Practical Issues >
Things to do >
Religion and Animals
Teachings from the Vajrasattva Retreat
LIBERATING ANIMALS FROM THE DANGER OF DEATH
WHAT THIS PRACTICE INCLUDES
The practice of liberating animals from the danger of death
is included within the pledges (samaya) of the dhyani buddha
Vairocana, which contain the practices of three types of
- The morality of abstaining from vice.
- The morality of gathering virtue.
- The morality of working for the sake of sentient beings.
The morality of abstaining from vice refers to keeping
vows, such as those of individual liberation (pratimoksha),
which include the five lay vows, and also includes living
within the morality of abandoning the ten non-virtues.
The morality of gathering virtue is collecting merit by the
virtuous practice of Dharma. If the practice of liberating
animals is done perfectly, it will involve all six perfections
1. The perfection of generosity (charity) includes:
(a) The generosity of giving loving kindness.
generosity of liberating from fear.
(c) The generosity of
(d) The generosity of giving material
objects (miscellaneous charity).
You are practicing the generosity of loving kindness
because not only are you wishing the animals
happiness but you are also causing them to have happiness by
liberating them from the dangers of death, harm and a short
The practice of liberating animals includes the generosity
of liberating from fear because you save them from fear and
It becomes charity of Dharma because you recite powerful
mantras and blow the mantras upon the animals to benefit them
by purifying their negative karmas and giving them a good
rebirth in the deva, human or pure realms.
If you give food to the animals when you liberate them—for
example, if you put food in the water for the fish or on the
ground for the forest animals—this is the practice of the
fourth generosity, giving material (miscellaneous) objects.
2. Abandoning giving harm to other beings and not hurting
them is the perfection of morality.
3. Bearing the hardships of doing this practice, such as
buying the animals and transporting them to the place where
they will be set free, becomes the perfection of patience. The
perfection of patience has three types:
(a) The patience of definitely thinking about
(b) The patience of voluntarily bearing hardship
(c) The patience of not becoming angry
with the humans or animals at the time of liberation. This
also includes the fourth perfection:
4. The perfection of enthusiastic perseverance.
5. The perfection of concentration is maintaining
continuous awareness, concentrating on virtuous motivation and
keeping your mind constantly positive.
6. The perfection of wisdom is seeing yourself and the
action of liberating animals as nothing other than being
merely imputed by the mind.
The third morality included in the pledge of Vairocana,
that of working for sentient beings, is also covered by this
practice. Those who have taken tantric vows can practice the
three types of morality here. Those who have taken bodhisattva
vows have eleven parts in the morality of working for sentient
beings, which can also be practiced here.
THE IMPORTANCE OF DHARMA CHARITY FOR ANIMALS
This practice of the generosity of Dharma is extremely
important because even if you buy the animals from the shops
and places where they are to be killed and put them in a place
where there is no danger to their lives, so what? They have no
opportunity to listen to Dharma, to change their minds, and
will again have to experience much negative karma. When they
do eventually die, they will again be reborn as animals. Most
will go back to the lower realms.
Of course, since you are prolonging the animals’ lives and
as long as no enemies immediately attack them in the place
where you liberate them, your actions have some benefit. But
the best benefit comes from reciting mantras and teachings of
According to my own experience, it seems that frogs are
able to hear—when you recite mantras they look at you. There
are also stories of pigeons being able to hear. Therefore,
animals that can hear benefit from the sound of the mantras
and those that cannot hear are purified by having mantras
blown, or blessed water poured, onto them. Thus, according to
the various animals’ capacity, there are many different ways
in which you can benefit them.
RECITING MANTRAS AND BLOWING ON THE ANIMALS
Recite the mantras and blow upon the bodies of the animals,
or blow onto water, which you then pour onto the animals. If
there is a big pile of shellfish (“conch animals”), pour the
mantra-blessed water over them so that it touches them all.
You can also put them in a big container and fill it with
blessed water so that they are all touched by it. You can also
recite the mantras onto sand or talcum powder and then
sprinkle the sand or powder onto the animals. The main thing
is to try to use something that does not give the animals
You should be aware of the animals in the containers. For
those that may be in a difficult situation where they cannot
survive long, the best thing to do is, before going to the
place where you are to liberate the animals, bless a vessel of
water by visualizing the deity above the vessel with
nectar-beams coming from the deity’s heart as you recite many
mantras and blow on the water, which gives the water great
power to purify all their negative karma and obscurations.
Then visualize the deity absorbing into the water.
When you arrive at the place where you will liberate the
animals, everybody should generate the motivation together,
recite a few mantras, and pour the blessed water on the
animals or sprinkle it on birds, and also blow on them if
possible. Then, those animals that are having a difficult time
should be quickly released. The other animals that are not in
such a poor condition can remain longer, while you recite more
mantras and prayers before liberating them. This is important.
Otherwise, the weak ones may die before they can be freed. Be
sure to make the containers as comfortable as possible so that
the animals do not die in them.
