DJKR Teachings on Aspiration: Taipei 2016 / Hong Kong 2021 / Bodh Gaya 2023 / Vancouver 2024 Alex Li Trisoglio: 9-Week Review 2024

Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche

Samantabhadra’s Aspiration (Bodh Gaya 2023)

Public teaching on Samantabhadra’s King of Aspiration Prayers (Ārya-Bhadracaryā-Praṇidhāna-Rāja), Given over 8 days during Dzongsar Mönlam in Bodh Gaya, India
October 21-28, 2023

Day 1: Video (53 minutes), Transcript
Day 2: Video (57 minutes), Transcript
Day 3: Video (124 minutes), Transcript
Day 4: Video (44 minutes), Transcript
Day 5: Video (124 minutes), Transcript
Day 6: Video (129 minutes), Transcript
Day 7: Video (97 minutes), Transcript
Day 8: Video (53 minutes), Transcript

Note 1: This is an edited transcript of a live teaching, and should not be taken as Rinpoche’s final word. Every effort has been made to ensure that this transcript is accurate both in terms of words and meaning, however all errors and misunderstandings are the responsibility of the editors of Please see note.

Note 2: This transcript includes footnotes with clarifications and more information about Tibetan and Sanskrit Buddhist terms used in the teaching. Please click on the superscript number to read the footnote. Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche’s name is abbreviated to “DJKR” throughout.

Day 1

The inconceivability of the Avatamsaka Sutra

The purpose of this teaching is to support you in practicing Samantabhadra’s Prayer of Good Conduct

[Note: Rinpoche taught in Tibetan. The transcript below is based on the English translation given during the teachings in Bodh Gaya.]

I will give an explanation of Samantabhadra’s Prayer of Good Conduct, the Bhadracharya-Pranidhana-Raja Prayer, as much as I know, and I will refer to a few of the commentaries. First, there’s no time to explain each and every verse, and there’s not even a need to do that. The reason is that since we are reciting the aspiration prayer, the Prayer of Good Conduct, here [during this mönlam], this explanation is just to facilitate your motivation and the kind of intention you can generate while reciting the prayer.

This Bhadracharya-Pranidhana-Raja Prayer or the Prayer of Good Conduct is taken from one of the vastest sutras in the words of the Buddha (the Kangyur), called the Avatamsaka Sutra. So if you can specifically know that this prayer has been taken or extracted from the Avatamsaka Sutra, there’s a great benefit. Each sutra has a different subject or different way to understand the meaning of the sutra. For instance, the Jatakamala Sutra has [one particular] meaning, and the Vajracheddika Sutra has a different meaning. Likewise, the Avatamsaka Sutra also carries a different meaning. For instance, [when it comes to] the Sutra of the Four Noble Truths, we can [actually] visit the place where this sutra was taught in Varanasi at Deer Park in Sarnath. And the disciples who received the teachings or listened to the teachings were people from the Shakya clan in Uttar Pradesh, like Kaundinya and the [rest of the] Five Fortunate Disciples1bhadravargiya (Sanskrit: भद्रवर्गीय, IAST: bhadravargīya ; Tibetan: ཁོར་ལྔ་སྡེ་བཟང་པོ་, khor nga dé zangpo ; Wylie: ‘khor lnga sde bzang po) = the retinue of the first five excellent disciples – see bhadravargiya.. At a glance, it appears that a person [the Buddha] was talking to another person or a group of other people [his disciples].

Unlike many sutras, the context of the Avatamsaka Sutra is beyond our ordinary way of thinking

But for the Avatamsaka Sutra, the place where Buddha taught this sutra cannot be imagined in our minds. It’s unimaginable. And even if we consider that this particular sutra is being taught at this very moment in a place like Shravasti, simultaneously it also seems like this sutra is being taught in another place beyond this Jambudvipa continent. And even the disciples who receive these teachings are mixed, [an audience] that we cannot possibly imagine in our mind. Not just the human disciples or recipients, there are also non-human recipients, such as gods, asuras, gandharvas, serpents, and so on.

