We begin guru yoga in the Dudjom Tersar Ngondro by visualizing in the space in front of us, Guru Rinpoche, inseparable from our own lama, embodiment of the quintessential form of all lineage lamas.

In the context of the practice, Guru Rinpoche reigns as the symbolic lama, the focus of our prayers and aspirations, the source of blessings and empowerments.

We pray to Guru Rinpoche, imploring him to hold us in continuous compassion, during this and future lifetimes and in the intermediate states between lifetimes.

Having prayed in this manner, we begin repetition of the Vajra Guru mantra—Om Ah Hung Vajra Guru Padma Siddhi Hung—a mantra so powerful it brings liberation to whoever continually recites it with devotion.

We should open to the direct perception that repeating the Vajra Guru mantra actually manifests Guru Rinpoche’s presence, that its resonance represents him in the form of sound, that the mantra as speech remains inseparable from his body and mind.

The Vajra Guru mantra incorporates the essence mantras of all enlightened ones.

Om invokes the blessing of Guru Rinpoche’s enlightened body, vajra body; Ah invokes his vajra speech; Hung, his vajra mind.

Om Ah Hung together indicates that Guru Rinpoche encompasses the inseparable three kayas.

The mantra also holds the power of the five aspects of pristine awareness, usually referred to as the “five wisdoms.”

Vajra purifies anger and invokes the mirror-like wisdom of the vajra family.

Guru purifies pride and invokes the wisdom of equanimity of the ratna family.

Padma purifies attachment and invokes the discriminating wisdom of the padma family.

Siddhi purifies jealousy and invokes the all-accomplishing wisdom of the karma family.

Hung purifies ignorance and invokes the wisdom of dharmadhatu of the buddha family.

(Note: Dharmadhatu literally means “the essence or expanse of phenomena” or all-encompassing space. Dharmadhatu can be synonymous with buddha nature.)

Vajra Guru (dorje lama) taken together indicates the unsurpassed realization and qualities of Guru Rinpoche as a supremely accomplished being who has brought the path of Vajrayana to consummation.

Vajra means that, diamond-like, his recognition of absolute nature cuts through ordinary concepts and poisonous emotions. He has attained the supreme mastery of the inseparable three kayas and accomplished all qualities of enlightenment through transcendent knowledge and pristine awareness.

Guru means that Guru Rinpoche embodies the gathered qualities of all enlightened buddhas of past, present, and future.

Padma indicates that Guru Rinpoche is the nirmanakaya emanation of Buddha Amitabha, lord of the lotus family.

Siddhi refers to the two kinds of accomplishment, ordinary siddhis such as supernormal powers and the supreme siddhi of enlightenment.

Hung invokes Guru Rinpoche’s blessing to grant the two siddhis.

Source: Tromge, Jane. Ngondro Commentary: Instructions for the Concise Preliminary Practices. Compiled from the teachings of H.E. Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche. Padma Publishing. Kindle Edition.