RECITING TEACHINGS AND PRAYERS TO LEAVE IMPRINTS
Reciting teachings on shunyata, bodhicitta and tantra
leaves imprints on the animals’ minds. As a result, it is
definite that in future lives they will receive a human body,
meet, listen to and reflect and meditate on the Dharma and
actualize the path. If you recite the Buddha’s teachings to
them such that they can hear, the animals will not only be
able to put a complete end to their samsaric suffering but
will definitely reach full enlightenment.
Reciting teachings and prayers has these incredible,
infinite benefits for the animals. Knowing that you are saving
them from the whole entire suffering of samsara and its cause,
delusion and karma, brings you great inspiration and you can
really enjoy benefiting them in this way.
There are many stories from the past. For example, Guru
Shakyamuni Buddha once gave teachings to five hundred swans
and in their next lives they all became monks and completely
ended their samsara by attaining arhatship. A pigeon on
Nagarjuna’s roof overheard him reciting teachings and in its
next life was reborn a human who became a pandit monk and
wrote four commentaries on the same teachings he had heard as
The results of the imprints of hearing teachings as given
in these examples is so unbelievable that our minds cannot
comprehend them; they are too hard for our ordinary minds to
understand. However, the results of the imprints of hearing
teachings will manifest sooner or later, therefore, it is
unbelievably beneficial for you to recite Buddha’s teachings.
Furthermore, if you recite the powerful mantras that purify
the animals’ negative karma, you can prevent them from again
being reborn in the lower realms.
If you recite the prostration prayer to Buddha Rinchen
Tsugtorchen, “Chom-den-de de-zhin sheg-pa dra-jom-pa
yang-dag-par dzog-pai sang-gye Rin-chen Tsug-tor-chen
chag-tsal-lo,” humans or animals who hear it will not be
reborn in the lower realms. This is the particular purpose of
this buddha. If a person is dying and you have the freedom to
recite this prayer without creating a lot of confusion in this
person’s mind or among the surrounding people, you can recite
it in the person’s ear.
Similarly, there are also mantras that purify negative
karma and prevent rebirth in the lower realms. While reciting
these powerful mantras, blow on the body of the dying person.
If the mantra is short, recite it over and over and blow on
the person’s body. If the mantra is long, recite it and blow
onto some water or powder, which you then sprinkle on the
person’s body. This purifies the person’s negative karma,
preventing rebirth in the lower realms and giving the person a
chance of rebirth in a pure realm.
Although this makes it sound easy to purify sentient beings
and change their rebirth, these things work in dependence on
the extent of your faith in them and through the power of the
truth of the Buddha’s teachings, due to Buddha’s unbearable
compassion for sentient beings. However, it doesn’t happen
with everyone but only with those who have the right karma.
You can see the difference; at the time of death, not
everybody has the karma for it to happen like this. Not all
dying animals or people are able to meet great yogis,
unbelievable bodhisattvas or high lamas. Only some beings have
the karma to meet pure practitioners who can save them from
the lower realms. But if you have the karma, by meeting such a
practitioner, your consciousness can immediately be
transferred to a pure realm, even if you are already dead.
Some people who have cancer and AIDS have completely
recovered by liberating animals. Since cancer shortens your
life, you need to create the cause for a long life. Causing
others to have a long life by saving them from certain death
is such a cause. This is why cancer and AIDS patients have
recovered by liberating animals.
Purifying negative karma by reciting mantras is like taking
antibiotics to destroy bacteria. Liberating animals is like
building up your health by following a certain diet. In other
words, reciting mantras purifies the various harms and
diseases and liberating animals prolongs your life.
Also, these days it is especially important to dedicate for
people who are ill, as there are so many who are dying of
cancer and AIDS—diseases for which there is no cure. Even
surgery, chemotherapy and radiation are limited in their
ability to help, and often the disease recurs again and again.
Therefore, it is very important to dedicate your merit to the
long life of others, especially since many of them have not
met the Dharma and have no knowledge of these methods. If
voluntarily you dedicate for them, they will receive great
THE NAMGYALMA MANTRA
Namgyalma is a deity for long life and purification. Her
mantra has infinite benefits. It is said to be so powerful
that anybody who hears it will never again be born from the
womb. Therefore, if animals hear it, they will never again be
reborn in the lower realms.
There is a story from the time Guru Shakyamuni Buddha was
on earth concerning a deva called Paripu Denpa. Due to karma,
when devas start experiencing the signs of death, they
spontaneously remember their previous lives and see their
future lives; they perceive that they are about to be reborn
in the lower realms and so forth. Since their realm has
unbelievable enjoyments thousands of times better than those
of the richest country on earth, when they realize that they
are about to leave a life of such pleasure and be reborn where
there is incredible suffering, their minds suffer greatly.
Thus, as he was dying, the deva Denpa saw that he was about
to be reborn as six types of animal—dog, monkey and so forth.
Very worried, he asked King Indra what to do. King Indra
suggested that he see the Buddha, which he did. Buddha
manifested as the deity Namgyalma and gave him the mantra.
Denpa recited it six times daily and in seven days completely
changed his karma so that he did not have to be reborn as
those six types of animal. The Namgyalma mantra is
unbelievably powerful for purification. I have translated its
benefits and explained how to recite it for people who have
cancer and other diseases.