So if you think about the Buddha who gave the teachings in the Avatamsaka Sutra, unlike the other sutras, the Buddha is quite majestic and inconceivable in this context. For instance, in today’s world, if there is a teacher like a lama or tulku or khenpo who can teach not just one particular race of people, such as Tibetan, for instance, but if they can teach Tibetans and at the same time also teach Indians or Chinese or Westerners, then this teacher would be considered great. It is very difficult for a teacher to have that kind of quality. For instance, including me, there are so many khenpos here. If we are asked to teach the Heart Sutra, Prajñaparamita-Hrdaya, to a five-year-old child, we cannot do it. We can’t communicate [the meaning of the sutra] to a child. We can only give a reading transmission. We can’t communicate the meaning. So we cannot teach a five-year-old child the contents of the Prajñaparamita-Hrdaya, the Heart Sutra, such as no ear, no nose, and so on, in a way that the recipient or the audience, the five-year-old child, can really enjoy hearing this teaching, just like hearing a beautiful story. Likewise, in many cases, when we teach difficult subjects like philosophical texts, people often feel that they cannot understand, and over time they become bored listening to such teachings.

When Buddha taught this sutra, there were different kinds of [beings in the] audience, like bodhisattvas on the higher bhumis, initiate bodhisattvas, and non-human disciples such as gods, asuras, demons, and so on. So when we recite this Pranidhana-Raja Prayer or the Prayer of Good Conduct, we need to be able to digest this inconceivability — the inconceivable meaning, the inconceivable place, and the inconceivable field.

If we can understand this inconceivability, our clinging to size, time and direction will fall apart

So if we think about the inconceivability, then when we begin to recite this prayer that “I prostrate and make offerings to the infinite Buddhas in the infinite pure realms”, we do this not only to the Buddhas of the present that we can conceive and can think about — those that can fit into our mind stream. It we try to understand this inconceivability that is explained in the Avatamsaka Sutra, we [can also include] the Buddhas of the past and the future that exist in infinite realms, [and these] can fit into our mind stream when we recite the prayer. Likewise, there are points in the prayer where not only we confess the negative actions committed in the past and the present, but even the future negative actions that have not really been committed. That idea or concept can also fit into our mind.

So in the prayer, there are [stanzas that describe how] on one single atom, there [is a number of atoms as great as all] the atoms that exist in the whole universe, the infinite atoms. So these are all taken from the Avatamsaka Sutra. That’s why I’m mentioning this sutra.
At the moment, the way we think about time and the direction, our concept of time and direction, is very limited. For example, at the moment, everybody thinks that it is getting dark. Animals such as cats and dogs don’t know whether it is getting dark or not. They have a different way of thinking. Likewise, at the moment we have a vague thought or concept of the future, for example when the discipliner announces that tomorrow, unlike the usual timing, people should gather here at 6 AM in the morning. And even [when it comes to] direction, we have very limited understanding or perception that the sun rises in the east and it sets in the west. Even our concept of size, like big and small, that is also very limited. So the [way that] size and direction and time are explained in the Avatamsaka Sutra is beyond our imagination.

It is not a mythological story, the inconceivable time and direction that’s explained in the Avatamsaka Sutra. In fact, the limitations of time, direction and size [in our ordinary understanding] are all fabricated by our conceptual minds. So if we can understand that these are just the creation or fabrication of our mind, then our clinging to size, time, and direction will fall apart.

The benefits of aspiration

The Gandavyuha Sutra is the story of an inconceivable journey that ends with aspiration

The Avatamsaka Sutra is really vast, and contained within it is the Gandavyuha Sutra, [also known as] the Stem Array sutra. The Gandavyuha Sutra itself is vast, [and it contains] so many wonderful stories. There’s a story about how the young bodhisattva Sudhana encounters bodhisattva Mañjushri, and in the presence of Mañjushri, he takes the bodhisattva vow and generates bodhichitta. In the presence of Mañjushri, he studies, contemplates and meditates. And then Mañjushri sends Sudhana to a particular place, and gives him directions to find a particular bodhisattva that he should take as a teacher. And with extreme hardships and difficulties, the young bodhisattva Sudhana goes to that particular place and meets the bodhisattva. From that bodhisattva, Sudhana receives teachings and practices them. And again, that bodhisattva sends Sudhana to another place to find a different bodhisattva.

