Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Verse 20-1: Going downhill

Verse 20-1: Going downhill

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

  • To prevent sentient beings from being born in the lower realms
  • Practicing the bodhisattva path

We’re on Verse 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.

Verse 19 we were leading them to the higher forms of life when going uphill and now when going downhill, severing the stream of the lower forms of life. We were also in Verse 17 closing the door to the lower forms of life. You can see this is a major important issue, to prevent sentient beings from being born in the lower realms.

As I described when we were talking about Verse 17, if we’re born in the lower forms of life then it’s difficult to benefit ourselves, let alone to benefit anybody else. Once born there, then it’s very difficult to get out of those rebirths because it’s so difficult to have a virtuous mental state. Even if you’ve collected previous positive good karma and those seeds are in your mental state, it’s hard for them to ripen because at the time of death it’s difficult to have a virtuous mind when you are in the lower realms. Even as a human being, it’s difficult to have a virtuous mind at the time of death, so let alone for other living beings, where they can’t even hear teachings, kind of encouraging us to train in virtue or something like that.

This issue of being born in the lower realms is something that’s pretty important for us if we want to practice the bodhisattva path as a well as for other beings if they just want to be happy and even in Samsara. And if they also want to practice the path, this issue of preventing lower rebirth is a very, very important one so I’ll talk about that some more tomorrow too because it can be a very good motivator for us when our practice gets slack, when we’re not keeping our precepts well, when we think “Whatever, it just doesn’t matter,” then contemplating the lower realms can be very, very helpful. So we’ll talk about that more.

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.