The 35 Confessional Buddhas

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The practice of the 35 Confessional Buddhas is one of the best methods to purify our negative karma and can lead to attainments on the path towards enlightenment

The practice of the 35 Confessional Buddhas is one of the most long lasting purification practices that has been propagated since the time of Buddha Shakyamuni. The practice itself was derived from the Mahayana Sutra of the Three Superior Heaps, which in Sanskrit is known as Triskandhadharmasutra.

This text was originally spoken by Buddha Shakyamuni himself and was taught within the Ratnakutasutra, an ancient collection of Mahayana Buddhist sutras. In a commentary by Nagarjuna, the origin of the practice can be traced to 35 Bodhisattva students of Buddha Shakyamuni, who were implicated in the death of a beer-seller’s son. Having remorse, they confessed their downfall to the Elder Upali, who was exemplary in upholding his monastic vows and commitments. They pleaded for him to relay their confession to Buddha Shakyamuni and to request a teaching to purify their wrongdoing. Buddha Shakyamuni saw that these 35 Bodhisattva students were actually innocent in the case but for the sake of future practitioners, he taught the Triskandhadharmasutra as a means to purify the downfalls of practitioners.

One of the most famous examples of those who practised the 35 Confessional Buddhas is Lama Tsongkhapa. He is well-known to have engaged in a purification retreat during which he performed 3.5 million prostrations. This was made up of 100,000 prostrations to each of the 35 Confessional Buddhas. In a pure vision he was advised by Manjushri to engage in this retreat in order to establish a direct perception of emptiness. In the process of his extraordinary and intensive retreat, he left the imprint of his sacred body on the floor of his retreat cave due to his prostrations. Consequently, as he came close to the completion of his retreat, he beheld pure visions of the 35 Confessional Buddhas and the glorious Buddha Maitreya along with the direct or non-conceptual perception of emptiness.

 

The Law of Cause and Effect

Although karma is considered by many to be the mainstay of the Buddha’s teachings, the Buddha himself did not actually invent the doctrine of karma. He taught karma, or the law of cause and effect, based on his own observations in a similar manner to how Isaac Newton discovered gravity by observing the effects that gravity had on an apple falling from a tree.

For most people, the effects of karma can be perceived and understood through ‘inferential logic’ or observations based on reason. A simple example of inferential logic is when we see a column of smoke in the horizon. From that, we can deduce that there is a fire although it may be too far away for us to see with our naked eyes. Likewise, when we see inequality in this world – how some people are born in sheer poverty while others are born into the lap of luxury – we can deduce that there are factors at work driving this result. That factor is karma. The different circumstances that people are born into are due to the ripening of different karmas from previous lives. If we look at this objectively, we will see that the reasoning of karma is a compelling one and can effectively explain why we go through different types of experiences.

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Contrary to what people think, Buddha Shakyamuni did not invent the doctrine of karma but came to the realisation that it exists and how it works. In order to help beings overcome the suffering caused by karma, Buddha Shakyamuni taught the Dharma which is the method to purify negative karma. One such powerful method of purification is the practice of the 35 Confessional Buddhas.

Karma in ancient Sanskrit means the actions or deeds of our body, speech and mind. On the other hand, the effects of karma are called vipaka or the ripening or maturation of karma, that comes back to us through the results and effects that we experience. There are many factors behind every one of our actions that determines their consequences. The most important of these factors on the consequence of our actions is our intent. The intent or motivation behind our actions is a subject that is much discussed in Buddhist teachings. If understood, this is the very point that can turn our lives around. The intent also determines whether the action is going to be positive, negative or one that is to be added to our store of merits necessary for the attainment of enlightenment.

At this point, it is important to understand the distinction between karma and merit. Karma is ordinary negative or positive actions that have arisen from the self-cherishing mind and are motivated directly or indirectly towards one’s benefit. As a result, karma is finite and can eventually be exhausted especially through purification practices. On the other hand, merits are virtuous actions that are dedicated with a selfless intent and towards one’s enlightenment.

Therefore, the results of merit cannot be exhausted and will eventually lead one towards full enlightenment. Although merit cannot be exhausted it can be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of our negative karma, making it difficult for us to benefit from it. This again goes to show how important purification practices are to prevent our merits from being overwhelmed.

On the other hand, the law of cause and effect (karma-vipaka) has an inextricable link with our previous and future lives. In fact, the accumulation of karma in each life determines our next rebirth (known as throwing karma) and the circumstances of future lives (known as completing karma). Hence, we can reasonably interpret what our previous lives might have been like by looking at the circumstances of our current life and the interests we pursue. For example, a life of poverty is a direct result of miserliness and to have poor health in this life is due to the harming of other beings in previous lives. Hence, the results always resemble the causes.

Karma also has a strong effect on our minds and the way we operate. Unfortunately for us, negative karma multiplies over time due to our predominantly self-cherishing actions. Therefore, people are imbued with all manner of emotional and psychological afflictions such as aggression, greed, depression and so forth. This leads to more confusion and conflict that increases our sense of dissatisfaction and misery. The principal source of our pain and suffering actually stems from the mind and our outlook on life. If we reduce harmful mental factors (e.g., projections, expectations and mental afflictions), peace of mind, contentment and happiness will arise.

 

Confessional Practice

In Buddhism, the holding of vows is an important practice. There are three main sets of vows – the Pratimoksha vows of a layperson, monk or nun; the Bodhisattva vows; and the Tantric vows for those with higher tantric initiation. These vows coupled with commitments and refraining from committing unwholesome actions forms the basis of an effective practice that bears fruit leading to spiritual realisations.

Keeping our commitment to uphold our vows is an integral component of the practice. Therefore it is important to purify the negative karma and imprints that accrue from our transgressions by confessing them and promising not to repeat these downfalls again. In this way, we reduce or completely eliminate the strength of negative imprints from previous negative actions. The main component of purification is confession, which is to expose transgressions and lay them bare. Hence in Tibetan, confession is called shakpa or ‘laying it bare’. In Buddhist practice, keeping our transgressions a secret makes it difficult to purify, and the negative effects of the misdeed will continue. Hence, exposing our faults is what confession is all about; honesty and openness in all situations is the essence of Buddhist practice.

In order for the confession to truly purify the misdeed, it must be done in accordance with the Four Opponent Powers. The first of the Opponent Powers is that of regret. The power of regret is activated when we genuinely see the faults of our transgressions and realise that they will result in negative repercussions. When we do this we are filled with remorse. The second Opponent Power is that of reliance on an object worthy of refuge, in this case the 35 Confessional Buddhas. Each of these Buddhas is fully enlightened, and therefore any prayer, prostration, offering or confession that is offered to them will result in purification and the collection of merit.

The third Opponent Power is the determination not to repeat the downfall or misdeed. This follows the understanding of the faults of our downfall and that they lead to heavy negative repercussions. Hence, we make a firm resolution not to repeat the downfall. This leads to the fourth and final Opponent Power, which is that of the application of the remedy or counteracting measures to purify the karma. This is not blind penance for the wrongs that we have done but instead the remedies are performed with the understanding of the law of cause and effect, and with the purpose of counteracting the negative tendencies of the karma that is being purified.

The practice of prostrating or recitation of the Mahayana Sutra of the Three Superior Heaps contains the ‘remedy’ and ‘refuge’ components, and therefore if it is done with sincere regret and firm resolve not to repeat the transgression, it becomes very a potent counteracting measure to the negative karma that has been accumulated.

 

35 Confessional Buddhas

In the Tibetan edition of the Mahayana Sutra of the Three Superior Heaps, the term Dezhin Shegpa (Tathagata or ‘One thus gone’) was added as an honorific title before the names of each of all 35 Confessional Buddhas. This inclusion was made by Je Tsongkhapa after experiencing a vision of the 35 Confessional Buddhas without their heads. Upon praising them however, with the honorific ‘Dezhin Shegpa’ their heads miraculously appeared. Since then, a tradition was started by Je Tsongkhapa to recite the names preceded by the honorific title Dezhin Shegpa.

The practice of the 35 Confessional Buddhas as contained within the Mahayana Sutra of the Three Superior Heaps is a confessional practice. There are two forms of confession – ultimate and relative confession. The ultimate or greater confession is the meditation on the lack of inherent existence of all phenomena. The relative or lesser confession is the application of the four opponent powers combined with prostration and / or other practices while recognising the illusory nature of reality.

The following is the description of the 35 Confessional Buddhas:

1. Buddha Shakyamuni

Buddha Shakyamuni

1. The Tathagata, Buddha Shakyamuni
Buddha Shakyamuni’s name is followed by several honorific epithets such as, Foe Destroyer and Completely Perfected One. These names refer to the Buddha’s special qualities that have arisen due to his enlightened nature. Buddha Shakyamuni here refers to the historical Buddha who achieved full enlightenment under the Bodhi tree in Bodhgaya. He is golden in colour and sits in full meditation posture with his hands in the earth-touching gesture, or Bhumisparsha mudra. He purifies all negative karma accumulated over 10,000 eons.

 

2. Vajrapramardi

Buddha Vajrapramardi

2. The Tathagata, Complete Subduer With the Essence of Vajra (Vajrapramardi, Dorje Nyingpo Rabtu Jompa)
He is seated above Buddha Shakyamuni in the world called ‘Essence of Space’. He is blue in colour and he holds a golden vajra in his hands. ‘Vajra’ or adamantine refers to his primordial nature that is non-conceptual. ‘Essence’ in his sacred name refers to his excellent enlightened qualities, while him being a ‘Complete Subduer’ refers to his ability to destroy and purify emotional afflictions and 10,000 eons worth of negative actions.

 

3. Ratnacis

Buddha Ratnacis

3. The Tathagata, Jewel of Radiant Light (Ratnarcis, Rinchen O’tro)
He is seated to the East in front of Buddha Shakyamuni in the world called ‘Endowed with Jewels’. He is white in colour and holds both a vajra and the sun in his hands. ‘Jewel’ in his name refers to his excellent qualities which is pristine awareness, much like the clear light that dispels the darkness of ignorance. The radiant light refers to his ability to reach out to eliminate the ignorance of sentient beings. Therefore, he purifies the negative actions accumulated over 25,000 eons.

 

4. Nageshvararaja

Buddha Nageshvararaja

4. The Tathagata, Powerful King of the Nagas (Nageshvararaja, Luwang Gyi Gyalpo)
He is seated to the South-east of Buddha Shakyamuni in the world called ‘Pervaded by Nagas’. He is blue in colour and holds in his hands a branch of a Naga tree and a blue serpent. ‘Naga’ in his name refers to his primordial awareness that is cooling and also likened to a naga in the way it destroys the grasping at inherent existence. He is a glorious king in the transcendent manner of a fully enlightened being who has eradicated all traces of fear in his mind stream. He purifies negative actions accumulated over eight eons.

 

5. Virasena

Buddha Virasena

5. The Tathagata, Leader of the Heroes (Virasena, Pawo De)
He is seated to the South of Buddha Shakyamuni in the world called ‘Pervaded by Heroes’. He is yellow in colour and holds in his hands, a Dharma text and a sword. The ‘Hero’ here refers to his primordial awareness, which is peerless, and the way he remains undefeated and victorious over all battles of the cycle of existence. ‘Leader’ in his name refers to the accumulations of excellence of a fully enlightened being. He purifies the negative karma of speech.

 

 

6. Viranandi

Buddha Viranandi

6. The Tathagata, Glorious Pleasure (Viranandi, Pawo Gye)
He is seated in the South-west region in the world called ‘Endowed with Pleasure’. He has an orange-coloured body and holds in his hands the sun and a red lotus. ‘Pleasure’ in his name refers to his great compassion to benefit sentient beings. He purifies negative karma of the mind.

 

 

 

7. Ratnagni

Buddha Ratnagni

7. The Tathagata, Jewel Fire (Ratnagni, Rinchen Me)
He is seated in the Western region in the world called ‘Pervaded by Light’. He is red in colour and holds in his hands a precious jewel and a ring of fire. ‘Jewel’ in his name refers to his pristine awareness that is free from discursive thoughts. His excellent qualities arises from meditative equipoise and are complete in the accumulation of insight and merit. ‘Fire’ in his name refers to his great ability to benefit sentient beings through his awareness and, with the great energy, burn away all mental afflictions. He purifies the extreme negative karma of causing schism in the sangha.

 

8. Ratnachandraprabha

Buddha Ratnachandraprabha

8. The Tathagata, Jewel Moonlight (Ratnacandraprabha, Rinchen Da’od)
He is seated firmly in the North-western region called ‘Excellent Light’. He has a white body and holds in his hands a jewel and a moon. ‘Jewel’ in his name refers to his excellent state of primordial awareness, free of all negativities. ‘Moonlight’ refers to his awareness that is full, bright and cool. The light purifies the negative karma and afflictive emotions while lighting the path to enlightenment. He purifies negative karma that was accumulated over one single eon.

