Words of Truth was composed by His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama of Tibet, during the autumn of 1960, a year and a half after he was forced into exile in India. It is one of the most important prayers for Tibetans today. It is recited each morning with their daily prayers and sung to a medley of four lovely melodies on occasions such as the March 10 Uprising Day observance.
For Tibetans there is no separation between the sacred and the secular. Accordingly, this prayer finds a place in both arenas. Words of Truth is dedicated to restoring peace, the Buddhist teachings, and the culture and self-determination of the Tibetan people in their homeland. It is also an invocation of compassion towards all suffering sentient beings: oppressor and oppressed alike.
Prayer serves most immediately to focus the thoughts toward a specific end, in this case the preservation of Tibetan civilization and the goal of universal compassion. Prayer is also a refined expression of a state of mind, of an inner vision. Prayer is a crown jewel of speech. Speech is intimately tied to the breath, the coarse form of energy that empowers the mind’s awareness. While all speech has such subtle power as its basis, prayer (recited or sung) is a carefully crafted mode of speech—a vital channel into the depths of the mind.
Thus, one truly can appreciate the significance and beauty of His Holiness’s Words of Truth. May its multifold repetition in the Tibetan, and now English, language contribute to the goal of compassionate liberation for all sentient beings.