41 Prayers to Cultivate Bodhicitta

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  • When I first received a paper with these verses, I was impressed with them, but did not know their source. Later, I was told they were cited from the Flower Ornament Scripture (Buddhavatamsakanamamahavaipulyasutra; Sangs rgyas phal po che zhes bya ba shin tu rgyas pa chen po’i mdo) (Toh. 44) in Dharmashri’s Commentary on the Three Vows, ff. 176a5-177b1. Although I have not have a chance to check them in this source, I was able to look at the recent translation of the Great Expansive Buddha’s Floral Adornment Sutra (Avatamsaka Sutra) as found in the Chinese canon (Taisho T10, no. 279, Fascicle Fourteen, Chapter Eleven: Pure Conduct). There we found some, but not all of the 41 verses (gathas), as well as other verses not found among the 41. More research is needed, but in any case the verses below will surely inspire you in your practice of bodhicitta in daily life.
           Venerable Thubten Chodron

    1. “May I lead all sentient beings to the citadel of liberation.”
      This is the prayer of the bodhisattva when entering a house.
    2. “May all sentient beings attain the dimension of reality of a Buddha.”
      This is the prayer of the bodhisattva when going to sleep.
    3. “May all sentient beings realize the dreamlike nature of things.”
      This is the prayer of the bodhisattva when dreaming.
    4. “May all beings awake from the sleep of ignorance.”
      This is the prayer of the bodhisattva when waking up.
    5. “May all beings attain the form Buddha bodies.”
      This is the prayer of the bodhisattva when getting up.
    6. “May all beings wear the robes of integrity and consideration for others.”
      This is the prayer of the bodhisattva when putting on clothes.
    7. “May all beings be secured by the root of virtue.”
      This is the prayer of the bodhisattva when putting on a belt.
    8. “May all beings reach the seat of enlightenment.”
      This is the prayer of the bodhisattva when sitting down.
    9. “May all beings reach the tree of enlightenment.”
      This is the prayer of the bodhisattva when leaning back.
    10. “May all beings exhaust the fuel of the passions.”
      This is the prayer of the bodhisattva when lighting a fire.
    11. “May all beings cause the fire of wisdom to blaze.”
      This is the prayer of the bodhisattva when making a fire blaze.
    12. “May all beings come to drink the nectar of wisdom.”
      This is the prayer of the bodhisattva when holding a cup.
    13. “May all beings attain the food of meditative concentration.”
      This is the prayer of the bodhisattva when eating.
    14. “May all beings escape from the prison of cyclic life.”
      This is the prayer of the bodhisattva when going outside.
    15. “May I plunge into cyclic life for the sake of all beings.”
      This is the prayer of the bodhisattva when going down a staircase.
    16. “May I open the door of liberation for all beings.”
      This is the prayer of the bodhisattva when opening a door.
    17. “May I close the door to the lower forms of life for all beings.”
      This is the prayer of the bodhisattva when closing a door.
    18. “May all beings set out on the exalted path.”
      This is the prayer of the bodhisattva when setting out on a path.
    19. “May I lead all beings to the higher forms of life.”
      This is the prayer of the bodhisattva when going uphill.
    20. “May I sever the stream of the lower forms of life for all beings.”
      This is the prayer of the bodhisattva when going downhill.
    21. “May all beings meet the Buddha.”
      This is the prayer of the bodhisattva when meeting someone.
    22. “May I walk toward the welfare of all beings.”
      This is the prayer of the bodhisattva when placing the foot down.
    23. “May I lift all beings from out of cyclic existence.”
      This is the prayer of the bodhisattva when lifting the foot.
    24. “May all beings attain the ornaments of the major and minor marks of a Buddha.”
      This is the prayer of the bodhisattva when seeing someone wearing ornaments.
    25. “May all beings be endowed with the twelve ascetic virtues.”
      This is the prayer of the bodhisattva when seeing someone without ornaments.
    26. “May all beings be filled with good qualities.”
      This is the prayer of the bodhisattva when seeing a filled container.
    27. “May all beings be without faults.”
      This is the prayer of the bodhisattva when seeing an empty container.
    28. “May all beings take joy in the teachings.”
      This is the prayer of the bodhisattva when seeing someone joyful.
    29. “May all beings be dissatisfied with worldly phenomena.”
      This is the prayer of the bodhisattva when seeing someone sad.
    30. “May all beings win the bliss of a Buddha.”
      This is the prayer of the bodhisattva when seeing someone happy.
    31. “May all the sentient beings’ anguish be alleviated.”
      This is the prayer of the bodhisattva when seeing someone suffering.
    32. “May all beings be free from illnesses.”
      This is the prayer of the bodhisattva when seeing someone sick.
    33. “May all beings repay the kindness of all Buddhas and bodhisattvas.”
      This is the prayer of the bodhisattva when seeing someone repaying another’s kindness.
    34. “May all beings be unkind to wrong views.”
      This is the prayer of the bodhisattva when seeing someone not repaying kindness.
    35. “May all beings be competent when meeting those who challenge them.”
      This is the prayer of the bodhisattva when seeing a dispute.
    36. “May all beings praise the qualities of all Buddhas and bodhisattvas.”
      This is the prayer of the bodhisattva when seeing someone praise another.
    37. “May all beings attain the eloquence of a Buddha.”
      This is the prayer of the bodhisattva when seeing someone discuss the teachings.
    38. “May all beings be unimpeded in seeing all the Buddhas.”
      This is the prayer of the bodhisattva when seeing someone meet a representation of the Buddha.
    39. “May all beings become monuments of enlightenment.”
      This is the prayer of the bodhisattva when seeing a stupa.
    40. “May all beings attain the seven jewels of an exalted beings (faith, ethics, learning, generosity, integrity, consideration for others and discriminating wisdom).”
      This is the prayer of the bodhisattva when seeing someone engaged in business.
    41. “May the crown of the head of all beings be seen (as that of the Buddha) by all the world and the gods.”
      This is the prayer of the bodhisattva when seeing someone bowing down.

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