Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Resolve to Practice Excellence

One of the prayers that I try to say every day (audio version available here).
The Resolve To Practice Excellence
From the Vajraguru website
Homage to the noble Manjushri[1]!
The Seven Offices
With my voice and body and sincere heart, I pay homage to all the lions of humanity present throughout all time and in all world systems in every direction with none excepted, however great their number. The force of my resolve to practice excellence brings all victors[2] clearly to mind; emanations of my body, numerous as the atoms of all universes, bow down in perfect obeisance before them. All Buddhas, numerous as the atoms of all Buddha realms, stand in a single atom, surrounded by their children. Similarly, this host of victors stands in every single atom throughout the realm of totality. To them I direct my devotion and faith.
Sounds from an ocean of instruments of melodious speech sing of the qualities of all the victors; the ocean of their qualities is never depleted. In this way, I praise all the well-gone ones. To all the victors I present and offer perfect flowers and holy garlands, sweet music, balms and parasols, oil lamps, and fragrant incense. Moreover, I offer to all the victors' elegant garments and the finest of scents, curative powders piled high as Mt. Meru, all displayed in exceptional splendor. Vast and unsurpassable offerings I create and present to all the victors. With a firm appreciation of the practice of excellence, I render homage and offerings to all the victors.
Overpowered by lust, hatred, and stupidity, I have perpetrated much evil through my actions, words, and in my thoughts; all such evils I confess completely.
With great joy, I think of all the merit gathered by the victors in all directions, the Buddha's children, and by the self-realized and the partly and thoroughly trained ones. I rejoice in the merit of all sentient beings.
I urge that the unsurpassable Dharma wheel[3] be set in motion by all the lords, the lights of all worlds in all directions, who have traversed the stages of enlightenment and attained Buddhahood, the state of non-attachment and pure awareness.
With my hands folded in prayer, I beseech those who have transcended misery, whatever be their concern, to abide for, as many eons as there are atoms in all realms, for the benefit and happiness of beings.
I dedicate to perfect enlightenment all virtue, however slight, which I have gathered through homage, offerings, confession, rejoicing, entreaty, and supplication.
Noble Sentiments
I present offerings to all the Buddhas of the past, and to the Buddhas who abide in all worlds in the ten directions.
May those who have not yet appeared as Buddhas quickly fulfill their aim, and appear as fully enlightened ones demonstrating the stages of enlightenment.
May all worlds throughout the totality of space become vast and completely pure, and be filled with all the victors and Buddha-children who have come into the domain of the bodhi tree[4].
May all beings in all directions, however many there may be, always have the joy of good health, and so that their hopes for enlightenment may be realized, enjoy conditions favorable for the aims of the Dharma.
The Resolve to Maintain Bodhicitta
As I engage in bodhi[5] conduct, wherever I am born, I shall recall the training of former lives.
While I experience birth and death in the succession of my lives, may I always renounce the world of Samsara[6].
Emulating the training of all the victors and completing my practice of excellence, may I, with purest motivation, engage in stainless moral conduct, never weakening and free from fault.
In the language of the gods, nagas, and demons, in that of the spirits and in all the tongues of men, in all the languages of all beings, whoever they may be, may I teach the vast and deep Dharma.
With an appropriate gentle attitude, may I strive at the six perfections and never forget bodhicitta[7].
May all unskillful actions and limitations of karma and emotionality be completely washed and cleared away.
The Resolve to Establish Practice
Free of karma, emotionality, and disruptive forces, may I act in every realm of existence like the sun and moon unobstructed in the sky, or like a lotus to which mud does not adhere.
In all directions, the extent of the misery of evil existences equals the magnitude of all Buddha realms.
May I quench this misery, establish all beings in happier existences, and through my deeds, bring true benefit to them all.
Immersing myself totally in bodhi conduct, may I engage in action appropriate to the dispositions of all, and revealing clearly this excellent practice, continue it in all future eons.
May I be forever in the company of those whose conduct is similar to mine, and with aspirations identical with theirs, act in harmony in body, speech, and mind.