 

9. Amoghadarsi

Buddha Amoghadarsi

9. The Tathagata, Meaningful to Behold (Amoghadarsi, Thongpa Donyo)
He is seated in the Northern region in a world called ‘Drumbeat’. He is green in colour and holds the two eyes of a fully enlightened being. He possesses unobscured pristine awareness and also the excellent quality of having the eyes of wisdom (and great compassion) to perceive the nature of reality and the karma of sentient beings. He purifies the heavy negative karma of criticising superior beings.

 

 

10. Ratnacandra

Buddha Ratnacandra

10. The Tathagata, Jewel Moon (Ratnacandra, Rinchen Dawa)
He is seated in the North-eastern region in the world called ‘Adorned with Light Rays’. He is pale-green in colour and holds in his hands a precious jewel and a moon. The ‘Jewel’ in his name refers to his excellent quality of pristine awareness, free of obscuration. The ‘Moon’ refers to his awareness and great compassion. He purifies the heavy negative karma of killing one’s mother.

 

 

11. Vimala

Buddha Vimala

11. The Tathagata, Stainless One (Vimala, Drima Mepa)
He is seated directly below Buddha Shakyamuni in the world called ‘Pervaded by Dust’. He has an ashen-coloured body and he holds in his hands two stainless mirrors. The ‘Stainlessness’ in his name reflects his inner quality of pristine awareness that is without obscuration, and he purifies the karma of sentient beings so that they achieve the same ‘stainless’ state. He purifies the heavy negative karma of killing one’s father.

This concludes the first group of 10 Buddhas surrounding Buddha Shakyamuni. The subsequent 10 are visualised directly above the first group of Buddhas.

 

12. Suradatta

Buddha Suradatta

12. The Tathagata, Bestowed With Glory (Suradatta, Pa Jin)
He is firmly seated in the direction above Buddha Shakyamuni in the world called ‘Endowed With Glory’. He is white in colour, and he holds in his hands a branch of a tree that has leaves and fruits growing from it. ‘Glory’ in his name refers to his excellent quality of primordial awareness that is free of obscuration. He bestows upon sentient beings the complete accumulation of merit and insight along with happiness. He is a ‘bestower’ of transcendent pleasure and fulfillment of the wishes of all sentient beings. He purifies the heavy negative karma of killing an Arhat.

 

13. Brahma

Buddha Brahma

13. The Tathagata, Pure One (Brahma, Tsangpa)
He is seated in the Eastern direction in the world ‘free from obscuration’. He is orange in colour and he holds in his hands a lotus and a sun. He is called ‘Pure’ as a reflection of his innate pristine awareness that is unobstructed. He purifies all sentient beings from the karma affecting death and rebirth, and also the heavy negative karma of wounding a fully enlightened Buddha.

 

 

 

14. Brahmadatta

Buddha Brahmadatta

14. The Tathagata, Transforming With Purity (Brahmadatta, Shang Pey Jin)
He is seated firmly in the South-eastern direction in the world ‘Without Sorrow’. He is yellow in colour and holds in his hands a moon and a lotus. ‘Purity’ in his name refers to his pristine awareness that is without obstruction. Apart from purifying the karma of sentient beings, he is also able to bestow happiness to all. He wields the power to expiate the negative karma that was accumulated for over 10,000 eons.

 

15. Varuna

Buddha Varuna

15. The Tathagata, Water Deity (Varuna, Chu Lha)
He is seated in the Southern region in the world called ‘Stainless’. He is blue and has his hands in the gesture of bestowing the Dharma. ‘Water’ in his name refers to his pristine awareness, which is clear and unobstructed. The quality of water is also an epithet for his special ability to saturate the mindstream of sentient beings with the Dharma. The ‘Deity’ in his name represents his magical ability to create emanations in order to benefit sentient beings. He purifies the negative karma of raping nuns or Arhats.

 

16. Varunadeva

Buddha Varunadeva

16. The Tathagata, God of the Water Deities (Varunadeva, Chu Lha Yi Lha)
He is seated firmly in the South-western region in the world called ‘Perfectly Clear’. He is white in colour and holds in his hands a circle or mandala of the water deity and a mirror. Just like the previous Buddha, ‘Water’ in his name refers to his pristine awareness and ‘Deity’ refers to his ability to emanate in order to benefit sentient beings. He clears the heavy negative karma of killing Bodhisattvas.

 

 

17. Sribhadra

Buddha Sribhadra

17. The Tathagata, Glorious Excellence (Sribhadra, Palzang)
He is seated firmly in the Western region in a world called ‘Blissful’. He is red in colour and holds a lotus and a branch of a wish-fulfilling tree. ‘Glorious’ in his name refers to his completely perfected mind for the sake of sentient beings. ‘Excellence’ refers to the pristine awareness. He purifies and delivers sentient beings to the state of full enlightenment.

 

 

18. Candanasri

Buddha Candanasri

18. The Tathagata, Glorious Sandalwood (Candanasri, Tsendan Pal)
He is seated in the North-western region in a world called ‘Pervaded by Fragrance’. He is orange in colour and his hands hold a branch of a Sandalwood tree and a glorious fruit. ‘Sandalwood’ in his name refers to his excellent quality to ‘cool down’ and purify emotional afflictions such as ignorance and so forth. The scent of Sandalwood pervades the whole room when it is lit and likewise, he is able to imbue sentient beings with his supreme qualities of perfection. He purifies the negative karma of stealing from the Sangha community.

 

19. Anantatejas

Buddha Anantatejas

19. The Tathagata, Endless Splendour (Anantatejas, Zijid Thaye)
He is seated in the Northern region in the world called ‘Endowed with Splendour’. He is red in colour and holds in his hands two suns and is surrounded by a retinue. ‘Splendour’ in his name refers to his pristine awareness and he is able to bring sentient beings to supreme clarity. ‘Endless’ refers to his boundless ability to liberate sentient beings and also refers to his innumerable excellent qualities. He clears the negative karma of destroying stupas.

 

20. Prabhasasri

Buddha Prabhasasri

20. The Tathagata, Glorious Light (Prabhasasri, O’pal)
He is seated in the North-eastern region in the world called ‘Meaningful’. He is white in colour and holds a ring of white light. ‘Light’ in his name refers to his pristine awareness which is like the sun that dispels the darkness due to obscurations, paving the way for liberation and omniscience. ‘Glorious’ refers to his excellent and perfect qualities of a fully enlightened being. He negates the negative karma resulting from committing actions out of hatred.

 

21. Asokasri

Buddha Asokasri

21. The Tathagata, Glorious Without Sorrow (Asokasri, Nyangen Mepa Pal)
He is seated below the Stainless One in the world called ‘Unobstructed’. He is pale blue in colour and he holds in his hands a branch of the Asoka tree. ‘Without Sorrow’ in his name refers to his primordial awareness that has overcome cyclic existence and is able to liberate sentient beings. ‘Glorious’ refers to perfection in his excellent qualities. He cleanses negative karma borne out of attachment.

 

22. Narayana

Buddha Narayana

22. The Tathagata, Son Without Craving (Narayana, Sidme Kyibu)
He is seated firmly in the region above Buddha Shakyamuni in the world called ‘Free From Attachment’. He is blue in colour and his hands are in the gesture of Mount Meru while holding a lotus. ‘Without Craving’ in his name refers to his primordial awareness that is free from all negative afflictions and he liberates sentient beings from attachment to cyclic existence. ‘Son’ here refers to him being born from the awakened state of mind and also his quality of loving-kindness. He purifies the negative karma accumulated over 10,000 eons.

 

23. Kusumasri

Buddha Kusumasri

23. The Tathagata, Glorious Flower (Kusumasri, Metog Pal)
He is seated in the Eastern region in the world called ‘Increasing Flowers’. He is yellow in colour and holds in his hands a yellow flower and a glorious fruit. ‘Flower’ in his name refers to his blossoming pristine awareness that is beautiful and which unfolds excellent qualities in sentient beings. ‘Glorious’ refers to his bestowing complete perfection in sentient beings. He purifies the negative karma accumulated over 100,000 eons.

 

24. Tathagatabrahamajyotivikriditabhijna

Buddha Tathagatabrahamajyotivikriditabhijna

24. The Tathagata, Clearly Knowing Through Enjoying Pure Radiance (Tathagatabrahamajyotivikriditabhijna, Dezhin Shegpa Tsangpe Ozer Nampar Rolpa Ngonpa Khyenpa)
He is seated in the South-eastern region in the world called ‘Pervaded by Purity’. He is white and holds in his hands a lotus and pool of light. The ‘Tathagata’ or ‘Dezhin Shegpa‘ epithet is specifically attributed to this Buddha although it is also attributed to the remaining Buddhas. ‘Purity’ in his name refers to his primordial awareness and ‘pure radiance’ refers to his various excellent qualities. ‘Enjoying’ in his name refers to his great ability to emanate in order to benefit sentient beings. He dissolves the negative karma accumulated over 1,000 eons.

 

25. Tathagatapadmajyotivikriditabhijna

Buddha Tathagatapadmajyotivikriditabhijna

25. The Tathagata, Clearly Knowing Through Enjoying Lotus Radiance
(Tathagatapadmajyotivikriditabhijna, Dezhin Shegpa Padme Ozer Nampar Rolpa Ngonpa Khyenpa)

He is seated in the Southern region in the world called ‘Adorned with Lotuses’. He is red in colour and his hands are in the gesture of holding a lotus and a sun. ‘Lotus’ in his name refers to his primordial awareness that blossoms and inspires renunciation of worldly faults. ‘Clearly Knowing Through Enjoying Lotus Radiance’ refers to his various excellent qualities of an enlightened being. He purifies the negative karma accumulated over seven eons.

 

26. Dhanasri

Buddha Dhanasri

26. The Tathagata, Glorious Wealth (Dhanasri, Nor Pal)
He is seated in the South-western region in the world called ‘Endowed with Jewels’. He is bright red in colour and his hands hold two jewels. Jewels or wealth here refers to his pristine awareness, which has many excellent qualities that are increasing. He fulfills the wishes of sentient beings. ‘Glorious’ in his name refers to his ability to endow sentient beings with complete perfection. He purifies all negative karma arising from bad habituation.

 

27. Smrtisri

Buddha Smrtisri

27. The Tathagata, Glorious Mindfulness (Smrtisri, Drenpe Pal)
He is firmly seated in the Western region in the world called ‘Perfectly Clear’. He is yellow in colour and his hands hold a sword and a Dharma text. ‘Mindfulness’ in his name refers to his primordial awareness that does not forget and having attained the ability to recall all his previous lives. ‘Glorious’ refers to his ability to bestow sentient beings with complete perfection. He purifies all negative karma of the body.

 

28. Suparikrititanamaghepasri

Buddha Suparikrititanamaghepasri

28. The Tathagata, Glorious Name of Great Renown (Suparikrititanamaghepasri, Tshenpal Zhintu Yongdrag)
He is seated in the North-western region in the world called ‘Signless’. He is green in colour and his hands hold a crown of the Buddha above his head. ‘Name’ here refers to his primordial awareness that cognises reality; that is, phenomenon lacks inherent existence. ‘Great Renown’ refers to transcendent fame that pervades the three-realms of existence (Form, Formless and Desire realms). He purifies the negative karma of displeasing the Buddhas.

 

29. Indraketudhvajaraja

Buddha Indraketudhvajaraja

29. The Tathagata, King of the Victory Banner (Indraketudhvajaraja, Wangpe Togyi Gyeltsen Gyi Gyalpo)
He is seated firmly in the Northern region in the world called ‘Clear Sense Powers’. He is yellow in colour and his hands hold a victory banner along with its precious crown pinnacle. He is also known to be the Pinnacle of Sensory Powers, which refers to his primordial awareness which perceives reality. This is the highest wisdom which directly perceives emptiness and therefore, it is placed as the pinnacle. ‘Victory Banner’ proclaims his victory over cyclic existence and ‘king’ refers to his enlightened nature. He purifies the negative karma of actions that were committed out of jealousy.

 

30. Suvikranta

Buddha Suvikranta

30. The Tathagata, Glorious One Complete Subduer (Suvikranta, Shintu Nampar Nonpyi Pal)
He is seated firmly in the North-eastern region in the world called ‘Enjoyment’. He is white in colour and one of his hands is in the earth-touching gesture just like Buddha Shakyamuni. He is a ‘subduer’ of all emotional afflictions and malevolent forces. He neutralises the negative karma of ordering others to commit negative actions.

 

 

31. Yuddhajaya

Buddha Yuddhajaya

31. The Tathagata, Great Victor in Battle (Yuddhajaya, Gyule Shintu Nampar Gyalwa)
He is firmly seated in the region below and in the world called ‘Without Delusion’. He is black and his hands are holding a sword and a shield. He is known by his name ‘Great Victor in Battle’ because he is able to defeat the inner enemies of afflictive emotions and negative actions of sentient beings. He is victorious over cyclic existence and thus able to lead all sentient beings to liberation. He purifies the negative karma of actions committed out of pride.

