The practice of the Vajrasattva mantra is the second of the Four Special Foundations, which come after the Four Ordinary Foundations (the Precious Human Birth; Impermanence; Action, Cause, and Result; and the Shortcomings of Samsara). The practitioner must have confidence in these four, to the degree of intellectual conviction, but not necessarily to the state of absolute automaticity implied by Right View. If they have confidence in the Four Special Foundations, they are ready to practise the Four Special Foundations of Ngondro.
The Hundred Syllable Mantra of Vajrasattva follows Taking Refuge and Engendering the Enlightened Attitude. To take Refuge is to trust in the truth of the dharma as the effect of accepting the Four Ordinary Foundations. Engendering the Enlightened Attitude is the Bodhisattva Vow. Thus if they have confidence in the truth of the dharma and have formulated the bodhisattva intention, they are ready to practise the Hundred Syllable Mantra of Vajrasattva.
The repetition of the mantra purifies the psycho-somatic complex from existing negative tendencies through frequent and prolonged repetition. This practice establishes a pure basis for subsequent spiritual activity. Because negative tendencies arise continuously, this practice should be performed daily.
The practice of the Vajrasattva mantra includes:
- Intellectual realization of the nature of Vajrasattva.
- Intellectual realization of the meaning of the Vajrasattva mantra.
- An emotional affinity or bias towards Vajrasattva.
- Proper and actual auditory repetition of the Vajrasattva mantra.
- Visualization of a revolving double dorje above the head, as one invokes Vajrasattva, casting beams of purifying light in all directions, purifying the body and creating a purifying atmosphere of light radiating out in all directions until it fills the universe with light. As one recites, the double dorje is energized.
- Formulation of the intent to free oneself from all negative tendencies, and performance of actual acts of merit.
A corrected Sanskrit text of the Vajrasattva is as follows:
OM VAJRA-SATTVA SAMAYA MANU-PALAYA, VAJRA-SATTVA TVENO-PATISHTA, DRIDHO ME BHAVA, SUTOSHYO ME BHAVA, SUPOSHYO ME BHAVA, ANURAKTO ME BHAVA, SARVA SIDDHIM ME PRAYACCHA, SARVA KARMA SUCHA ME, CHITTAM SHRIYAM KURU HUM, HA HA HA HA HOH BHAGAVAN, SARVA TATHAGATA VAJRA, MA ME MUNCHA, VAJRI BHAVA, MAHA-SAMAYA-SATTVA, AH HUM PHAT.
The literal translation of Dr. Alex Berzin is:
Om Vajrasattva, uphold your close bond. Bring it about that I remain closely with this Vajrasattva-hood. Bring it about that I am stable. Bring it about that I am happy. Bring it about that I am joyous. Bring it about that I am safeguarded. Bestow on me all actual attainments. Make all my actions excellent. Make the mind supreme – HUM. HA HA HA HA HO, Vanquishing Master Surpassing All, vajra state of all Thusly Gone Ones. Do not let me loose, O Vajra Being, being with the great bond. AH, HUM, PHAT.
According to the great thirteenth century Guru Chowang, eight hundred repetitions of this mantra in one sitting guarantees rebirth as a bodhisattva (the operative words here being “repetitions” and “sitting”). As one recites, one must strongly realize the identity of Vajrasattva and the Clear Light Mind, aspire to him, imagine him fully entering into and purifying your being, and becoming real in your presence. Count on a mala while seated cross-legged before an image of Vajrasattva, followed by resting in the meditative attitude, meditating on impermanence, and the transfer of merit.
100,000 repetitions (800-1,000 hours) of this practice constitutes the essential requirement for Ngondro, remembering that the true practice is the interior realization, not the ritual.
It is said that the proper performance of this practice will bring a sensation of lightness, wakefulness, well-being, lucidity, and insight.
 Chokyi Wangchuk (chos kyi dbang phyug) (1212-1270), popularly known as Guru Chowang, was born in Lhodrak. By the age of 4 he was able to read and write, and by the age of 10 he was studying astrology, medicine, and Tantra. He received bodhisattva vows at 18. He came into possession of the treasure inventory of Drapa Ngonshe (1012-1090) at the age of 13, which had the reputation of being extremely dangerous. His father hid the treasure inventory from him, but at the age of 22 he retrieved it and also discovered a supplementary inventory in the valley of Namkachen. Guru Chowang was an early chronicler of the treasure tradition and developed standards that enabled the practice of treasure revelation to become popularly accepted.
Berzin, Alexander. “How to Practice Vajrasattva.” https://studybuddhism.com/en/advanced-studies/prayers-rituals/tantric-practices/how-to-practice-vajrasattva.