Below you will find a personal message from our precious teacher Jigme Rinpoche, who is currently in Kathmandu, Nepal. Rinpoche is recommending a Sojong Practice for this Month of Saga Dawa. Saga Dawa is the holy month when we celebrate the birth, enlightenment and death (parinirvana) of the historic Sakyamuni Buddha.
During this auspicious month of Saga Dawa, I am encouraging all students to observe Sojong.
Sojong is the practice for purifying and healing. "So" means to restore and "Jong" means to purify and clear negative karma and harmful deeds.
During the time of the Buddha, Sojong was practiced by members of monastic communities to restore any Pratimoksha vows. This purification practice was also observed by the lay community by taking the Eight Mahayana precepts for one day. Sojong can be practiced on either the Full Moon (May 26) or the New Moons (May 11 or June 10) or you might decide to practice this for any day, or 1 week or the month of Saga Dawa which is May 11 to June 10 this year.
Sojong is a skillful means to pause, look and examine our attitudes and habitual patterns and tendencies. In other words, it is creating an auspicious condition to monitor and see how our untrained mind creates thoughts and emotions that translate into action, hence the karma resulting in dukkha.
As we become more and more aware of our habitual patterns, we come to realize that these conflicted states of mind, such as fear, anger, depression, doubt, etc, are not solid, true and permanent, rather they are fluid, and in a constant state of flux and inherently non- existent. Therefore, there is an inner surge of trust and confidence in the possibility of healing, purifying and awakening. The problem then becomes the solution.
How to do Sojong
Go in front of your altar and offer 3 prostrations to the representation of the Buddha's body, speech and mind.
Sit and settle yourself.
Do the refuge prayer and generate Bodhicitta.
Invoke all the Gurus, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in the sky in front of you.
Drop into a contemplative reflective mood and examine your mind to search for any mistakes, misdeeds, negative karma that we may have unknowingly created.
Generate remorse and regret for these actions.
Antidote for misguided actions and thoughts - Ask the Gurus, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, who are full of compassion and wisdom, to inspire you to cultivate an inner strength to help navigate through these habitual patterns and tendencies, so that you can look into their very nature and see that they come from grasping at the erroneous self. The only way to awaken is to cultivate an on-going state of mindfulness and awareness so that we can recognize and see the patterns the moment that they arise, like the drawing on the water.
This exceptional mental balance, exceptional mental health (Samadhi) and spiritual flourishing (Prajna), does not come from belief or faith, but knowing reality, not simply through theoretical understanding or something learned from other people, but from first person empirical experiential insight into our true nature of self and true nature of reality. In Christianity there is the saying, Truth will set you free. In Buddha Dharma, If ignorance is the root cause of suffering, knowing reality as it is the deepest level of genuine happiness.
The basis and the foundation for this framework to function is ethical living (Sila). Therefore, we take the vow to refrain from killing, stealing, telling lies, sexual misconduct, taking intoxicants, dancing and singing and wearing jewelry during the Sojong, so as to be simple and practice moderation.
Sojong is practiced from Sunrise to Sunrise during which time we refrain from eating meals after noon, sitting on high seats or luxurious beds
When we finish Sojong we dedicate the merit. May this practice of Sojong be of benefit to oneself and all sentient beings until we reach the state of Buddhahood. (complete enlightenment)
I pray that the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas continuously shower their blessings in your mind stream to give rise to two bodhicittas. May goodness and happiness prevail and may you all find joy, courage and wisdom in yourself and for the world.
With Love, Blessings, and Prayers,
Boudha Kathmandu, Nepal
May 11, 2021