Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive | The Archive of the FPMT

Making Life Meaningful

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Various locations, 1999 (Archive # 1055, Last Updated Sep 30, 2014)

Appendix 3: The Confession of Downfalls to the Thirty-Five Buddhas

The Confession of Downfalls to the Thirty-Five Buddhas 26

Motivation

The purpose of my life is to free the numberless sentient beings who are the source of all my past, present, and future happiness, temporary as well as ultimate happiness—including all the realizations of the path, liberation from samsara, and enlightenment—from all the oceans of samsaric suffering, including the causes: delusion and karma. In order to do this, I must achieve full enlightenment. Therefore, I need to actualize the path. Therefore, I need to purify the defilements.

If I were now born in hell, it would be so unbearable. Even one tiny fire spark on my body is hundreds of thousands of times hotter than the whole entire fire energy in this world. It is so unbearable that experiencing it for even an instant is like suffering for many eons. I have created numberless causes to be born in the hell realms by creating the ten non-virtuous actions countless times in this and beginningless past lives. I have created numberless causes to be born in the hell realms by breaking the pratimoksha vows, by breaking the bodhisattva vows, and by breaking the tantric vows countless times in this and beginningless past lives. And I have created numberless causes to be born in the hells by creating the heaviest negative karma in relationship with the holy virtuous friend, which includes harming the holy body, breaking the advice, disturbing the holy mind, having non-devotional thoughts, and rising heresy and anger, which produce the greatest obstacles to achieve realizations and create the greatest suffering.

Every single one of these negative actions has four suffering results: the ripening result (a rebirth in the lower realms), the possessed result (the type of environment I’m born into when again a human), the result similar to the cause in my experience, and the worst one, the result similar to the cause in my actions, which means that again and again I am driven to create the same negative actions in the future, and so again and again I have to experience the four suffering results. In this way, samsara has no end.

Not only that, but karma increases, so from even a small negative action can come huge suffering results. And karma is definite to be experienced, so every negative action I have created will definitely bring its result, no matter how long it takes, until it is purified. So from one negative karma, I have to experience the result over and over again for so many hundreds of lifetimes. Understanding this, how can I stand to live life without purifying myself and getting rid of all these negative karmas, just as I would try to get rid of a deadly poison in my body?

Not only that, but I’m going to die, and death can come even today, any moment. Therefore, I must purify all my negative actions right this second. In order to do that, I am going to do these prostrations with the practice of confessing downfalls, and I’m going to do this so that I can develop myself in order to work for the happiness of all sentient beings.

Visualization at the beginning of the practice

Visualize in the space in front of you your Guru in the aspect of Shakyamuni Buddha, with thousand-arm Chenrezig at his heart. At the heart of thousand-arm Chenrezig is the syllable hrih, from which beams of light emanate, forming six rows in the space below. At the end of each beam is a throne supported by elephants and adorned with pearls. On each throne is seated a buddha. In the first row are six buddhas, blue in color and in the aspect of Akshobhya, with the exception of the third buddha, King Lord of the Nagas, who has a blue-colored body, but a white head. In the second row, there are seven buddhas, white in color and in the aspect of Vairochana. In the third row are seven buddhas, yellow in color and in the aspect of Ratnasambhava. In the fourth row are seven buddhas, red in color and in the aspect of Amitabha. In the fifth row there are seven buddhas, green in color and in the aspect of Amoghasiddhi. These are the thirty-five Confession Buddhas. Each one is in the posture of that particular dhyani buddha. In the final row are the Medicine Buddhas.

Think that each one of these buddhas is the embodiment of all three times’, ten directions’ Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, and all statues, stupas, and scriptures. Think they embody all holy objects, whose essence is the Guru. Have complete faith that each one has the power to purify all your negative karmas and imprints, accumulated since beginningless time.

Now imagine that you emanate numberless bodies, and that as you prostrate, all these bodies prostrate along with you from all directions, covering every atom of the earth.