The Gandavyuha Sutra is a story of Sudhana going to fifty-three different kinds of bodhisattva teachers. And the outlook or presence of these teachers and the way they do things are inconceivable. It’s unimaginable in our mind. More than twenty of his teachers are females. Some of his teachers are ordained monks and rishis. Some of his teachers are merchants, quite powerful ones. And one of the teachers is an eight-year-old child. So having received teachings from fifty-three teachers, the last teacher from whom Sudhana receives teachings is bodhisattva Samantabhadra. And since Samantabhadra practices bodhisattva activity in the manner of aspirations, [his teaching to Sudhana is in the form of an aspiration prayer and so] this Pranidhana-Raja Prayer, the Prayer of Good Conduct, is the last section of the Gandavyuha Sutra.

Aspiration is something we can actually do

It seems that it’s very important to make aspiration. In Tibet, there are instances where Avalokiteshvara, who is basically the deity of compassion, is practiced as the wisdom deity. But in Tibet, you don’t find much [practice] of Samantabhadra, the deity to accomplish aspiration. However, in Tibet, it is almost impossible to find a person who does not recite the Prayer of Good Conduct. Samantabhadra is quite popular in China, and there are also instances of the practice of Samantabhadra in places like Thailand and Laos.
I’m sure most of you know there is a difference between bodhisattva Samantabhadra in this prayer and the primordial Buddha Samantabhadra in the Nyingma teachings.

As I mentioned just now, it’s very important to make aspiration. So the reason is that among the practices we do, the thing that we can actually accomplish and actualise is aspiration. The best [practice] one can do is to meditate on the wisdom of no-self, but at the very outset, it is difficult to understand this even intellectually. We might be able to meditate or contemplate on compassion, loving-kindness and bodhichitta for a small fraction of time, but it is very difficult to do this consistently and continuously. Likewise, it is very difficult to [cultivate] values or qualities such as renunciation, devotion and confidence in the Three Jewels, our teachers and so on. Even if a person could recognise the Three Jewels and have confidence in them, it is very difficult to continue with that kind of confidence.
And if it is difficult to nurture conceivable qualities such as devotion, compassion, and loving-kindness, it is [much more] difficult [to nurture those] inconceivable qualities in our mind.

So the thing we can do is that we can make aspiration “May devotion arise in my mind stream. May compassion arise in my mind stream. May confidence arise in my mind stream.” That we can do. And moreover, through aspiration, we can realise emptiness and so on2Ed.: It was unclear if DJKR was saying “through aspiration we can realise emptiness” or “we can also aspire to realise emptiness”.We have gone with the first interpretation..

So if you wish and if you have interest in accomplishing something, then automatically you will also persevere in order to accomplish that aspiration. So in your aspiration, you need to aspire for things that are achievable, [things] that can be accomplished. And the aspiration that one can accomplish is the aspiration that all beings attain enlightenment. Basically, this is the only aspiration that can be achieved. For example, [you might] aspire for long life, and maybe your life can be extended by one day, a month or a few years, but you cannot become deathless. It is also very difficult to completely actualise the aspiration to become wealthy and to not have sickness. Maybe one can actualise [that kind of aspiration] to a very small extent, but to actualise it completely is very difficult.

The [only] aspiration that is achievable and that can be accomplished is the aspiration that all beings attain enlightenment. The reason is that all beings are by nature Buddhas. They have Buddhanature, Tathagatagarbha. And in the process, as a side effect, you can also aspire to have long life, to be wealthy, world peace and so on. You can do that. So that’s why it’s important to make aspiration.


