The Practice of Purification by Meditating on the Guru as Vajrasattva
“The essence of all ngöndro practice is to train habitually rigid minds to become more flexible, and all of us suffer from rigid minds. Why? Mostly because we surrender so easily to our emotional responses and the objects of our emotions: hope and fear. For aeons, almost everything we think and feel, all our interpretations, have been rooted in hope or fear, which, in turn, have bound our minds up in turbulent emotions, constraining them to such a degree that we no longer have any control over them. This is why, according to the shravakayana teachings, we need to tame the mind, or from the bodhisattvayana point of view train it to become useful, or from a vajrayana perspective recognize mind.
For the sake of simplicity, though, let’s stick with the term “training the mind.” And the first step towards training the mind is repeatedly to recognize and reflect on the futility of samsaric life. As we have already seen, to continue to value any part of worldly life creates a loophole in our fundamental attitude that will eventually compromise our dharma practice. It is important, therefore, genuinely to recognize the pointlessness of worldly activity, material possessions and relationships, and as we have already seen, contemplating the common foundations is a very good method for vividly bringing to mind just how terminally barren samsara really is. Even though the dharma contains a vast treasury of extraordinary teachings, we can accumulate tremendous merit merely by listening to teachings on these four thoughts, or contemplations, over and over again. Having laid the first two foundations of ngöndro practice by diverting our attention from the wrong path to the right path with the practice of taking refuge, and from the lesser path to the greater path by arousing bodhichitta, the practice of Vajrasattva now shows us how to cleanse and purify the vessel into which we will pour the nectar of dharma, body, speech and mind. …”