 

32. Vikrantagamsri

Buddha Vikrantagamsri

32. The Tathagata, Glorious One Complete Subduer Passed Beyond (Vikrantagamsri, Nampar Nonpe Shegpai Pal)
He is seated in the Eastern region of Buddha Shakyamuni in the world called ‘the Glorious’. He is white in colour and his hands are in the earth-touching gesture and granting fearlessness. He is known as a subduer who has vanquished all inner enemies of emotional afflictions and contaminated actions. Meanwhile, he is called ‘Glorious’ because of his ability to lead sentient beings to complete perfection. He purifies the negative karma created from slandering.

 

33. Samantavabhasavyuhasri

Buddha Samantavabhasavyuhasri

33. The Tathagata, Glorious Array Illuminating All (Samantavabhasavyuhasri, Kunney Nangwa Kodpai Pal)
He is seated firmly in the Southern direction in the world called ‘Adorned with Light’. He is yellow in colour and he holds a sun and the stem of a precious jewel. ‘Illuminating All’ in his name refers to his pristine awareness that dispels ignorance of all sentient beings. He is called ‘Glorious’ because of his ability to lead sentient beings to complete perfection. He purifies the negative karma of rejoicing in evil deeds.

 

 

34. Ratnapadmavikrami

Buddha Ratnapadmavikrami

34. The Tathagata, Jewel Lotus Great Subduer (Ratnapadmavikrami, Rinchen Padmai Nampar Nonpa)
He is seated firmly in the Western direction in the world called ‘The Glorious’. He is red in colour and his hands hold a jewel and a lotus. ‘Jewel’ represents his excellent qualities of a fully enlightened being. The lotus represents the unstained nature of his mind. He is the great subduer of afflictive emotions and negative actions of sentient beings. He purifies the heavy negative karma of abandoning the Dharma.

 

35. Ratnapadmasupratisthitasailendraja

Buddha Ratnapadmasupratisthitasailendraja

35. The Tathagata, King of Mount Meru (Ratnapadmasupratisthitasailendraja, Dezhin Shegpa Dracompa Yangdagpa Dzogpai Sangye Rinpoche Dang Padma-la Rabtu Shugpa Riwang Gyi Gyalpo)
He is seated in the Northern region in the world ‘Precious Jewels’. He is sky-blue in colour and his hands support Mount Meru. He is also seated on a throne that is embellished with a lotus, moon, lions and precious jewels. The Jewel and the lotus refer to his throne and those of other Buddhas. This jewel also refers to his primordial awareness and his possessing excellent qualities of an awakened being. ‘Mount Meru’ in his name refers to his unshakeable quality like that of the king of mountains. He purifies the negative karma of breaking one’s commitments.

 

Visualisation

While there are several ways in which to engage in the visualisation of the 35 Confessional Buddhas, they are all centred around Buddha Shakyamuni as the main figure. The following visualisation is taught by Lama Zopa Rinpoche.

You begin by visualising Buddha Shakyamuni slightly above yourself as the central figure. He is seated crossed-legged in an adamantine posture, on an elephant-supported pearl-white throne. Visualise Buddha Shakyamuni wearing the saffron robes of a fully ordained monk. His right hand is touching the earth and his left hand is cradling a begging bowl filled with wisdom nectar. From his heart, rays of light emanate out, 10 upwards and 10 downwards, seven to the left and seven more to the right. At the end of each ray of light emanates a pearl-white throne that is supported by elephants

The white pearl symbolises complete purification of our negative actions. On the other hand, the elephant that supports the throne is considered the strongest of animals and also symbolises great purification of negativities. On each throne sits a Buddha with their respective hand gestures and from each sacred Buddha, radiant light nectar shines forth and purifies your body, speech and mind from various negative karmas in the same manner as light dispels darkness. After visualising the 35 Confessional Buddhas in this manner, prostrate three times while reciting the following mantra:

OM NAMO MANJUSHRIYE
NAMO SUSRIYE
NAMO UTTAMASRIYE SVAHA

This mantra will greatly increase the benefits of your prostrations. Then, you can begin reciting the Mahayana Sutra of the Three Superior Heaps while continuing to prostrate. If you have not memorised the entire text, you may read through the text once and then begin prostrating while repeating the names of the 35 Confessional Buddhas. Upon completion of the prostrations, you can recite the entire text once again.

This purification of negative karma is especially efficacious if it is done early in the morning and just before going to sleep at night. It is the most effective way of making this life meaningful by engaging in this supreme purification. With this practice, one can purify tremendous amounts of negative karma without experiencing their results, or reducing the impact of the results and shore up tremendous amounts of merits to quickly achieve realisation. Therefore, the value of such a practice is beyond the most precious items in this world.

 

The Mahayana Sutra of the Three Superior Heaps

One can combine the following recitation with that of Refuge, Generating Bodhichitta, Guru Yoga of Lama Tsongkhapa and the tea offering verses and mantra to solicit the great Dharma Protector Dorje Shugden and the recitation of General Dedication at the end.

 

The 35 Confessional Buddha Prayer Text

Homage to the Bodhisattva’s Confession of Moral Downfalls.
I, whose name is [say your name at this point], at all times go for refuge to the Guru, go for refuge to the Buddha, go for refuge to the Dharma, go for refuge to the Sangha.

The Vajra family of Akshobhya (blue in colour)
1. To the Teacher, Blessed One, Tathagata, Foe Destroyer, Completely Perfected Buddha, Glorious Conqueror Shakyamuni, I prostrate.
2. To the Tathagata, Complete Subduer with the Essence of Vajra, I prostrate.
3. To the Tathagata, Jewel of Radiant Light, I prostrate.
4. To the Tathagata, Powerful King of the Nagas, I prostrate.
5. To the Tathagata, Leader of the Heroes, I prostrate.
6. To the Tathagata, Glorious Pleasure, I prostrate.
7. To the Tathagata, Jewel Fire, I prostrate

The Tathagata family of Vairochana (white in colour)
8. To the Tathagata, Jewel Moonlight, I prostrate.
9. To the Tathagata, Meaningful to Behold, I prostrate.
10. To the Tathagata, Jewel Moon, I prostrate.
11. To the Tathagata, Stainless One, I prostrate.
12. To the Tathagata, Bestowed with Glory, I prostrate.
13. To the Tathagata, Pure One, I prostrate.
14. To the Tathagata, Transforming with Purity, I prostrate.

The Ratna family of Ratnasambhava (yellow in colour)
15. To the Tathagata, Water Deity, I prostrate.
16. To the Tathagata, God of the Water Deities, I prostrate.
17. To the Tathagata, Glorious Excellence, I prostrate.
18. To the Tathagata, Glorious Sandalwood, I prostrate.
19. To the Tathagata, Endless Splendour, I prostrate.
20. To the Tathagata, Glorious Light, I prostrate.
21. To the Tathagata, Glorious without Sorrow, I prostrate.

The Lotus family of Amitabha (red in colour)
22. To the Tathagata, Son without Craving, I prostrate.
23. To the Tathagata, Glorious Flower, I prostrate.
24. To the Tathagata, Clearly Knowing through Enjoying Pure Radiance, I prostrate.
25. To the Tathagata, Clearly Knowing through Enjoying Lotus Radiance, I prostrate.
26. To the Tathagata, Glorious Wealth, I prostrate.
27. To the Tathagata, Glorious Mindfulness, I prostrate.
28. To the Tathagata, Glorious Name of Great Renown, I prostrate.

The Karma family of Amoghasiddhi (green in colour)
29. To the Tathagata, King of the Victory Banner, Head of the Powerful Ones, I prostrate.
30. To the Tathagata, Glorious One Complete Subduer, I prostrate.
31. To the Tathagata, Great Victor in Battle, I prostrate.
32. To the Tathagata, Glorious One Complete Subduer Passed Beyond, I prostrate.
33. To the Tathagata, Glorious Array Illuminating All, I prostrate.
34. To the Tathagata, Jewel Lotus Great Subduer, I prostrate.
35. To the Tathagata, Foe Destroyer, Completely Perfected Buddha, King of Mount Meru seated firmly on a jewel and a lotus, I prostrate.

O All you Tathagatas and all the others, however many Tathagatas, Foe Destroyers, Completely Perfect Buddhas, Blessed Ones there are dwelling and abiding in all the worldly realms of the ten directions, all you Buddhas, the Blessed Ones, please listen to me.

In this life and in all my lives since beginningless time, in all my places of rebirth whilst wandering in Samsara, I have done negative actions, have ordered them to be done, and have rejoiced in their being done. I have stolen the property of the bases of offering, the property of the Sangha, and the property of the Sanghas of the ten directions, have ordered it to be stolen, and have rejoiced in it being stolen. I have committed the five unbounded heinous actions, have ordered them to be committed, and have rejoiced in their being committed. I have completely engaged in the paths of the ten non-virtuous actions, have ordered others to engage in them, and have rejoiced in their engaging in them.

Being obstructed by such karmic obstructions, I shall become a hell being, or I shall be born as an animal, or I shall go to the land of the hungry ghosts, or I shall be born as a barbarian in an irreligious country, or I shall be born as a long life god, or I shall come to have incomplete senses, or I shall come to have wrong views, or I shall have no opportunity to please a Buddha.

All such karmic obstructions I declare in the presence of the Buddhas, the Blessed Ones, who have become valid, who see with their wisdom. I confess without concealing or hiding anything, and from now on I shall avoid and refrain from such actions.

All you Buddhas, the Blessed Ones, please listen to me.

In this life and in all my previous lives since beginningless time, in all my places of rebirth whilst wandering in Samsara, whatever root of virtue there is in my giving to others, even in my giving a morsel of food to one born as an animal;
Whatever root of virtue there is in my maintaining moral discipline;
Whatever root of virtue there is in my actions conducive to great liberation;
Whatever root of virtue there is in my acting to fully ripen sentient beings;
Whatever root of virtue there is in my generating a supreme mind of Enlightenment;

And whatever root of virtue there is in my unsurpassed exalted wisdom; all of these assembled, gathered and collected together, by fully dedicating them to the unsurpassed, to that which there is no higher, to that which is even higher than the high, to that which surpasses the unsurpassed,

I fully dedicate to the unsurpassed, perfect, complete enlightenment.
Just as the Buddhas, the Blessed Ones of the past, have dedicated fully, just as the Buddhas, the Blessed Ones who are yet to come, will dedicate fully, and just as the Buddhas, the Blessed Ones who are living now, dedicate fully, so too do I dedicate fully.

I confess individually all negative actions. I rejoice in all merit. I beseech and request all the Buddhas.

May I attain the holy, supreme, unsurpassed, exalted wisdom.
Whoever are the Conquerors, the supreme beings living now, those of the past, and likewise those who are yet to come, with a boundless ocean of praise for all your good qualities, with my palms pressed together I go close to you for refuge.

This concludes the Mahayana Sutra entitled “Sutra of the Three Superior Heaps”.

 

Conclusion

The practice of the 35 Confessional Buddhas is one of the most popular and perennial forms of purification practices. It is a practice popularised by great spiritual figures like Lama Tsongkhapa, who engaged in an extensive prostration retreat of the 35 Confessional Buddhas in order to purify and gain deeper insight into the teachings. The practice of the 35 Confessional Buddhas is considered one of the most potent forms of purification available for non-tantric practitioners.

In order for the practice of the 35 Confessional Buddhas to be effective, it has to be done with the Four Opponent Powers strongly along with the accompanying visualisation. When it is done with the Opponent Powers, you are not just purifying the symptomatic problem of a few transgressions but you are purifying the root of the problem itself, which is the self-cherishing mind. It is the self-cherishing mind that fuels our negative afflictions. Hence, the 35 Confessional Buddhas is a very powerful practice to lessen the effects of harmful mental afflictions like ignorance, hatred and desire and thus allowing spiritual attainments to surface.

Hence, 100,000 prostrations to the 35 Confessional Buddhas is one of the preliminary practices (ngondro) in preparation to receive highest tantric initiations. This is to purify negative karma as much as possible while accumulating as much merit so that when one is qualified to receive highest tantric initiation such as Vajrayogini, attainments arise swiftly.

 

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About Pastor David Lai

David is a lay Buddhist pastor of Kechara and a longtime student of H.E. Tsem Rinpoche. Initially a reluctant writer, he now finds himself writing for a living and has published four books including his autobiography, There's No Way But Up and Conversations in Love.

David is a lover of Buddhist art and whenever he can, he shares his knowledge of the Dharma with everyone, giving frequent teachings and writing on his blog www.davidlai.me.
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40 Responses to The 35 Confessional Buddhas

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  1. So Kin Hoe (KISG) on Apr 28, 2017 at 6:02 pm

    Thank you Pastor David Lai for writing and sharing the blog post about the 35 Confessional Buddhas. After reading this article and participated in the blog chat yesterday evening, it has clearly answered to my question that although we can collect merits through our Dharma practice at this point of time, we can still face and experience many obstacles if our accumulated huge amount of bad karma from the past lives has overwhelmed the small amount of merits we have collected in this life. As such, it would be the best for us to engage with the 35 Confessional Buddhas purification practice everyday as we might not aware even if we have collected the negative karma through our body, speech and mind unintentionally due to our habitual behavior since we were born. I have to further to remind myself not to take things for granted and purify my own bad karma as much as I can before it is too late as time will not turn back for me as time will only draw me closer to my own death.

