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A Prayer For The Beginning, Middle and End | Lama Tsongkhapa
The Splendor of an Autumn Moon

A Prayer For The Beginning, Middle and End

The Splendor of an Autumn MoonThis is a prayer for circumstances conducive to a pure unhindered practice in future lives, The prayer moves through the various stages of the Mahayana path, from being born into the kind of family conducive to becoming a monk. to meeting with spiritual friends and masters, to maintaining unflagging enthusiasm for study and practice, to renoucning the pleasures of this life, and finally to manifesting the perfection of the bodhisattva path. As well as being a preayer of great devotion, it is somewhat autobiographical in that it maps out Tsongkhapa’s own life and practice.

– Gavin Kilty “The Splendor of an Autumn Moon”
 

Extracted from book ‘The Splendor Of An Autumn Moon: The Devotional Verse of Tsongkhapa’ translated by Gavin Kilty. Wisdom Publications, Boston.


I bow before the conquering Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and Arhats of all directions and of all times.

I offer this boundless prayer with the purest of minds
To free countless beings from cycles of existence.
By the power of the unfailing Three Jewels
And of great rishis possessed of the force of truth,
May these sincere words bear fruit.
 
Life after life, may I never be born into realms
Of great suffering or unfavorable circumstance
But gain always a precious human form
Blessed with every conducive provision.
 
From the moment of birth may I never
Be lured by the pleasures of existence,
But, guided by renunciation intent on freedom,
Be resolute in seeking the pure life.
 
May there be no hindrance to becoming a monk,
From friends, family or possessions,
And for every conducive circumstance,
By mere thought may it appear.
 
Once a monk, may I be untainted as long as I live,
By breech of vow or natural fault,
As promised in the presence of my preceptor.
 
I pray that on such pure foundation,
And for every mother sentient being 1,
I devote myself with hardship for countless aeons
To every aspect, profound and vast of the Mahayana.
 
May I be cared for by true spiritual friends,
Filled with knowledge and insight,
Senses stilled, minds controlled, loving, compassionate,
And with courage untiring in working for others.
 
As Sada Prarudita 2 devoted himself to Dharma Arya,
May I sincerely please my spiritual master
With body, life and wealth,
Never disappointing him for an instant.
 
I pray that the Perfection of Wisdom, forever profound,
A bringer of peace, unbound by identification,
Be taught to me as taught to Sada Prarudita,
Unsullied by the muddy waters of false views.
 
May I never fall under the sway
Of false teachers and misleading friends,
Their flawed views of existence and nonexistence
Well outside the Buddha’s intention.
 
With sail hoisted of the sincerest of minds,
Driven by winds of unflagging effort,
On this well-built ship of study, thought, and meditation,
May I bring living beings from samsara’s ocean.
 
As much as I excel in learning,
As much as I give to others,
As pure as my morality grows,
As much as I become wise,
By as much may I be empty of pride.
 
I pray that I listen insatiably
To countless teachings at the feet of a master,
Single-handedly with logic unflawed,
Prizing open scriptures’ meanings.
 
Having examined day and night
With four-fold logic all that I have heard,
May I banish every doubt
With the discerning understanding
That arises from such contemplation.
 
With conviction of Dharmas profound
Gained from understanding born of contemplation,
I pray that I retreat to solitude
With a perseverance severing life’s attachments
To devote myself to proper practice.
 
When the Buddha’s thoughts dawn upon me
Through study, thought, and meditation,
I pray that things of this life forever bonded to samsara
And thoughts of my happiness alone
Never arise in my mind.
 
Unattached to my possessions
I pray that I destroy parsimony,
Gathering disciples around me
By giving first of material wealth
To satisfy them with Dharma.
 
With a mind renounced may I never transgress
Even the smallest precept, though it may cost my life,
Flying forever, therefore, the flag of freedom.
 
When I see, hear or think of those
Who struck, beat or maligned me,
May I be without anger, speak of their virtues,
And meditate upon patience.
 
I pray I will apply myself to enthusiasm,
Achieving virtues unachieved, improving those attained,
Banishing utterly three-fold 3 debilitating laziness.
 
I pray to abandon the meditative absorption
That lacks the power of insight to quell samsara,
That is divorced from the moist compassion to quash nirvana’s passivity,
And that mostly throws one back to cycles of existence,
But develop instead the meditative absorption
That unites compassion and insight.
 
I pray that I banish false views of emptiness,
Mentally fabricated and partially known,
Born from fear of the most profound truth, cherished as supreme,
And that I realize all phenomena to be forever empty.
 
May I bring to faultless morality
Those so-called practitioners with their wayward ethics,
Shamelessly empty of pure practice,
Rashly pursuing paths shunned by the wise.
 
May I bring to the path praised by Buddhas
Those lost and fallen onto wrong paths,
Swayed by deluded teachers and misleading friends.
 
I pray that my lion-like roar
Of teaching, argument, and composition
Flattens the pride of fox-like false orators,
And, gathering well-trained disciples about me,
I fly the banner of the teachings forever.
 
In whatever life I may drink the nectar of Buddha’s teachings,
I pray to be born into a good family
And be of handsome build, wealthy, powerful, and wise,
Blessed with long life and sound health.
 
May I develop the unique love of a mother
For those who malign me
And harbor ill designs upon my life,
My body, or my possessions.
 
By growing within myself
The pure and extraordinary bodhi-mind
Whose nature is to cherish others more than self,
May I soon give them unsurpassable Enlightenment.
 
Whoever hears, sees or calls these verses to mind,
May they be undaunted in fulfilling
The powerful prayers of the Bodhisattvas.
 
By the power of these vast prayers
Made with the purest intention,
May I attain the perfection of prayer 4
And fulfill the hopes of every living being.

  1. Mother sentient beings refers to the practice of regarding every living beings as possessing the kindness of our mothers and to the logical probability that, over the duration of beginning-less reincarnations, every living being has at one time in the past actually been our mother.
  2. Sada Prarudita was an exemplary practitioner of guru devotion in ancient India. His name means “always crying,” for he was often in tears during his search for his teacher, Dharma Arya. Tsongkhapa was very impressed by his devotion and wrote a biography of him.
  3. Threefold laziness comprises attachment to useless activities, procrastination, and self-denigration.
  4. Perfection of prayer refers to the following prayer: “Wherever I may be born, may I never be apart from the bodhi mind, and for the sake of all living beings may I unceasingly practice the perfections.”
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