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Special verse: Oceans of merit

Special verse: Oceans of merit

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

  • A proper motivation when inviting generosity
  • Considering the incredible opportunity others have to create merit
  • The expansive feeling of a full motivation

41 Prayers to cultivate bodhicitta: Venerable Chodron’s verse (download)

Every so often as we go through the 41 prayers of bodhisattvas I’m going to add some that kind of come spontaneously according to what’s happening at the Abbey. Today’s one of those occasions.

Last night many of us were writing post cards, because we’re about to launch our capital campaign. Go public with our capital campaign for building the new monastic residence. We were writing postcards to invite people to participate and give generously. Before I was writing the post cards I sat down and thought, and got in touch with what was happening in my heart, and I thought, “Wow, people have such an incredible opportunity to create oceans of merit and to help spread the Dharma by participating in this project. It’s so easy to do that. So then I thought of a little gātha to make forty-TWO prayers for bodhisattvas. So this is:

“May all sentient beings create oceans of merit and help spread the Dharma in the 10 directions.”
This is the prayer of bodhisattvas when writing postcards, and when inviting generosity for helping to establish Sravasti Abbey.

When I thought like that it brought much joy in my heart because I realized we can write the exact same words with a really full motivation, really thinking, “Wow, I really do want people to create merit and help spread the Dharma. It’s so valuable for them and for all beings.” So we can write the same words with that motivation, or we could write the exact same words just with, like, “Well let’s finish this and get it done.” The words may not be different, but what’s going on in our heart gets carried across to the people who read the words. And so I really wanted people to feel, and to realize, this is such a wonderful opportunity for them to enrich their own practice by creating merit and to help spread the Dharma in the West, in all universes.

This is the prayer of bodhisattvas when writing post cards. Or when going to and participating. Or when coming to the Abbey and helping. I really wanted to communicate that. So that’s our new gātha.

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.