The kind, compassionate Guru Shakyamuni Buddha taught the
benefits of reciting the Namgyalma mantra to the Four Guardian
Kings. Even if you are in danger of dying because the karma
that determines your life-span is running out, if you wash
your body, wear clean clothes and, abiding in the eight
precepts, recite the Namgyalma mantra one thousand times, you
can increase your life-span, purify your obscurations and free
yourself from disease.
If you recite the Namgyalma mantra into the ear of an
animal, you ensure that this is its last animal rebirth. If
somebody suffering from a heavy disease that doctors cannot
diagnose does the practice Lord Buddha taught to the deva
Denpa, he or she will be liberated from that disease, bring to
an end all future rebirths in the lower realms, and after
death be reborn in a blissful pure land. For humans, the
present life will be their last rebirth from the womb.
If you recite this mantra twenty-one times, blow upon
mustard seeds and throw them onto the bones of even extremely
evil beings who have created many heavy negative karmas, those
beings will immediately be liberated from the lower realms and
be reborn in a higher realm, such as that of a deva. Throwing
seeds blessed by the Namgyalma mantra onto the bones or body
of a dead being purifies that being’s consciousness, and even
though that being may have been reborn in hell or any other
lower realm, that being can be reborn in a deva realm.
If you put this mantra in a stupa or on a banner inside
your house or above the roof, whoever is touched by even the
shadow of that stupa or banner will not be reborn in the lower
realms. Also, any being touched by a breeze that has first
touched a stupa, banner or statue containing this mantra is
purified of the karma to be reborn in the lower realms. What
need is there to mention, therefore, how great the
purification experienced by those who recite this mantra or
keep it on their body.
THE WISH-GRANTING WHEEL MANTRA
This mantra also has unbelievable benefits. If you recite
it seven times each day you will be reborn in the pure realms.
If you recite this mantra and blow upon clothing, it purifies
yourself and any other sentient being who touches it. If you
recite it, blow on the incense and then burn it the smoke
purifies other sentient beings. If you put this mantra above
doorways, people who pass beneath it are purified and not
reborn in the lower realms. In Tibet, paper with this mantra
written on it was touched to dead people’s bodies, purifying
their karma and preventing rebirth in the lower realms.
Recalling this mantra just once has the power to purify
even the five uninterrupted negative karmas. It prevents
rebirth in Avici, the heaviest of all the hells; for many eons
you will not have to be reborn in this state of unbearable
suffering. You eradicate all obscurations and negative karma
and are never again reborn in the lower realms. It enables you
to remember past lives and see future lives. If you recite
this mantra seven times each day you accumulate unbelievable
merit equivalent to that of making offerings to buddhas equal
in number to the grains of sand in the River Ganges. In your
next life you will be reborn in a pure realm and will be able
to achieve hundreds of concentrations.
If you recite this mantra, blow upon sand and throw that
sand onto a dead body, even if the dead person had broken vows
and was reborn in a lower realm, you can change the person’s
life and he or she will be reborn in a higher realm. If you
recite this mantra and blow upon perfume or incense, whoever
smells that perfume or incense will be purified of negative
karma and cured of even contagious disease. It helps you
achieve the complete qualities of a buddha.
The Milarepa mantra has the same benefits as the others. By
reciting it every day you will be born in the pure land of
Milarepa and be able to see Milarepa, as he promised. This
great yogi attained enlightenment in one lifetime. If you
recite his mantra and blow onto the bones or flesh of beings
who have been reborn in the lower realms, they will be
purified of all negative karma and be able to receive higher
rebirth in a pure land.
Teachings by Lama Zopa Rinpoche, New York City and Boston,
1991. Edited and abridged by Sarah Tenzin Yiwong. Edited for
this book by Nicholas Ribush.
HOW TO DO THE ANIMAL LIBERATION PRACTICE
I mentioned some of these details during the Vajrasattva
retreat. The prayers are in the Liberating Animals
booklet [see below, the actual practice], but how to
do the practice is the most important part.
In my experience, because of their crowded conditions, some
animals may die while you are reciting the prayers and
mantras, therefore, as soon as the animals are brought to
where the altar is set up you should take them around it ten,
twenty, thirty, forty...as many times as you can. In this way,
if some of the animals die during the recitations, it’s not so
regrettable since a great amount of negative karma has been
purified and they have already created so many causes of
enlightenment, so many causes for good rebirths in hundreds of
thousands of lifetimes.
After circumambulating the altar with the animals in that
way, begin the practice. Start as usual with refuge and
bodhicitta and then do the four immeasurables. After that, if
there’s time, you can generate the elaborate motivation.
Usually I try to explain the four ways in which the mother is
kind and then go through the development of bodhicitta in
order to liberate the animals more extensively, according to
the deeds of the bodhisattva.