May I always come to meet those friends who wish to help me, who teach completely this practice of excellence; may I never renounce those friends.
May I continually look upon all victors, the lords who, surrounded by Buddha's children, are really present, and in all future eons tirelessly present vast offerings to every one of them.
Upholding the sacred Dharma of all victors and demonstrating bodhi conduct in all circumstances, may I continue this practice of excellence in all future eons though my training in it be complete.
As I circle through realms of experience, may I be filled with an inexhaustible treasury of all the qualities of means, wisdom, samadhi[8], and the liberated state; may I accumulate an inexhaustible store of merit and wisdom.
The Resolve to Engage in Activity
In a single atom are Buddha realms as numerous as all atoms; in every atom in each Buddha realm abide inconceivable numbers of Buddhas amid their children. I will watch them and emulate their bodhi conduct.
Similarly, in every direction throughout the totality of space, an ocean of Buddhas who appear in the three times and an ocean of their Buddha realms are present in every atom.
For an ocean of eons, I will watch them and immerse myself in bodhi conduct.
I will penetrate completely the speech of the victors, each word of which has an ocean of the qualities of sound, a melody of purest quality harmonizing with the wishes of all beings.
With strength of mind, I will fathom the speech of the victors of all times who set in motion the wheel of Dharma, bringing understanding to those who hear the endless tune of the teaching.
I will know what will come in future eons, and moreover, penetrate instantly the phenomena of all times.
I will embrace in an instant of awareness all phenomena in the totality of times, and so immerse myself in bodhi conduct.
I will see in an instant all the lions of humanity who appear in all times.
And free in the knowledge that all appearances are fantasy, I will immerse myself in the unceasing activity of the enlightened ones.
In a single atom are clearly set all the Buddha realms in the totality of time; similarly, I will set all the realms of the victors in every single atom throughout all time and space.
I will come into the presence of the Lords, the future Buddhas who appear as lights in the world; who, by progressively reaching fullness, turning the Dharma wheel, and passing beyond misery, demonstrate their achievement of peace.
The Resolve to Practice Without Limit
Through the power of unlimited instantaneous miracles, and the power of the vehicle which is the means to benefit beings completely, through all the power of activity in totally wholesome qualities, through the power of all-pervasive love;
Through the power of the merit of total virtue and through the power of transcending awareness, which leads to non-attachment, through the power of wisdom, means, and samadhi, I will realize the power to attain enlightenment!
As the power of karma is washed completely away and the power of emotionality is completely conquered, as the power of antagonistic forces are rendered ineffectual, the power of my practice of excellence becomes complete.
I will transform oceans of impure realms into utterly pure ones, and place oceans of beings in a state of freedom; with the eye of wisdom, I will behold oceans of Dharma and exercise oceans of awareness.
I will engage in oceans of conduct with complete purity, fulfill oceans of aspiration, and honor perfectly oceans of Buddhas.
Thus will I act tirelessly for oceans of eons.
All victors appearing in the three times have various aspirations while engaged in bodhi conduct, and through their practice of excellence awaken to the enlightenment of the Buddha. I, myself, will fulfill the aspirations of all these victors!
All my virtue I dedicate completely, that my deeds equal those of the skilled one who is the bravest of the children of the victors, who is known as Samantabhadra[9]. I will emulate this excellent skilled one, Samantabhadra, and dedicate my virtue as he does - that through this dedication my body, speech, and mind become completely pure, my conduct stainless, and all realms completely pure.
In order to engage completely in the virtuous practice of excellence, I will carry out the aspirations of Manjushri.
And in all future eons, tirelessly, I will bring all these deeds to completion.
My practice will have no limit and my capabilities will be unlimited.
While I continue limitless activity, I will seek and attain the manifestations of the enlightened ones.
As boundless as the reaches of space is the totality of sentient beings.
Boundless is their karma and emotions, and boundless too is my resolve.
The Benefits of These Resolutions
Great is the merit of offering to all the victors, for as many eons as there are atoms, infinite jeweled realms in the ten directions and the greatest happiness of gods and men.
