The Dedication “Fulfilling All Aspirations”
Degé Kangyur, vol. 68 (mdo sde, ya), folios 77.a–79.b.
Translated by the Alexander Csoma de Kőrös Translation Group
under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha
This text is a prayer of dedication, and is meant to be recited. Its structure partly reflects the liturgy of “seven branches” or “seven limbs,” a set of practices that serves as the basic structure of many Mahāyāna Buddhist prayers and rituals. In this instance, however, the text consists of two sections: the first is a detailed prayer of confession, and the second a prayer of rejoicing, requesting that the wheel of the Dharma be turned, beseeching the buddhas not to pass into nirvāṇa, and extensively dedicating the merit.
This text was translated from the Tibetan, introduced, and edited by the translator Zsuzsa Majer in collaboration with Karma Dorje (Rabjampa), a native Tibetan speaker and Tibetan language expert; Beáta Kakas, who checked the Sanskrit terms; and Nathaniel Rich, the English-language editor, in the framework of the Alexander Csoma de Kőrös Translation Group.
The translation was completed under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha.
This short text and The Dedication “Protecting Beings” (Toh 286) seem to constitute a pair, and this for several reasons. First, the two texts, both of which lack Sanskrit titles, appear side by side both in the Denkarma (ldan dkar ma) imperial catalogue and in the extant Kangyurs of the Tshalpa and Thempangma lines. In the Tshalpa Kangyurs, the two are placed at the very end of the Mahāyāna division of the General Sūtra (mdo sde) section, and in the Thempangma Kangyurs toward the end of the entire General Sūtra section. Their function as dedications therefore seems to be reflected in that placement, and—in the Tshalpa Kangyurs at least—the two appear to be dedications meant specifically to seal the sections of Mahāyāna sūtras.
Furthermore, the fact that the two are consistently placed together in most Kangyurs suggests at least the possibility that the colophon to the following text refers also to this one, which otherwise lacks a colophon of its own. Since the two texts are dedications, it is perhaps not surprising that they are neither called sūtras, nor show features typical of sūtras, such as the opening “Thus did I hear” or an introductory passage describing the setting and audience of the discourse. What is somewhat surprising is that both are nonetheless included in the sūtra section of the Kangyur, indicating that they are to be considered discourses of the Buddha.1 Along those lines, the lack of features that typically distinguish sūtras led the fifteenth-century scholar Pekar Sangpo (pad dkar bzang po), in his analytical survey of all the sūtras found in the Kangyur, to conclude that the two texts are extracts from another, longer sūtra—though he does not say which,2 and our own search for matches (at least in the Tibetan corpus) has not yet identified any such text, sūtra or otherwise. Intriguingly, Pekar Sangpo also characterizes the present text as a sūtra of the Third Turning (bka’ tha ma).3 What can be said with a reasonable degree of confidence, however, is that, regardless of their exact provenance, the two texts were translated from Sanskrit or another Indic language in the early ninth century, as evidenced by the fact that the present text is listed in both the Denkarma and Phangthangma (’phang thang ma) catalogs.4
There is no extant Sanskrit text of this sūtra, and there are no known canonical or Tibetan commentaries. There is no known English translation of it nor any translation into any European language, and no academic research or scholarly studies of it are known. A translation of the Tibetan text is, however, available in the Mongolian Kangyur.5 The translation presented here is based on the Tibetan version in the Degé Kangyur and consultation of the Comparative Edition (dpe bsdur ma) as well as the Stok Palace manuscript.
