The Vajra Armor Mantra, called Dorje Go-Drab in Tibetan, is among the most powerful healing practices in Tantric Buddhism. Long held as a secret practice, the Vajra Armor Mantra has been practiced for over a millennium by tantric adepts and Tibetan physicians as an effective method for treating diseases, purifying negative energies and protection from misfortune.
The Vajra Armor Mantra was first introduced into Tibet in the eighth century by Padmasambhava, who had collected various teachings and practices on this mantra from the ancient Indian Buddhist tradition. After teaching his close disciples in Tibet, he hid the Vajra Armor teachings in 124 places, to be discovered by future ‘treasure finders’ as prophesied in his writings. Padmasambhava predicted that a time would come when there would be a great need for this mantra and to preserve the integrity of the teachings and lineage, he hid different versions of this practice in many different places for safekeeping, until the designated treasure finder would reintroduce them to the world. Over the past one thousand years, there have been numerous major teaching cycles of the Vajra Armor Mantra that have been revealed, including those of Dorje Lingpa, Mipham, Dudjom Lingpa, and Trak-t’hung Namkha’I Jigme. These teachings outline a deep and profound path to realization and ultimately to Buddhahood through the practice of healing and rebalancing the outer and inner elements.
Among the prophesies related to the Vajra Armor Mantra,
…”When beings engage in the ten non-virtues, causing warfare and committing immense sin, these negative activities will pollute the mother elements and give the spirits opportunities to become more powerful. Thus, the seasons will become unbalanced, the crops will fail, the weather patterns will bring disaster, diseases will multiply every year and even the best remedies will no longer have any effect. Food and herbal medicine will loose their potency, requiring stronger dosages…at that time this mantra, which shall be known as the Vajra Armor, or ”Ngak-Bum Dorje Go-Drab” – the One Mantra That is the Source of the 100,000 Methods – will be needed to save beings from this immense suffering. If you place one hundred percent trust in this mantra and if you receive the transmission from a true lineage holder and practice it according to the samayas, then this mantra will cure disease, protect and prevent illness, calamities, restore balance to the environment, and most importantly destroy the true cause of all suffering – anger, desire and ignorance.” – Padmasambhava
A Powerful Path to Enlightenment
The Vajra Armor Mantra is not only a powerful healing method, but a profound path to illumination, ultimately leading to the attainment of the rainbow body. It is one of the few paths, along with P’howa, that do not require the Ngondro (the 500,000 accumulations) as a prerequisite to practice. It is a path in its own right, with many levels and degrees of mastery. As one traverses the path, through a series of short retreats and ongoing practice, one systematically purifies the five elements within one’s own body and thus attains the ability to purify the elemental imbalances in another. In this way, diseases are removed. With further training, the practitioner cuts through the five poisons of anger, desire, ignorance, jealousy and pride, and in turn attains the ability to work directly with the elemental essences in the environment. Thus, one is able to control the weather patterns, increase prosperity, subjugate harmful influences and restore peace and harmony. In advanced stages of training, one gains control over the eight classes of spirits that live under, within and above the earth, thus preventing the rise and spread of contagious disease, natural disasters, and poverty. In the final stages of practice, the three poisons are transformed into the three kayas, and the five poisons become the five wisdoms. thus the very elemental essences of one’s body are transmuted into the five wisdom lights, and one’s own body is transformed into the ‘rainbow body.’
Overview of the Training Program
Although the Vajra Armor Mantra is actually a path to enlightenment, this mantra is largely known for its healing abilities. Few practitioners ever move beyond the outer levels of training and discover the mantra’s true potential, and very few Lamas are teaching it. Lama Dawa Chhodak Rinpoche feels that now is the time to heed Padmasambhava’s prophesies and introduce a course of training retreats so that this profound practice can bring benefit in these very trying times. Based on the traditional tantric texts, he has outlined this retreat course so that practitioners can move through the outer, inner, secret, and most secret levels of practice in a systematic way, under the close supervision of a lineage holder.
