Chenrezig | Thubten Chodron The Thubten Chodron Teaching Archive Tue, 19 Sep 2017 05:40:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Connecting with compassion Fri, 03 Oct 2014 04:12:09 +0000

When I see how I disconnect from the parts of myself that I dislike, I start to understand why Japan refuses to acknowledge her part in the atrocities carried out throughout Asia during the Second World War. The attachment to reputation and the fear of blame and shame are just too strong. By refusing to acknowledge the truth, however, we deny ourselves the opportunity to grieve, heal, repair and move on. We remain stuck in a limbo of pain that eats away at us, no matter how we hard throw ourselves into material growth and success.

I don’t feel angry when I think about the stories my grandparents have told me about their experience of the war. Just sad that this period of history is going unacknowledged, like so many other painful parts of Singapore’s history hiding behind the veneer of success. “It doesn’t matter who’s right or wrong,” said one of my friends. “At least just hold a funeral.”

Even as my grandmother starts to slip into dementia, her memories of the war remain strong. She remembers what it was like for the men to line up for inspection, and how those whose hands were smooth and soft were separated out, driven to the beach and shot. If their hands didn’t have calluses, it meant they were intellectuals, whom the Japanese didn’t want plotting against them. My great-grandfather was a laborer and so survived.

One day, my great-grandfather was riding home on his bicycle, when he passed a Japanese soldier and forgot to salute. The soldier asked him to get off the bicycle and slapped him. Then he made my great-grandfather carry the bicycle on his shoulders, and drew a circle around his feet. If my great-grandfather stepped out of the circle, he would be shot. He stood there until night fell. Somehow he eventually made it home, but he was so traumatized that he never dared to leave the house again.

Every family had to send people to work for the Japanese, and with my great-grandfather out of commission, my grandmother stepped up to the plate as the eldest child. She was thirteen. She did hard physical work outdoors, and received a bowl of rice each day, which she shared with her mother and younger siblings. They were so hungry they started to eat the food that was meant for the pigs, and eventually turned to eating grass.

Candle offering to small statue of Chenrezig.

I send Chenrezig back into time, to bear witness to the war. (Photo by Wonderlane)

I send Chenrezig back into time, to bear witness to the war. What would Chenrezig do, watching the men getting shot on the beach, the women getting raped, the babies being thrown into the air and impaled on bayonets? I imagine Chenrezig looking into the minds of the soldiers, and seeing that they’re just trying to be loyal subjects of the emperor. They want praise, a good reputation, power and money. The soldiers and I are not so different. Looking into their minds, Chenrezig can also see that it’s not the right time to teach them the Dharma. I mean, what is Chenrezig going to say, “For you embodied beings bound by the craving for existence, there is no way for you to pacify the attraction to its pleasurable effects, thus from the outset seek to generate the determination to be free”?

At the same time Chenrezig sees very clearly where these soldiers are going to be reborn, the kinds of sufferings they will undergo, and for how long. All this for a little bit of pleasure that doesn’t last. Chenrezig promises, “I alone will go to the hell realms and liberate you.” When the soldiers are ready, in some future lifetime, Chenrezig appears in the form of a perfectly qualified Mahayana spiritual mentor, and teaches them how to purify their negativities.

Introduction to Nyung Ne Mon, 23 Jun 2014 06:52:21 +0000

One-thousand arms, Chenrezig.

Nyung Ne retreat aids practitioners in purifying their minds, creating positive potential, and developing compassion. (Photo by Sravasti Abbey)

The Nyung Ne retreat is a special practice of Chenrezig, the Buddha of Compassion, begun by the nun Gelong-ma Palmo several centuries ago. This retreat, which lasts two full days and the morning of the third day, is popular among Tibetan Buddhists because of its ability to aid practitioners in purifying their minds, creating positive potential, and developing compassion. This practice is especially good to do when we feel stuck in our lives or in our practice, or when we find ourselves continually caught in unproductive physical, mental, or emotional patterns. It can also be effective in curing illness.

The fast that we are to abide in is to abstain from physical, verbal, and mental destructive actions and to abstain from ignorant, angry, and clinging attitudes. To help in the process, the eight Mahayana precepts are taken for two days. These are to abandon:

  1. killing
  2. stealing
  3. sexual activity
  4. lying
  5. intoxicants
  6. sitting on high or expensive beds or seats
  7. singing, dancing, or playing music; wearing perfumes, ornaments, or cosmetics
  8. eating at improper times

The first day we take one vegetarian meal before noon (no meat, onions, garlic, radishes or eggs). Light beverages can be taken throughout the day. (No juice with pulp. A little milk may be added to tea or coffee, but a glass of milk may not be taken.). The second day, we do not eat, drink, or speak (this means no water, medicine, etc.). The fast is broken the morning of the third day. Three meditation sessions are done on the first two days, and one shorter session the morning of the third day. A tsog offering ceremony is done at the conclusion of the retreat in thanksgiving. There is also a discussion group on the first day and a taped talk on the second.