The structure of the present text partly reflects the liturgy of “seven branches” or “seven limbs” (yan lag bdun pa), a set of practices that came to serve as the basic structure of many Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna Buddhist prayers, sādhanas, and pūjās. The seven branches are commonly as follows: prostration or homage, offering, confession, rejoicing in virtue, requesting the buddhas to teach, requesting the buddhas not to pass into nirvāṇa, and dedication of merit. Not all of these seven are present in this text, which suggests that perhaps the set was formalized only later. Here, there is only a single line of homage at the very beginning of the text, which might have been intended only as the customary line of homage found at the beginning of all Kangyur works. Offering is not mentioned at all. The body of the text consists of two main sections, each of which opens with a request that the buddhas and bodhisattvas pay heed to the reciter and closes (intriguingly) with the sentence “Thus I recite a second time, and thus a third time.” The first section is devoted solely to confession, while the second is devoted to rejoicing, requesting to teach, requesting to remain, and dedication. Each of these features a lengthy enumeration of deeds, qualities, and accomplishments that are confessed, rejoiced in, requested, or dedicated. This division into two parts, the one a detailed confession and the other ending with a detailed dedication, has the effect of emphasizing those two elements, the distinguishing feature of this prayer.
I bow my head at the feet of all the Buddhas, to the Teaching, and to the Assembly of fully ordained monks.
Whatever sins and nonvirtuous actions I have committed and accumulated from cyclic existence’s undiscoverable beginning, in this life and in other lives, as a householder and as a renunciant—what I have done physically, verbally, and mentally; what I have exhorted others to do and what I have rejoiced in others doing; what I have done knowingly or unknowingly, intentionally or unintentionally, and what I have remembered or forgotten; what I have done under the influence of desire, under the influence of anger, under the influence of ignorance, under the influence of relationships with those who are not virtuous spiritual friends, under the influence of ignorance, under the influence of place, [F.77.b] and under the influence of birth at a particular time; violations of proper ethics, violations of ethical rules, and violations of natural ethics;6 the faults I have engaged in toward the Buddha, the Teaching, the Assembly, my father and mother, my abbot, my spiritual master, or other teachers through the three kinds of physical wrongdoing, the four kinds of verbal wrongdoing, and the three kinds of mental wrongdoing; turning sentient beings toward perverted views; creating obstacles for sentient beings engaged in proper practice; dedicating my roots of virtue incorrectly; speaking falsely to a tathāgata; teaching non-Dharma as Dharma and teaching Dharma as non-Dharma; teaching what is not the vinaya as the vinaya and teaching the vinaya as not the vinaya; teaching what is not the path as the path and teaching what is the path as not the path; that, clouded by whichever obscurations, I gave rise to nonvirtuous qualities and did not establish my mind properly in virtue; that, clouded by other obscurations, I was distracted and mentally agitated—all such faults I confess. In whatever ways I was childish, in whatever ways foolish, in whatever ways confused, in whatever ways unwise, and in whatever ways misguided—all such faults I confess as faults. Having confessed those faults as faults, I vow that in the future I will not act in such ways again.
Thus I recite a second time, and thus a third time.
I rejoice that all the buddhas who formerly were bodhisattvas completely accomplished the six perfections, which [F.78.a] is to say that they completely and manifestly awakened to unexcelled, perfect, complete enlightenment by means of generosity, ethical discipline, endurance, diligence, meditative absorption, and wisdom; that they turned the wheel of the Dharma, blew the conch of the Dharma, beat the drum of the Dharma, and set ablaze the lamp of the Dharma; that they led the mass of sentient beings to the practice of the Dharma in accordance with the Dharma; and that they taught the methods of the holy Dharma—and I rejoice in the roots of virtue by which the pratyekabuddhas realized the state of a pratyekabuddha; in the roots of virtue by which the śrāvakas realized the state of a śrāvaka, realized the three knowledges and the six superknowledges, and manifested discernment, the meditative absorptions, the liberations, the meditative concentrations, and the meditative attainments; in the roots of virtue by which sentient beings completely overcome falling into the lower, infernal realms of the hells, the realms of animals, and the realm of the Lord of the Dead; in their abandoning of the primary afflictions of desire, anger, and ignorance and the secondary afflictions; in their longevity, health, good complexions, excellent figures, great splendor, great power, high status, great wealth, and great wisdom; in their abandoning of all roots of nonvirtue and the possession of all roots of virtue; and in even as little as a single prostration, joining the palms for prayer even a single time, the offering of a single flower, and sentient beings who give rise to just a single moment of faith—in all of these things I rejoice! Supremely pleased I rejoice! I rejoice with rejoicing that is most excellent, supreme, best, perfect, [F.78.b] unsurpassed, highest, even higher than the highest, unequaled, equal to the unequaled, matchless, and pure, completely pure like the sky.