The third of the three practices of morality is working for
sentient beings, so include that—liberating animals as a
practice of the paramita of morality. And from the tantric
vows, in the samayas of the dhyani buddha Ratnasambhava is the
practice of the four types of charity, especially the charity
of loving kindness, as mentioned in the six session yoga. If
you feed the animals, that is the practice of miscellaneous
charity. By reciting the mantra for them, you are practicing
Dharma charity. By blessing the water by blowing on it after
you have recited the mantra and sprinkling it on their bodies
and by circumambulating them you are practicing the charity of
fearlessness, because all this purifies their negative karma,
liberates them from the lower realms and gives them good
When you do the elaborate motivation, dedicate your
practice to the long life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and
for all his holy wishes to be successful; for the lives of all
other virtuous friends to be stable and for all their holy
wishes to be successful; to the long lives of the sangha and
for them to complete their realizations and scriptural
understanding; to the long lives and well-being of all
benefactors who offer service to the teachings of the Buddha
and for all their Dharma wishes to be successful; for all the
people who have cancer, AIDS or other life obstacles to be
free of these hindrances, to have long lives, and for the rest
of their life to be most meaningful; to the long lives of
those people who do more good than harm, those for whom it is
more beneficial to live than to die; and for evil beings to
meet the Dharma and to change their minds and, by finding
faith in refuge and karma, to have long lives. You can also
dedicate the practice to specific people who are sick.
Experience has shown that liberating animals is one of the
important ways in which people who have cancer or other
life-threatening diseases can heal themselves and have a long
life. It has been proven by many people who have done this
practice and recovered totally from terminal cancer. This
practice is one of the causes of this; others include taking
the eight Mahayana precepts and engaging in other activities
such as recitation of certain mantras. The practice of
liberating animals is principally for long life, and
recitation of mantras is more for healing sickness or
protection from those harmful beings who become a condition
for certain diseases to be experienced. Through these
practices, all these problems can be purified, as can the
karma that causes them.
Animal liberation doesn’t have to be done for only
yourself. You can also dedicate the practice to others—family
members or anyone else. You can dedicate it to everyone. In
that way, however much money is spent, whether it’s on one
animal or many, there are a great many benefits.
Once you’ve taken the animals around the altar many times
and done your short or elaborate motivation, start the actual
practice. Again, depending on how much time you have, this can
be brief or extensive. If you have time, after refuge,
bodhicitta, and the four immeasurables, do the other prayers
that we do when we take precepts—purifying the place, blessing
the offerings that are set up around the table, invocation,
the seven-limb prayer and the short mandala offering. Then
recite a direct lam-rim meditation for the animals. In this
way you are doing puja on behalf of the animals. After that,
recite the mantras.
The different mantras to be recited include several malas
of OM MANI PADME HUM, and you can also do some of the long
Avalokiteshvara mantra, NAMO RATNA TRAYAYA.... Then you can do
the Medicine Buddha mantra and also the five powerful
purification deities’ mantras: Mitukpa, Kunrig, Stainless
Beam, Stainless Pinnacle, and Wish-granting Wheel. There are
also many other mantras you can recite, but these are the main
ones I suggest be recited. All this has unbelievable benefit.
Depending on how many animals and people there are, you
have one, two, three or more buckets of water. After everybody
has chanted each mantra together, you all bless the water by
blowing on it. Then sprinkle that blessed water on the birds
or pour it over the sea animals that you have. Then again,
everybody takes them around the altar as many times as
possible. In this way, not only do the animals get the benefit
of as many circumambulations as are done but the people who
take them around also get this benefit. Each circumambulation
creates the causes of liberation and enlightenment and many
hundreds of thousands of good rebirths for both the animals
and, by the way, the people who circumambulate. When you chant
the mantras, it’s good to do so loudly, so that the animals
can hear them, especially those that don’t pay attention, like
frogs, fish and so forth.
Each person carrying the animals—fish, insects and so
forth—around the altar should think, depending on how many
sentient beings are in the bag or the packet, “I’m giving
enlightenment to these one hundred, one thousand...mother
sentient beings. I’m giving them enlightenment. I’m also
giving them liberation. I’m also giving them many hundreds of
thousands of good rebirths.” And this is what’s actually
Then, as many holy objects as are on the altar, for
example, one hundred statues or stupas, then you are giving
each of the insects or other sentient beings that you
are carrying one hundred enlightenments and so forth—as many
as there are holy objects on the altar. The more holy objects,
the more enlightenments, liberations from samsara and good
rebirths you are giving them. Therefore, the more holy objects
you can put there, the better.
That is how to do the practice. At the end, dedicate the
merits to the same results that you mentioned in the
motivation—the long life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and
your other virtuous friends, the fulfillment of their holy
wishes and so forth.
Liberating animals is done at least once a month in FPMT’s
Singapore, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Taipei centers. In Hong
Kong there’s one student who is responsible for organizing it
and making sure that the various jobs involved are shared
around. In Singapore they do it twice a month. That makes it
easy for students from centers in other parts of the world to
participate when the need arises to liberate many animals on
behalf of a sick person or for whatever reason. In some places
it may be difficult to do, so it is very convenient to send
money to sponsor the liberation of animals in those centers
where it is done regularly.
