Translations by Peter Woods
Peter Woods completed a degree in Philosophy at University of Virginia in 2009, and later earned a Master's in Religion from Yale in 2015. He went on to study at Rangjung Yeshe Institute in the Translator Training Program and the Master's program in Buddhist Studies as a Tsadra Scholar, living in Nepal from 2015 to 2019. Peter works with Samye Translations and their Nekhor project, and serves as executive director at Samye Hermitage New York.
Texts translated into English by Peter Woods
A popular Nyingma version of the famous Bodhisattvas’ Confession of Downfalls (byang chub sems dpa’i ltung bshags), also known as the Sūtra of the Three Heaps (phung po gsum pa’i mdo), invoking the thirty-five buddhas of confession as a means of purifying transgressions of vows and downfalls of the bodhisattva vow.
This popular canonical work (Tōh. 662) teaches the incantation (dhāraṇī) and rituals associated with the goddess Vasudhārā. According to the text, the dhāraṇī grants prosperity and wealth and averts spirits, demons and disease.
As its name suggests, this brief incantation (dhāraṇī) is intended to liberate the one who recites or uses it as a cakra from all physical, vocal and mental constraints, including those caused by evil schemes, maleficence, spells and curses. Although the incantation is attributed to Buddha Śākyamuni, it is not included in any extant Kangyur collection but is preserved in various dhāraṇī compendia (gzungs 'dus).
- The Noble Dhāraṇī of The Supreme Accomplishment of Sitātapatrā Born from the Tathāgata’s Uṣṇīṣa, the Great Invincible Dispeller from the Words of the Buddha
This popular canonical work, which is included in the Kangyur (Tōh. 591), teaches the incantation (dhāraṇī) and rituals associated with the goddess Sitātapatrā, who is renowned for her power to avert or repel all types of spirits, demons, obstacles, misfortune and disease and is thus invoked by many Tibetan Buddhists on a daily basis.
- The Noble Incantation entitled ‘The Rituals for the Blue-Clad Vajrapāṇi’ from the Words of the Buddha
A popular text (Tōh. 748) teaching the incantation (dhāraṇī) and rituals associated with the Blue-Clad (nīlāmbaradhara) form of the deity Vajrapāṇi. According to Karmavajra’s commentary (Tōh. 2676), the dhāraṇī is at once a powerful protection against, and remedy for, spirits, demons and disease.
- The Praise to Tārā with Twenty-One Verses of Homage and The Excellent Benefits of Reciting the Praise from the Words of the Buddha
Perhaps the most popular of all prayers to Tārā, this tantra praises her twenty-one forms, both peaceful and wrathful. The first twenty-one verses are at once a series of homages to Tārā and a poetic description of her physical features, postures, qualities, abilities, mantras, and hand gestures. The remaining six verses describe how and when the Praise should be recited, as well as the benefits of its recitation.
This famous vajra song (rdo rje’i glu), named after its initial syllables "ema kiri", appears in the Tantra of the Union of the Sun and Moon (nyi zla kha sbyor). It consists of a series of arranged syllables which a practitioner should intone melodiously. The individual syllables and their arrangement as a mantra are considered particularly sacred since they are said to have been revealed by the primordial buddha Samantabhadra.
In this brief guide to Ujjain, most likely part of a personal pilgrimage diary, Chatral Rinpoche repeatedly refers to the city as Uḍḍiyāna. Ujjain is home to the Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga, one of the most famous temples dedicated to Lord Śiva, attracting thousands of devotees every day. Rinpoche concludes with a guide to Khoteshwar, identified here as the Sindhu Isle, birthplace of Guru Padmasambhava.
A short yet profound guru yoga composed at the insistence of close students and which is still recited daily by many disciples. The practice incorporates a unique mantra based on Rinpoche's name and employs imagery associated with the Great Perfection.
- Melodious Tambura of Delight: A Guide to Māratika Cave, Supreme Site of Immortality by Chatral Rinpoche
Kyabje Chatral Rinpoche wrote this brief guide to the sacred Māratika cave at the request of his daughter, Sarasvatī. In a series of verses, he describes the significance of this powerful place of longevity — the "destroyer of death" is the literal meaning of its name — where Guru Padmasambhava and the Lady Mandāravā attained immortality.