    Thank you with folded hands,
    kin hoe

  2. Lim Han Nee on Apr 27, 2017 at 11:39 pm

    The practice of the 35 Confessional Buddhas goes back to the time of Buddha Shakyamuni. He is said to have taught it to 35 Bodhisattva students ,upon their request for a teaching to purify a transgression which they were thought to have committed.

    Lama Tsongkhapa went into a purification retreat to purify accumulated negative karma. He did 100k prostrations to each of the 35 Confessional Buddhas and recited the 35 Confessional Buddhas ! When he was nearing the completion of his retreat, he beheld a vision of the 35 Confessional Buddhas and glorious Maitreya.

    Buddha Shakyamuni discovered the Law of Cause and Effect in much the same way that Isaac Newton discovered the Law of gravity -through observations and ”inferential logic” . The Law of Karma has compelling reasoning to explain why there are different types of experiences.Most important factor determining the consequences of our action, and whether it is positive or negative , is intention.Positive and negative actions arise from our self-cherishing mind. Merit cannot be exhausted and will lead to full enlightenment.

    Transgression of three sets of vows -Pratimoksha, Bodhisattva and Tantric – are the main types of negativities we are purifying, alongside other harming actions.

    The Four Opponent Powers must be applied so that the 35 Confessional Buddhas’ Practice is effective in purifying transgressions. These four are -regret, reliance , resolve and remedy.Recitation of the prayer together with prostrations is powerful for purifcation. These four purify even the root of our problems and transgressions.

    Performing the 35 Confessional Buddhas will lessen the harm of negative mental factors(projections, expectations , perceptions) and mental afflictions and is a preliminary practice to do well to qualify us for the highest tantric practices, such as Vajrayogini.

  3. Martin Yeoh on Apr 27, 2017 at 10:47 pm

    This is the one practice I’d always wanted, I know my karma is thicker than the Bible and if this practice can lead me out of samsara I’ll treasure it. After years of finding what I want, now it’s finally in front of me. Thank you Tsem Rinpoche and Kechara.

  4. Wan Wai Meng on Nov 28, 2016 at 11:56 pm

    There are two forms of confession – ultimate and relative confession. The ultimate or greater confession is the meditation on the lack of inherent existence of all phenomena. The relative or lesser confession is the application of the four opponent powers combined with prostration and / or other practices while recognising the illusory nature of reality. – Hope one day I will be able to meditate on the lack of inherent existence of all phenomena.

  5. Wylfred Ng on Oct 23, 2016 at 12:00 am

    谢谢黎国圆讲法师的分享。

    这是我第一次看到如此完整的35佛忏悔法门的解说。 35佛忏法门由释迦牟尼佛所宣说。最有名的 35佛忏修持者就是宗喀巴大师。 大师总共向每位佛做了十万次大礼拜。 宗喀巴大师完成35佛忏及曼达拉供养闭关后就可以直接见到文殊菩萨得到教诲。 这也可见35佛忏是如此的殊胜。

    最令我震撼的就是35佛里也有几位佛是可以对治五无间罪: 殺母, 殺父, 殺阿羅漢
    出佛身血, 破和合僧。 还有其他可以对治我们上万劫的罪业。
    虽然文中没有说可对治的程度有多少, 不过这样也可以表示这个法门的殊胜之处。

    谢谢

  6. Pastor Adeline Woon on Sep 30, 2016 at 9:55 am

    This is a comprehensive post about one of the important preliminaries practise we should engage in if we wish to excel and improve on our path to enlightenment. A few years ago, five of us got together to engage in the prostration retreat and achieve 100,000 prostrations collectively. Rinpoche has kindly composed the prayers for our retreat which includes the 35 Confessional Buddhas prayers. Rinpoche has mentioned it would be good if we can recite each of the 35 Buddhas’ name as we prostrate which is extremely powerful and efficacious in clearing our negative karmas that arise from our three doors.

    After reading the brief descriptions of the 35 Buddhas, it is obvious that all our negative karmas are caused by the six root of afflictions which is the roots of all our sufferings. As long as we do not purify the karmas arise from the six together with transforming our mind while receiving higher practices, there is no way for us to completely be liberated from sufferings.

    The thought of the number of negative karmas we accumulate every second with the present of the afflictions, especially ignorance, is very scary. It is like we continuously drinking poison while expecting our health to remain in the tip top condition. For those of us who focus on secular activities, unless we have merits and a huge amount of positive karmas, we are basically expediting the manifestation of our negative results. It is logical therefore to focus more on beneficial and meritorious activities while engaging spiritual and purification practices. As long as we continue to improve spiritually, there is definitely hope for us to be ultimately freed from samsara. The very least we can keep things at bay.

  7. Joy Kam on Sep 17, 2016 at 5:23 am

    Thank you Pastor David for this blog post. I especially liked the systematic easy to read order and how you have explained everything from the origin to karma, the cause of our suffering and how we can do something about this, which is to do the purification practice.

    You have made it very easy to understand I especially liked the explanation on why we should confess and expose our faults – laying it bare. Now I know why Rinpoche always likes to expose our misdeeds and not allow it hide and allow our negative karma to continue to multiply. Exposing one’s faults/misdeeds may be very painful and very embarrassing, the medicine may be bitter and harsh, but anything good is always harsh.

    Hence, we should in fact be grateful that Rinpoche cares enough to point and expose our faults, because now I know, it helps us to purify faster as Rinpoche is always concern about our spiritual progress, which Rinpoche wants us to achieve fast and to be a qualified vessels to receive higher practices. Real Gurus do this because they gain nothing from us, they are not here to stroke our ego, instead to break it.

  8. Wan Wai Meng on Sep 17, 2016 at 2:48 am

    A very powerful practice to prepare us for higher practices and also ensure our spiritual path is free from neverending problems and difficulties from the manifestation of karma. One thing we need to realize this is not our first life in samsara, and the fact is most of us never applied sufficient awareness and effort to practicing hence we are still stuck in samsara. Hence we most likely has had countless lifetimes doing actions, based on attachment, aversion and ignorance. Well thats a lot of karma there.

  9. Mingwen on Sep 16, 2016 at 5:33 am

    I’ve always wanted to know more about the 35 Cofessional Buddhas! This is a great summary of the 35 Cofessional Buddhas. There is also explanations on karma and how we could purify our negative karmas by praticing the 35 Cofessional Buddhas, just like the King of Dharma, Lama Tsongkhapa.

    It seem like every Buddha has their very own expertises in helping every sentient beings to purify our negative karmas and ultimately to help us to find enlightenment! However, they are all sharing the same mindstream which is to save us from our samsara. Hence, we should not delay further to do our Dharma practice regardless of our living conditions. By practicing Dharma with full faith, I believe, the Buddhas will able to see our sincerely and assist us via his Wisdom ways. Moreover, we should not expect to experience instant results from practicing Dharma, but to pratice Dharma to transform ourselves to be a better person, to able to benefit other sentient beings and eliminate all self-cherishing behaviours.

    Thank you, Tsem Rinpoche and the writer team for working intensively to share Dharma with people who are from all around the world. Thank you for making an easy access to Buddhadharma, thus, we can look for Dharma at any time and location.

    Greeting from Korea,
    Mingwen

  10. Julia Tan on Sep 16, 2016 at 1:26 am

    Lord Buddha not only talked about the truth, He also gave us the remedy for us to purify our karma. If we do it correctly with Four Opponent Powers strongly along with the accompanying visualisation, we can even remove our root karma. Such a great bargain! what else we can ask for?

    In order to gain result, we must understand the root of Karma which is motivated directly or indirectly towards one’s benefit. On the other hand, merits is a selfless intent and towards one’s enlightenment. Hence anything we do deep inside of us thinking for other’s benefits. We all know that compassion must followed by wisdom in order to truly benefit other for long term.

    Thank you for sharing.

  11. Pastor Chia on Sep 15, 2016 at 11:05 pm

    Lord Buddha Shakyamuni spoke 84000 teaching in order to help sentient being can liberate suffering from the negative karma. In the sutra way,The Mahayana Sutra of the Three Superior Heaps are one of the powerful way to purify our negative karma by reciting 35 confession name and did prostration at the same time.

    Many years ago, i had engaged the prostration retreat by reciting 35 confession buddha to purify my heavy body karma from the killing many fishes. Prostration retreat also one of the preliminary practice we must engage in order to purify our negative karma from our body, speech and mind. Which prepare us at the future able received higher yoga initiation such as Yamantaka, Kalachakra, Vajrayogini and etc.

    I am glad Pastor David article can reach out more and help those who are serious on their spiritual practice.

  12. Pastor Henry Ooi on Sep 15, 2016 at 10:35 pm

    How compassionate and kind Buddha Shakyamuni was to teach this practice so that people like us may learn to purify the negative deeds we have transgressed. And Lama Tsongkhapa with equal compassion and kindness elucidated the teaching through his writing and retreat practice. Such are the enlightened qualities of these highly attained Beings who always work to benefit others through their profound wisdom, unconditional love and great compassion

  13. nicholas on Sep 15, 2016 at 10:33 pm

    Karma is something that created by ourself through our action. From endless of previous lives we have created much negative karma that need to be purified. It’s important for us to understand about karma or the law of cause and effect as from here we are able to control our action from further creating negative karma.

    By saying so the negative karma we created from the past it is necessary to be purify and from this article it has shown clearly how we can practice the 35 Confessional Buddhas to do so. Even Lama Tsongkhapa show us with his action by doing 35 Confessional Buddhas for purification.

    I personally very honoured to have done this practice which given by Rinpoche. I believe in this practice and also the advice by my guru.

  14. Pastor Antoinette on Sep 15, 2016 at 10:22 pm

    This is a precious and powerful article on a practice back until Buddha Shakyamuni’s time. It is very fortunate to have such a practice but it is most important to have the correct motivation instead of focussing on the number of recitations. When we do the prayers together with the four opponent powers it will even purify the root cause of our delusions, the self-cherishing mind. The 35 confessional Buddha prayer is recited every month during the renewal of the vows for the pastors in Kechara.

    Thank You for this most beneficial article. We need to remember that karma can end and we can clear our negative karma with good motivation, effort and time.

  15. Moh Mei on Sep 15, 2016 at 10:13 pm

    Great spiritual figures like Lama Tsongkhapa doesn’t just teach dharma but they themselves are the ones engaged in the most extensive dharma practices.

    It seems to me dharma is impossible as just an academia, it cannot be just a form of study in words and texts. It is very much action. Almost like it is something that cannot be read to be understood, it has to be experienced. Is it possible for a blind person to understand what the world really looks like from description given by others? What is in the mind of this blind person, what do they actually “see” when someone explains about the sky and the trees.

    I think human has a strange habit of needing to worship something, that is why even in the most remote places on Earth, where we find human we are likely to also find them worshipping some “god”.

    Buddha did not create karma, nor did Buddha create enlightenment. Buddha observed and came to realization about something.

    While the origin of mankind, the origin of our universe is one of the most common question asked by many, no science nor religion has truly given a convincing and conclusive answer.

    All the wisdom and knowledge of all the combined religions since the beginning of time. Why the mystery? Why keep the knowledge “hidden” or is the answer so obvious and in our face but we are just somehow blinded to it. Maybe because we are like the blind person, it is simply impossible to explain to us in our current state of mind/existence the origin of the universe.

  16. Albert on Sep 15, 2016 at 10:08 pm

    I’ve heard someone said this before, that among so many purification prayers, 35 confessional Buddhas practice is one of the best for purifying our negative karma. The 35 Buddhas has done many eons of purifying prayers during their lifetimes, hence after their enlightenment, their name contains power of purification.

    Many people do not understand what is good Karma and what is Merits. We often mix up this two, this article is very good as Pastor David explained the differences. By knowing this, we will be clearer on our path, and to take a better action and motivation for generating more merits.

    I like this article very much for explaining so detail on all the 35 Confessional Buddhas, when we know more about the Buddha we are praying to, it increases our faith to the practice and generating a better result in our practice.

    I believe this article will definitely benefit a lot of people who want to enter into their purification prayers.

  17. pammie yap on Sep 15, 2016 at 10:05 pm

    I really like this post! The way it was explained was easy to understand. I am actually inspired to do prostrations to the 35 Buddhas.
    The interesting art is how one can actually purify the negative karma of committing 5 of the heinous crimes. As we have been around for beginningless time till now, we would not know the extend of our negative karma building up every day, hence this practice is really good for purification practice. Thank you PDL for writing an in-depth post!

  18. Jace Chong on Sep 15, 2016 at 10:03 pm

    Thanks Rinpoche and Pastor David for the clear explanation on The 35 Confessional Buddha.

    Buddha is very kind and skillful to give this practice to us in order to clear our blockage to enlightenment. We collect much negative karma through countless life times, this is a practice that we can purify it without experience it through the ripening such as taking rebirth in hell and very terrible condition. The practice is like a highway for sentient beings to achieve enlightenment.