I exhort those who, having understood all of the holy Dharma, know how to delight in the Dharma, how to discern the Dharma, how to generate all roots of virtue, how to protect all beings, and how to nurture and dedicate all good qualities; who know all the thousands of compilations of the Dharma, and all the meditative absorptions, liberations, meditative concentrations, and meditative attainments; who know the vows,7 the prayers, and the exhaustion of defilements; who know beings’ intentions, latent dispositions, temperament, and intrinsic nature8 and understand them correctly; yet who, having that understanding, also know that sentient beings do not delight in instruction, and so remain at ease, rest their minds and do not teach the Dharma—I exhort them! For the benefit of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the sake of the many masses of beings, and for the benefit and happiness of gods and humans, I entreat them to explain the holy Dharma. I entreat them to turn the wheel of the Dharma. I entreat them to blow the conch of the Dharma. I entreat them to beat the drum of the Dharma. I entreat them to set the lamp of the Dharma ablaze. I entreat them to establish the mass of sentient beings in the practice of the Dharma in accordance with the Dharma.
I entreat those who have gained mastery over life, mastery of emanation, mastery of blessing, and mastery of miraculous power; those who have and have not gained mastery of ripening the mass of sentient beings to be trained, [F.79.a] who have forsaken life, intending to enter final nirvāṇa—I entreat them. For the benefit of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the sake of the many masses of beings, and for the benefit and happiness of gods and humans, I entreat them to grant the blessing of the conditions for their longevity.
I dedicate whatever roots of virtue I have created and accumulated from cyclic existence’s undiscoverable beginning—what I have done physically, verbally, and mentally; what I have exhorted others to do and what I have rejoiced in others doing; meritorious deeds arisen from generosity; meritorious deeds arisen from ethical discipline; meritorious deeds arisen from meditation; and even causing just a single sentient being to give rise to a single moment of faith—all of these I dedicate to all sentient beings. By these roots of virtue may all the roots of virtue of all sentient beings be completely perfected!
Having a long life, health, a good complexion, an excellent figure, great splendor, great power, high status, great wealth, great wisdom, possessions, magic spells, and medicine; encountering virtuous spiritual friends; listening to the holy Dharma; directing the mind appropriately; the practice in accordance with the Dharma; the abandoning of the primary afflictions of desire, anger, and ignorance as well as the secondary afflictions; completely overcoming falling into the lower, infernal realms of the hells, the realms of animals, and the realm of the Lord of the Dead; attaining all the meditative absorptions, liberations, meditative concentrations, and meditative attainments; completely overcoming physical and mental [F.79.b] unhappiness; attaining all bliss and happiness; attaining the excellence of the enlightened attributes of the śrāvakas, the excellence of the enlightened attributes of the pratyekabuddhas, the ten powers of the tathāgatas, the four states of fearlessness, the four discernments, the eighteen distinctive qualities of a buddha, great loving kindness, great compassion, great joy, great equanimity, the vanquishing of the latent tendencies, the state of non-forgetfulness, the state of omniscience, the state of the knowledge of all aspects, the state of inexhaustible wisdom, the state of inexhaustible knowledge, the state of inexhaustible courage, the state of inexhaustible merit, the state of the sky treasury, the state of the jewel holder, and the unsurpassed wisdom of omniscience; and whatever mundane and transcendent roots of virtue9 there are—may all of these come to be for all sentient beings!
Whatever fruit there may be from the merit of dedicating my roots of virtue to all sentient beings, by the roots of virtue of having so dedicated them, having completely and manifestly awakened to unexcelled, perfect, complete enlightenment, may I ferry those sentient beings across who have not crossed over, may I liberate those who are not yet liberated, may I give relief to those who are unrelieved, may I cause all those who have not entered nirvāṇa to enter final nirvāṇa, and may I establish them in the realm of ultimate benefit and bliss!