- The Sādhana and Empowerment for the Extremely Close Lineage of the Long-Life Practice that Unites the Oral, Treasure and Visionary Teachings by Chöje Lingpa
This pith instruction for accomplishing longevity (tshe sgrub) through Thangtong Gyalpo (1361–1485?) is said to bring together the oral, treasure and visionary teachings. According to its colophon, Chöjé Lingpa received the instruction from Thangtong Gyalpo directly in a vision. Jamgön Kongtrul included the text in the Precious Treasury of Revelations (Rinchen Terdzö).
Chokgyur Dechen Lingpa
- The Secret Practice of Dorjé Draktsal According to the Trio of the Guru’s Heart Practices by Chokgyur Dechen Lingpa
Chokgyur Lingpa revealed the secret cycle of The Heart Practice of Mighty Vajra Wrath (Tukdrup Dorjé Draktsal) from Yegyal Namkha Dzö. This particular Guru Draktsal sādhana is regarded as the auxiliary practice to Chokgyur Lingpa’s The Gradual Path of Wisdom Essence (lam rim ye shes snying po).
This concise practice of Guru Dewa Chenpo (gu ru bde ba chen po), the Guru of Great Bliss, was revealed as a terma by Chokgyur Lingpa and transcribed by Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Thaye at Tsurpu Monastery.
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
- All Wishes Swiftly Fulfilled: A Prayer to the Mahāguru of Uḍḍiyāna in Eight Chapters by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche composed separate outer, inner and secret guru yoga practices with the great scholar, Sakya Paṇḍita as their object. Here is the outer practice, complete with visualization, prayer and mantra recitation, in which the focus is on the master as inseparable from Mañjuśrī.
- The Vajra Sitar of Immortality: A Prayer for the Long Life of the Fourth Incarnation of Terchen Chokgyur Lingpa by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
A prayer for the longevity of Neten Chokling Rinpoche (b. 1973) incorporating the name Rigdzin Gyurme Dorje (rig 'dzin 'gyur med rdo rje), which was given to Neten Chokling Rinpoche at his enthronement by His Holiness the Sixteenth Karmapa.
Dodrupchen Jigme Tenpe Nyima
- Garland of Night-Blooming Water Lilies: A Commentary on the Guru Siddhi Mantra by Dodrupchen Jigme Tenpe Nyima
This profound explanation of the individual syllables of Padmasambhava's famous Vajra-Guru Mantra is written in colloquial language that is concise and easy to understand. The text is explicitly aimed at 'town-dweller mantrins' who mistakenly confuse the fundamentals of Secret Mantra.
- The Sublime Path to Immortality: The Quintessence of Profoundly Secret Pith Instructions on Attaining Vajra Longevity by Dudjom Rinpoche
Dzongter Kunzang Nyima
- A Prayer to the Precious Guru from Uḍḍiyāna That Spontaneously Fulfils All Wishes by Dzongter Kunzang Nyima
This popular Sampa Lhundrupma (bsam pa lhun grub ma) prayer to Padmasambhava was revealed as a terma by Dzongter Kunzang Nyima, alias Jigme Nüden Dorje, the grandson and speech incarnation of Dudjom Lingpa (1835–1904).
Guru Chökyi Wangchuk
- Meeting the Buddha Face to Face: A Pith Instruction on Realizing the Fortress, Ravine, and View of the Practice of Vajrakīla by Guru Chökyi Wangchuk
This pith instruction on how to accomplish Vajrakīla (or Vajrakīlaya) was given by Guru Padmasambhava to his closest disciple Khandro Yeshé Tsogyal. Following the Atiyoga approach, the text comments on the oft-quoted verses of the Vajrakīla Root Tantra Fragment (Tōh. 439). This and a short protector offering, also preserved in the Treasury of Revelations (Rinchen Terdzö), are the only two surviving texts from Guru Chöwang’s Vajrakīla revelation.
Jamgön Amnye Zhab Ngawang Kunga Sönam
- The Swift Fulfillment of All Wishes (Sampa Nyur Drupma): A Prayer to Master Padmasambhava by Jamgön Amnye Zhab Ngawang Kunga Sönam
Amnye Zhab Ngawang Kunga Sönam composed this supplication to Guru Padmasambhava for the swift fulfilment of all wishes in 1641, when war and chaos were afflicting the regions of Ü and Tsang. The prayer is included within the Compendium of Sādhanas (sgrub thabs kun btus).
Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Thaye
- Cloud-Banks of Everything Desirable: The Wealth Deity Smoke Offering from The Guru’s Heart Practice, Dispeller of All Obstacles by Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Thaye
This simple practice of 'freeing lives' (tshe thar), which is included in the Rinchen Terdzö, was arranged by Jamgön Kongtrul Rinpoche, who drew mainly upon The Innermost Secret, Unsurpassed Longevity Practice (tshe sgrub yang gsang bla med) of Longsal Nyingpo (1625–1692).
- The Life and Liberation of Padmākara, the Second Buddha from A Precious Garland of Lapis Lazuli by Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Thaye
Extracted from the famous collection of the life stories of 108 treasure revealers called A Precious Garland of Lapis Lazuli, this account of Guru Padmasambhava's life and liberation synthesises and even comments upon earlier sources.
Jampal Dewe Nyima
- The Meaning of the Six Syllables of the King of Vidyā-Mantras, the Heroic Lord Mañjuśrī by Jampal Dewe Nyima
A commentary on the famous six-syllable mantra of Mañjuśrī (oṃ arapacana dhīḥ), relating each mantra syllable to aspects of generation stage (bskyed rim), completion stage (rdzogs rim) and Great Perfection (rdzogs chen) practice.
Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö
This is a poetic guide to the sacred site of Yangleshö (yang le shod) near the village of Pharping to the south of the Kathmandu Valley, where it is said that Guru Padmasambhava attained the level of a Mahāmudrā vidyādhara. Jamyang Khyentse wrote the text following a series of visionary experiences; it has the quality of a revelation and ends with a series of cryptic prophecies.
This practice unites the recitation of the famous Dü Sum Sangyé Prayer with a corresponding visualisation of the four main forms of Guru Padmasambhava according to the Chokling Tersar’s Four Cycles of Guru Yoga (bla sgrub skor bzhi), namely Barché Kunsel, Sampa Lhundrup, Tsokyé Nyingtik and Guru Draktsal. It was composed at the request of a minister to the king of Lingkar.
This practice unites the recitation of the famous Dü Sum Sangyé Prayer with a corresponding visualisation of the four main forms of Guru Padmasambhava according to the Chokling Tersar’s Four Cycles of Guru Yoga (bla sgrub skor bzhi), namely Barché Kunsel, Sampa Lhundrup, Tsokyé Nyingtik and Guru Draktsal.
- The Vajra Words Unveiled: A Commentary on the Düsum Sangyé Prayer to the Guru by Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö
In this brief commentary, Jamyang Khyentse reveals the outer or literal, inner or hidden and secret or ultimate layers of meaning in the famous Düsum Sangyé or Six Vajra-Line Prayer to Guru Padmasambhava revealed by Chokgyur Lingpa (1829–1870).
Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo
- A History of the 'Display of Awakened Activity' Samaya Substances That Liberate Upon Taste and the Two 'Representative' Statues That Liberate Upon Sight by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo
Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo explains the history and benefits of some sacred substances and two statues of Guru Padmasambhava—the 'representative' (kutsab) images known as Tukjé Ötro and Ngödrup Palbar—that were revealed by Chokgyur Lingpa.
- The Chariot Bound for Sukhāvatī, the Blissful Realm: The Liturgy for Cultivating Buddha Amitābha’s Pure Realm by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo
According to the colophon, this elaborate ritual for cultivating the pure realm of Amitābha was compiled by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo at the passing of Chokgyur Lingpa’s mother, Tsering Yangtso. Taking Chokgyur Lingpa’s treasure Amitābha sādhana from the Essence Manual of Oral Instructions (zhal gdams snying byang) as a basis, Khyentse Wangpo added further instructions and verses, primarily from The Array of Amitābha Sūtra (Toh 49, 'od dpag med kyi bkod pa) and The King of Aspiration Prayers (bzang spyod smon lam).
- The History of the Hearing Lineage of the Profound and Secret Practice of Siṃhamukhā by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo
Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo recounts the origin of the teachings of Siṃhamukhā and how they have been subsequently passed down to him. He closely follows the story associated with the lineage of Bari Lotsawa (ba ri lugs).
Jetsün Drakpa Gyaltsen
Khenchen Jigme Phuntsok
Composed at the cave of Yangleshö in Nepal, this spontaneous song praises the power of this sacred site, a place where Guru Padmasambhava once meditated and gained accomplishment, while also attesting to Khenchen Jigme Phuntsok's own poetic mastery and realization.