Now recite the increasing mantras, refuge and the Confession of Downfalls to the Thirty-five Buddhas, repeating each buddha’s name over and over as many times as you can with each prostration. It is the recitation of the name of each buddha that brings the purification, so there is a big difference when you recite just a few times or many. Even if you do the recitation by listening to a CD or tape, still recite the name yourself as much as you can. Either recite the prayer three times straight through making one prostration to each buddha each time, or do three prostrations to each buddha as you go through the prayer once. At the end, recite the names of the Medicine Buddhas. This can be followed by Vajrasattva mantra and the “Po” Praise to Chenrezig, according to time. Then recite the prayer at the end, followed by the General Confession

Reciting the names of the Thirty-five Confession Buddhas

OM NAMO MANJUSHRIYE NAMAH SUSHRIYE NAMA UTTAMA SHRIYE SVAHA (3X)

CHOM DÄN DÄ DE ZHIN SHEG PA DRA CHOM PA YANG DAG PAR DZOG PÄI SANG GYÄ RINCHHEN GYÄLTSHÄN LA CHHAG TSHÄL LO (7X)

OM NAMO BHAGAVATE RATNA KETU RAJAYA / TATHAGATAYA
ARHATE SAMYAK SAMBUDDHAYA TADYATHA OM RATNE RATNE
MAHA RATNE RATNA BIJA YE SVAHA (7X)

Na mo jang chhub sem päi tung wa shag pa
Homage to the Confession of the Bodhisattva’s Downfalls!

Dag [ming] di zhe gyi wa / dü tag tu la ma la kyab su chhi wo
I, (say your name) throughout all times, take refuge in the Guru;

Sang gyä la kyab su chhi wo
I take refuge in the Buddha;

Chhö la kyab su chhi wo
I take refuge in the Dharma;

Ge dün la kyab su chhi wo
I take refuge in the Sangha. (3x)

Tön pa chom dän dä de zhin sheg pa dra chom pa yang dag par dzog päi sang gyä päl gyäl wa sha kya thub pa la chhag tshäl lo
To the founder, bhagavan, tathagata, arhat, perfectly completed buddha, glorious conqueror Shakyamuni Buddha, I prostrate.

De zhin sheg pa dor je nying pö rab tu jom pa la chhag tshäl lo
To Tathagata Thoroughly Destroying with Vajra Essence, I prostrate.

De zhin sheg pa rin chhen ö thrö la chhag tshäl lo
To Tathagata Radiant Jewel, I prostrate.

De zhin sheg pa lu wang gi gyäl po la chhag tshäl lo
To Tathagata King, Lord of the Nagas, I prostrate.

De zhin sheg pa pa wöi de la chhag tshäl lo
To Tathagata Army of Heroes, I prostrate.

De zhin sheg pa päl gye la chhag tshäl lo
To Tathagata Delighted Hero, I prostrate.

De zhin sheg pa rin chhen me la chhag tshäl lo
To Tathagata Jewel Fire, I prostrate.

De zhin sheg pa rin chhen da ö la chhag tshäl lo
To Tathagata Jewel Moonlight, I prostrate.

De zhin sheg pa tong wa dön yö la chhag tshäl lo
To Tathagata Meaningful to See, I prostrate.

De zhin sheg pa rin chhen da wa la chhag tshäl lo
To Tathagata Jewel Moon, I prostrate.

De zhin sheg pa dri ma me pa la chhag tshäl lo
To Tathagata Stainless One, I prostrate.

De zhin sheg pa päl jin la chhag tshäl lo
To Tathagata Bestowed with Courage, I prostrate.

De zhin sheg pa tshang pa la chhag tshäl lo
To Tathagata Pure One, I prostrate.

De zhin sheg pa tshang pä jin la chhag tshäl lo
To Tathagata Bestowed with Purity, I prostrate.

De zhin sheg pa chhu lha la chhag tshäl lo
To Tathagata Water God, I prostrate.

De zhin sheg pa chhu lhäi lha la chhag tshäl lo
To Tathagata Deity of the Water God, I prostrate.

De zhin sheg pa päl zang la chhag tshäl lo
To Tathagata Glorious Goodness, I prostrate.