    Buddha not only shows that being zero suffering is possible, He even creates method for us to do it. I am so grateful to get to know this practice, and may more people benefitted by this post and practice.

    Thank you.

  19. June Kang on Sep 15, 2016 at 9:53 pm

    我们无始以来都造过很多恶业,此生为避免來世墮入三惡道和成就圓滿任何事業,就必须將過去所累積的罪業加以淨除,三十五佛禮懺法其中之一能净除一定的罪业,如文章所说再加上修四力(依止力、對治力、拔除力、防護力)恆常不斷地做懺悔,方能將業障淨除。

    在《宗喀巴大师应化因缘集》 里说到
    宗喀巴大师礼拜三十五佛时,常感三十五佛现身加持。然而他每次所见到的三十五佛,却全部没有头部。他觉得很奇怪,因此就此事请问本尊。本尊回答说:

    “因为你所称念的佛号不具全,忆念佛的功德不圆满,所以无法见到诸佛之圆满相。以后你必须在佛号前面,加诵‘如来、应供、正遍知、明行足、善逝、世间解、无上士调御丈夫、天人师、佛、世尊’,如此方能见到全身的佛相。”

    大师自此以后,每次修忏时,都遵照本尊所教,如法念诵,果然每次都可看到三十五佛的圆满相,尊尊光明相好,庄严无比。于是大师依此,造三十五佛忏的修观仪轨。所以这三十五佛忏仪轨是多么殊圣。

  20. Eric kksiow on Sep 15, 2016 at 6:54 pm

    From our own experience, we know that under the influence of the afflictions disturbing attitudes and negative emotions we act in ways that harm ourselves and others. The results of these actions can go on a long time after the action itself has stopped. These two afflictions and actions (karma) are the true origins of our suffering, and we need to eliminate them.

    So the more we do purification practice, the more we learn to be honest with ourselves. We stop denying our internal garbage, come to grips with what we’ve said and done, and make peace with our past.

    Thank You
    Eric kksiow

    • Eric kksiow on Sep 15, 2016 at 10:06 pm

      At my point of view : 35 confessional Buddha practice It helps us to change our bad habits and subdues obstacles to long life and success in our spiritual practice.

  21. Alice Tay on Sep 13, 2016 at 5:38 pm

    We should learn and understand what is karma and how does it work. For example, the person who is compassionate and kindness is born long-lived or suffer less from illnesses. Whereas the one who kills living beings is born short-lived or suffer much from illnesses.

    As far as we know, we have accumulated very much negative karma in previous lifetimes, which will inevitably have its fruition in this or future lives. Hence, before the karma ripen, we should get rid ourselves of negative karmic potential.

    In order to overcome the suffering caused by karma, it is necessary to do purification. Buddha Shakyamuni taught that one of the powerful methods of purification is the practice of the 35 Confessional Buddhas. Lama Tsongkhapa is well-known to practice the 35 Confessional Buddhas and performed 3.5 million prostrations (100,000 prostrations to each of the 35 Confessional Buddhas) during his purification retreat. This showed that this is important for us to practice of the 35 Confessional Buddhas which is one of the best methods to purify our negative karma and can lead to attainments on the path towards enlightenment.

    Thank you Rinpoche and Pastor David for sharing this meaningful article.

  22. Sarah Yap on Sep 6, 2016 at 7:28 pm

    Thank you PDL for this information filled and well explained article. I felt great joy reading this article.

    I remember once Rinpoche mentioned that out of all the purification practices, Rinpoche felt closest and liked the 35 Confessional Buddhas best.

    I like how you explained about karma and merits. I remember reading it in Rinpoche’s book ‘The Living Buddha Within’. Its very nice to be reminded of these points, which is so essential as Spiritual practitioners, but so easily forgotten as we live our day to day life. I guess as long as we forget the effects of karma especially when we’re in challenging situations, we have not truly internalized the teachings but merely scrape the surface with superficial knowledge. I have always thought, what good is having knowledge but never had it applied or lived our life in accordance to the knowledge we have. What good is having knowledge too, if it is not shared with others for their benefit. Having knowledge and what we do with it are two different things.

    I also like how you explain about purification. I think for many (myself included) we are always quite confused about how purification works. If the Buddha can’t forgive our sins, then how can we be free of these negative karma by doing purification practice towards a Buddha image? I had confidence and faith that the practice actually is effective, very much like the inferential logic you mentioned, but if you asked me to explain it, I wouldn’t be able to. Your explanation about confessional practice, how openly admitting to our faults and applying the 4 opponent powers can purify any negative karma.

    As to how important it is to openly confess our faults, I remember a story I heard about Lama Atisha, in which during his whole journey to Tibet, he would stop the whole entourage just to confess out loud his transgressions. It reached to a point where his disciples begged Atisha not to do this, because the trip was still long and on top of that, whatever he ‘confessed’, it didn’t appear as a transgression to them. Even Lama Atisha, the great pandita, took this seriously and practiced admitting ones faults. It is said that for every deed we keep quiet about, the bigger it grows, regardless if the deed is positive or negative. The opposite is same for deeds we proclaim to the world. This is why I think Gelugpas often practice humility.

    I also remember Rinpoche mentioned, that it is important to conduct purification practice. Even if our transgression is so small at the moment of execution, if we do not purify them, it will multiply and in the end the karmic weight of that once small transgression ends up so huge, as if one has killed a Buddha.

  23. Pastor Han Nee on Aug 29, 2016 at 3:58 pm

    Sorry, a correction to my comment on the total number of prostrations by Lama Tsongkhapa. He did 3.5 million prostrations in retreat: 100,000 for each one of the 35 Confessinal Buddhas.

  24. Pastor Han Nee on Aug 29, 2016 at 3:53 pm

    Thank you P David for this illuminating article on this powerful purification practice of the 35 Confessional Buddhas.

    As the Dharma has shown us, we have committed innumerable transgressions over countless lifetimes. If these transgressions go unpurified, the operation of the Law of Karma as such will lead us inevitably to suffer the consequences of our negative actions. If our purification is done effectively, in that we fulfill the four opponent powers -reliance on the THree Jewels and on Bodhicitta, regret, resolve and remedy(antidote),we will have our negative karma ripening under controlled conditions or in dreams where we purify the karma there and then. WE will clear all negativities and obscurations of the mind, and we will gain powerful attainments and realise emptiness

    Je Tsongkhapa shows us how important it is to practice this purification practice. It was so powerful for Lama Tsongkhapa that, after he had completed his 1.5 million prostrations and his practice of the 35 Confessional Buddhas in retreat, all his mental obscurations were removed. He realised emptiness. He received visions of Maitreya and the Thirty-five Confessional Buddhas themselves!

  25. shelly tai on Aug 28, 2016 at 4:38 pm

    Thank you Pastor David for this write up about this powerful practice. I have a question on the visualisation part are we not suppose to visualise the colour of each family ? That is what we have been taught about this visualisation .

  26. Valentina Suhendra on Aug 28, 2016 at 4:31 am

    Dear Pastor David

    Thank you for this insightful post about the 35 Confessional Buddha practice. I remember way before I met Rinpoche, when I first learned about Dharma, I immediately interested in the practice of the 35 Confessional Buddha and started doing the prostration based on the books.

    Then, small little incidents started to happen and I got scared and stopped. Little that I knew that the little incidents were purification of negative karma.

    When I met H.E. 25th Tsem Tulku Rinpoche, he put me on purification practice and explained that the incidents that I experienced before were indications that the purification practice work as it should.

    It is nice to be able to understand more about the nature of the 35 Confessional Buddha through this post. Thank you again Pastor David.

    Valentina

  27. Stella Cheang on Aug 26, 2016 at 10:34 pm

    Thank you Rinpoche and Pastor David for this important teaching on the 35 Confessional Buddha. Everyone, without fail, is subjected to the law of cause and effect, which explain why we have all sort of different experiences. As we have accumulated countless karma, good and bad, we will not know when the bad karma will ripen and causes suffering and pain in our life. Therefore it is important to purify our negative karma so that the good karma or even the little bit of merits that we had collected can be optimized for us. Buddha had compassionately taught the 35 Confession Buddha to purify the downfalls of practitioners. In order for the confession prayers to be effective, we must understand and apply the Four Opponent Powers. The first of the Opponent Powers is that of regret and subsequently develop remorse towards our actions. The second Opponent Power is that of reliance on an object worthy of refuge, in this case the 35 Confessional Buddhas. The third Opponent Power is to promise NOT to repeat the downfall or misdeed, as well as the understanding that the misdeeds lead to heavy negative consequences. And the fourth and final Opponent Power; the application of the remedy or counter-measures to purify the karma. The remedies are performed with the understanding of the law of cause and effect, and with the purpose of counteracting the negative tendencies of the karma that is being purified. As all the 35 Buddhas are fully enlightened, therefore any prayer, prostration, offering or confession that is offered to them will result in purification and the collection of merit.

  28. Pastor KH Ng on Aug 25, 2016 at 2:37 pm

    Thank You Pastor David for this great and helpful article.

    The practice of The 35 Confessional Buddhas is one of the main practice of our tradition as shown by Lama Tsongkhapa, to purify our negative karma that is being committed since beginningless lifetimes and are continued to be generated in this lifetime.

    Only by purification of karma are we able to benefit from other practices for selflessness, hence it is a very needed practice. Otherwise many obstacles will arise.

    Thanks Again!

  29. Jacinta Goh on Aug 24, 2016 at 10:18 am

    Dear Pastor David,
    I have been reciting this Sutra when I first encountered it last one or two years ago. Lately, due to timing, I have to forego it. Looks like I have been throwing my treasure away and letting bad karma to build up. Thanks for this article. Will recite it again. Please continue to share more Dharma with us.

    Thanks again.

  30. Sharon Ong on Aug 24, 2016 at 12:25 am

    Great write-up on The 35 Confessional Buddhas and I love the nice images of each of the 35 Buddhas. This will greatly help in the visualisations for this practice.

    There are many salient points in this article but the 3 things that stood out for me are:

    1) Through this practice, we can reduce or completely eliminate the strength of negative imprints from previous negative actions. This is particularly important as although negative karma has been exhausted, the negative imprints may still linger in one’s mind stream.

    2) This is something new that I learnt –>> The ultimate or greater confession is the meditation on the lack of inherent existence of all phenomena. The relative or lesser confession is the application of the four opponent powers combined with prostration and / or other practices while recognising the illusory nature of reality.

    3) This is such a powerful practice as one can purify tremendous amounts of negative karma without experiencing their results, or reducing the impact of the results. Plus it enables one to generate vast amounts of merits to quickly achieve realisation.

    Thank you for such a beneficial write-up, Pastor David.

  31. Pastor David Lai on Aug 22, 2016 at 11:16 pm

    Thank you for everybody’s kind comments about this article. What’s amazing is that I based some of my explanations here based on a translation of Acharya Nagarjuna’s own writings on the practice. Even the great Nagarjuna stresses this practice and has actually written a commentary to explain and encourage this practice shows how important and efficacious it is.

    The practice of the 35 Confessional Buddha according to Rinpoche is a highly effective purification method and especially good for those had done a lot of negative things in the past, hurt others, slaughtered animals, vermin and so forth.

    I recall clearly that Rinpoche had recommended it to one of his old students to complete 100,000 in conjunction with the 35 Confessional Buddhas or he would not see his life improve. If I recall correctly, he did pest control before and killed lots of insects, rats and so forth. Unfortunately, this student was lazy and didn’t appreciate rinpoche’s words and he never finished 100,000 and therefore, he had many obstacles come up one after another. He ran away many times and the last time he did, his behaviour degenerated very badly.

    This goes to show the multiplying effects of our negative karma and that purification practices is essential to prepare ourselves for higher practices and on a daily basis, it is to stave off our negative karma.

    • Lum Kok Luen on Aug 24, 2016 at 10:37 pm

      Dear PDL,

      This is indeed a very powerful practice that allows us to achieve results that benefit. I have personally experienced its effects after just practicing for a few months.

      For some reasons (lack of time excuse and the “tiredness” of doing min. 35 prostrations, I have slacked off and now is reciting the Vajrasattva verses.

      This practice is indeed very useful and will definitely bring results to sincere Dharma practitioners.

      Thank you.
      Lum Kok Luen

  32. Sofi on Aug 21, 2016 at 4:41 pm

    Thank you Pastor David for this clearly explained article on the 35 Confessional Buddhas and prostration. The four opponent powers and the visualisation will certainly be helpful in my prostration practise and I especially love your sharing of the beautiful pictures of the 35 Confessional Buddhas. Now I know what I looked like and will print out a copy to look at during my recitation.

    We confess to sins that we have done, induced others to do and how we had rejoiced in the sins (from this life and the past lives). This practise really make us recall all the harm that we have done as we recite the prayer and the consequent bad rebirth. We then ask for mercy using the merits we had collected from all our past and present lives. It really bring to front of our rebirths and how our actions accumulate life after life. This practise had also taught me perseverance and to be mindful of creating karmic consequences.