Far greater is the perfect merit of just once giving rise to faith after hearing these royal words of dedication and turning one's mind to perfect enlightenment.
Whoever should recite this Resolve to Practice Excellence no longer experiences the realms of misery, nor is influenced by evil companions; such persons quickly come to see Buddha Amitabha.
They gain all that is of worth and dwell in ease; in just this life all their objectives are happily met; they quickly become just like Samantabhadra in capabilities and manifestations.
Whoever sincerely recites this Resolve to Practice Excellence quickly and thoroughly purifies all evil committed in delusion, even the evil of the five acts which ripen immediately.
Whoever recites this Resolve to Practice Excellence will quickly become pure in every way, will gain wisdom, beauty and distinctive signs, noble birth and fine complexion, the respect of all beings in the three worlds, and will be unassailable by neuroses or the views of realists[10].
Such a person will go swiftly into the domain of the bodhi tree and there will sit to benefit beings.
They will awaken to enlightenment, set the Dharma wheel in motion, and subdue powerful Mara and his host.
Buddha alone knows the complete results of holding, reading, or reciting this Resolve to Practice Excellence.
May there be not a single doubt that this resolve is the means to perfect enlightenment.
Dedication and Conclusion
Just as Manjushri, the hero of all beings, knows how to dedicate virtue, and exactly as Samantabhadra does too, so do I dedicate completely all this virtue and follow the training of such Bodhisattvas.
With the form of dedication praised by all the victors appearing in the three times, I dedicate completely all these seeds of virtue so that my excellent practice will bring enlightenment.
When the hour of death draws near, my limitations will be completely removed. I will see Buddha Amitabha[11] and experience totally his Buddha Realm of Joy.
I will fill my being with all the qualities needed to bring about the complete fulfillment of all these resolutions to practice excellence.
As long as worlds exist, I will work for the good of all!
In the pleasing and excellent mandala of the victor, I will be born from a beautiful and perfect lotus.
In the presence of the victor Amitabha, may I hear his prophecy about me.
After I have received this prophecy, may I, through the strength of my intention, greatly benefit beings in all directions by unfolding myriad emanations.
Through the little virtue I have gathered by offering this Resolve to Practice Excellence, may all virtue and aspirations for the welfare of sentient beings be realized in a single instant.
By such perfect and endless merit as accrues through the total dedication of the practice of excellence, may all beings drowning in the river of misery reach the perfect abode of Amitabha.
This excellent and worthy royal resolution is derived from the sutra adorned by Samantabhadra. It brings aid to all beings without limit.
May all realms of misery be forever emptied!

[1] Manjushri is a bodhisattva associated with transcendent wisdom 
[2] The victors are the Buddhas and the Buddhas’ children are the bodhisattvas, or those who are working to achieve enlightenment
[3]  The Dharma wheel is a symbol that represents dharma, the Buddha's teaching of the path to enlightenment
[4] The Bodhi Tree was a large and very old Sacred Fig tree under which Siddhartha Gautama, the spiritual teacher later known as Gautama Buddha, is said to have achieved enlightenment or Bodhi
[5] See above; but Bodhi is more than enlightenment, it is the Buddha’s understanding of the ultimate nature of everything; time, space, life, death, the Universe and everything in it.
[6] The cycle of life, death and rebirth; in this context it means the uncontrolled, unthinking cycle. Enlightened beings can choose their reincarnations.
[7] The “enlightenment-mind” which strives towards awakening and compassion for the benefit of all sentient beings
[8] Samadhi is mental concentration or composing the mind. It is one of three divisions of the Noble Eightfold Path.
[9] Samantabhadra is a bodhisattva (enlightened being) associated with Buddhist practice and meditation
[10] Realists is one translation, another would be skeptics; people who refuse to believe without concrete evidence.
[11] Amitabha is a celestial Buddha described in the scriptures of the Mahāyāna school of Buddhism. According to these scriptures, Amitābha possesses infinite merits resulting from good deeds over countless past lives. “Amitābha” is translatable as “Infinite Light,” hence Amitābha is often called “The Buddha of Infinite Light.”

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