Compassion comes in many forms. Sometimes we need a friend. Sometimes we need a protective warrior. Sometimes, a fierce kick in the rear (metaphorically). And sometimes we need to reduce our obstacles to Dharma practice. Chenrezig, the Lord of Compassion, emanates in countless forms to help all sentient beings, including a “good fortune” aspect.
Does it seem counter-intuitive, that Buddhist practices include “good fortune” practices — especially when Buddha taught renunciation? Does it seem selfish to ask for Enlightened help with our obstacles such as poverty, stress, or resources? It shouldn’t. Imagine if fully renounced monks are starving, unable to find a bowl of rice. How can they meditate? How can they practice Bodhichitta when they can’t even find food for themselves? And how can the lay community support the monks when they can’t feed themselves.
Buddha Shakyamuni’s Teachings “Practical”
Buddha’s teachings, demonstrated in thousands of sutras, are above all practical. He not only lofty Enlightened methods of practice, but he also taught “right livelihood.” He demonstrated endless compassion and generosity — even faced with the serial killer, he took the time to bring him into the Dharma, and become one of his monks. One entire sutra is dedicated to the “householder” — even touching on loans and livelihood.
In later Mahayana and Tantra teachings, he gave us methods for meditating on prosperity, attracting “good fortune” methods, to help us on the path.
For we laypeople, we do have to work and earn salaries and raise families — but the more stress we have in just “making a living” the less likely we’ll find any time for mindfulness practice or any serious practices. Or, for those of us advancing along towards retirement, looking forward to our first multi-week retreat, will we have the resources to undertake our aspiration? Then, there are those generous people who tirelessly help people less fortunate — donating either time or money — they need “resources” to help others.
It is for all of these reasons that Chenrezig — none other than the Bodhisattva of Compassion Avalokiteshvara — emanated as White Mahakala.
Don’t expect White Mahakala to make you a millionaire — or to help you win the lottery. His compassion is for serious Dharma practitioners. His practice helps us to help ourselves. His practice ensures we work harder. His practice is about setting the intention for prosperity — sufficient resources to allow us to practice both Bodhichitta and Wisdom practices both.
Who is White Mahakala?
Venerable Zasep Rinpoche explains White Mahakala this way in his book Source of All Buddhist Protectors:
“White Mahakala is a Protector and prosperity mainly practiced in the Gelug and Sakya traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. Through the practice of White Mahakala we can create prosperity for self, family and community.
In order to practice White Mahakala Pujas it is ideal to receive empowerment from the Guru. If you don’t have this empowerment it is fine, you can still do the practice. All you need is faith and devotion to White Mahakala and his attendant deities. This should be a daily practice for those needing relief from poverty.”
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Author | Buddha Weekly
Lee Kane is the editor of Buddha Weekly, since 2007. His main focuses as a writer are mindfulness techniques, meditation, Dharma and Sutra commentaries, Buddhist practices, international perspectives and traditions, Vajrayana, Mahayana, Zen. He also covers various events.
Lee also contributes as a writer to various other online magazines and blogs.