Thus I recite a second time, and thus a third time.
The Noble Dedication “Fulfilling All Aspirations” is concluded.
bsam pa thams cad yongs su rdzogs pa’i yongs su bsngo ba. Toh 285, Degé Kangyur vol. 68 (mdo sde, ya), folios 77.a–79.b.
bsam pa yongs su rdzogs pa’i yongs su bsngo ba. bka’ ’gyur (dpe bsdur ma) [Comparative Edition of the Kangyur], krung go’i bod rig pa zhib ’jug ste gnas kyi bka’ bstan dpe sdur khang (The Tibetan Tripitaka Collation Bureau of the China Tibetology Research Center). 108 volumes. Beijing: krung go’i bod rig pa dpe skrun khang (China Tibetology Publishing House), 2006–2009, vol. 68, pp. 223–29.
bsam pa yongs su rdzogs pa’i yongs bsngo. Stok Palace Kangyur vol. 88 (mdo sde, ji), folios 377.b–381.a.
Qutuγ-tu qamuγ sedkigsen-i sayitur tegüsken üiledügči uγuγada ǰorin irügeküi neretü. Mongolian Kangyur vol. 84, folios 89.b–92.b. In Chandra, Lokesh, ed. Mongolian Kanjur. Śata-piṭaka Series 101–208. New Delhi: Sharada Rani, 1973–1979.
Denkarma (pho brang stod thang ldan dkar gyi chos kyi ’gyur ro cog gi dkar chag). Toh 4364, Degé Tengyur vol. 206 (sna tshogs, jo), folios 294.b–310.a. See also Herrmann-Pfandt.
Herrmann-Pfandt, Adelheid. Die lHan kar ma: ein früher Katalog der ins Tibetische übersetzten buddhistischen Texte, 268. Wien: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2008.
Ligeti, Louis. Catalogue du Kanǰur Mongol imprimé. Vol. 1, Catalogue. Bibliotheca Orientalis Hungarica 3. Budapest: Société Kőrösi Csoma, 1942.
Pekar Sangpo (pad dkar bzang po). mdo sde spyi’i rnam bzhag. Beijing: mi rigs dpe skrun khang, 2006.
Phangthangma (dkar chag ’phang thang ma). Beijing: mi rigs dpe skrun khang, 2003.
- mkhan po
A monastic preceptor. Usually refers either to the abbot of a monastery or to the preceptor from whom one receives monastic ordination.
- zhe sdang
Hatred, aggression, and/or aversion. One of the affective behavior patterns or “afflictions” known as the three poisons.
- bcom ldan ’das
An epithet of a buddha.
Bodhisattva great beings
- byang chub sems dpa’ sems dpa’ chen po
Compilations of the Dharma
- chos kyi phung po
Collections of the Buddha’s teachings.
- ’khor ba
The cycle of transmigrations through which sentient beings revolve and suffer.
- bsngo ba
- yongs su bsngo ba
Dedication of the merit at the end of a spiritual practice or virtuous action, usually for the attainment of full enlightenment by all sentient beings. In this way the actions thus dedicated contribute to the purpose of attaining enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings.
- zag pa
Literally “outflows,” these are mental defilements that “flow out” toward the objects of cyclic existence, binding us to them.
- ’dod chags
Passion, attachment, and/or lust. One of the affective behavior patterns or “afflictions” known as the three poisons.
- brtson ’grus
Diligence or perseverance. One of the six perfections of the bodhisattva.
- so so yang dag par rig pa
Correct and unhindered discriminating knowledge. See also the four discernments.
