These explanations and chanting of the prayers as a part of the preparatory practices for meditation were recorded at a retreat on the Four Immeasurables led by Venerable Thubten Chodron in Singapore in October, 2000, and at teachings in Seattle, Washington.
This prayer expresses our intention of turning to the Buddha, his teachings and the spiritual community for guidance and help.
Explanation of refuge (download)
Chanting—Sanskrit version (download)
Namo Sanghaya. (3x or 7x)
Refuge and generating the altruistic intention
Explanation of refuge and the altruistic intention (download)
I take refuge until I am awakened in the Buddhas, the Dharma and the Sangha. By the merit I create by engaging in generosity and the other far-reaching practices,1 may I attain Buddhahood in order to benefit all sentient beings. (3x)
The Four Immeasurables
The four thoughts expressed in this prayer are called “immeasurables” because they extend to all beings throughout the universe. Each line is a meditation in itself and invites us to develop awareness and concern for others.
The Four Immeasurables explanation: part one (download)
The Four Immeasurables explanation: part two (download)
Explanation of Immeasurable Joy (download)
Explanation of Immeasurable Equanimity (download)
May all sentient beings have happiness and its causes. (Immeasurable Love)
May all sentient beings be free of suffering and its causes. (Immeasurable Compassion)
May all sentient beings not be separated from sorrowless bliss. (Immeasurable Joy)
May all sentient beings abide in equanimity, free of bias, attachment and anger. (Immeasurable Equanimity)
The seven lines of this prayer help us to purify negative karma and to create positive potential.
The Seven-Limb Prayer is from the King of Prayers: The Extraordinary Aspiration of the Practice of Samantabhadra, the prayer that contains all aspects of the bodhisattva practice.
Explanation of the Seven-Limb Prayer (download)
Reverently I prostrate with my body, speech and mind,
And present clouds of every type of offering, actual and mentally transformed.
I confess all my negative actions accumulated since beginningless time,
And rejoice in the virtues of all holy and ordinary beings.
Please remain until cyclic existence ends,
And turn the wheel of Dharma for sentient beings.
I dedicate all the virtues of myself and others to the great awakening.
The mandala offering involves offering the universe and everything in it to the Three Jewels. By doing so, we free ourselves from the attachment and miserliness that selfishly wants things for ourselves, and by developing delight in giving, our mind becomes joyful and is filled with positive potential.
Explanation of mandala offering (download)
Short mandala offering chant (download)
This ground, anointed with perfume, flowers strewn,
Mount Meru, four lands, sun and moon,
Imagined as a Buddha land and offered to you.
May all beings enjoy this pure land.
The objects of attachment, aversion and ignorance—friends, enemies and strangers, my body, wealth and enjoyments—I offer these without any sense of loss. Please accept them with pleasure, and inspire me and others to be free from the three poisonous attitudes.
Idam guru ratna mandala kam nirya tayami.
We request the lineage of teachers from Shakyamuni Buddha to our present teachers to inspire us so that we can integrate the Dharma in our mind and develop all good qualities.
Explanation of requesting inspiration (download)
Glorious and precious root guru, sit upon the lotus and moon seat on my crown. Guiding me with your great kindness, bestow upon me the attainments of your body, speech and mind.
The eyes through whom the vast scriptures are seen, supreme doors for the fortunate who would cross over to spiritual freedom, illuminators whose wise means vibrate with compassion, to the entire line of spiritual masters I make request.
Shakyamuni Buddha’s mantra
Explanation of Shakyamuni Buddha’s mantra (download)
Chanting of Shakyamuni Buddha’s mantra (download)
Tayata om muni muni maha muniye soha. (21x)
Dedication of merit
Explanation of dedication of merit (download)
Chanting of dedication verses (download)
The difference between a prayer and a dedication (download)
Due to this merit may we soon
Attain the enlightened state of Guru Buddha,
That we may be able to liberate
All sentient beings from their sufferings.
May the precious bodhi mind
Not yet born arise and grow.
May that born have no decline,
But increase forever more.
Long Life Prayer for His Holiness the Dalai Lama
In the snowy mountain paradise
You’re the source of good and happiness.
Powerful Tenzin Gyatso Chenrezig,
May you stay until samsara ends.
Replace the italicized section with listening to the Dharma when said before receiving teachings. ↩