De zhin sheg pa tsän dän päl la chhag tshäl lo
To Tathagata Glorious Sandalwood, I prostrate.

De zhin sheg pa zi ji tha yä la chhag tshäl lo
To Tathagata Infinite Splendor, I prostrate.

De zhin sheg pa ö päl la chhag tshäl lo
To Tathagata Glorious Light, I prostrate.

De zhin sheg pa nya ngän me päi päl la chhag tshäl lo
To Tathagata Sorrowless Glory, I prostrate.

De zhin sheg pa se me kyi bu la chhag tshäl lo
To Tathagata Son of Non-craving, I prostrate.

De zhin sheg pa me tog päl la chhag tshäl lo
To Tathagata Glorious Flower, I prostrate.

De zhin sheg pa tshang päi ö zer nam par röl pä ngön par khyen pa la chhag tshäl lo
To Tathagata Pure Light Rays Clearly Knowing by Play, I prostrate.

De zhin sheg pa pä mäi ö zer nam par röl pä ngön par khyen pa la chhag tshäl lo
To Tathagata Lotus Light Rays Clearly Knowing by Play, I prostrate.

De zhin sheg pa nor päl la chhag tshäl lo
To Tathagata Glorious Wealth, I prostrate.

De zhin sheg pa drän päi päl la chhag tshäl lo
To Tathagata Glorious Mindfulness, I prostrate.

De zhin sheg pa tshän päl shin tu yong drag la chhag tshäl lo
To Tathagata Glorious Name Widely Renowned, I prostrate.

De zhin sheg pa wang pöi tog gi gyäl tshän gyi gyäl po la chhag tshäl lo
To Tathagata King Holding the Victory Banner of Foremost Power, I prostrate.

De zhin sheg pa shin tu nam par nön päi päl la chhag tshäl lo
To Tathagata Glorious One Totally Subduing, I prostrate.

De zhin sheg pa yül lä shin tu nam par gyäl wa la chhag tshäl lo
To Tathagata Utterly Victorious in Battle, I prostrate.

De zhin sheg pa nam par nön pä sheg päi päl la chhag tshäl lo
To Tathagata Glorious Transcendence Through Subduing, I prostrate.

De zhin sheg pa kün nä nang wa kö päi päl la chhag tshäl lo
To Tathagata Glorious Manifestations Illuminating All, I prostrate.

De zhin sheg pa rin chhen pä mäi nam par nön pa la chag tshäl lo
To Tathagata All-Subduing Jewel Lotus, I prostrate.

De zhin sheg pa dra chom pa yang dag par dzog päi sang gyä rin po chhe dang pä ma la rab tu zhug pa ri wang gi gyäl po la chhag tshäl lo (3x)
To Tathagata, arhat, perfectly completed buddha, King of the Lord of Mountains Firmly Seated on Jewel and Lotus, I prostrate. (3x)

Prostrations to the Seven Medicine Buddhas

Chom dän dä de zhin sheg pa dra chom pa yang dag par dzog päi sang gyä tsen leg pa yong drag päl gyi gyäl po la chhag tshäl lo
To the bhagavan, tathagata, arhat, perfectly completed buddha, Renowned Glorious King of Excellent Signs, I prostrate.

Chom dän dä de zhin sheg pa dra chom pa yang dag par dzog päi sang gyä rin po chhe dang da wa dang pä mä rab tu gyän pa khä pa zi ji dra yang kyi gyäl po la chhag tshäl lo
To the bhagavan, tathagata, arhat, perfectly completed buddha, King of Melodious Sound, Brilliant Radiance of Skill, Adorned with Jewels, Moon, and Lotus, I prostrate.

Chom dän dä de zhin sheg pa dra chom pa yang dag par dzog päi sang gyä ser zang dri me rin chhen nang tül zhug drub pa la chhag tshäl lo
To the bhagavan, tathagata, arhat, perfectly completed buddha, Stainless Excellent Gold, Illuminating Jewel Who Accomplishes All Conduct, I prostrate.

