What Are the Great Perfection Deeds?

A disciple approached me to request empowerment for the Great Perfection. In principle, there are four levels of empowerment in Vajrayana. In ascending order, they are: first-level empowerment (vase empowerment); second-level empowerment (qi, channels and light drops); third-level empowerment (Highest Yoga Tantra); and fourth-level supreme empowerment (Great Perfection).

Although within the first three levels of empowerment, there are many different kinds of empowerments, empowerment for the Great Perfection is the supreme empowerment.

There are many ways to cultivate, but generally speaking, sequentially, one takes refuge, practices the Four Preliminaries, then cultivates personal deity, heruka practice, Highest Yoga Tantra, and finally, the Great Perfection. Guru Yoga can be cultivated between the Four-preliminary Practice and personal deity practice.

I asked a disciple, “Have you accomplished the great perfection deeds?”
The disciple replied, “Isn’t cultivation of emptiness the great perfection deeds?
I answered, “Emptiness is the internal state of the great perfection deeds. The 10 great vows of Samantabhadra Bodhisattva are the external form of the great perfection deeds. The 10 great vows of Samantabhadra Bodhisattva are:
  1. Pay homage to all buddhas.
  2. Praise Tathagatas.
  3. Make extensive offerings.
  4. Repent karmic transgressions.
  5. Rejoice at the meritorious deeds of others.
  6. Supplicate buddha to turn the Dharma wheel.
  7. Supplicate buddha to stay in the world.
  8. Always follow Buddhist teachings.
  9. Accommodate and be in harmony with sentient beings at all times.
  10. Universally dedicate the merit.”
“Have you accomplished these vows?” I asked.
“No!” the disciple replied.
“Then, accomplish them!” I answered.

Do not underestimate the power of the preliminary practices
The vows of Samantabhadra Bodhisattva must be put into action
When one has accomplished these great vows
One may seek empowerment

The 10 great vows of Samantabhadra Bodhisattva are diverse
They are equivalent to 100, 1,000, or even 10,000 vows
Although the street is thick with mud
Emptiness and existence are still in harmony
Who truly comprehends this?

Translated by the TBTTs
Translator: Lynn Ang
Editors: Henry Wolf and DJ Chang
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