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Verses 2-4: Review

Verses 2-4: Review

Part of a series of talks on the 41 Prayers to Cultivate Bodhicitta from the Avatamsaka Sutra (the Flower Ornament Sutra).

  • The progression of Verses 2-4
  • Various analogies on different levels: different meanings of each verse
  • Sutra leading into tantric meaning

41 Prayers to cultivate bodhicitta: Verse 2-4 (download)

I wanted to sum up the last three gāthas that we had which were:

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 sentient beings awake from the sleep of ignorance.”
This is the prayer of the bodhisattva when waking up.

In the tantric practice there’s something called the “nine mixings,” where there are analogies made between (for example) on the ordinary level dying, and then on our daily level going to sleep; and then on the path level of actualizing what’s called the “clear light mind,” which is the extremely subtle mind and using that to realize emptiness. And then that leads you to actualize the dharmakaya, the truth body, the omniscient mind of the Buddha.

The other set is, on the ordinary level entering the intermediate stage after death, and then in our daily life level dreaming; and then on the level of the path actualizing what’s called the “illusory body,” and then that leads us to attain the sambhogakaya, the resource body of the Buddha, which is the form body that a buddha has when dwelling in the pure lands with arya bodhisattvas.

The third set is, on the ordinary level being born into your next life, on the daily level waking up in the morning; and then on the path level the illusory body re-entering the old aggregates and then that leads us to have what’s called the emanation body of the Buddha, such as Shakyamuni Buddha or the various manifestations of the Buddha that we may encounter in our lives who we don’t even recognize as buddhas.

You can see that this is a skillful method of taking what happens at death, intermediate state, and rebirth; falling asleep, dreaming, and waking up; and then the clear-light, the illusory body, and re-entering the old aggregates, and transforming them so that they become the three kayas, or the three bodies, of the Buddha: the truth body, the resource body, and the emanation body. It’s a very skillful method.

I think that these three verses, verses two, three, and four, although they’re found in the sutra, I think they are an indication of the tantric meaning, the deeper tantric meaning, of that transformation process. Especially since the verse we’ll do tomorrow is “‘May all sentient beings attain the form buddha bodies.’ This is the practice of bodhisattvas when getting up.” That follows right after that. So I have my sneaking suspicion that there’s some correlation here from sutras leading into the tantric meaning.

Venerable Thubten Chodron

Venerable Chodron emphasizes the practical application of Buddha’s teachings in our daily lives and is especially skilled at explaining them in ways easily understood and practiced by Westerners. She is well known for her warm, humorous, and lucid teachings. She was ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1977 by Kyabje Ling Rinpoche in Dharamsala, India, and in 1986 she received bhikshuni (full) ordination in Taiwan. Read her full bio.