Day 2

Establishing the correct motivation


We will continue with the explanation of the Bhadracharya prayer. As a follower of Shakyamuni Buddha, both the teacher and the disciples must generate proper and appropriate motivation. Our motivation [is that we should listen to these teachings] not just for knowledge or education. At the very least, we need to generate a certain level of renunciation. Even if we are not able to generate profound and vast renunciation, at the very least, we should see the valuelessness of the eight worldly dharmas, like gain/loss, pleasure/pain, kind and unkind words, and praise/blame3jigten chögyé (Tibetan: འཇིག་རྟེན་ཆོས་བརྒྱད་, jigten chögyé ; Wylie: ‘jig rten chos brgyad) = the 8 worldly concerns (also 8 samsaric dharmas or 8 worldly dharmas), the 8 underlying motivations or attachments that drive ordinary worldly samsaric actions – see jigten chögyé..

The motivation to enlighten all sentient beings

As I mentioned yesterday, this Pranidhana-Raja prayer is taken from the Gandavyuha Sutra, which is part of the Avatamsaka Sutra. Since this prayer belongs to a Mahayana sutra, we also need to generate a Mahayana motivation or intention [in addition to renunciation]. At the very least, this means that both the teacher and disciple must think that we are engaging in these activities of teaching and learning for the sake of [benefiting] sentient beings. And our intention to benefit other beings is not just for the temporary benefit of this life, but actually we need to have the motivation to enlighten [all] other sentient beings. For those who are not so familiar with the concept of enlightenment or Buddhahood, you can [simply] have the intention that all beings realise the truth in its totality. 

Until we realise the truth fully, we are bound by ignorance. As long as we have ignorance, then the afflictive emotions, such as anger, desire and so on, will arise automatically. [We will take action based on] these emotions, and we will then create karma, both positive and negative. Then we will have to experience the result of that karma, and when we experience the ripening of the karma, new emotions and new karma will be created. And in this way, this cycle will continue. This cycle is referred as samsara or cyclic existence. So we generate the motivation to make aspiration for the sake of freeing oneself [and all sentient beings from] this such kind of cyclic existence, and also to persevere in knowing the aspiration, and then this becomes the Mahayana motivation. 

The benefits of reciting the Pranidhana-Raja

The benefits of even once having the yearning for enlightenment

3.1. The Benefits of Making Aspirations in General
[47] Whoever hears this king of dedication prayers,
And yearns for supreme enlightenment,
Who even once arouses faith,
Will gain true merit greater still

[48] Than by offering the victorious buddhas
Infinite pure realms in every directions, all ornamented with jewels,
Or offering them all the highest joys of gods and humans
For as many aeons as there are atoms in those realms.

Generally, in the Mahayana aspiration prayers, and especially in the Samantabhadra’s Prayer of Good Conduct, it is said that reciting the aspiration prayer has enormous benefit. Of course, there is great benefit in reciting the prayer on a daily basis. But even to just have the interest or intention to recite the prayer just once and to long for the Mahayana path, the Mahayana qualities, the qualities of the Buddha and bodhisattvas — to have that kind of intention brings enormous benefit. So it is said in the Bhadracharya prayer that the benefit of reciting the prayer just once will exceed making offerings to [all the] Buddhas and bodhisattvas in the ten directions with all the wealth and [desirable offering substances] that exist in all the different kinds of worlds. 

[You might think] that these things are stated by Buddhas [merely] in order to inspire young practitioners. Some people might think that this prayer is just a religious concept created by religious people, and there’s no witness to prove [the existence of] Buddhas and bodhisattvas. Others might think that if this prayers was created by Buddhas and bodhisattvas [who actually] have qualities such as the ten powers and four fearlessnesses, then if we do the prayer it will fulfil our wishes. This is not the best kind of intention, but still it is good. 

Inconceivable and conceivable teachings

As I mentioned yesterday, the best intention or attitude in this prayer is to aspire [according to] the inconceivability that is explained in the [Mahayana] sutras, even if we might have doubts about [that inconceivability]. There’s a vast explanation of this inconceivability in the Gandavyuha Sutra. Since it is too vast, it is not that easy to essentialise the points. So for instance, when Sudhana saw bodhisattva Maitreya, in even a single pore of Maitreya’s body, he could see infinite Buddhafields. [And in each of] these Buddhafields, he saw infinite Buddhas each with infinite disciples of many different kinds. The Gandavyuha Sutra [tells the] story about Sudhana’s [journey], from the very beginning when he took the bodhisattva vow, [through the way] that he followed and accomplished the stages of the Mahayana path.