Another very attractive feature of this practice is that it
can become a social occasion where many people create merit
together. People bring their children and their friends, and
the children love carrying the animals. Benefiting other
sentient beings is something that makes everybody feel good.
It’s also a good practice and an excellent education for the
children. It can be combined with a group outing to a
restaurant or a picnic at the beach or in the country. And by
the way, it becomes a cause for the liberation of the humans
as well, since, as I mentioned, the people get to carry the
animals around the altar, collecting a lot of merit, purifying
much negative karma and creating many, many causes to not be
born in the lower realms. This practice also gives people who
don’t come to courses or other teachings at the center an
opportunity to create merit in an easy, social atmosphere.
That’s what happens in those Eastern countries where this is
If there are many large animals, like big fish or other sea
creatures, instead of bringing them onto land, you can set up
a small boat with the altar in the water and have a bigger
boat carrying the animals go around it. It might be harder for
them to hear the mantras if you do it this way, but at least
the circumambulation gets done. However, as you free the
animals, you should recite the mantras loudly at that
Oral teaching by Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Aptos, California,
21 April, 1999. Edited by Nicholas Ribush.
THE ACTUAL PRACTICE
First, reflect that all these creatures have been human
beings, like yourself, but because they did not practice
Dharma and subdue their minds they have been reborn as
animals. Their having such suffering bodies is the result of
having followed delusion because of their unsubdued minds.
When we see some small decay in our body, some sign of old age
such as one more wrinkle on our body, our minds feel very
uncomfortable and painful. Therefore, how could we stand
having the body of an animal? There is no way. Thus, it is
extremely important that we should feel for them. We should
not look at them with a mind that sees their experience of
being in such bodies as having nothing to do with us. We
should not think, “I am a human being and they are animals;
there is absolutely no connection.”
We should not think that our own minds could not create
such bodies, that these are permanent or truly existing
animals that never came from the mind. It is not like that.
Think that all of these animals have been your own mother.
When they were human beings they were extremely kind in giving
you your body to practice Dharma and saved your life from
danger hundreds of times each day. Later, they were kind by
bearing many hardships to educate you in the path of the
world, starting by teaching you how to speak, how to walk, how
to behave as a human being and so forth.
Not only have they been kind like this numberless times as
a human mother; numberless times they were born as an animal
and looked after you. As a mother dog they gave you milk and
food. As mother birds they fed you with many worms each day.
Each time they were your mother they took care of you
selflessly, sacrificing their own lives for your sake
numberless times in order to protect you and give you
happiness. As animals, they guarded and protected you from the
attack of other animals numberless times, when you were in an
egg or when you were a baby animal. In such ways, they have
been unbelievably kind many, many times.
Not only has each of these animals been your mother but
each has also been your father, brother, and sister numberless
times. We are all the same; we are all of one family.
Think, “I must free all hell beings from all their
suffering and its cause and lead them to enlightenment. I must
free all hungry ghosts from all their suffering and its cause
and lead them to enlightenment. I must free all animals from
all their suffering and its cause and lead them to
Think a little more about the suffering of the animals,
such as being extremely dumb, being eaten by other animals
without choice and being tortured by humans—not only do
animals eat each other but humans harm, torture and eat them
Then think, “I must free all the human beings from all
their suffering and its cause and lead them to enlightenment.”
While humans are experiencing the suffering results of past
karma, on top of that, still being under the control of
delusion, they continue to create cause after cause to
experience rebirth in the suffering lower realms of samsara.
Continue by thinking, “I must free all the suras and asuras
from all their suffering and its cause and lead them to
enlightenment. In order to free all sentient beings from their
obscurations and lead them to enlightenment, I must first
achieve enlightenment myself—there is no other way. To do
that, I must practice the six perfections. Therefore, I am
going to liberate these animals and work for sentient beings
in general by making Dharma and food charity.” In this way,
Dedication of the practice
Think, “I liberate these animals for the long life of the
Compassionate Buddha in human form, His Holiness the Dalai
Lama—the source of all sentient beings’ happiness and their
sole refuge—and for all his holy wishes to be successful.
“I dedicate this practice to the long and stable lives of
all other holy beings who live for the happiness of sentient
beings and to the long lives of the sangha—who preserve the
teachings and spread Dharma and who practice the three higher
trainings of morality, concentration, and wisdom —and for the
success of their Dharma practice.
“I liberate these animals so that all benefactors may have
long lives and that all their wishes will succeed according to
the holy Dharma.
“I liberate these animals for the long life of those people
who have refuge in their mind and who create much good karma.
“May this practice become medicine for all those people who
suffer from cancer, AIDS and other life-threatening diseases
that they might be liberated from the suffering of disease and
“May those people who do not have the money to rescue
sentient beings from life danger also benefit from this.
“I also dedicate this practice for evil beings to meet the
Dharma. If they do not meet the Dharma they will continue to
live evil lives and their living long will only be harmful.
Therefore, may they meet and practice Dharma and have long
You can also dedicate your practice of liberating animals
to particular families and people whose lives you would like
to be long.