A poetic eulogy (Toh 1142) that extols the thirty-five Buddhas, who feature in confession practices, such as the Bodhisattvas’ Confession of Downfalls (byang chub sems dpa’i ltung bshags), also known as the Sūtra of the Three Heaps (phung po gsum pa’i mdo).
Minling Khenchen Ngawang Khyentse Norbu
- Clarifying the Profound Meaning: A Concise Commentary on the Final Testament in Four Lines by Minling Khenchen Ngawang Khyentse Norbu
- The Glorious Gift of Longevity and Granting All Desires: A Liturgy for Saving Lives by Mipham Rinpoche
Ngakchang Shakya Zangpo
In this famous history of the sacred stūpa of Boudha, Guru Padmasambhava recounts the stūpa's origins. In response to a request from King Trisong Deutsen, he tells how a humble poultry-woman first extracted a promise from the king and then built the stūpa together with her four sons, who were all later reborn as prominent figures in the introduction of Buddhism to Tibet. Padmasambhava also describes the benefits to be gained from circumambulating the stūpa and making offerings before it, and concludes with a series of prophecies concerning the stūpa's restoration.
Nyoshul Khenpo Jamyang Dorje
- Luminous Clouds of Spontaneous Song: A Prayer to Call the Guru from Afar by Nyoshul Khenpo Jamyang Dorje
Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche wrote this song of "calling the guru from afar" (bla ma rgyang 'bod) to accompany the Ultimate Guru Sādhana of Simplicity (spros med don gyi bla sgrub) composed by Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche (1920–1996).
In this brief treasure text, Padmasambhava prophesies the many ways in which he will reveal himself to disciples in the future. He encourages his students to pray to him continually and gives specific instructions on how to invoke him on the tenth day. The text concludes with a description of the destined revealer of this treasure, Ratna Lingpa.
- A Shower of Blessings: A Guru Yoga Practice to Accompany the Seven-Line Prayer (Addendum) by Shakya Shri
This arrangement of Mipham Rinpoche's famous Shower of Blessings Guru Yoga practice adds opening verses of refuge and bodhicitta, a torma offering to the obstructing forces, visualization of the protective sphere and the descent of blessings, as well as concluding verses for the remainder offering, aspiration and dedication.
Shechen Gyaltsab Gyurme Pema Namgyal
- A Clear, Concise and Simple Explanation of the Generation and Completion Stages for the Benefit of Beginners by Shechen Gyaltsab Gyurme Pema Namgyal
This pithy text provides beginners with a clear, comprehensible explanation of kyerim (bskyed rim), or the generation stage, including all the most important points of practice, such as the three samādhis, four aspects of recitation, and four stakes that secure the life-force (srog sdom gzer bzhi).
Situ Paṇchen Chökyi Jungne
This concise commentary draws from the tradition of Fivefold Mahāmudrā teachings passed down from Pakmodrupa to Jikten Sumgön, and thus especially emphasized within the Drikung Kagyü lineage. When included in a single session of practice, these five points—bodhicitta, guru yoga, yidam practice, Mahāmudrā, and dedication—are held to provide a complete path to awakening. Chokyi Jungné’s instruction expands upon traditional presentations by concluding with specific instructions on how to practice during all periods of the day, as well as at the time of death.
This short commentary (Tōh. 4353) on the secret mantra or tantric meaning of the famous Heart Sūtra is attributed to the Atiyoga teacher Śrī Siṃha. According to the colophon, he gave this explanation to his disciple Vairotsana, who put it into writing and taught it to King Tri Songdetsen.
Tai Situ Rinpoche
- The Wish-Fulfilling King of Great Might: A Universally Beneficial Prayer, Aspiration, and Supplication to the Three Jewels and Three Roots by Tai Situ Rinpoche
Brief verses of prayer invoking Buddha Śākyamuni, Prajñāpāramitā, Avalokiteśvara, Guru Padmasambhava, Vajrasattva, and the protector Bernakchen, together with their mantras, composed for daily recitation or use on special occasions.
Tulku Zangpo Drakpa
This terma (gter ma), which Tulku Zangpo Drakpa revealed and passed on to Rigdzin Gödem (1337–1408), presents a sūtra-like scenario in which Buddha Śākyamuni reveals a dhāraṇī for subduing enemies and demonic forces.