For people like us, there is a story of how Buddha appeared 2,500 years ago, how he was born in Lumbini, how he practiced [austerities] on the banks of the River Nairañjana and then finally attained enlightenment at Bodh Gaya under the Bodhi tree. For us, the [story has] details such as the time, direction, place, and so on. But in the content of the Avatamsaka Sutra, an explanation such as “Buddha was born 2,500 years ago” is [considered] a very childish kind of explanation. However for babies and small children, we need to feed them with appropriate food that can fit into their mouths, and which they can digest. Otherwise, [things will not go well]. Likewise, for child-like beings like us, the teachings should be given in the same manner as we feed babies. That’s why we have the explanation that Buddha was born to King Shuddhodana and Mayadevi and so on. The teachings [need to] be given in this way.

Practicing according to the skilful means of Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö

In this way, the great masters have explained the skilful means to recite the prayer, [namely] that we [should] visualise the Buddha and bodhisattva Samantabhadra in the sky [in front of us]. Following the framework written by Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö, this is how the teachings are introduced to the beginners. We also think that [when] we pray in front of the Buddhas and bodhisattvas, they will hear our prayers and they will know what we wish for and they will support us to fulfil these prayers.

For those who can understand the [inconceivable nondual] view set out in the Avatamsaka Sutra, they don’t need to go through these details of the Buddha being born 2,500 years ago and so on. If we can understand the view set out in the Avatamsaka Sutra, then just as the bodhisattva Sudhana could see all his activities [of past, present and future lives] in a single moment, likewise all the activities we do here — from starting the prayer at 8 in the morning until 5 in the evening — can all be accomplished in a single moment. So although we speak about these elaborations of time, in actuality, there’s no such thing as past, present and future in the ultimate sense. So there’s no reason why the prayer cannot be fulfilled or accomplished. So when the Pranidhana-Raja prayer says that [the merit obtained by] reciting this prayer [even] once exceeds [the merit obtained by] making offerings to all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas with all the wealth that exists in the entire universe — that is not just a story made up by somebody. It is a fact. It is reality.

Two ways of approaching shunyata or emptiness

I’m going to mention an additional point, since many of those present here are studying in shedras, and there are also other students. In the philosophical institutions, when they study subjects such as Prajñaparamita or Madhyamaka, they’re supposed to be studying the view. When we study subjects such as Madhyamaka in scholastic settings, the approach is an intellectual approach based on logical analysis. For example, the view is established through refuting birth from four extremes or eight extremes, ascertained by means of debate or argument. This is one way to establish the view of emptiness in texts such as Madhyamika and Prajñaparamita. 

There is another way [of understanding emptiness], as set out in the Avatamsaka Sutra and in the Pranidhana-Raja. Here it explains that in one lotus, there are infinite lotuses, and then [within each of these there are] limitless and inconceivable numbers of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. This is another way of understanding the view of emptiness or Prajñaparamita. In addition, some people may think that emptiness is voidness or nothingness. But it is not like that. It is the same in essence to realise the view of emptiness and to be able to digest that each atom has an infinite number of atoms on top of it. 

The inconceivable aspiration of the Pranidhana-Raja is possible because of emptiness

3.2. The Thirteen Benefits in Detail
[49] Whoever truly makes this Aspiration to Good Actions,
Will never again be born in lower realms;
They will be free from harmful companions, and
Soon behold the Buddha of Boundless Light.

Therefore, it is possible for us to take the attitude that we can [simultaneously] prostrate to the past Buddhas, present Buddhas, and future Buddhas because of the view of emptiness — that everything is empty and pure in its nature. It is said in the Madhyamaka, “Because of emptiness, everything is possible”. [If we accept the view of emptiness, then] all activities and actions are possible. So for this reason, just by reciting the Pranidhana-Raja once, one will be able to transcend rebirth in lower realms and one will be able to avoid and discard evil or non-virtuous friends. When we say evil friends or bad friends, it may not necessarily refer to those who make you get distracted, taking you to the movies and so on. They are not really bad friends. The worst friend is the one who derails you from having interest and devotion towards the view of emptiness, and also the one who makes you disbelieve in concepts such as how in one single lotus there are 25 lotuses and each of these lotuses has infinite Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. The one who makes you not believe in such ideas is [considered] a bad or evil friend. 

