Image courtesy of Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche
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):
- The King of Aspiration Prayers: Samantabhadra's “Aspiration to Good Actions” (Zangchö Mönlam) from the Words of the Buddha
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.
- The Rishi's Maledictory Incantation: An Invocation of Wisdom Mind and Sacred Pledges for Reversing the Disturbances and Agitations of Dark Times In the Form of an Aspiration Prayer by Chatral Rinpoche
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.
- Wisdom's Melody: An Aspiration to Realize Madhyamaka, Mahāmudrā, and Mahā Ati by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
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.
- A Joyful Chariot for the Fortunate: An Aspiration to Travel to the Copper-Coloured Mountain of Glory by Dudjom Rinpoche
Dudjom Rinpoche composed this prayer of aspiration to be reborn on the Copper Coloured Mountain of Glory, or Zangdok Palri (zangs mdog dpal ri), after his firstborn daughter, Dekyong Yeshe Wangmo, had left this world. The inspiration for this prayer, it is said, was therefore her parting gift.
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.
- The Song of Devotion: Verses of Aspiration for the Fulfilment of the Enlightened Vision of Khenchen Jigme Phuntsok, the Reincarnation of Terton Lerab Lingpa by Fourteenth Dalai Lama
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.
- The Indestructible Vajra Garland, An Aspiration Prayer for the Lives of the Supreme Holders of the Non-Sectarian Teachings by Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Thaye
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.
- Entering the City of Omniscience—An Aspiration Prayer for Actualizing Words of Truth—Ngödrup Gyatso—Ocean of Siddhis by Jigme Lingpa
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.
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.
- Prayer of Aspiration Incorporating the Eight Thoughts of Great Beings who follow the Way of the Mahāyāna by Lala Sonam Chödrup
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 is taken from the author's text in praise of the Vasudhārā (Tib. Norgyünma) maṇḍala, dPal ldan lha mo nor rgyun ma'i dkyil 'khor gyi lha tshogs la bstod pa chos dang dpal 'byor rgyas byed.
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.
- The Verses that Saved Sakya from Sickness: A Prayer for Pacifying the Fear of Disease by Thangtong Gyalpo
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 lotsāwas.
Dzogchen Aspiration Prayers
- The Prayer of the Ground, Path & Fruition – From the Heart Essence of the Vast Expanse by Jigme Lingpa
Prayers for the Spread of the Teachings
- The Jewelled Garland: An Aspiration for the Spread of the Teachings of the Omniscient Father and Son, Masters of the Teachings of the Ancient Translations by Amdo Geshe Jampal Rolwé Lodrö
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. The first verse appears to be taken from the Pratimokṣa-sūtra (so sor thar pa'i mdo), while the remainder of the prayer, from the second verse onwards, is to be found in Atiśa Dīpaṃkara's Great Compendium of the Sūtras (Mahāsūtrasamuccaya; mdo kun las btus pa chen po).
- The Sage's Harmonious Song of Truth: A Prayer for the Flourishing of the Non-Sectarian Teachings of the Buddha by Fourteenth Dalai Lama
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.
- The Sage's Powerful Words of Truth—A Prayer for the Spread of the Omniscient Buddha's Teachings by Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö
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.
- Clouds of Offerings to Delight the Victorious Ones – An Aspiration Prayer for the Spread of the Teachings of the Lord of Siddhas, Dzogchen Rinpoche by Khenpo Tsöndrü
- Words of Truth: An Aspiration for the Spread of the Noble Gendenpa Tradition by Könchok Tenpe Drönme
- A Prayer of Aspiration for the Flourishing and Spread of the Ancient Translation Tradition entitled “Words to Delight the Sovereigns of the Dharma” by Mipham Rinpoche
This famous prayer for the spread of the teachings of the Nyingma tradition is among Mipham Rinpoche's most famous compositions. It is recited daily at the annual Monlam Chenmo festival and was the subject of a major commentary by Mipham's student and lineage-holder, Shechen Gyaltsab Pema Namgyal (1871–1926).
- Prayer for the Flourishing of the Dzogchen Teachings of Sogyal Rinpoche, the incarnation of Lerab Lingpa by Yangthang Rinpoche
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.
This brief guide to explaining Minling Terchen Gyurme Dorje's famous aspiration prayer, known as 'The Secret Vajra Knot' (rdo rje rgya mdud), provides a topical outline of its contents, and, in so doing, reveals the vastness of its vision.