Words of the Buddha
A selection of works by the Buddha himself, many of which feature in the Kangyur (bka' 'gyur), the Tibetan canonical collection of the Buddha's Word:
- The King of Aspiration Prayers: Samantabhadra's “Aspiration to Good Actions” (Zangchö Mönlam) | Aspiration Prayers
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.
In reponse to a question from the bodhisattva Ākāśagarbha, the Buddha explains how a bodhisattva should view the mind at the moment of death. It is important, the Buddha says, to cultivate the perception of insubstantiality, great compassion, referencelessness and non-attachment, and not to seek buddhahood anywhere other than in the mind's own wisdom.
The Sūtra of Recalling the Three Jewels is a popular sūtra in the Tibetan tradition, expressing the qualities of the Buddha, Dharma and Saṅgha. It has inspired a number of commentaries, from Tāranātha (1575–1643), Könchok Jigme Wangpo (1728–1791), Minyak Kunzang Sonam (1823–1905), Ju Mipham (1846–1912), and others.
The Ārya caturdharmanirdeśa nāma mahāyāna sūtra (‘Phags pa chos bzhi bstan pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo) is the ultimate source for the doctrine of the four powers (stobs bzhi), a popular feature of Tibetan teachings on confession. In this initial, canonical presentation, however, the four are referred to as 'factors', although two are also called 'powers'. They are: 1) the action of total rejection, 2) the action as remedy, 3) the power of restoration, and 4) the power of support.
In this (Tōh. 23), the shortest of the Prajñāpāramitā or Perfection of Wisdom sūtras, the Buddha teaches the syllable ‘A’, which encapsulates the transcendent perfection of wisdom and all the literature related to it.
The Aparimitāyurjñāna-nāma mahāyāna-sūtra ('phags pa tshe dang ye shes dpag tu med pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po'i mdo) is said to bring extraordinary merit and longevity when written out, read aloud, copied, or venerated with offerings.
- The Praise to Tārā with Twenty-One Verses of Homage and The Excellent Benefits of Reciting the Praise | Tārā
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.
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).
These verses, which appear in the Kangyur, invoke the auspiciousness of the seven successive buddhas (sangs rgyas rabs bdun): 1) Vipaśyin, 2) Śikhin, 3) Viśvabhū, 4) Krakucchandra, 5) Kanakamuni, 6) Kāśyapa, and 7) Śākyamuni.
Vajraṇakhī (rdo rje sder mo), 'Vajra Claw', is a wrathful ḍākinī whose mantra has a long history and can be found in various forms in, e.g., the Guhyasamāja, Vajravārāhī, and Vajrakīla traditions. In this text, her independent dhāraṇī, Vajraṇakhī is invoked as to protect the practitioner's domestic space, family, friends, and allies, and to avert any obstacles that might threaten them. Although her dhāraṇī is here attributed to Buddha Śākyamuni, it is not found in any of the extant Kangyur collections but is preserved in various dhāraṇī compendia (gzungs ‘dus).
A popular text (Tōh. 748) teaching the incantantion (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.
Vajravidāraṇa (rdo rje rnam ‘joms) is a semi-wrathful form of Vajrapāṇi and the deity’s dhāraṇī (gzungs), counted as a kriyā-tantra, is known for its healing and purifying effect. The dhāraṇī has inspired a large number of ritual liturgies and commentaries, both Indic and Tibetan, and is commonly recited by Tibetan and Newar Buddhists. In Tibetan it is preserved mainly in two forms, one in the Kangyur and the Nyingma version presented here, which is said to be a reconstruction based on commentarial literature.
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.