This is a tantric practice, which generally requires the Chenrezig empowerment. However, in the Tibetan community, many people without the empowerment happily participate in the retreat. Each meditation session involves visualization, recitation of verses, prayers, and mantra. There are also two periods of prostrations to Chenrezig, the Buddhas, and bodhisattvas.

Purification, karma, and ethical conduct Fri, 13 Dec 2013 21:21:39 +0000

  • Restoring the relationship with others when we act unskillfully
  • How both karma and our state of mind at the time of death influence the body we take in the next life
  • Personal story about becoming a Buddhist nun
  • Practicing good ethical conduct and the thought training teachings in order to be a good friend to others
  • Visualizing the seed syllable at Chenrezig’s heart

YouTube Video

Teachings on the Chenrezig practice Fri, 13 Dec 2013 21:21:18 +0000

  • How to practice the Cherezig sadhana
  • The benefits of the Cherezig practice

YouTube Video

A lamentation requesting blessings from the Great Compassionate One Sat, 18 Jun 2011 12:37:26 +0000

Herein lies a request for blessings through lamentation to the Lord of the World, Avalokiteshvara, composed by the Master Chandrakirti.

I prostrate to the all-mighty Bodhisattva Chenrezig

Arya Chenrezig, the great compassionate one,
Your perfect body the color of a stainless conch
Beautified by a pure, luminous moon disk
Like a thousand rays of sun shining in the sky
Overshadowing the brilliant light of the dakas
Renowned as the teacher and guide of the beings of the three realms of existence
You are the single friend of all migratory
Loving compassion protector deity, please consider me

1,000 arm Chenrezig

Chenrezig, the great compassionate one

I, from beginningless time
Have wandered in cyclic existence, on mistaken and abandoned paths
Erring due to mistakes and non-virtues of the past
I deeply regret and feel sorrow for all of my misdeeds

By the force of my egotistical actions
I am sinking within the ocean of cyclic suffering,
The blazing fire of anger burning my mind
The accumulated darkness of ignorance obscuring my wisdom.

My consciousness is submerged within the ocean of attachment
The mountain of great pride forces me down to the lower realms
The swirling winds of jealousy distract me in samsara
I am bound by the tight knots of egotistical view

Fallen into this pit of desire, like a well of burning coals
The mire of violent suffering falls like rain
The fire element, the scorching sun, burns from above
The water element, the moisture of the earth, brings cold from below
Outside the bitter cold burns
Raging winds terrorize me to the depths of my heart

This suffering is intensely difficult to bear—
How can you restrain yourself?
All of this suffering I have confronted
Never abandoning aspiring faith for you, Supreme Arya
Noble protector, how could you think not to benefit beings?

Loving protector, why won’t you show me compassion?
Miserable by reason of birth, I am weary of karma
Though despondent from fatigue, the force of karma cannot be changed
Its impetus is like a stream of water
And, like a hurricane, the power of karma is extremely difficult to reverse
These hardships are difficult to express

My body, speech, and mind come under the command of non-virtue
By the force of the fierce burning fire of negative karma
The miserable result of consciousness arises
If the aggregate—this body of illusion—cannot bear this
Loving protector Chenrezig, can you bear it?

When I seek to see the Compassionate One’s face
Luminous like the sun, lustrous like the moon
I cannot see with eyes afflicted
By the eye-disease of beginningless ignorance
Protector of the world, where are you now?
Unable to tolerate this terrible suffering
Reeling from the panic of extreme terror and fear
I utter this longing lamentation
A miserable, desperate plea for help
Loving protector Chenrezig, how can you bear it?
When, at the time of death, I change my body
I will be separated from friends and relatives, taken by the Lord of Death
My worldly relatives will not want to let me go
But due to the power of karma, I will be taken alone
If, at that time, no refuge exists for me
Will you, loving protector, dismiss me into samsara?