This is how to make an extensive dedication of your
practice of liberating the animals so that it benefits others,
not just yourself.
Prostrations to the Thirty-five Buddhas and the seven
[See the FPMT Prayer Book]
Visualize the Thirty-five Buddhas above the animals.
Nectar-beams emanate and purify all their obscurations and
negative karma accumulated from beginningless rebirths.
Finally, their bodies and minds become pure, like crystal,
they generate all the realizations of the path and become
enlightened in the aspect of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha.
After reciting the names of the Thirty-five Buddhas,
prostrate to the seven Medicine Buddhas as follows, saying
their names slowly so that you can do the purifying meditation
properly. Then complete the rest of the Thirty-five Buddhas
prayer, which includes the four opponent powers.
Prostration to the seven Medicine Buddhas goes like this:
To the bhagavan, the tathagata, the arhat, the fully
enlightened one, Renowned Glory of Excellent Signs, I
To the bhagavan...King of Melodious Sound, Brilliant
Radiance of Ability, I prostrate.
To...King of Immaculate Excellent Gold, Radiant Jewel Who
Fulfills All His Vows, I prostrate.
To...King of Supreme Glory Who Frees from All Suffering, I
To...Melodious Ocean of Proclaimed Dharma, I prostrate.
To...King of Clear Light, He Who Totally Delights in the
Supreme Wisdom of the Ocean of Dharma, I prostrate.
To...Medicine Guru, King of Lapis Light, I prostrate.
Visualize Thousand-armed Chenrezig above the animals.
Nectar-beams emanate from his heart and purify them, as
before. Recite the praises to Chenrezig and then chant the
mantras as many times as possible:
Praises to Chenrezig
Holy body of Dharma, being of the three times gone to
bliss, Who looks with compassionate eye upon all sentient
beings of the six migrations, Having the eleven faces
encompassing all, like the sky, Glorious Limitless Light
(Amitabha), to you I prostrate.
Your thousand arms are the thousand wheel-turning kings,
Your thousand eyes are the thousand buddhas of the fortunate
I praise and prostrate to the pure, compassionate-eyed
one Who manifests in that form to subdue sentient
NAMO RATNA TRA YAYA NAMO ARYA GYANA SAGARA
BEROTSANA BUHA RADZAYA TATHAGATAYA ARHATE SAMYAKSAM BUDDHAYA
NAMA SARVA TATHAGATE BE ARHATE BE SAMYAKSAM BUDDHE BE NAMA
ARYA AVALOKITE SHORAYA BODHI SATTVAYA MAHA SATTVAYA MAHA
KARUNI KAYA TA YA THA OM DHARA DHARA DHIRI DHIRI DHURU DHURU
ITI WATE TSALE TSALE PRATSALE PRATSALE KUSUME KUSUME WARE ILI
MILI TSITI DZOLAM APANAYE SOHA
Short mantra: OM MANI PADME HUM
Then dedicate the merits to achieve the Compassionate
Buddha’s enlightenment and to lead all sentient beings to the
Compassionate Buddha’s enlightenment: “Due to this merit may I
soon attain the enlightened state of Chenrezig that I may be
able to liberate all sentient beings from their sufferings and
lead them to Chenrezig’s enlightened realm.”
OM NAMO BHAGAVATE SARVA TRAILOKYA
PRATIVISHISHTAYA BUDDHAYA TE NAMA TA YA THA OM BHRUM BHRUM
BHRUM SHODHAYA SHODHAYA VISHODHAYA VISHODHAYA ASAMA SAMANTA
AVABHA SPHARANA GATI GAGANA SVABHAVA VISHUDDHE ABHISHINTSANTU
MAM SARVA TATHAGATA SUGATA VARA VACANA AMRITA ABHISHEKERA
MAHAMUDRA MANTRA PADAIH AHARA AHARA MAMA AYUS SANDHARANI
SHODHAYA SHODHAYA VISHODHAYA VISHODHAYA GAGANA SVABHAVA
VISHUDDHE USNISHA VIJAYA PARISHUDDHE SAHASRA RASMI SANYTSODITE
SARVA TATHAGATA AVALOKINI SAT PARAMITA PARIPURANI SARVA
TATHAGATA MATE DASHA BHUMI PRATISHTHITE SARVA TATHAGATA
HRIDAYA ADHISHTHANA ADHISHTHITE MUDRE MUDRE MAHA MUDRE VAJRA
KAYA SAMHATANA PARISHUDDHE SARVA KARMA AVARANA VISHUDDHE
PRATINI VARTAYA MAMA AYUR VISHUDDHE SARVA TATHAGATA SAMAYA
ADHISHTHANA ADHISHTHITE OM MUNI MUNI MAHA MUNI VIMUNI VIMUNI
MAHA VIMUNI MATI MATI MAHA MATI MAMATI SUMATI TATHATA
BHUTAKOTI PARISHUDDHE VISPHUTA BUDDHI SHUDDHE HE HE JAYA JAYA
VIJAYA VIJAYA SMARA SMARA SPHARA SPHARA SPHARAYA SPHARAYA
SARVA BUDDHA ADHISHTHANA ADHISHTHITE SHUDDHE SHUDDHE BUDDHE
BUDDHE VAJRE VAJRE MAHA VAJRE SUVAJRE VAJRA GARBHE JAYA GARBHE
VIJAYA GARBHE VAJRA DZOLA GARBHE VAJRODBHAVE VAJRA SAMBHAVE
