The Foundation of All Good Qualities

By Lama Tsongkhapa

The Foundation of All Good Qualities is a concise prayer by Lama Tsongkhapa that teaches the entire graduated path to enlightenment. You can read a commentary on this text by Khunu Lama Rinpoche. The prayer is available in ebook format from FPMT Foundation Store.  

Lama Tsongkhapa. Photo courtesy of FPMT.
The Foundation of All Good Qualities
Yön tän zhir gyur ma

The foundation of all good qualities is the kind and perfect guru;
Correct devotion to him is the root of the path.
By clearly seeing this and applying great effort,
Please bless me to rely upon him with great respect.

Understanding that the precious freedom of this rebirth is found only once,
Is difficult to find again and is greatly meaningful,
Please bless me to generate the mind that unceasingly,
Day and night, takes its essence.

This life is as impermanent as a water bubble;
Remember how quickly it decays and death comes.
After death, just like a shadow follows the body,
The results of black and white karma follow.

Finding firm and definite conviction in this,
Please bless me always to be careful
To abandon even the slightest negative action
And accomplish all virtuous deeds.

Seeking samsaric pleasures is the door to all suffering:
They are uncertain and cannot be relied upon.
Recognizing these shortcomings,
Please bless me to generate the strong wish for the bliss of liberation.

Led by this pure thought,
Mindfulness, alertness, and great caution arise.
The root of the teachings is keeping the pratimoksha vows:
Please bless me to accomplish this essential practice.

Just as I have fallen into the sea of samsara,
So have all mother transmigratory beings.
Please bless me to see this, train in supreme bodhicitta,
And bear the responsibility of freeing transmigratory beings.

Even if I develop only bodhicitta, but I don’t practice the three types of morality,
I will not achieve enlightenment.
With my clear recognition of this,
Please bless me to practice the bodhisattva vows with great energy.

Once I have pacified distractions to wrong objects
And correctly analyzed the meaning of reality,
Please bless me to generate quickly within my mindstream
The unified path of calm abiding and special insight.

Having become a pure vessel by training in the general path,
Please bless me to enter
The holy gateway of the fortunate ones:
The supreme vajra vehicle.

At that time, the basis of accomplishing the two attainments
Is keeping pure vows and samaya.
As I have become firmly convinced of this,
Please bless me to protect these vows and pledges like my life.

Then, having realized the importance of the two stages,
The essence of the Vajrayana,
By practicing with great energy, never giving up the four sessions,
Please bless me to realize the teachings of the holy guru.

Like that, may the gurus who show the noble path
And the spiritual friends who practice it have long lives.
Please bless me to pacify completely
All outer and inner hindrances.

In all my lives, never separated from perfect gurus,
May I enjoy the magnificent Dharma.
By completing the qualities of the grounds and paths,
May I quickly attain the state of Vajradhara.


Excerpted from the Jorchö booklet. Translated by Maureen O’Malley and edited by Ven. Ailsa Cameron (Wisdom Publications, 1988). Lightly edited by Ven. Constance Miller and Nick Ribush, April 1999. Phonetics checked and amended by Ven. Tenzin Tsomo, FPMT Education Services, June 2016. Small corrections made by Ven. Steve Carlier and Ven. Joan Nicell, FPMT Education Services, 2018.