A being like me, oppressed by karma
Due to wrong prayers from beginningless time
Has not yet been released from the three realms, the place of samsara
As many times as I have taken rebirth over countless eons
Taking countless bodies which fell apart
If I collected the flesh and bones they would fill the world
If I collected the pus and blood it would equal the great ocean—
But if I consider what remains of my karma, it is beyond thought, inexpressible

Although I have passed through the three realms countless times
All of my actions have been a meaningless waste
Among all of my possibly existent countless rebirths
If there had been only one in which
I had completed a single action towards the unsurpassable purpose of enlightenment
From doing only that, there would have been some meaning

Karma is powerful, and due to the great force of the afflictions
Beings take bodies of flesh and blood and wander in samsara
Caught in the wretched misery of the prison of existence
Due to my wrongdoings all of this fierce, inexhaustible suffering
Arises from my own actions—
I request you, with your great compassion, to cut this continuum
And destroy the winds of affliction and karma

As I wander perpetually in the darkness of ignorance
By the power of the winds of affliction and karma
Can’t you see with the rays of your lamp of wisdom?
Since I cannot endure the results of my wrong actions
Won’t you carry out your compassionate enlightened activity?
Since I suffer the sickness of the three poisons, so difficult to bear
Won’t you heal me with the skillful medicine of compassion?
Since I plummet from the cliff of wrong views
Won’t you catch me with your compassionate hand?
Since I burn in the great suffering fire of karma
Won’t you allow the cooling continuum of the water of your compassion to fall upon me?

Once I have purified my karma in the three realms of cyclic existence
And obtained my goal
At that time your great compassion will be of no benefit to me
If you disregard the karmic propensities of sentient beings
For whom will your great compassion act?
To you, supreme tamer of beings, endowed with the power of compassion
Please don’t be careless, indifferent or lazy—
Compassionate victor, from your heart, look upon me!

1000-armed Chenrezig sadhana Tue, 05 Jun 2007 10:44:28 +0000


In the space in front of me is the divine form of 1000-armed Chenrezig, who is the embodiment of all the infinite buddhas’ compassionate wisdom. He stands on a lotus and moon seat. His body is in the nature of white light, youthful, and decorated with magnificent jewel ornaments.

Statue of 1000 arm Chenrezig

1000-Armed Chenrezig, the embodiment of all the infinite Buddhas’ compassionate wisdom.

He has eleven faces. Of the three on his shoulders, his center face is white, the right green and the left red. Above those, his center face is green, right red and left white. Above those, his center face is red, right white and left green. Above those is a wrathful dark blue face with yellow hair standing erect. On the top of that is the red head of Amitabha Buddha, peaceful and smiling.

Chenrezig’s first two hands are at his heart, palms together, holding a wish-fulfilling gem. On his right, the second hand holds a crystal rosary, reminding me to recite the mantra. The third hand is in the gesture of giving realizations and from it a rain of nectar falls, curing the hunger and thirst of the hungry ghosts. The fourth hand holds a Dharma wheel.

On his left, the second hand holds a golden lotus, the purest of flowers although it is born from the mud. The third hand holds a vase containing the nectar of his compassionate wisdom. The fourth holds a bow and arrow, symbolizing defeat of the four negative forces. The other 992 hands are in the gesture of giving the highest realizations. An antelope skin is draped over his left shoulder, symbolizing that hatred is overcome completely by peaceful, compassionate wisdom.

Taking refuge and generating the altruistic intention (bodhicitta)

I take refuge until I have awakened in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha. By the merit I create by engaging in generosity and the other far-reaching practices, may I attain Buddhahood in order to benefit all sentient beings. (Recite three times from the depth of your heart.)

The four immeasurables

How wonderful it would be if all sentient beings were to abide in equanimity, free of bias, attachment and anger. May they abide in this way. I shall cause them to abide in this way. Guru Chenrezig, please inspire me to be able to do so.

How wonderful it would be if all sentient beings had happiness and its causes. May they have these. I shall cause them to have these. Guru Chenrezig, please inspire me to be able to do so.

How wonderful it would be if all sentient beings were free from suffering and its causes. May they be free. I shall cause them to be free. Guru Chenrezig, please inspire me to be able to do so.

How wonderful it would be if all sentient beings were never parted from upper rebirth and liberation’s excellent bliss. May they never be parted. I shall cause them never to be parted. Guru Chenrezig, please inspire me to be able to do so.

Seven-limb prayer

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 destructive 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.

Mandala offering

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 mandalakam nirya tayami

Request Prayer

O Arya Compassionate-eyed One
Who is the treasure of compassion,
I request you, please listen to me,
Please guide myself, mothers and fathers
In all six realms to be freed quickly
From the great ocean of samsara.
I request that the vast and profound
Peerless awakening mind may grow.
With the tear of your great compassion,
Please cleanse all karmas and delusion.
Please lead with your hand of compassion
Me and migrators to fields of bliss.
Please Amitabha and Chenrezig
In all my lives be virtuous friends.
Show well the undeceptive pure path
And quickly place us in Buddha’s state.

Meditation on the Eight Verses of Thought Transformation

(Contemplate each verse as you read it and apply it to your life.)

