Geshe Palden Sangpo

April 24, 2022
Kadampa Center, Raleigh, NC


Doing circumambulation practice is very, very important, Buddha said.  Many years ago, Indian and Tibetan masters achieved realizations by circumambulating the stupa.

The Kadampa geshes and Lama Atisha did many, many circumambulations of stupas. Once, when lama Atisha was circumambulating, his main student, Dromtonpa, asked him, “Why are you doing this? Why do you not practice virtue, why do you do this ordinary practice of circumambulating?”

Lama Atisha replied, “You don’t understand, circumambulation contains all three actions of body, speech, and mind. If you just sit and meditate, you have only one action, of the mind meditating, with no virtuous action of body or speech.  In terms of creating virtue, there is no greater merit than that from circumambulating.”

Geshe Palden Sangpo
Resident Teacher
Kadampa Center

There are so many benefits – we need material things, we need happiness, we need looking good. Everything’s a benefit from circumambulating. We might not think about achieving realizations, but we achieve this human life, all these resources.

Circumambulation includes many practices: the practice of generosity, the practice of walking meditation, and the practice of creating merit.

How is it a practice of generosity? Because we are doing this wonderful prayer together, all around the stupa and gompa, and the Buddha statue. First of all, you can hear each other, that’s a lot of benefit. Second, when you recite loudly, there are so many bugs, ants, many sentient beings around this gompa, they can hear these wonderful words.

There are three ways to practice generosity – giving material things, giving freedom from fear, giving Dharma. That’s part of giving Dharma – because we are reciting, they can hear.

Walking meditation is not a Tibetan Buddhist tradition, but it’s wonderful.  Whenever we’re doing the walking meditation, we have to think about we are walking. How much you have problem, how much you have difficult situation, you don’t think about these at that moment. If something comes to your mind, you just ignore it. If you ignore it, like an ocean wave comes, it goes away. You don’t have to do anything and it will go away.

Just focus. If you can think about the mantra of Lama Tsongkhapa, that is wonderful. if you cannot think about the mantra, just focus on “I am walking.”

The last practice is creating merit. The Buddha said that all negative karma collected from beginningless rebirths is purified when you do circumambulation.  When you purify, you create merit.

Now I want to explain how we benefit. There was one man in Buddha’s time who was 60 years old, he wanted to become a monk. They checked if he had enough merit or was eligible to be a monk. Buddha knew that in a previous life, when the man was an ant, he went around a stupa. He didn’t have any motivation. But taking one round of the stupa caused to him to create this kind of merit to become a monk. We are thinking and doing, we have motivation, so we get more benefit than an ant.

We have to create merit with our three doors, body speech and mind. Even though you don’t know anything about meaning of mantra, to say mantra is to create a lot of merit. When we are young monks, we can recite everything, but we don’t know the meaning. At the monastery, the teachers teach you by heart.

I go to walk a lot. I don’t bring a mala but I have a counter. Then when I go to the art museum, Lake Johnson, I recite mantras. If no people are there, I say them loudly, like OM MANI PADME HUM, but when some people come I’m very quiet. Because some people think I’m talking to myself.  If nobody is there, I say loud enough for the bugs to hear.

One of the Indian masters, in a previous life, was a bird living in the top of a cave. Another one of the Indian masters meditated in the cave. He recited the root text of Abhidharmakosha, but it took all day and night, a lot of pages.

The bird, in the early morning, flew out, and at night time he came back to his nest in the top of the cave.  Half of the text the monk recited every night. When the bird passed away, he took rebirth as a person. He joined a monastery, and he could recite half of the text, because of tendency. This kind of benefit. Therefore we try to recite for the beings to hear.

Lama Tsongkhapa’s mantra basically says, Lama Tsongkhapa is the manifestation of compassion buddha and Manjushri the wisdom buddha. This mantra is very full of blessings.

Lama Tsongkhapa wrote this and offered it to his teacher. His teacher said, “Oh, this is not me, this is for you.” He changed the name and offered it back to Lama Tsongkhapa.
That’s the meaning of this prayer.  Please think about people who have difficult situation, for them.

~ Geshe Palden Sangpo, April 24, 2022
Edited, with permission

Share in the Merit

 Everyone in our community has the opportunity to create merit by practicing the perfection of generosity. Whether $1 or $1,000 – any level of giving to these incredible dharma projects will create lasting merit!
Geshe Gelek has often said that those who support the creation of a holy object or opportunity to practice, will share in the merit every time someone uses it in practice. 

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please contact us so that we may work with you to fulfill your wishes and dedication.  

Communicating an intention for your generosity supports the development of your heart and mind, and provides practical feedback about what inspires the Kadampa Center community. Contributions are received with the understanding that Kadampa Center has discretion over the use of all donated funds.