Aspiration Prayers

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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):

Bodhisattva Aspirations

In the sūtra The Question of Maitreya (Toh. 85, Maitreya­paripṛcchā, byams pas zhus pa), Buddha Śākyamuni recounts this prayer that Maitreya made as a bodhisattva aspiring to accomplish the six perfections and attain the ten bodhisattva levels.

This prayer of aspiration for training the mind in bodhicitta by exchanging all the world's suffering for genuine happiness is based on Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Thaye's longer text, The Gateway to the Ocean of Bodhicitta.

Taken from the author's miscellaneous writings, this inspiring prayer to complete the bodhisattva path was composed at the request of Lama Jamyang Gyaltsen (1870–1940).

This aspiration, written during an unspecified snake year, incorporates the key elements of the Mind Training teachings, such as taking on others' suffering and giving away one's own happiness, and perfecting relative and absolute bodhicitta.

A prayer of aspiration based on the so-called eight thoughts of great beings (skyes bu chen po'i rnam rtog brgyad).


Copper-Coloured Mountain

A four-line prayer to be reborn on the Copper-Coloured Mountain of Glory, or Zangdok Palri, in the company of Guru Padmasambhava and his retinue.

Three interrelated aspirations for rebirth in Zangdok Palri, the Copper-Colored Mountain pureland of Guru Rinpoche, from the perspectives of the cause (or ground), path, and fruition.

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.

A four-line prayer to be reborn on the Copper Coloured Mountain of Glory, or Zangdok Palri, in the company of Guru Padmasambhava and his retinue.

An aspiration to be reborn on the Copper-Coloured Mountain of Glory, or Zangdok Palri, in the company of Guru Padmasambhava and his retinue.

This prayer of aspiration to be reborn in Guru Padmasambhava's heaven of Zangdok Palri (zangs mdog dpal ri), the Copper-coloured Mountain of Glory, includes detailed descriptions of its wonderful features and extraordinary qualities. The text is a terma (gter ma) revelation and part of the Longchen Nyingtik cycle.

A brief prayer to be reborn on the Copper Coloured Mountain of Glory, or Zangdok Palri, in the presence of Guru Padmasambhava, and to complete the path to enlightenment in that pure realm, so as to work for others’ benefit.




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 aspiration prayer is said to have been spoken by Guru Padmasambhava when revealing the Vajradhātu maṇḍala in the temple of Samye. The text was revealed by Chokgyur Lingpa and transcribed by Jamgön Kongtrul. Generally, it is known as Mönlam Chokchu Düzhima (Aspiration of the Ten Directions and Four Times), a name which derives from the prayer's first four syllables.

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.

This aspiration prayer forms the conclusion of The Exceedingly Secret Heart Essence (yang gsang mkha' 'gro'i thugs thig) revelation and thus is said to be the words of Pema Tötrengtsel (Mighty Lotus Skull-Garland, i.e., Padmasambhava) himself.

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.

Jigme Trinlé Özer made this series of altruistic aspirations as he was approaching the moment of death.

A prayer of aspiration to peferect the training, recognize the ultimate state of pristine awareness and benefit beings on a vast scale.

A prayer of confession and aspiration, calling upon all the gurus, buddhas and bodhisattvas. It was written in 1953, during what Jamyang Khyentse himself describes as a bout of sadness.

Jamyang Khyentse wrote this prayer following the untimely passing of Princess Sangay Deki in Sikkim in 1957. The prayer is for the enlightenment of all with whom he was connected, even those who merely heard his name, but especially his devoted followers and disciples.

Jamyang Khyentse composed this prayer of aspiration after reading the Words of the Buddha during the first month of the Earth Dog year (1958), a period of great turmoil within Tibet.

In this prayer, composed at Bodhgayā, Jamyang Khyentse praises the features of the place Tibetans call the Vajra Seat (rdo je gdan), by comparing it to a celestial realm, and aspires to be reborn there in future.

An aspiration to recognise the true nature of each stage of the bardo experience, from the moment of death and accompanying stages of dissolution through to the bardo of becoming, and thereby attain awakening.

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 four-line prayer of aspiration spoken in front of a vast assembly in 1986.

This aspiration to be cared for by the guru throughout all future lifetimes was composed at Wutai Shan at the request of a disciple named Rigdrol.

Composed in Bodhgayā, this is a bodhisattva's aspiration to emulate the buddhas of the past, such as Śākyamuni, serve the remaining buddhas of this fortunate age, and lead all beings to awakening. The prayer was recorded and transcribed by Khenpo Sodargye.

A prayer to take rebirth in the hidden sanctuary of Pemako (pad+mo bkod), where obstacles such as sickness and conflict are scarce or nonexistent and favourable conditions may aid progress on the Dharma path.

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.

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

A simple four-line prayer to realize the ultimate nature and thereby benefit all beings each according to their needs.





Peace and Welfare

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.

An invocation of Guru Padmasambhava and plea to eliminate obstacles and the various forms of adversity faced by beings in general and Tibetans in particular.

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.

Composed at the Vajra Seat, Bodhgayā, in January 2005, this is an aspiration for the welfare of the Buddhist teachings and sentient beings in general and for the flourishing of Dharma in Tibet in particular.

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.

Written in 1957, the year that Jamyang Khyentse first arrived, this is a prayer for happiness in Sikkim and the fulfilment of the aspirations and prophecies of great masters of the past concerning the welfare of its people.

Composed on the very first day of the Tibetan year of the Water Dragon (26 February 1952), this short prayer invokes the power and truth of the Three Jewels and Three Roots, especially Dorje Drakpo Tsal, in order to overcome invading armies.

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 to alleviate the terrors of conflict was spoken by the great siddha Thangtong Gyalpo at a time when war ravaged Minyak in eastern Tibet. Such was the power of his words, it is said, the conflict instantly came to an end, and peace and prosperity reigned.

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.

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. 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).

His Holiness composed this prayer of aspiration for the flourishing of the teachings of the Jonang tradition in 2001 at the request of Khenpo Ngawang Dorje (b.1967).

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.

An aspiration for the spread of the teachings of the so-called Eight Great Chariots of the Practice Lineage (sgrub brgyud shing rta chen po brgyad): Nyingma, Kadam, Sakya, Marpa Kagyü, Shangpa Kagyü, Kālacakra, Pacification and Severance, and Approach and Accomplishment of the Three Vajras.

Jamyang Khyentse composed this short prayer for the spread of the Guhyagarbha Tantra teachings in Darjeeling, 1958, after explaining Lochen Dharmaśrī's commentary to a small group of disciples.

A short prayer for the spread of the tradition of Chokgyur Dechen Lingpa, Jamgön Kongtrul and Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and for the flourishing of the teachings at Tenchok Gyurme Ling (rten mchog 'gyur med gling), the seat of Chokgyur Lingpa, better known as Neten Monastery.

A short prayer for the flourishing of the Katok tradition, composed in the monastery's great temple in 1934.

Written in Bodhgayā 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.

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.

An aspiration for the teachings of the Buddha to flourish and spread in Taiwan, composed in 2018.

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 aspiration for the flourishing of the Riwo Gendenpa tradition of Je Tsongkhapa Lobzang Drakpa is one of the most commonly recited prayers in the Geluk School.

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).

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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