  33. Anne Ong on Aug 19, 2016 at 10:27 pm

    Thank you Pastor David Lai for this great article of 35 Confessional Buddhas. This write up can really give us all a better knowledge and understanding about this practice.All these while I have been doing this practice without much knowledge and understanding about it. Now I have a clearer understanding. Hope to read more great stuffs from you! _/\_ 🙂

  34. sweekeong on Aug 19, 2016 at 10:33 am

    Thank you Pastor David for your explanation of the 35 Confessional Buddhas especially on the four opponents and visualization which I have not done before this. I like the high resolution colored images of the 35 Buddhas which I hope would help me remembering them better.

  35. Martin on Aug 19, 2016 at 2:50 am

    There is just so much precious teachings on Tsem Rinpoche’s blog now and this is certainly a fantastic and very beneficial article! Thank you Pastor David for this.

    This is one of my favorites, especially the confessional in the last section. The recitation of the 35 Confessional Buddhas done together with prostrations is a powerful practice and instills so much humility along the way.

    In repeatedly prostrating before the 35 Buddhas, we repeatedly submit our ego to be smashed, and the more our ego diminishes, the weaker the potency of the negative karma it has created. The more significant the ‘Self’ is, the more powerful the karma that the ‘Self’ created and this applies conversely as well.

    I guess to get the full benefit of this practice, we must set a proper motivation and remember the Four Opponent Powers at all time lest this becomes merely a physical exercise.

  36. Fong on Aug 18, 2016 at 4:31 pm

    Thank you, Pastor David for the detailed explanation to the practice of the 35 Confessional Buddhas.

    The physical act of the prostrations may seem simple but taken in together with all our negative karma it will seem like climbing Mount Everest in 1 day. Recitation of the prayer will seem such a very difficult task. But, if we put our mind to it, it will get done slowly but surely.

    The visualizations and incorporation of the four opponent powers are important and thank you for the instructions for the visualization.

    I’m sure whosoever wishes to start their ngondro now will have a better idea of how to go about it.

  37. Kelvin Yong on Aug 18, 2016 at 3:57 pm

    Thank you Rinpoche for just precious teaching of how we can purify our karma. Does this prostrations need to take place in front of the altar or it can be done anywhere nearby the altar?

  38. Bradley Kassian on Aug 18, 2016 at 2:52 pm

    Great article on the 35 Confession Buddhas Pastor David :D! A simple practice with positive results. Only takes a short amount of time to do when adding it to another practice like the Medicine Buddha Sadhana. Thank you for your in depth analysis. Great information! Please keep writing your articles are always wonderful to read!

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  • nut4all
    Sunday, Apr 30. 2017 07:03 AM
    and stopped animal sacrifice at these temples. http://www.drukpa.com/about-us/our-yogis/the-three-divine-madmen 99%ppl focus on jab jum DrukpaKunley…
    [no sender]
  • nut4HE25TRinp!o
    Sunday, Apr 30. 2017 01:54 AM
    @tsemtulku
    My favorite Mahasiddha is Naropa….Let explain few !from4incarnation DRUKPAone MADe split!forTWO!!DRUKPA(HEMIS-ladakh)&SHABDRUNG(relung monastery Tibet site) .later SHABDRUNG split for3 body speach MIND! ( i m not certain order) SHABDRUNGS ARE!!! NamkhaiN0rbu RINPOCHE YES!! HH SHABDRUNG controversial in BHUTAN home jail!by urgyen trinley can!idDAYE&TaklungShabrung .. Recently with Dalai our monk seen !
    [no sender]
  • Alice Tay
    Sunday, Apr 30. 2017 12:16 AM
    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing this and I was touched by this story very much. I personally think that this faithful dog must has very close karmic connection with its owner and it know that the owner is died. Furthermore, animals are very sensitive to our energies and mind states. So, if we are loving kindness and compassion, they can feel our love and care.

    As such, we must treat the animals like humans too. Not to harm them because humans can be reborn as animals and animals can be reborn as humans. We have to accept that humans and animals are interconnected and just like a family.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/animals-vegetarianism/faithful-dog-chases-deceased-owner.html
  • Stella Cheang
    Saturday, Apr 29. 2017 11:49 PM
    Spiritual practice is definitely much more than doing good for others. When we practice “spirituality” without religion and from our own understanding, how sure are we that we are on the right track? When we practice spiritual with the guide of religion, we will certain progress and much easily to attain higher levels. Thank you, Rinpoche for this teaching.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/buddhas-dharma/can-we-just-be-spiritual-but-not-religious.html
  • Stella Cheang
    Saturday, Apr 29. 2017 10:56 PM
    When we truly love and care for another being like a family, whether this other being is a dog or cat, a child or a stranger, it will break our heart when it is gone. Many people may not be capable of this emotion towards a pet but as we evolved, we will realize we are capable to develop such feelings for animals. It is common in the west to have pets cemetery because of this reason. Thank you for this article, Rinpoche.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/animals-vegetarianism/why-losing-a-dog-can-be-harder-than-losing-a-relative-or-friend.html
  • Lin Mun
    Saturday, Apr 29. 2017 03:09 PM
    Interesting info and article about werewolves. I never knew about its origins and the various wolves existence until I read this. I have thus far know about werewolves only from the movies and the famous twilight show. But one thing I noticed from the articles is the gruesome manner in killing the person (or suspected werewolves). Some were cursed to be a werewolves. There just so much anger, violence and killing in the whole process, which probably the reason why werewolves are known to kill and hurt human and other animals.

    Anyway, whether we believe the existence of werewolf is true or not, I believe that there are other forms of beings in world. And we should not handle or deal with other beings with violence and anger.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/paranormal/werewolves-the-shapeshifters.html#comment-744320
  • Lin Mun
    Friday, Apr 28. 2017 04:00 PM
    Everything we offer to Buddha is a form of mind transformation and practise our mind to be focus even when doing water offering. When pouring the water into the bowl we have to recite Om Ah Hum (3 times), think positively and pouring it slowly so it does not spill and leaving the space of a grain of rice before reaching the top. After offering we also have to clean the bowls properly without leaving stain. All this is to train our mind.

    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing the many benefits and water offering in a simple to understand article.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/buddhas-dharma/making-water-offerings-to-the-buddhas.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Friday, Apr 28. 2017 03:38 PM
    Trolls are assiociates as beings of Scandinavian folklore.A large number of different mythological creatures continue to live on in Scandinavian folklore.They have different shapes,habitat and filthy features . There are also numerous tales of trolls told and retold.Trolls are also believed to have the magigal powers, which were folktales ,posses capabilities that are beyond human .What ever it was a remnant of a long-lost reality for sure. I do believe that there’s a very high chance trolls had existed in the past.
    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing ,i do enjoyed all the stories in these article even though it just folk tales.
    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/science-mysteries/the-hidden-nature-of-trolls.html
  • Jason
    Thursday, Apr 27. 2017 11:54 PM
    People always expect return on some contribution being done especially in charity events. When the return was under their expectations then they will feel sad or unhappy.
    As Rinpoche said, Dharma is a teachings to transform our mind to become bodicitta or selfless to benefit others without condition. Once we practiced selfless mind, our mind will not be affected by others people reaction.
    What will be my legacy? I think this is not really important to me anymore once I know Dharma teachings from Rinpoche.
    Thanks Datuk May for sharing to benefit more people.

    Jason

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/guest-contributors/what-will-be-your-legacy.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Thursday, Apr 27. 2017 08:56 PM
    Amazing miracles true story …of how Rinpoche helped. With Rinpoche blessing during the children baptismal ceremony,this little boy who had not spoken since 9 years old was able to speake again.Incredible….
    Chef Au truly believes been a vegetarian has help him to collects merits for his son.Rinpoche’s care and compassion has benefited many more people.Through these stories hope more people will be inspired to achieve the state of compassion and attainments.
    Thank you Rinpoche and Pastor Loh Seng Piow for this sharing.
    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/personal-attendant/the-miracles-of-tsem-rinpoche-true-story-4.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Thursday, Apr 27. 2017 07:51 PM
    Having fully trust and faith in Rinpoche ,Fat monk’s mother was well again, after been diagnosed with cancerious tumour at the liver.
    Following instructions given by Rinpoche, his mother recited mantras and Fat monk did a series of pujas as told,his mother recovered then.
    Amazing……Miracles do happen.
    Thank you Rinpoche and Pastor Loh Seng Piow for sharing.
    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/personal-attendant/the-miracles-of-tsem-rinpoche-true-story-3.html
  • Stella Cheang
    Thursday, Apr 27. 2017 05:27 PM
    We are no strangers to the creatures called Werewolves. They are often depicted as the Jekyll-and-Hyde-like monsters in movies who are unable to control their animal instincts when they shift from human form to a wolf-like creature, usually during the full moon. Together with the Vampires who can transform into bats, are my childhood imagery villains, who triggered my curiosity on mythical creatures during younger days. They still do, lol.

    It is gruesome to learn that real life werewolves are actually brutal even when they are in human forms. It is a far depict from the movies and fictions, where they are civil and level headed when in human form. I hope one day science or technology can provide more proves the existence of werewolves, and debunk the reason of this mystical shapeshifter.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/paranormal/werewolves-the-shapeshifters.html
  • Stella Cheang
    Thursday, Apr 27. 2017 05:07 PM
    The miraculous power of Protectors’ practice can heal and shield us from negative karma from ripening. Through the blessings of our Guru, coupled with strong faith and trust, the practices will take effect swiftly and effectively. Rejoice to Steven Lee. May he be guided by the Three Jewels always. Thank you, Pastor Seng Piow for sharing the true story with us.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/personal-attendant/the-miracles-of-tsem-rinpoche-true-story-10.html
  • Lin Mun
    Thursday, Apr 27. 2017 03:57 PM
    This is a very touching article. I totally agree that dog is a man’s best friend. They are always so loyal to the owner. However it is sad that not all pet owners are such. Some will only treat them literally as an animal and therefore do not take good care of them. Dogs or any other animals are beings that have feeling. There should not be neglected and be abused by us. This article reminds us to always care for all beings and respect them.

    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing this heartwarming article.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/animals-vegetarianism/faithful-dog-chases-deceased-owner.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Thursday, Apr 27. 2017 02:21 PM
    Its a heartfelt touching article of this faithful dog.Cannot imagine this ,such a wonderful relationship between that dog and the deceased owner.The greatest fear dogs know is the fear that we will not come back for them That i noticed from observing from my pet poodle.In this case this faithful dog knew his owner won’t be back.
    Dogs are loyal, patient, fearless, forgiving, capable of pure love and have feelings too.He must have missed the owner badly that he wanted to accompany the owner all the way to the resting place.
    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing. May that faithful dog ,continue to serve and well taken, love by the other family members.
    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/animals-vegetarianism/faithful-dog-chases-deceased-owner.html