Chom dän dä de zhin sheg pa dra chom pa yang dag par dzog päi sang gyä nya ngän me chhog päl la chhag tshäl lo
To the bhagavan, tathagata, arhat, perfectly completed buddha, Glorious Supreme One Free from Sorrow, I prostrate.

Chom dän dä de zhin sheg pa dra chom pa yang dag par dzog päi sang gyä chhö drag gya tshö yang la chhag tshäl lo
To the bhagavan, tathagata, arhat, perfectly completed buddha, Melodious Ocean of Proclaimed Dharma, I prostrate.

Chom dän dä de zhin sheg pa dra chom pa yang dag par dzog päi sang gyä chhö gya tsho chhog gi lö nam par röl pä ngön par khyän pa la chhag tshäl lo
To the bhagavan, tathagata, arhat, perfectly completed buddha, Clearly Knowing by the Play of Supreme Wisdom of an Ocean of Dharma, I prostrate.

Chom dän dä de zhin sheg pa dra chom pa yang dag par dzog päi sang gyä men gyi lha bäi dur yä ö kyi gyäl po la chhag tshäl lo
To the bhagavan, tathagata, arhat, perfectly completed buddha, Medicine Guru, King of Lapis Lazuli Light, I prostrate.

Confession prayer

All those [you thirty-five buddhas] and others, as many tathagatas, arhats, perfectly completed buddhas as there are existing, sustaining, and residing in all the world systems of the ten directions; all you buddha-bhagavans, please pay attention to me.

In this life and in all the states of rebirth in which I have circled in samsara throughout beginningless lives, whatever negative actions I have created, made others create, or rejoiced in the creation of; whatever possessions of stupas, possessions of the Sangha, or possessions of the Sangha of the ten directions that I have appropriated, made others appropriate, or rejoiced in the appropriation of; whichever among the five actions of immediate (retribution) I have done, caused to be done, or rejoiced in the doing of; whichever paths of the ten non-virtuous actions I have engaged in, caused others to engage in, or rejoiced in the engaging in: whatever I have created, being obscured by these karmas causes me and sentient beings to be born in the hell realms, in the animal realm, and in the preta realm; in irreligious countries, as barbarians, or as long-life gods; with imperfect faculties, holding wrong views, or not being pleased with Buddha’s descent. In the presence of the buddha-bhagavans, who are transcendental wisdom, who are eyes, who are witnesses, who are valid, and who see with omniscient consciousness, I am admitting and confessing all these negativities, I will not conceal them nor hide them, and from now on in the future I will abstain and refrain from committing them again.

All buddha-bhagavans, please pay attention to me. In this life and in all other states of rebirth in which I have circled in samsara throughout beginningless lives, whatever roots of virtue I have created by generosity, even as little as giving just one mouthful of food to a being born in the animal realm; whatever roots of virtue I have created by guarding morality; whatever roots of virtue I have created by following pure conduct; whatever roots of virtue I have created by fully ripening sentient beings; whatever roots of virtue I have created by generating bodhicitta; and whatever roots of virtue I have created by my unsurpassed transcendental wisdom: all these assembled and gathered, combined together, I fully dedicate to the unsurpassed, the unexcelled, that higher than the high, that superior to the superior. Thus, I completely dedicate to the highest, perfectly complete enlightenment.

Just as the previous buddha-bhagavans have fully dedicated, just as the future buddha-bhagavans will fully dedicate, and just as the presently abiding buddha-bhagavans are fully dedicating, like that I too dedicate fully.

I confess all negativities individually. I rejoice in all the merits. I urge and implore all buddhas to grant my request: may I receive the highest, most sublime transcendental wisdom.

To the conquerors, the best of humans—those who are living in the present time, those who have lived in the past, and those who will likewise come—to all those who have qualities as vast as an infinite ocean, with hands folded, I approach for refuge.

How to meditate on the General Confession

As you confess each of the negative actions contained in this prayer, think to yourself that you have created this negative action not just once, but countless times in this and beginningless lives, whether you remember it or not. Generate very strong regret—the stronger the regret, the greater the purification.