VAJRE VAJRINI VAJRAM BHAVATU MAMA SHARIRAM SARVA SATTVANANYTSA
KAYA PARISHUDDHIR BHAVATU ME SADA SARVA GATI PARISHUDDHISHTSA
SARVA TATHAGATASHTSA MAM SAMASVASAYANTU BUDDHYA BUDDHYA
SIDDHYA SIDDHYA BODHAYA BODHAYA VIBODHAYA VIBODHAYA MOTSAYA
MOTSAYA VIMOTSAYA VIMOTSAYA SHODHAYA SHODHAYA VISHODHAYA
VISHODHAYA SAMANTENA MOTSAYA MOTSAYA SAMANTA RASMI PARISHUDDHE
SARVA TATHAGATA HRIDAYA ADHISHTHANA ADHISHTHITE MUDRE MUDRE
MAHA MUDRE MAHAMUDRA MANTRA PADAIH SOHA
Short mantra: OM DHRUM SOHA OM AMRITA AYUR DADE SOHA
The Wish-Granting Wheel Mantra
OM PADMO USHNISHA VIMALE HUM PHET
OM AH GURU HASA VAJRA SARVA SIDDHI PALA HUM
Medicine Buddha Mantra
TAYATHA OM BEKANDZE BEKANDZE MAHABEKANDZE RANDZA SAMUDGATE
“Due to this merit may I soon attain the enlightened state
of the gurubuddha that I may be able to liberate all sentient
beings from their sufferings and lead them to that enlightened
“May the precious bodhi mind not yet born arise and grow.
May that born have no decline, but increase forever more.”
WATER OFFERING TO DZAMBHALA AND WATER CHARITY TO THE PRETAS
THE DAILY PRACTICE OF WATER OFFERING TO DZAMBHALA
The purpose of this practice
The purpose of practicing Dzambhala is to receive
everything required to practice Dharma; to benefit all other
sentient beings extensively by relieving their poverty,
liberating them from suffering, giving them whatever they need
to practice Dharma, supporting temples for the sake of all
sentient beings, maintaining monasteries for monks and nuns to
study and practice Dharma and helping sentient beings collect
merit and practice Dharma in general; and to spread the
teachings of the Buddha for the benefit of all sentient
beings. These are some of the many reasons for practicing
There are three basic Dzambhala practices: the Dzambhala
wealth vase; torma offering to Dzambhala; and the daily
practice of water offering to Dzambhala, including recitation
of mantras. The third of these is given here [see Chapter 48,
Tuesday, April 27 for the origin and a general description of
Begin with strong motivation, first taking refuge and
generating bodhicitta and contemplating the four
immeasurables. Think, “The purpose of my life is to liberate
all sentient beings from their suffering and cause them to
become enlightened. For this I must achieve perfect
buddhahood.” To strengthen your practice, contemplate the
sufferings of each of the six samsaric realms. Then think, “In
order to achieve enlightenment, I am going to make water
offerings to Dzambhala and water charity to the pretas.”
After offering water to Dzambhala, it is very good to make
charity of that same water to the pretas; to combine these two
practices. The practice can be done with a Dzambhala statue in
the receptacle or just by visualization.
WATER OFFERING TO WHITE DZAMBHALA
First, generate yourself as Chenrezig, then recite, “I
offer this water to the holy body of Dzambhala, who rides a
dragon. His body is white in color. His right hand holds a
trident; his left, a club. He is surrounded by the four
dakinis, one in each cardinal direction.”
[The four dakinis are: in the east, blue Vajra Dakini
holding a vajra in her right hand and a vessel full of
auspicious, variegated substances in her left; in the south,
yellow Jewel Dakini holding a heap of jewels in her right hand
and an iron hook in her left; in the west, red Lotus Dakini
holding a lotus in her right hand and a jewel-marked banner of
victory in her left; and in the north, green Karma Dakini
holding a double vajra in her right hand and a
treasure-producing mongoose in her left. All of them sit in
the half-lotus posture and are adorned with jeweled
Now offer the water by pouring it on Dzambhala’s head. It
is good to use a watering can with a long spout, which lets
you offer water in the preferred fine stream. As you pour the
water with your right hand, snap the fingers of your left at
your heart (to remind yourself of emptiness) and recite the
mantra, OM PADMA KRODHA ARYA DZAMBHALA HRI DAYA HUM PHETseven,
twenty-one or as many times as possible.
To collect more merit when you do this practice, the most
important thing is to visualize Dzambhala as your own guru.