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The Known and unknown are both feared,
Known is being comfortable and stagnant,
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Holy Lady Buddha Vajra Yogini\'s blessing can be found when we decide to focus out to others instead of in to only ourselves.
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2 weeks ago
Holy Lady Buddha Vajra Yogini's blessing can be found when we decide to focus out to others instead of in to only ourselves. ~ Tsem Tulku Rinpoche
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His Holiness Vajradhara Kyabje Zong Rinpoche of Gaden Monastery who is the refuge of countless, gives a clear explanation of Dorje Shugden. One is able to hear his holy voice and translation by Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen! Please see here and share: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=122352
: This picture says it all. Click on it to enlarge and read and please share.
3 weeks ago
: This picture says it all. Click on it to enlarge and read and please share.
This is a simple chart showing the three main psychic channels used in tantric meditations to control the winds, raise tummo (fire energy), gain higher consciousness and insight and also for gaining siddhis. These channels are used in meditations for controlling the mind, when the mind ejects from the body (phowa) and one\'s death. These three channels are very important. Tsem Rinpoche
3 weeks ago
This is a simple chart showing the three main psychic channels used in tantric meditations to control the winds, raise tummo (fire energy), gain higher consciousness and insight and also for gaining siddhis. These channels are used in meditations for controlling the mind, when the mind ejects from the body (phowa) and one's death. These three channels are very important. Tsem Rinpoche
I think my cute doggie Oser is actually Tintin\'s dog Snowy!
3 weeks ago
I think my cute doggie Oser is actually Tintin's dog Snowy!
Great Masters of Gaden Shartse Monastery. From left to right: His Eminence Kensur Jampa Yeshe Rinpoche, His Holiness Sharpa Choeje Jetsun Lobsang Nyima, H.E. Kyabje Zemey Rinpoche, H.E. Kyabje Lati Rinpoche, His Holiness 101st Gaden Tripa throne holder Jetsun Lungrik Namgyal.
3 weeks ago
Great Masters of Gaden Shartse Monastery. From left to right: His Eminence Kensur Jampa Yeshe Rinpoche, His Holiness Sharpa Choeje Jetsun Lobsang Nyima, H.E. Kyabje Zemey Rinpoche, H.E. Kyabje Lati Rinpoche, His Holiness 101st Gaden Tripa throne holder Jetsun Lungrik Namgyal.
 Left to right: Dharma boy, Mumu boy and Oser girl. The three of them are my beautiful and loved Schnauzer dogs. They loved looking through the window to see traffic, people and movement. They loved the smells that drifted through their little noses. I love seeing the three of them together like this. I love them. Tsem Rinpoche
3 weeks ago
Left to right: Dharma boy, Mumu boy and Oser girl. The three of them are my beautiful and loved Schnauzer dogs. They loved looking through the window to see traffic, people and movement. They loved the smells that drifted through their little noses. I love seeing the three of them together like this. I love them. Tsem Rinpoche
Little Mumu boy...he loved balloons. When he saw them, he wanted to get close and perhaps bite them. Cute. I love this picture of Mumu reaching for the balloons. He was young and healthy! This picture captures his energy, enthusiasm, curiosity and high energy. I love this picture of him chasing the balloons. His pictures are always so nice....He was not a pet but family to me. I love him tremendously and always will. Tsem Rinpoche
3 weeks ago
Little Mumu boy...he loved balloons. When he saw them, he wanted to get close and perhaps bite them. Cute. I love this picture of Mumu reaching for the balloons. He was young and healthy! This picture captures his energy, enthusiasm, curiosity and high energy. I love this picture of him chasing the balloons. His pictures are always so nice....He was not a pet but family to me. I love him tremendously and always will. Tsem Rinpoche
Little Mumu boy and myself.. He was not a pet but family to me. I love him tremendously and always will. Tsem Rinpoche
3 weeks ago
Little Mumu boy and myself.. He was not a pet but family to me. I love him tremendously and always will. Tsem Rinpoche
2017-His Holiness the 101st Gaden Tripa, Jetsun Lungrik Namgyal is doing well and 90 years old. His Holiness Lungrik Namgyal is a powerful master of sutra and tantra and practitioner of Dorje Shugden. Currently residing in France.
3 weeks ago
2017-His Holiness the 101st Gaden Tripa, Jetsun Lungrik Namgyal is doing well and 90 years old. His Holiness Lungrik Namgyal is a powerful master of sutra and tantra and practitioner of Dorje Shugden. Currently residing in France.
One of the most sacred statues of Avalokitesvara made of sandalwood housed in Lhasa, Tibet. He has shown miracles also. Every pilgrim wishes to make offerings to this Lord of Compassion.
3 weeks ago
One of the most sacred statues of Avalokitesvara made of sandalwood housed in Lhasa, Tibet. He has shown miracles also. Every pilgrim wishes to make offerings to this Lord of Compassion.
 Sacred Avalokitesvara statue in Nepal. Thousands come to worship this special Buddha as it has conferred wishes in the past.
3 weeks ago
Sacred Avalokitesvara statue in Nepal. Thousands come to worship this special Buddha as it has conferred wishes in the past.
Tsem Rinpoche\'s Vajra Yogini statue and offerings
3 weeks ago
Tsem Rinpoche's Vajra Yogini statue and offerings
Two of my teachers from Gaden Shartse Monastery in South India. Left side is Most Venerable Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen whom I lived with for 8 years in Los Angeles where his centre Thubten Dhargye Ling is located. On the right is the abbot emeritus H.E. Kyabje Lati Rinpoche the scholar and yogi. I was very fortunate to have them in my life and learn so much dharma from them. Tsem Rinpoche
4 weeks ago
Two of my teachers from Gaden Shartse Monastery in South India. Left side is Most Venerable Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen whom I lived with for 8 years in Los Angeles where his centre Thubten Dhargye Ling is located. On the right is the abbot emeritus H.E. Kyabje Lati Rinpoche the scholar and yogi. I was very fortunate to have them in my life and learn so much dharma from them. Tsem Rinpoche
 It is so wonderful to be kind to people, be caring, feed them, make sure they are healthy and share dharma if they are interested with them for their future. But simply to be nice to others is worth getting up and being alive...otherwise why be alive to hurt/use/distrust and hate others? No point living that way..must change that..... It is nice to live our lives to benefit others and be patient even if we have been hurt before because by caring we can heal the hurt and \'defeat\' the ones that hurt us because we don\'t become bitter..... Tsem Rinpoche
4 weeks ago
It is so wonderful to be kind to people, be caring, feed them, make sure they are healthy and share dharma if they are interested with them for their future. But simply to be nice to others is worth getting up and being alive...otherwise why be alive to hurt/use/distrust and hate others? No point living that way..must change that..... It is nice to live our lives to benefit others and be patient even if we have been hurt before because by caring we can heal the hurt and 'defeat' the ones that hurt us because we don't become bitter..... Tsem Rinpoche
Tsem Rinpoche\'s heritage in China. Must read: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=120499
4 weeks ago
Tsem Rinpoche's heritage in China. Must read: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=120499
Thank you Buddhist Pastor Chia for sharing your story on how you met His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche over 20 years ago. We can learn much from your story.~Admin  Please read: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=116928
4 weeks ago
Thank you Buddhist Pastor Chia for sharing your story on how you met His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche over 20 years ago. We can learn much from your story.~Admin Please read: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=116928
Mumu boy is incredibly photogenic. He is beyond cute. Tsem Rinpoche
4 weeks ago
Mumu boy is incredibly photogenic. He is beyond cute. Tsem Rinpoche
 (left to right) Rabten Tulku, Gonsar Rinpoche, Gyume Kensur Rinpoche, Trijang Rinpoche, H.H. Gaden Trisur Rinpoche (France)
4 weeks ago
(left to right) Rabten Tulku, Gonsar Rinpoche, Gyume Kensur Rinpoche, Trijang Rinpoche, H.H. Gaden Trisur Rinpoche (France)
Beautiful 200 roses arrived today for me as a gift from Su Ming. Very kind and thoughtful of her as usual. Tsem Rinpoche
4 weeks ago
Beautiful 200 roses arrived today for me as a gift from Su Ming. Very kind and thoughtful of her as usual. Tsem Rinpoche
It\'s good to be with kind and sincere people.
4 weeks ago
It's good to be with kind and sincere people.
If we are kind, we lose less of ourselves-Tsem Rinpoche
1 month ago
If we are kind, we lose less of ourselves-Tsem Rinpoche
My Mumu boy didn\'t want to eat. Eating is not one of his favorite activities throughout his life. So I talked to him to let him know why he needs to eat and keep his strength up when this photo was taken. He was listening intently and after my talk with him, he ate. Tsem Rinpoche
1 month ago
My Mumu boy didn't want to eat. Eating is not one of his favorite activities throughout his life. So I talked to him to let him know why he needs to eat and keep his strength up when this photo was taken. He was listening intently and after my talk with him, he ate. Tsem Rinpoche
This is so true. Click to enlarge and understand more about unpleasant people.
1 month ago
This is so true. Click to enlarge and understand more about unpleasant people.
This mahasiddha Kukkuripa is easy to identify as he is accompanied by a small dog whom he loved very much.
1 month ago
This mahasiddha Kukkuripa is easy to identify as he is accompanied by a small dog whom he loved very much.
Mumu taking a rest in the turquoise room. Over the years, I always feel very satisfied when I see him covered with a blanket, safe and sleeping. I always wanted to make sure he was safe from harm, illness and distress. I wanted him to have a happy and loved life. Tsem Rinpoche
1 month ago
Mumu taking a rest in the turquoise room. Over the years, I always feel very satisfied when I see him covered with a blanket, safe and sleeping. I always wanted to make sure he was safe from harm, illness and distress. I wanted him to have a happy and loved life. Tsem Rinpoche
I wrapped my little Mumu boy up in my blanket and propped him up on my bed. He didn\'t move or wiggle and just looked at me. He is one funny entertaining little guy. Tsem Rinpoche
1 month ago
I wrapped my little Mumu boy up in my blanket and propped him up on my bed. He didn't move or wiggle and just looked at me. He is one funny entertaining little guy. Tsem Rinpoche
March 2017-Coaxing my little Mumu boy to eat his meal. He was not well and therefore not hungry. Tsem Rinpoche
1 month ago
March 2017-Coaxing my little Mumu boy to eat his meal. He was not well and therefore not hungry. Tsem Rinpoche
Click on picture to enlarge and see what Milarepa says. Profound.
1 month ago
Click on picture to enlarge and see what Milarepa says. Profound.
We are always trying to get somewhere, try something new, find some friends, get some entertainment and in the end we end up in the same place. Time to really practice Dharma seriously and stop wasting time we don\'t have. ~Tsem Rinpoche
1 month ago
We are always trying to get somewhere, try something new, find some friends, get some entertainment and in the end we end up in the same place. Time to really practice Dharma seriously and stop wasting time we don't have. ~Tsem Rinpoche
March 20, 2017-Mumu is just so adorable with his bright eyes.
1 month ago
March 20, 2017-Mumu is just so adorable with his bright eyes.
More and more people inviting Lord Dorje Shugden home to connect with on their shrines. I am so happy to see this as it will benefit them and their families so much. That is the purpose to be alive which is to benefit others as much as possible. Tsem Rinpoche
1 month ago
More and more people inviting Lord Dorje Shugden home to connect with on their shrines. I am so happy to see this as it will benefit them and their families so much. That is the purpose to be alive which is to benefit others as much as possible. Tsem Rinpoche
His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche is a good sport watching his students do Halloween drag costumes for a charity show. Funny!
1 month ago
His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche is a good sport watching his students do Halloween drag costumes for a charity show. Funny!
His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche is a good sport watching his students do Halloween drag costumes for a charity show. Funny!
1 month ago
His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche is a good sport watching his students do Halloween drag costumes for a charity show. Funny!
The Japanese are very innovative. Tsem Rinpoche
1 month ago
The Japanese are very innovative. Tsem Rinpoche
Read this as it will be interesting
1 month ago
Read this as it will be interesting
Recite this before any meal or drinks for blessings of abundance. Tsem Rinpoche
1 month ago
Recite this before any meal or drinks for blessings of abundance. Tsem Rinpoche
This sacred statue of Buddha is in Nepal brought originally from Tibet and has spoken on many occasions. Very blessed to see this holy image and keep a picture...bless you always. Tsem Rinpoche
1 month ago
This sacred statue of Buddha is in Nepal brought originally from Tibet and has spoken on many occasions. Very blessed to see this holy image and keep a picture...bless you always. Tsem Rinpoche
I love Mumu boy tremendously. We went through so much together for so many years. You are a great being to be with. Tsem Rinpoche
1 month ago
I love Mumu boy tremendously. We went through so much together for so many years. You are a great being to be with. Tsem Rinpoche
Dear everyone, I am sharing this beautiful and modern altar to Dorje Shugden in Malaysia. I am glad to see more and more people creating sacred spaces. Tsem Rinpoche
1 month ago
Dear everyone, I am sharing this beautiful and modern altar to Dorje Shugden in Malaysia. I am glad to see more and more people creating sacred spaces. Tsem Rinpoche
Lhamo Karmo, a female buddha form visualized above the crown of one\'s head at the time of death, to encourage consciousness to leave the body via the crown aperture. From my book \"The Female Buddhas.\"- Glenn Mullin
2 months ago
Lhamo Karmo, a female buddha form visualized above the crown of one's head at the time of death, to encourage consciousness to leave the body via the crown aperture. From my book "The Female Buddhas."- Glenn Mullin
The Tibetan female tulku Dorje Pakmo, from a fresco on the wall of the Dorje Pakmo monastery (Samding) in Tibet, near the Turquoise Lake. In Tibet the Dorje Pakmo was ranked with the Dalai Lama, Panchen Lama and Sakya Trizin as the four highest lamas in the country.-from Glenn Mullin
2 months ago
The Tibetan female tulku Dorje Pakmo, from a fresco on the wall of the Dorje Pakmo monastery (Samding) in Tibet, near the Turquoise Lake. In Tibet the Dorje Pakmo was ranked with the Dalai Lama, Panchen Lama and Sakya Trizin as the four highest lamas in the country.-from Glenn Mullin
Dharma boy, Mumu boy and Oser girl checking out the scene..cute
2 months ago
Dharma boy, Mumu boy and Oser girl checking out the scene..cute
My Dharma boy has such a cute expression here. He is a good boy!
2 months ago
My Dharma boy has such a cute expression here. He is a good boy!
February 9,2017-My Mumu boy and Oser girl are just relaxing together..super cute
3 months ago
February 9,2017-My Mumu boy and Oser girl are just relaxing together..super cute
Click on the picture to enlarge and see what Suzy from Hawaii commented on the Dorje Shugden issue after much research. She is very candid and honest. Refreshing. Original is posted here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vl-4lIwxph4
3 months ago
Click on the picture to enlarge and see what Suzy from Hawaii commented on the Dorje Shugden issue after much research. She is very candid and honest. Refreshing. Original is posted here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vl-4lIwxph4
This is a good one to read
3 months ago
This is a good one to read
Click on "View All Photos" above to view more images

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ASK A PASTOR


Ask the Pastors

A section for you to clarify your Dharma questions with Kechara’s esteemed pastors.