Then reflect on the emptiness of each of these negative actions, remembering that even negative actions do not truly exist from their own side. They arise in dependence on causes and conditions and are merely labeled by the mind. You can either think they are completely non-existent from their own side, or that they are merely labeled by mind, or that they are hallucinations. Whichever method you use to understand emptiness, the conclusion that should come in your heart is that each of these negative actions is completely empty, not existing from its own side, even the slightest atom.

At the end of the confession prayer, pause to make the determination not to commit these negative actions again in the future. This is the power of restraint. Make this promise realistic, even if you are promising simply not to do the negative action even for just the next five minutes or seconds. This is to make sure you that you do not tell a lie to the merit field.

General Confession

U hu lag! (Woe is me!)

O great Guru Vajradhara, all other buddhas and bodhisattvas who abide in the ten directions, and all the venerable Sangha, please pay attention to me.

I, who am named [say your name], circling in cyclic existence since beginningless time until the present, overpowered by mental afflictions such as attachment, aversion, and ignorance by means of body, speech, and mind have created the ten non-virtuous actions. I have engaged in the five uninterrupted negative karmas and the five nearing uninterrupted negative karmas. I have transgressed the vows of individual liberation, transgressed the vows of bodhisattvas, and transgressed the samaya of secret mantra. I have been disrespectful to my parents, have been disrespectful to my vajra masters, and to my abbot, and have been disrespectful to my spiritual friends living in ordination. I have committed actions harmful to the Three Jewels, avoided the holy Dharma, criticized the arya Sangha, harmed sentient beings, and so on. These and many other non-virtuous negative actions I have done, have caused others to do, have rejoiced in others’ doing, and so forth.

In the presence of the great Guru Vajradhara, all the buddhas and bodhisattvas who abide in the ten directions, and the venerable Sangha, I admit this entire collection of faults and transgressions that are obstacles to my own higher rebirth and liberation and are causes of cyclic existence and miserable lower rebirths. I will not conceal them, and I accept them as negative. I promise to refrain from doing these actions again in the future. By confessing and acknowledging them, I will attain and abide in happiness, while by not confessing and acknowledging them, true happiness will not come.

Visualization at the End of the Confession Prayer

Think that through the force of reciting these names of the thirty-five Buddhas of Confession and Medicine Buddhas, through the power of their pure prayers and vows, through the power of generating regret and the other opponent forces, and through the power of having made these prostrations, nectars and light rays descend from the holy bodies of the buddhas, completely purifying all negative karmas, defilements and imprints collected on your mental continuum since beginningless time. Generate strong faith that your mind has become completely pure.

Then reflect on emptiness. In emptiness there is no I, the creator of negative actions. In emptiness there is no creating of negative actions. In emptiness there are no negative actions created. Even though there are infinite phenomena, in emptiness nothing exists at all. There is no this and that, no me and you, nothing. In emptiness everything is one taste. From this emptiness, everything comes into existence. Whatever exists is the manifestation of emptiness.

Dedication

Due to all the three time merits accumulated by myself, all the buddhas and bodhisattvas and all sentient beings, which are completely empty of existing from their own side, may the I, which is completely empty of existing from its own side, quickly achieve the state of full enlightenment, which is completely empty of existing from its own side, in order to lead all sentient beings, who are completely empty of existing from their own side, to that state by myself alone, who is completely empty of existing from its own side.

Due to all the three time merits accumulated by myself, all the buddhas and bodhisattvas and all sentient beings, may the precious supreme enlightened thought, bodhicitta—letting go of self and cherishing others, which is the source of all success and happiness for myself and all sentient beings—immediately be generated within my own mind, and within the minds of all sentient beings. May that which has already been generated never decline, but increase more and more.

Notes
26. See www.fpmt.org/shop for a practice package entitled The Preliminary Practice of Prostrations Booklet and Poster and an accompanying audio CD entitled The Practice of Prostrations to the 35 Buddhas, which are indispensable aids to doing this practice as well as possible. The book contains many teachings by Lama Zopa Rinpoche, including an excellent commentary on this practice. [Return to text]