shakyamuni Buddha as your object of concentration. When I made reference to your "Shakyamuni Buddha practice", I meant "A Daily Meditation Practice of Shakyamuni Buddha" - the full practice that Lama Zopa Rinpoche recommends.
Does that clarify?! Single-pointed concentration on any object IS concentration practice.