  1. With the thought of attaining enlightenment
    For the welfare of all beings,
    Who are more precious than a wish-fulfilling jewel,
    I will constantly practice holding them dear.

  2. Whenever I am with others
    I will practice seeing myself as the lowest of all,
    And from the very depth of my heart
    I will respectfully hold others as supreme.

  3. In all actions I will examine my mind
    And the moment a disturbing attitude arises,
    Endangering myself and others,
    I will firmly confront and avert it.

  4. Whenever I meet a person of bad nature
    Who is overwhelmed by negative energy and intense suffering,
    I will hold such a rare one dear,
    As if I had found a precious treasure.

  5. When others, out of jealousy,
    Mistreat me with abuse, slander and so on,
    I will practice accepting defeat
    And offering the victory to them.

  6. When someone I have benefited
    And in whom I have placed great trust
    Hurts me very badly,
    I will practice seeing that person as my supreme teacher.

  7. In short, I will offer directly and indirectly
    Every benefit and happiness to all beings, my mothers.
    I will practice in secret taking upon myself
    All their harmful actions and sufferings.

  8. Without these practices being defiled by the stains of the eight worldly concerns,
    By perceiving all phenomena as illusory,
    I will practice without grasping to release all beings
    From the bondage of the disturbing unsubdued mind and karma.

Purification and receiving inspiration

Chenrezig now comes on top of your head, facing the same direction as you. Chenrezig also appears on the heads of all sentient beings who are seated around you. At the heart of each Chenrezig are a lotus and flat moon disc. Standing at the center of the moon is the seed-syllable HRI, the essence of Chenrezig’s omniscient mind of wisdom and compassion. This is surrounded by the letters of the long mantra, and inside this stand the letters of the six-syllable mantra. All is made of radiant light.

From the mantras and HRI much white light and nectar, the nature of Chenrezig’s blissful omniscient mind, flow into you, permeating your entire nervous system. They totally purify all afflictions, imprints of negative karma, diseases, and obscurations. Feel completely pure and blissful. The light and nectar also fill your with all the realizations of the stages of the path to awakening, especially Chenrezig’s love, compassion, and wisdom.

Similarly, light and nectar from the Chenrezigs on the crowns of all the sentient beings flow into them, purifying all negativities and obscurations and inspiring them with all the realizations of the path to enlightenment. (Do this visualization while reciting the long mantra and then the six-syllable mantra.)

Long mantra

namo ratna trayaya/ namo arya gyana sagara/ berotsana buha radzaya/ tatagataya/ arhate/ samyaksam buddhaya/ namo sarwa tatagatebhye/ arhatebhye/ samyaksam buddhebhye/ namo arya awalokite/ shoraya/ bodhi satoya/ maha satoya/ maha karunikaya/ tayata/ om/ dara dara/ diri diri/ duru duru/ itte wate/ tsale tsale/ partsale partsale/ kusume kusume ware/ ihli mili/ tsiti dzola/ ahpanaye soha/

Six-syllable mantra

om mani padme hum


Think: “I will live my life in a meaningful way, and do all actions with the motivation to attain awakening for the benefit of all sentient beings.” Because you have such a noble intention, Chenrezig is extremely pleased. He melts into white light and absorbs into your heart.

By Chenrezig absorbing into you, your mind becomes the nature of great compassion, loving-kindness, and bodhicitta. Your body is filled with light and becomes very pure and clear, like crystal. Concentrate on this for a while.

The Chenrezigs on the heads of all the sentient beings melt into light, absorb into them, and bless them so that they may progress along the gradual path to awakening.


Due to this merit may we soon
Attain the awakened state of Chenrezig
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.

Due to the merit accumulated by myself and others in the past, present and future, may anyone who merely sees, hears, remembers, touches or talks to me be freed in that very instant from all sufferings and abide in happiness forever.

In all rebirths, may I and all sentient beings be born in a good family, have clear wisdom and great compassion, be free of pride and devoted to our spiritual masters, and abide within the vows and commitments to our spiritual masters.

In whatever guise you appear, O Chenrezig, whatever your retinue, your life span and pure land, whatever your name most noble and holy, may I and all others attain only these.

By the force of these praises and requests made to you, may all disease, poverty, fighting and quarrels be calmed. May the Dharma and all auspiciousness increase throughout the worlds and directions where I and all others dwell.

Daily activities

When doing your daily activities, visualize and be mindful of a small Chenrezig made of radiant light at your heart or on top of your head. Thinking that Chenrezig is a witness to all you do or say will increase your mindfulness and compassion for others. When you eat or enjoy other sense pleasures, imagine offering them to Chenrezig. Whenever you are praised, rather than get arrogant, think Chenrezig is being praised.