And through the power of reciting the Pranidhana-Raja, one can have a glimpse of Amitabha Buddha very soon. There are so many different ways to think about Amitabha Buddha. Generally, as is stated in the Sukhavati prayer written by Raga Asé4The Aspiration to be Reborn in the Pure Realm of Sukhavati (Tibetan: རྣམ་དག་བདེ་ཆེན་ཞིང་གི་སྨོན་ལམ་, Wylie: rnam dag bde chen zhing gi smon lam) aka Dechen Mönlam or Dé Mön (བདེ་སྨོན་, bde smon), by Karma Chakmé Rinpoche (aka Raga Asé) is perhaps the most famous aspiration prayer to be reborn in Sukhavati, the heaven of Amitabha, in the Tibetan tradition – see Dé Mön., [we say] that Amitabha is red in colour and he resides in the western direction. But if we think more deeply about Buddha Amitabha, [especially his name] “The Buddha of Limitless Light”, then [we realise that this is] essentially talking about this inconceivable nature. So for this reason, just by remembering the name or form or colour of Amitabha, through the power of the blessings and aspirations of the Buddhas and bodhisattvas, one can actually fulfil [their] wishes. 

[50] They will acquire all kind of benefits, and live in happiness;
Even in this present life all will go well,
And before long,
They will become just like Samantabhadra.

Likewise, it is said in the Pranidhana-Raja prayer that through reciting the prayer, one can get all the good and desirable things one wishes for. When we say getting good things, we refer to [things like] encountering a qualified Mahayana teacher. Encountering friends who have devotion and interest in the Mahayana teachings. And meeting people who really make an effort to know about the beings who explain the view of shunyata and so on. For instance, it is the result of the great merit that we have accumulated in the past lives that we have heard about Nagarjuna and his explanations of shunyata. We have also heard about Shantideva and the teachings in his Bodhicharyavatara. Not only that, we have also received teachings and heard teachings [on these subjects]. So [we have received] desirable and good things.

[51] All negative acts—even the five of immediate retribution—
Whatever they have committed in the grip of ignorance,
Will soon be completely purified,
If they recite this Aspiration to Good Actions.

It is also said in the Pranidhana-Raja prayer that through reciting the prayer, one will be able to purify karmic defilements. This is very important. It seems easier to understand the concept of purifying the defilements of negative actions and obscurations, but it is difficult to understand [the purification of] karmic defilements. This is because we [can also] benefit from karma or action, but we will not attain nirvana or liberation until we purify karma completely. Karmic defilements can seem to be like shoes, because they benefit us. We can wear them, but sometimes when we take a shower and so on, then we need to take them off. We can’t wear shoes while taking a shower. 

It seems extremely difficult to abandon or discard the karmic defilements. They can only be purified by applying the antidote of non-dual wisdom and so on. There are so many explanations in the sutras and shastras about the difficulty of purifying the karmic defilements. For instance, Arya Nagarjuna finally died when his head was cut by a piece of grass because he had the karmic residue of having accidentally killed an insect in his former life. However, these karmic defilements can [all] be purified through reciting the Pranidhana-Raja, Samantabhadra’s Prayer of Good Conduct.


Day 3

The benefits of reciting the Pranidhana-Raja (contd.)

Only the Buddha can fathom the complete benefit of the Pranidhana-Raja in full. However, I’m explaining the benefit in brief, and I’ve already explained some [of these benefits] yesterday. The benefit that I need to explain further includes wisdom, sublime body and so on. First I will explain wisdom or jñana. In this context, you can understand wisdom as the ability to discern what is good and bad, what is to be adopted [and abandoned], what is Dharma and what is not Dharma, and so on. In addition to that, wisdom includes knowing the non-self of the person and of phenomena. One should not understand wisdom just in terms of becoming clever and wise or knowledgeable. For those who know philosophy, wisdom here refers to the exhaustion of the ordinary mind and mental events. This is [not a state] of being completely empty or void, but there is luminosity or clarity. It is the union of clarity and luminosity, clarity and emptiness.