Just post your name and your question below and one of our pastors will provide you with an answer.

Scroll down and click on "View All Questions" to view archived questions.

  • April 20, 2017 10:45
    Ronnie asked: Dear Rinpoche and Pastors, I'm studying abroad and very far away from home, seeking guidance and advice as I have no one else I can talk to about this. Please read with an open mind, I don't know where else to go for help. I'm pregnant and it's an unplanned pregnancy. I'm stuck between keeping it or letting it go. I'm young and having a child at my age in the society we live in now would be considered taboo. The father of the child thinks I should let it go because it may cause a setback to both our careers and cause major family issues. He thinks we aren't ready to raise a child especially since we're both still in university and his parents think badly of me even though they've never met me or tried to get to know me. I'm sure no one would ever have the heart to take away a heartbeat but it seems like it isn't the right time to have a child now and if we did go through with it, the child probably won't be able to have the best things life can offer looking at where we are now in terms of finance and maturity. I'm lost, confused and unsure what the right thing to do is now. Any advice at all would be helpful right now. Thank you so very much for taking time to read my story.
    pastor answered: Dear Ronnie, I’m sorry to read that you are going through this situation. I can understand that this situation is tough to go through. You are always more than welcome to come here to ask questions. May I suggest that you talk to either someone in your family or your friends to help you come to an appropriate solution? This is because, what you feel, what you are going through, will change from time to time and you would need someone to talk to, someone that you can lean on through this situation you are facing. Depending on where you are in the world, professional help can also be sought to help you make a decision, which will be the best option for you seeking help. From a Buddhist perspective, the taking of a life is not considered a positive act, therefore those on the Buddhist path, would normally abstain taking a life if possible. However, that being said, one must always weigh the decision oneself. Everything we do in life, necessarily involves karma both positive and negative. That is why Buddhists try to overcome samsara in general. Your situation is complicated because you are abroad, but if possible you should really open up to someone you are close to in order to help you through making this decision on a personal basis. When you talk to someone, whom you are able to express yourself more, you may able to come to better decision that is right for you. There may be other options open to you if you seek help. I personally know women who have been in similar situations. One of these women, let the child go and the other went through the pregnancy and then gave the child up for adoption. You may or may not have thought of this option, but it is one that could be open to you, depending on where in the world you are. Any decision we make in life, however big or small it may seem, has far reaching consequences whether in this life, or in future lives. This is just a part and parcel of life within samsara. However, we should weigh the decisions we make clearly given the situation we are in. We cannot always do this weighing ourselves, but need to talk about our options with others we can rely on such a friends, family or professionals. You should consider doing this, which will help you greatly emotionally, and may give you the grounding you need to make the correct decision for you. I hope this helps.
  • April 19, 2017 04:57
    Dongho asked: What is a nyung ne practice? According to Lama Zopa Rinpoche, it's a purification sadhana. However, what are the instructions for this? I'm guessing it's to Chenrezig, but how does it work? Also, from what I have read, Vajrasattva practice is only for broken vows while Akshobhya is for regular misdeeds. Does that mean one has to take the Akshobhya practice to purify bad karma from this life and previous instead of Vajrasattva? As for the purification practices, are some like Vajrasattva and Chenrezig only to purify the bad karma and let it come quickly or is it to prevent it from coming? I am confused in it. As for signs, I recited a mantra of White Yangchenma that a Sakya lama, Lama Kunga Thartse Rinpoche, gave me with the Sakya visualizations I read on, and after one mala, I heard some lady call my Korean name even though no one in my neighborhood knows of my name and my family members weren't in the area. What does this mean?
    pastor answered: Dear Dongho, Thank you for your questions, it’s nice to see you back here again. Nyung Ne practice is a purification practice that centres around Chenrezig. It is a very beneficial practice that stems from a holy nun named Gelong-ma Palmo. It is a two and a half day practice that can be repeated many times over and over again to intensify the purification and build a closer relationship with Chenrezig. As well as its purification aspect, the practice is known to generate vast amount of merit, and also compassion, as the practice centres around Chenrezig, the Buddha of compassion. The practice involves taking the eight Mahayana precepts for the duration, fasting, meditating, prostrating and praying. The practice usually entails empowerment into the practice of Chenrezig, therefore the exact meditations, prayers can only be explained to those who have the empowerment. Vajrasattva practice is not necessarily only for repairing broken vows, etc. That’s why it is advised that you engage in the practice at the end of the day, to repair any vows that you may have broken during that day, as well as stopping any negative karma you created that day from multiplying. This would entail reciting the mantra 21 times, together with the four opponent powers. However, if you engage in this practice more intensely, it definitely has the capability to purify all sorts of karma. That is the reason why in Ngondro, or preliminary practices one engages in before tantra, the practice of 100,000 Vajrasattva mantra recitation is an integral part. You can read more about Vajrasattva and his practice here: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/prayers-and-sadhanas/an-important-purification-practice.html. Within purification practices, some of the karma will be purified completely, so you do not feel its effects at all, but when purifying other karma you will need to feel its effects somehow. For example if you have the karma to be in a car accident and get seriously injured, and you are engaging in any practice, but especially the purification practice, since you have purified most of the karma, you will only experience being in a very minor car accident, with only very superficial injuries. Therefore, in this case, the karma has been purified to the extent that it does not affect you as much, but you still need to feel part of its effect. In regards to any signs that you receive which engaging in the practices given to you by one of your specific gurus, you should report the happenings to that particular guru. He will be able to give you more of an accurate answer, as it may be related to the particular practice that he gave to you. I hope this helps. Thank you.
  • April 17, 2017 07:06
    Thomas asked: Dear Pastors, When a serkyem set has been used so much and one is ready to get rid of it and replace it with a new one. What is a respecful mode of disposal?
    pastor answered: Dear Thomas, Thank you for your question. Your question shows that you have a lot of respect for offering items, which is very good. If possible, you should try to repair the item if within your means, and doing so make embellishments to make it a better offering item, which can still be used. If this is not possible, then you should dispose of the item with a good motivation. You should think that this item has been used to make offerings to the enlightened beings, but now that it is broken or unusable, you are going to dispose of it, and replace it with a new one. Since it itself is not a receptacle of energies of the enlightened beings, such as a statue, tsa tsa or thangka, it does not require a special dissolution before being disposed of. However since it was used to make offerings, it still requires some form of respect when disposing, and this comes from one’s motivation and the way in which you dispose of it. Usually, when disposing of items in this way, make the motivation that you have used it and that it is now time to dispose of it, and replace it with a new one. When you do this you can dispose of it in a respectful manner. For example, if you are going to throw it away, you do not simply open the trash can and throw it in. You wrap it up in something, like a bag or newspaper and dispose of it respectfully. Another method you can dispose of it is to recycle the object, if the material it is made from can be recycled. That way you are more conscious of the environment as well. I hope this explanation helps. Thank you.
  • April 16, 2017 22:38
    Curious asked: Dear pastors In a recent youtube video something like paying respect to deceased ones, pastor Nirel Patel explained that merits are like the interest and good karma is like the principal sum. So merits always regenerate themselves and hence do not get used up but good karma is like the principal sum so it gets used up. So my question is what are practices that generate merit? And can we turn a mundane daily activity into a meritorious one? Maybe can you provide an example?
    pastor answered: Dear Curious, Thank you for your question. First, to clarify a point, in regards to good karma, you are right, it is like a principal sum in a bank account, but you take away from it when you experience something good in your life, and you add to it when you do good deeds. Merit on the other hand, once accrued never diminishes, therefore when something is based on merit, it is based on the energies of this never diminishing sum, which you could say is like interest. In short, the principal sum when talking about karma is always added to and subtracted from. However, when talking about merit, once you have it, there is no way to destroy it, you will always benefit from it. There are various ways to explain how to generate merit. I will explain a way that I find easiest to understand. In normal life, when we go about performing any sort of activity, be it ‘good’ or ‘bad’ we do so out of ignorance of the true nature of existence, and it is usually self-motivated. For example, we work our entire lives to generate monetary income, so that we have enough money, resources, and materials goods to be comfortable. This is self-motivated, but it is the accepted way the world works these days, and is part and parcel of being bound to samsaric life. On the other hand, the act of merit making can be categorised into three parts: i) motivation, ii) the act itself, and iii) dedication. Let’s start with motivation, when engaging in various virtuous acts, we should have the motivation that by engaging in the act, we have the motivation to alleviate the suffering of someone else, and that may we gain enlightenment so that we can benefit them in the future. The second is the act itself. The third is to dedicate the energy of the virtuous act to gaining enlightenment. These three are what make merit. This may be a little confusing, so let me give an example: giving help to a homeless person. Whereas in ordinary life, this is something praised as a very good deed, it does not create merit without motivation and dedication. In order for this to become merit, one must set the motivation that one is giving help to the homeless free of the eight worldly concerns, to alleviate their suffering and also making the motivation that you will achieve enlightenment for the sake of the person or people you are helping. Then after you have helped them, you dedicate the energy created to the spiritual journey towards full enlightenment to help all sentient beings, while at the same time benefiting as many sentient beings as possible on the way there. This transforms the act into not only a virtuous action but also one that generates merit. On the other hand, if you were to help the homeless without these, you are creating good karma, which although beneficial, keeps you bound to existence within samsara. As it is the goal of Buddhist practice to overcome the cycle of samsara, a Buddhist would want to generate merit instead of good karma. I hope this explanation helps. Thank you.
  • April 13, 2017 11:38
    D.A. asked: If Begtse Chan is not from Mongolia, what are his real origins or story exactly? And which lamas offer his empowerment? As for Manjushri Nagarakshasa, which lamas specifically offer his empowerment and practice?
    pastor answered: Dear D.A. Thank you for your question. Begtse, is also known as Chamsing, or Jamsaran in Mongolian. As mentioned in an earlier sharing with someone who also asked a question about Begtse, the practiced was introduced to Tibet from India by the translator Nyen Lotsawa, and is considered one of the main protectors of the Hayagriva cycle of tantras. According to the scriptures that derive from the Sakya tradition, who incorporated the practice from the translators, and in which tradition Begtse became a very important protector, Begtse in a previous life was born many eons ago. In that particular life, he was born as the younger prince in a royal family. His name was Drag Gye, and his older brother’s name was Drag Den. Over time both princes developed differing religious beliefs, to the point where they could not get along with each as they both held their own religious views strongly. As was the custom during that time, they decided to settle their differences through logical debate, with the loser having to convert to the winner’s religion. This custom was also prevalent in ancient India, and there are many stories of such debates occurring between the great masters of the past and those of other faiths. Drag Gye lost the various debates, but ran away instead of converting to his older brother’s religion. Drag Den caught him, and tried to punish him for breaking the rules of debate and going back on his promise. Drag Gye told his brother that even if he was killed he would not give up his religion, however if Drag Den let him go, that in the future when Drag Den became enlightened, he would protect his teachings. With that Drag Den let him go, and gave him a set of copper armour, a stick, and a bow and arrow. Drag Den also gave Drag Gye a new name: Sog Dag Yam Shi Mar Po. After this incident the two brothers never saw each other again in that lifetime. Many lives after that Drag Den was reborn as Prince Siddharta, who eventually became enlightened and is now known as Buddha Shakyamuni. Drag Gye, or Sog Dag Yam Shi Mar Po, was reborn in a cemetery in the North West direction. His parents gave birth to two eggs, one was a coral-like colour and the other was an agate-like colour. These two eggs flew high into the sky and reached the heavenly realms, there they subdued the gods. Then flying back down to earth, they subdued many nagas. Eventually they even came to threaten their own parents. The parents petitioned the Dharma protector Ekajati for her help, who threw her own staff (khatvanga) at the eggs, and broke them apart. From the coral-like coloured egg came a ferocious man with yellow hair, he proclaimed that his name was ‘Sog Dag Yam Shi Mar Po’. When he emerged he was wearing a set of copper armour, wielding a stick, copper sword, and a bow and arrow. From the agate-like coloured egg came a female who was blue in colour, her teeth were like shells, she had turquoise eyebrows, and her hair was made of fire. She emerged wielding a copper knife, ritual dagger (phurba), rode a terrifying bear and wore an intricate necklace made of agate and lapis lazuli. It was then that Ekajati once again took action, and subdued them, after which they became Dharma protectors. The male figure became known as Begtse, and the female as his sister. When you propitiate Begtse, his sister is automatically included and aids practitioners as well. As for which lama offer his practice and empowerment, most lamas do not advertise which teachings or practice they hold. Therefore you should respectfully approach lamas and ask them if they have the practice and can bestow it, or if they know of any lamas that have the practice, depending on how much you want to practice Begtse. Similarly, this applies to those lamas who have the practice of Manjushri Nagarakshasa. However, this practice is included in the Rinjung Gyatsa series of empowerments. This unique cycle of teachings, includes all 4 classes of tantric practices, and includes the practice of Manjushri Nagarakshasa. Therefore those lamas who have received the complete transmission, and have kept their commitments for this practice, are qualified to pass this on to others. I hope this explanation helps. Thank you.
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