Aspiration Prayers

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The bodhisattva Samantabhadra

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Sentient beings are as limitless as the whole of space:

May each effortlessly realize the three kāyas,

And may every single being of all the six realms, who has each been in one life or another my father or mother,

Attain all together the ground of primordial perfection.

A series of prayers of aspiration (Skt. praṇidhāna; Tib. smon lam) and works from related genres, including prayers for the spread of the teachings (bstan rgyas smon lam):

So popular and influential is Samantabhadra’s “Aspiration to Good Actions” (bzang spyod smon lam) from the Gaṇḍavyūha chapter of the vast Avataṃsaka Sūtra, it is known as the king of all aspiration prayers.

This is a prayer for the modern age, or kaliyuga, calling upon Buddha Śākyamuni, Guru Padmasambhava and all enlightened deities, gurus and protectors, in order to transform the minds of those in positions of power, so that terrible weapons of war may be eradicated, and the threats they pose to Dharma and living beings removed, allowing peace to reign throughout the world.

Written in Sikkim, this is an aspiration to realize the view of the Middle Way (Madhyamaka), the meditation of the Great Seal (Mahāmudrā), the conduct of single-taste, and the fruition of Dzogpachenpo, the Great Perfection.

A series of aspirations to devote one's life to the Dharma—which, Dodrupchen Rinpoche says, is the only thing of any real value or meaning—to practice it with sincerity, and to accomplish it successfully.

In this prayer, which he wrote in 1960, shortly after arriving in exile, His Holiness the Dalai Lama invokes all the buddhas and bodhisattvas, especially Avalokiteśvara, and the power of truth itself, in order to bring an end to the turmoil in Tibet so that the Dharma and all aspects of Tibetan culture can flourish there once again.

Shortly after Khenchen Jigme Phuntsok's passing in 2004, His Holiness the Dalai Lama wrote this prayer "so that the enlightened intentions of this great being may be fulfilled completely and to help dispel the anguish of his disciples."

Jamgön Kongtrul wrote this for his own practice during a time of great turmoil and upheaval, after Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo advised him of the importance of regular prayer for peace and stability. It has been popular ever since, especially when Tibet faces challenging times.

Kongtrul wrote this prayer while at the site of Yamalung, sacred for its connection with Guru Padmasambhava. In a series of verses aspiring for the longevity of all non-sectarian teachers, he offers not only a powerful practice text, but also a concise statement of his celebrated Rimé ideals.

This popular prayer by the vidyādhara Jigme Lingpa includes aspirations related to every stage of the path, from gaining a precious human rebirth and following a qualified teacher through to accomplishing the most advanced practices of Dzogpachenpo and, thereafter, working for others' benefit.

This five-line aspiration for the spread of the teachings is said to be the final testament (zhal chem) of the great Dampa Deshek, founder of Katok Monastery.

A prayer of aspiration to understand the nature of reality, just as it is explained in the Madhyamaka teachings, and then, having perfectly realized this view, to teach it to others, and in so doing, emulate great figures from the past like Nāgārjuna and Āryadeva.

One of the most popular prayers in the Nyingma tradition, The Secret Vajra Knot (rdo rje rgya mdud) includes aspects of the dedication of virtue (dge ba bsngo ba), as well as various aspirations related to the path in general and the path of the three yogas, i.e., Mahāyoga, Anuyoga and Atiyoga, in particular.

This famous prayer of aspiration, which was a terma revelation of Pema Lingpa (1450–1521), is said to record the words of Yeshe Tsogyal to Guru Padmasambhava as he was about to leave Tibet for the land of the rakṣasa demons.

This short prayer, which tradition attributes to Sakya Paṇḍita, relates the various elements of prostration to aspirations for successfully following the path to enlightenment.

First spoken in the presence of the sacred Jowo Rinpoche statue in Lhasa, this prayer of aspiration is credited with ending a famine that affected Tibet, especially Kham, in 1437.

This prayer is said to have ended a virulent epidemic which had swept through the famous monastery-town of Sakya, proving effective where all other measures, including tantric rituals, had failed.

Composed in Lerab Ling, France in 2005 at the request of several translators, led by Tenzin Jamchen (Sean Price) and Chökyi Nyima (Richard Barron), this is a prayer of aspiration to be recited by modern-day lotsawas.

Kyabje Trulshik Rinpoche composed this short prayer for the realisation of the ultimate view, meditation and conduct at the request of a devoted student by the name of Changchub Chökyi Drolma.

Dzogchen Aspiration Prayers

Prayers for the Spread of the Teachings

This prayer for the spread of the teachings of the great Dzogchen master Longchen Rabjam (1308–1364) is also an extensive panegyric on the qualities of those teachings. It is unusual in that the author was himself a Gelugpa — albeit one who studied with Nyingma teachers and wrote on Dzogchen.

Popularly known as 'The Teachings Blaze' (bstan 'bar ma), this prayer for the spread of the teachings (bstan rgyas smon lam) is especially popular in the Gelug tradition.

At the request of Trulshik Rinpoche (1924–2011) and others, His Holiness composed this prayer for the flourishing of the Buddhist teachings in 1999. It is a non-sectarian (ris med) aspiration extending to all the major and minor traditions of Tibetan Buddhism.

Written in Bodhgaya at a time when Tibet was facing great turmoil and an uncertain future, this is a non-sectarian prayer for the spread of the Buddhist teachings (bstan rgyas smon lam) in all their authentic forms.

A prayer for the spread of the teachings of the successive incarnations of Dzogchen Rinpoche Pema Rigdzin (1625–1697) and other figures closely associated with Dzogchen Monastery.

This short prayer for the flourishing of the teachings (bstan rgyas smon lam) was spoken by a ḍākinī in a vision.

Composed in Lerab Ling in 2013, this is at once an aspiration to realize the natural state of the Great Perfection, a prayer that the teachings of Clear Light Dzogpachenpo may spread throughout the world and a supplication for the long life of Sogyal Rinpoche.

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