As an ordinary practitioner, the best method to actualise wisdom is aspiration. Through reciting the Bhadracharya or the Prayer of Good Conduct, one of the most supreme accomplishments one can attain is wisdom. So when we talk about the qualities of the bodhisattva, the main quality we talk about is benefiting other beings. And the best or most supreme skillful means to benefit other beings is to generate wisdom. Since this is very important, I will elaborate on this point a little.

Wisdom here refers to the attitude or the way of thinking that contradicts dualistic clinging. As long as we have dualistic concepts or dualistic perception, then we will have the attitude that we need to benefit just one person or one hundred people or one thousand beings and so on. As long as we have this dualistic perception, then the bodhisattvas will [only] try to benefit a small number of other sentient beings. And when this doesn’t work, when the things don’t go as they [planned], then they get discouraged. And when other beings make them feel discouraged by not appreciating [their efforts], then young bodhisattvas become weary and fatigued. So in the prayer, it mentions that the bodhisattva’s aspiration is that until the space in the universe and as long as beings exist — as much as the infinitude of beings — my aspiration is the same.

But some of us might think that these are just mere words of encouragement and that may not necessarily fit into our small dualistic mind. For instance, we think that when we talk about world peace, it is impossible. However, the cause of bodhisattva’s confidence that the aspiration to benefit all beings can be actualised comes from wisdom. In the sphere or context of wisdom, there’s no difference between benefiting one being or many beings or an infinitude of beings. As long as a bodhisattva has wisdom, there’s no difference between benefiting beings just for half an hour or a month or as long as the space in the universe or samsara exists. So because of wisdom, bodhisattvas don’t feel discouraged to work for the benefit of other beings even for as long as samsara exist.

[54] The full result of keeping, teaching, or reading
This Prayer of Aspiration to Good Actions
Is known to the buddhas alone:
Have no doubt: supreme enlightenment will be yours!

If with even a simple understanding of wisdom one can accomplish great benefit, as is said in the prayer, then one should not have even the slightest doubt about the supreme enlightenment of Buddhahood. We should not have doubt, thinking that if I cannot benefit one single being, how could I benefit an infinitude of beings? And even this kind of wisdom and courage is attained through the prayer of good conduct, the Bhadracharya prayer.

[52] They will possess perfect wisdom, beauty, and excellent signs,
Be born in a good family, and with a radiant appearance.
Demons and heretics will never harm them,
And all three worlds will honour them with offerings.

Likewise, [when it comes to] the attributes to benefit other beings, some of the [skilful] means such as the [ability] to manifest different bodies and attributes, and also the caste, clan, and so on, these are also achieved through this prayer. [As a result] the bodhisattvas can manifest all [kinds of] different colours, attributes, and signs. Those who practice the Bhadracharya prayer, become invincible and cannot be harmed by the heretics and the maras or demons. This is because someone who practices this prayer, has a vast and profound intention and a vast and profound view. So the demons or maras and heretics cannot defeat [them].

[53] They will quickly go beneath the bodhi-tree,
And there, they will sit, to benefit all sentient beings, then
Awaken into enlightenment, turn the wheel of Dharma,
And tame Mara with all his hordes.

Another benefit is that one becomes the object of veneration of the three worlds. If you recite the prayer, you will actually arrive underneath the Bodhi tree where you will attain Buddhahood. So it is not just [about] coming to Bodh Gaya and doing prayers every two years, but about swiftly attaining Buddhahood under the Bodhi tree. The person who recites this prayer arrives under the Bodhi tree, vanquishes all the maras and turns the wheel of dharma.

So I’ve explained in brief the benefit of prayer until the line that says that one should not have even the slightest doubt about enlightenment [Ed. the end of stanza 54].

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Transcribed and edited by Alex Li Trisoglio