Before we begin our daily meditation, we should clean our room and prepare our altar by cleaning it and making offerings. If we have no altar, we do not need to worry, we can simply visualize Padmasambhava in front of us.
The seven offering bowls which are offered on the altar symbolize the seven offerings:
🔸Water for drinking,
🔸Water for washing hands and feet,
🔸Flowers for adorning the head or hair,
🔸Incense for smelling to please the nose,
🔸Lamp for seeing to please the eyes,
🔸Perfumed water to sprinkle on the body, to refresh it, and
🔸Food to please the taste.
Music to please the ears can be an eighth offering.
The offerings which we make on the altar are symbolic. In our minds, we offer all pleasant things that we see, hear, taste, smell, and feel. We offer the light of the sun and the moon, all fresh flowers, all pleasing smells, all delicious food, and so forth, everything wonderful. Since these offerings are made to the Three Jewels and the Three Roots, who do not have any greed or desire for these offerings, they are made for the benefit of all sentient beings. After we have prepared our room and our altar, we begin our meditation with the common outer practice which is the four thoughts to turn the mind.
🔸The preciousness of human birth,
🔸 Impermanence and death,
🔸the cause and effect of karma, and
🔸The suffering of saṃsāra.
By meditating on these four thoughts, the mind is subdued and one is led to renounce saṃsāra.
Then we do the extraordinary inner preparation, which is the preliminary practice. Within the Ngondro, there are:
🔸going for refuge,
🔸and the prayer of Guru Yoga
Small Golden Key
Translated by Lisa Anderson