Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Refuge Prayers and Bodhicitta

 [In a similar way to Christians invoking the Trinity when they begin a spiritual exercise, Buddhists say a refuge prayer. Pema Chödren notes in one of her books that taking refuge is fleeing towards something rather than away from it.  The reference to prostrations in what follows means the introductory exercise that all Tibetan Buddhists undertake after their taking formal refuge with a lama. In the Kagu sect this means 110,000 full prostrations. The prostration is not confined to beginners. The Dalai Lama is said to do a hundred each morning before he does anything else. They're great for the abs! Some Buddhists find it profitable to do the introductory exercises (called Ngöndro: 440,000 for the Kagus—the extra 10,000 in each set is to make up for miscounting or badly done prostrations or offerings) more than once; while on Holy Isle I read of a monk who did them fourteen times!]

Prayers while doing prostrations: it’s the prayer that’s counted, not the prostrations.

Thich Nant Hanh:

To the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha,
which are in the ten directions,
And also in myself,
Which are in all Dharma Realms,
Transcending Past, Present and Future,
Prostrate and Surrendering
I wholeheartedly go for Refuge.


We take refuge in all the glorious excellent gurus,
in our most kind root-guru and in all the gurus of the lineage.
We take refuge in all the yidams and deities of their mandalas.
We take refuge in all the buddhas—the fully endowed victors who
have transcended (suffering). We take refuge in the supreme dharma.
We take refuge in the realized sangha,
We take refuge in al the dakas, dakinis, dharma-protectors
and guardians endowed with jnana-eyes.

drin chen tsa wa tang jüt par ché pé
palden lama tam pa nam la chapsu’n chio
yidam chil khor chi lha tso nam la chapsu’n chio
sangjé chom den dé nam la chapsu’n chio
tampé chö nam la chapsu’n chio
pak pé gen dün nam la chapsu’n chio
pawo khan dro chö chog sung mé tso
yé shé chi chen tang den pa nam la chapsu’n chio


Until we reach the very heart of enlightenment, we take refuge in all the buddhas.
Likewise, we take refuge in the dharma and in the bodhisattva sangha.

chang chup nying por chi ji bar
sanjé nam la chapsu’n chi
chö tang chang chup sem pa yi
tso la ang dé shin chapsu’n chi
ji tar ngön chi dé shek chi

Here is another refuge prayer by Ringu Tulku in his book on Ngöndro pp51-52:

I, and all beings in number as vast as space, take Refuge in our very kind root Guru, whose very nature is the combination of the body, speech, mind, qualities and activities of all the Buddhas of the three times and ten directions. He is our source of the 84,000 dharma teachings and the Lord of the Realized Sangha.

We take Refuge in our most kind root Guru and in all the Gurus of the Lineage,
We take Refuge in all the yidams of all the Mandalas,
We take Refuge in the perfectly realised Buddhas who have  transcended suffering,
We take Refuge in the noble Dharma,
We take Refuge in the realized Sangha,
We take Refuge in all the Dakas, Dakinis, Dharma protectors and guardians endowed with wisdom eyes.

p. 54 When we try to develop Bodhicitta we are aspiring to become Bodhisattvas. By taking Refuge, we have chosen as our goal, or our main objective, to become enlightened beings, who are free of all problems and who can help others. In order to achieve that goal, we have to become Bodhisattvas, because that is the way, the path. The whole practice can be described as trying to become Bodhisattvas, trying to generate that intention, that aspiration or mind-stream in ourselves. That is the most important step we can take towards our aim. In order to become a Bodhisattva, we don’t need anything else but compassion, which is sometimes called a good heart.

[55] If you have that kind of aspiration, from the Buddhist point of view, you are a Bodhisattva, and it doesn’t matter what religion, what class, what kind of people you belong to. It doesn’t even matter whether you are a human being or not, if you have that intention, you are a Bodhisattva.

p. 56 Bodhisattva vow

Until we reach the very heart of enlightenment, we take Refuge in the Buddhas, likewise we take Refuge in the Dharma and in the Bodhisattva Sangha.

Just as the Buddhas of the past first resolved to reach enlightenment and then progressed stage by stage through different levels of Bodhisattva training, In the same way, we also develop a mind intent upon enlightenment for the sake of all beings an we will progressively practice in that training.

 p. 58 Now my life is fruitful—I have truly achieved human existence. Today I have been born into the family of Buddhas. Today I have become a son of the Buddhas. Now, no matter what is required of me, I will act in conformity with my kindred family and will never do anything which might sully the faultless noble line.

[59] Today, in the presence of all the protectors of beings I invite all beings to be my guests at the great celebration of Buddhahood and of happiness until then, Therefore gods, semi-gods and others, all truly rejoice!

May the precious bodhicitta arise in those in whom it has not yet arisen.
Wherever it has arisen, may it never deteriorate but grow more and more.
Never cut off from bodhicitta, engaged in deeds conducive to enlightenment
and perfectly cared for by all the Buddhas, may we give up harmful actions.
May whatever Bodhisattvas have in mind to benefit beings come true.
May whatever Bodhisattvas have in mind to benefit beings come true.
May whatever the protectors wish to happen to beings happen.
May all beings be happy and may all states of suffering be emptied.
May every prayer of the Bodhisattvas, wherever they are, come true.

[60] May all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness
May they all be free from suffering and the causes of suffering
May they never be deprived of true happiness devoid of any suffering
May they abide in great impartiality, free from attachment to loved ones and aversion to others.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

All these prayers and prostrations are so redolent of Roman Catholicism. With an extra 10 000 for those "badly done" or for an "offering"....

6:27 pm, September 24, 2015  

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