Tag Archive | pureland

How to pray to Amitabha

In response to a question by a student about whether to recite Buddha Amitabha’s name in Chinese or Tibetan, Pema Trinley Rinpoche replied:

Whether you recite in Tibetan or Chinese, it is both okay.  You can recite “I prostrate, make offerings and take refuge in the Bhagavan, Tathagatha, Arhat, Perfectly Enlightened Buddha Protector Amitabha” in Chinese.  It is the same.   Whether you are reciting it in Tibetan or Chinese, what is really important is to visualize clearly, to pray to Guru Amitabha and to make aspirations.  Supplicate Guru Amitabha to bless you to attain rebirth in Amitabha’s pureland at the point of death.  If one does not visualize, does not pray properly to Amitabha, does not make aspirations to be reborn in Sukhavati, then merely reciting Amitabha’s name–  whether it is a million or two million times, regardless of how many times one recites— is not effective.  What is really vital is to be undistracted during the recitation, visualizing Amitabha inseparable from one’s Guru clearly above one’s crown.   At the same time, think of the qualities and blessings of Amitabha’s three kayas, think of the qualities of Amitabha’s pureland, think of the qualities of the Guru who is inseparable from Amitabha.  Then follow that with supplicating Guru Amitabha.   Visualize Guru Amitabha in front of you while making aspirations, prayers, prostrations, offerings, confessions, dedications etc.  In this way, you can take rebirth in the pureland.  If one is merely mouthing the prayers while having all kinds of thoughts, with no sincere aspirations, with no Bodhichitta, with no proper supplication or dedication etc, the seven limb prayers– then even if one recites millions of Amitabha’s names, it does not produce its function.

Thus, one must make aspirations and pray to Amitabha inseparable from the Guru to bless you to be reborn in Amitabha’s pureland at the moment of death.  If you can do it in the way mentioned above, reciting two or three million mantras is okay.  The most important thing is to dream of Amitabha at night.  This is a sign of accomplishment.  This was taught by Lama Achuk Rinpoche.  If during one’s dreams at night, one does not dream of the Guru, one does not dream of Amitabha, then however you recite, it has not borne fruit.  In addition to that, wherever we go, if we suddenly encounter a shock, one should recall Amitabha instinctively and instantly.   If this is the case, one can go to Amitabha’s pureland.  If one is unable to do this, then no matter how you recite, you are not able to reach Amitabha’s pureland.  Similarly, when you recite Chenrezig or any other Buddha or Bodhisattva’s names or mantras, you must do the visualization and pray to them.  Therefore, it is said, the mind is of paramount importance.  Visualizing in the mind and praying is very necessary.  For example, if the Chinese lay-practitioners need to work, and there are many people around them, reciting Amitabha’s mantra becomes inconvenient, then they should visualize and pray with their minds in such a situation.  By doing so, you obtain the same merits.  So the mind is key and most important!  Otherwise, if one goes everywhere and, with a distracted mind thinking of all kinds of things, recite Amitabha’s name with your mouth, it is no different from playing a loudspeaker.  Concerning the number of recitations of Amitabha’s name, there may be varying requirements from different teachers, but here, based on our lineage, there was no explanation given by Lama Achuk Rinpoche as to how many recitations of Amitabha’s name in Chinese is equivalent to a certain number in Tibetan, so we are not capable of calculating these things.  Nonetheless, the quantity of recitations is not crucial.  The critical point to observe is to perform the practice in the manner I just described.

Commentary on King of Aspiration Prayers

I found a commentary on the King of Aspiration Prayers, or Samantabhadra Prayer of Aspiration, otherwise known in Sanskrit or Tibetan as Arya Bhadra Charya Pranidhana Raja, or Phag Pa Zang Po Chod Pay Mon Lam Gyi Gyal Po.  It is delightful to me to find such a treasure so i wanted to share with all readers of this blog.

According to HH Jigme Phuntsok, this prayer is one of the best way to accumulate merits and make wishes for rebirth in Amitabha pureland.  In his monastery, it is emphasized in one of the four major annual festivals where they arrange many offerings of flower, incense, lights, perfume, food offerings etc and recite this prayer.  Many repetitions of this prayer are accumulated and the group merit is fantastic. His Holiness said that there was nothing in this world he was attached to, but if there were one thing he was attached to, it is to the infinite merits that is generated each year during this festival when this prayer was recited many times by thousands of monastics with pure offerings and pure motivation. 

Any practitioner can recite this prayer daily as a general dedication at night, or specially on special days like the 8th, 15th, 25th, 30th, lunar/solar eclipses, duchens, birthdays and anniversaries of yourself and great masters and so forth.  It is also good recite this aspiration prayer at special holy places like Bodhgaya, in front of holy objects like relics, stupas, statues, thangkas, great masters, etc.  Truly, this is a wish-fulfilling jewel.  Many times i feel like this: we have so many precious practices in the dharma and ways to create infinite merits and purify obscurations but it is up to the individual to utilise it.  If we do not, it is like having a blank cheque put in your hand by a king, and you fill it up with zero dollars.   You do not use this precious chance at all. These prayers given by Buddha himself are of infinite value. Even though it can be found everywhere, but that does not detract from its value at all.  Some people think that only rare things are valuable. They think that practices like mani mantra or this particular prayer are so common, so it must be quite ordinary.  I beg to think otherwise. If we do not trust in the words of perfectly enlightened beings, then what is the value of our refuge mind or refuge vows? In many sutras, the value of these prayers and mantras have been well explained and they contain unimaginable benefit. All it takes now is for one to take them up as practices seriously so as to reap the benefit. Having doubts will not help one to progress.  With deep faith, if one takes them up, over time, the benefit will become apparent.  This has been my own experience.

The commentary can be found here (right click to download):


As soon as i get it ready, i’d post up a version of this prayer with English and Tibetan phonetics.  There are many varying versions out there so i thought i will prepare one to the best of my ability and add it to the public domain for more variety of choice.