Lama Dawa Rinpoche has had close connections with this mantra for many lifetimes. In this life has received the lineage transmissions and training in the Vajra Armor from his Root Guru, HH Dudjom Rinpoche, HH Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and from the Taklung Kyabgon, Matrul Rinpoche, who was also a famous physician. Since he began teaching in the United States in 1989, Lama Dawa Rinpoche has given outer level teachings of the Vajra Armor mantra numerous times, and in 2003 lead the first three-day group retreat.
Prerequisites for Vajra Armor Mantra Retreat
In order to participate in this training, you must have received Buddhist Refuge and Bodhisattva vows, and you must have devotion to Padmasambhava and have received an empowerment of any aspect of Padmasambhava from a qualified lineage holder. Ideally, although it is not required, you should have some experience with the rules of boundaried retreats and experience in intensive mantra recitation. This training is conducted in the traditional way, with no compromises. Participants are expected to abide by the samayas of tantric retreat and practice, and must pass a series of tests before they are authorized to progress to the next level and to use the mantra for others. Students must examine their motivation and be sure that their ultimate aim is to use this practice for spiritual and not worldly ends. They must be free from any hope for using this training as a way to increase one’s fame, wealth, or any personal gain whatsoever. If used with the right motivation, this practice can be the vehicle to attain enlightenment through the service of healing others. In this regard, it is a perfect path for Buddhist practitioners who are involved with the healing profession.
Using the Vajra Armor Mantra for Self Healing
In addition to using the Vajra Armor Mantra as a path to spiritual enlightenment, this mantra is often called for as an effective method to heal one’s own diseases. In many situations, the mirror divination may indicate that it is necessary to learn and practice the mantra for one’s own healing. In this case, attending one retreat is all you need to be able to use this mantra every day on your own.
Outline of the Levels of Training
In general, the levels of training can be understood in relation to the ‘Four Activities’: Pacification, Enrichment, Empowering, and Subjugation. These are further divided into outer, inner, secret, and most secret levels, which are also divided according to the five elements.
In the ‘outer’ levels of training – which involve a series of three-day silent retreats – there are teachings on the history of Guru Rinpoche and of this practice; teachings on the lineage; teachings and transmission of the mantra, including the lung (verbal transmission) and empowerment (wang); teachings on how to recite the mantra; the rules and samayas of the retreat, including the outer, inner and secret meaning of boundary; teachings on the meaning of the mantra; teachings on the cause of diseases, including the eight classes of spirits living above, beneath and on the earth; instruction on how the mantra provides protection from the major and minor causes of diseas; instruction on how to use the mantra to treat illnesses; making blessed healing water, and making sacred amulets. In addition, each student will receive private instruction and guidance from Rinpoche.
At the end of each retreat, students will undergo a series of tests related to the elements water, air, fire, and earth, and receive further instruction on training from Rinpoche. These retreats are repeated until the tests are passed and Rinpoche gives authority to progress to the next level.
“Inner’ levels of training involve 7-day dark retreats, where the participants are submerged in total darkness for one week while practicing the mantra. These are very advanced practices and are only embarked upon when the student has shown significant purification and progress through the previous levels of training. These retreats are related to the movement of the planets and the planetary spirits (rahulas) that are associated with them. There are also a series of tests that are taken throughout the retreat. These retreats require very close supervision by the lineage teacher, and for that reason are limited to very few people at a time.
‘Secret’ levels of taining incorporates the visualization of various dieties and the associated empowerments. Retreats range from 3 to 30 days and require the accumulation of a certain number of mantras. Students learn methods of using the Vajra Armor mantra according to Guru Rinpoche’s ‘Ley-Tsog.’ Methods of making amulets are taught as well as ways to extend one’s lifespan, methods of increasing ‘yang’ or prosperity energy, methods for controlling the weather, for subjugating spirits, etc.