Eighteen distinctive qualities of a buddha
- sangs rgyas kyi chos ma ’dres pa bco brgyad
They are as follows: (1) he never makes a mistake; (2) he is never boisterous; (3) he never forgets; (4) his concentration never falters; (5) he has no notion of distinctness; (6) his equanimity is not due to lack of consideration; (7) his motivation never falters; (8) his endeavor never fails; (9) his mindfulness never falters; (10) he never abandons his concentration; (11) his wisdom (prajñā) never decreases; (12) his liberation never fails; (13) all his physical actions are preceded and followed by wisdom (jñāna); (14) all his verbal actions are preceded and followed by wisdom (jñāna); (15) all his mental actions are preceded and followed by wisdom (jñāna); (16) his wisdom (jñāna) and vision perceive the past without any attachment or hindrance; (17) his wisdom (jñāna) and vision perceive the future without any attachment or hindrance; and (18) his wisdom (jñāna) and vision perceive the present without any attachment or hindrance.
- bzod pa
Forbearance, patience, and/or tolerance. One of the six perfections of the bodhisattva.
- so so yang dag par rig pa bzhi
The four correct and unhindered discriminating knowledges of the doctrine or Dharma, of meaning, of language, and of brilliance or eloquence. These are the essential means by which the buddhas impart their teachings.
Four kinds of verbal wrongdoing
- ngag gi rnam bzhi
The four sinful or nonvirtuous verbal actions, namely telling lies, using abusive language, slandering others, and indulging in irrelevant talk. Their counterparts are the four wholesome or virtuous actions of speech, namely, not telling falsehoods, not using abusive language, not slandering others, and not indulging in irrelevant talk.
Four states of fearlessness
- mi ’jigs pa bzhi
The fourfold fearlessness or the four assurances proclaimed by the tathāgatas: fearlessness in declaring that one has awakened, that one has ceased all illusions, that one has taught the obstacles to awakening, and that one has shown the way to liberation.
Fully ordained monk
- dge slong
A monk of the Buddhist saṅgha observing all the vinaya vows (253 in the Tibetan tradition).
- spyin pa
- sbyin pa
The practice of giving or making offerings to others. One of the six perfections of the bodhisattva.
Higher stages of complete awakening
- sa chen po
A reference to the last three of the ten bhūmis, (Tib. sa bcu); the bhūmis, often called the “grounds” or “levels,” are the successive stages through which a bodhisattva’s realization evolves.
- dam pa’i chos
The Buddhadharma or the Buddha’s teachings.
- gti mug
Delusion, stupidity, closed-mindedness, and/or mental darkness. One of the affective behavior patterns or “afflictions” known as the three poisons.
- rang bzhin
The inherent nature of a phenomenon; in the present text, this is possibly a reference to the buddha-nature, or tathāgatagarbha.
- bag chags
Karmic traces or residues imprinted by past actions and constituting tendencies that predispose one to particular patterns of behavior.
- rnam par thar pa
In this context, this refers to a category of advanced meditative attainments.
- bsam gtan
One of the synonyms for meditation, referring specifically to states of mental stability or one-pointed abiding in an undistracted state of mind free from afflicted mental states. bsam gtan/dhyāna can refer to the specific states of absorption of the form and formless realms (eight in total). One of the six perfections of the bodhisattva.
- snyoms par ’jug pa
Meditative equipoise or evenness of mind. Another synonym for meditation, this also refers to a category of advanced meditative attainments.
- ting nge ’dzin
A general term for states of deep concentration. One of the synonyms for meditation, referring in particular to a state of complete concentration or focus.
- bsod nams
Virtuous thoughts, words, and actions that produce positive results, or merit. In Mahāyāna practice, these are to be dedicated for the benefit of all sentient beings. Also rendered here as “meritorious deeds.”
- rdzu ’phrul
The ability to make manifest miraculous displays evident to ordinary beings.
- thams cad mkhyen pa nyid
This refers to the gnosis or omniscience of the Buddha, the “All-Knowing” or “Omniscient” One.
- pha rol tu phyin pa
Literally “to have crossed over” or “transcended”; typically this refers to the specific practices of the bodhisattva that are motivated by bodhicitta and embraced by wisdom.
- rang sangs rgyas
A “solitary enlightened one,” or “buddha on one’s own,” this refers to one who has attained liberation but does not teach the path to liberation to others. Pratyekabuddhas are said to appear in universes and at times in which there is no fully enlightened buddha who has rediscovered the path and taught it to others.
- smon lam
A declaration of one’s aspirations and vows, and/or an invocation and request of the buddhas, bodhisattvas, etc.
Realm of the Lord of the Dead
- gshin rje’i ’jig rten
The preta realm, or the realm of ghosts, where Yama, the Lord of Death, is the ruler and judges the dead. Yama is also said to rule over the hells. This term is also the name of the Vedic afterlife inhabited by the ancestors (pitṛ).
- nye ba’i nyon mongs pa
Literally “near-afflictions,” or the subsidiary afflictive emotions derivative of or related to the primary afflictions.
- sems can
Any living being in one of the six realms.
- pha rol tu phyin pa drug
The six practices or qualities that a bodhisattva perfects and by which a bodhisattva transcends cyclic existence. A bodhisattva practices these perfections motivated by bodhicitta, the intention to attain full enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings, and with an awareness of the ultimate reality of all phenomena. These six perfections are generosity, ethics, endurance, diligence, meditative absorption, and wisdom.
- mngon par shes pa drug
The six modes of supernormal cognition or ability, namely, clairvoyance, clairaudience, knowledge of the minds of others, remembrance of past lives, the ability to perform miracles, and the knowledge of the destruction of all mental defilements. The first five are considered mundane or worldly and can be attained to some extent by non-Buddhist yogis as well as Buddhist arhats and bodhisattvas. The sixth is considered to be supramundane and can be attained only by Buddhist yogis.
- nyan thos
A “hearer” or “listener,” someone who first hears the Dharma from another. This refers to the disciples of the Buddha who sought the enlightenment of an arhat, that is, their own liberation from cyclic existence.
- de bzhin gshegs pa
“Thus-Gone One,” an epithet of a buddha. A buddha is one who has “gone” to thusness, suchness, or ultimate reality.
- slob dpon
Instructor or spiritual teacher. Usually refers either to an accomplished master of meditation practice or to a learned scholar. The title of an official position in a monastery.
Ten powers of the tathāgatas
- de bzhin gshegs pa’i stobs bcu
A category of the distinctive qualities of a tathāgata. They are: knowing what is possible and what is impossible; knowing the results of actions or the ripening of karma; knowing the various inclinations of sentient beings; knowing the various elements; knowing the supreme and lesser faculties of sentient beings; knowing the paths that lead to all destinations of rebirth; knowing the concentrations, liberations, absorptions, equilibriums, afflictions, purifications, and abidings; knowing previous lives; knowing the death and rebirth of sentient beings; and knowing the cessation of the defilements.
Three kinds of mental wrongdoing
- yid kyi rnam gsum
The three sinful or nonvirtuous mental actions, namely being covetous, being malicious, and holding perverted views. Their counterparts are the three wholesome or virtuous mental actions. These are the following: not being covetous, not being malicious, and not holding perverted beliefs.
Three kinds of physical wrongdoing
- lus kyi rnam gsum
The three sinful or nonvirtuous physical actions, namely, destroying life, taking what has not been given, and engaging in improper sexual practices. Their counterparts are the three wholesome or virtuous physical actions, namely, not destroying life, not taking what has not been given, and refraining from improper sexual practices.
- rig pa gsum
The three kinds of knowledge obtained by the Buddha on the night of his enlightenment. These comprise the knowledge of the death and rebirth of sentient beings, the knowledge of past lives, and the knowledge of the cessation of defilements. These are the last three of the six superknowledges or of the ten powers of the tathāgatas.
Unexcelled, perfect, complete enlightenment
- bla na med pa yang dag par rdzogs pa’i byang chub
The complete enlightenment of a buddha, as opposed to the attainments of arhats and pratyekabuddhas.
Virtuous spiritual friend
- dge ba’i bshes gnyen
A spiritual mentor.
- shes rab
Transcendent or discriminating awareness; the mind that sees the ultimate truth. One of the six perfections of the bodhisattva.