Also visualize unceasing wish-fulfilling jewels or billions
and billions of dollars pouring out of the mouths of the
dragon and the mongoose like a beautiful waterfall tumbling
down a mountainside. The water you offer generates great bliss
on Guru Dzambhala’s head; he experiences endless bliss like
the sky. After you have offered the water, from this state of
bliss, Dzambhala’s mind is extremely inspired, and he promises
to help you completely, to provide everything you need for all
your projects to succeed and for you to realize all
WATER OFFERING TO YELLOW DZAMBHALA
On a lotus and a moon disk, the seed syllable Jam
transforms into Yellow Dzambhala. His right hand holds a
pitsapura fruit and his left a treasureproducing
mongoose spewing a stream of wish-granting jewels.
Generate yourself as Chenrezig and recite, “By offering to
your holy body that which cleans”—tsang-che, another
term for water, which is called this because it cleans as it
is poured—“all pains are pacified and I am fully satisfied by
experiencing great bliss. Please grant all attainments and
Recite the mantra OM DZAMBHALA DZALANDRAYE SOHA as many
times as possible and, as before, offer the water by holding
up the watering can and snapping your fingers.
WATER OFFERING TO BLACK DZAMBHALA
Next offer water to Black Dzambhala, reciting the mantra OM
JLUM SOHA OM INDRAYANI MUKHAM BHRAMARI SOHA seven or
twenty-one times, pouring water on Dzambhala’s stomach and
snapping your fingers as before. To collect the greatest
merit, again think that Dzambhala is your guru. Your offering
of water generates bliss like the sky in Dzambhala’s holy mind
and he is fully inspired to grant you all realizations and
every kind of assistance.
(When offering water to White Dzambhala, recite White
Dzambhala’s mantra. When offering water to Yellow Dzambhala,
recite Yellow Dzambhala’s mantra. When offering water to Black
Dzambhala, recite the mantra of Black Dzambhala. And when
offering water to only one of the three, don’t recite the
mantras of other two. You can also recite the mantra without
offering water, in which case visualize making the
“Savior Dzambhala, guardian of the north, enriched with
wealth, treasure of jewels, lord of all the harm-givers who
have wealth, to you who grants supreme attainments, I
prostrate. We who are tortured by the fire of miserly karma go
to you for refuge from life to life. With the flowing nectar
rain of jewel treasure, please pacify the suffering of those
sentient beings who live in poverty.”
Think that the poverty of all sentient beings in the ten
directions has been eliminated. Then take a little water with
your fingers and touch it to your tongue to receive the
attainments. Say, DZAMBHALA SIDDHI PHALA HO.
After this, make water charity to the pretas, using the
water from the Dzambhala practice.
This teaching was given by Lama Zopa Rinpoche in Madison,
Wisconsin, 26 July, 1998, transcribed and edited by Vens.
Sherab Chen and Diana Finnegan, and revised for this book by
MAKING CHARITY OF WATER TO THE PRETAS
Do this practice using a container with a lid. Hold it in
the fingers of your right hand [see Chapter 48 for more advice
on how to do this practice]. Clarify your visualization of
yourself as Chenrezig or the deity with whom you are doing
this practice. Say the prayer, “May the continuous flow of
milk from the hand of the Arya Compassionate-eyed Lord
(Chenrezig), satisfy the pretas, bathe them and always keep
Make the mudra of granting sublime realizations and stretch
your right hand out over your knee while offering the water.
In the palm of your right hand is a HRIH. The HRIH emits beams
of light along which nectar flows, satisfying all pretas.
Your left hand is at your heart in the mudra of granting
refuge. Visualize numberless general pretas and while snapping
your fingers, recite OM AH HRIH HUM seven or twenty-one times
and slowly pour water from the container into the receptacle
from the Dzambhala practice. In this way, give water to the
general pretas. It becomes nectar, enters their mouths and
immediately relieves them from all their heavy sufferings.
They experience inconceivable bliss and generate in their
minds the entire path to enlightenment. Also do this
visualization with the other types of preta, as follows.
Snapping your fingers, recite OM MANI PADME HUM seven or
twentyone times and drip water from the container into the
receptacle. In this way, give water to the pretas with flames
coming from the mouth.
Then, snapping your fingers, recite OM JVALA MIDAM SARVA
PRETA BHYAH SOHAas many times as possible and drip water from
the container, but this time it goes outside the receptacle.
In this way, give one drop of water individually to each of
the ju-geg-ma pretas.
The necks of the ju-geg-ma pretas are obstructed
by three knots and they have no freedom to swallow even a drop
of water. They are especially tormented by hunger and thirst,
and flames come from their stomachs. Of all pretas, these have
the most extreme suffering. Their obstructions to taking food
and drink are the result of having created the karma of
stopping people from practicing giving.
If you recite this blessed, precious mantra and offer one
drop of water, the knots in the pretas’ necks are instantly
untied. As the drop of water goes down its throat, the preta
becomes blissfully satisfied. The teachings say that this
practice has great benefit. All their obscurations and
negative karma are purified and they all become enlightened in
the form of Chenrezig or the deity with whom you do this
“Due to the merit of making charity of this nectar, may the
Queen of the Pretas as the principal and all other pretas who
have external and internal obstructions to food and drink,
those who are in the main preta place and those scattered
elsewhere, be liberated from sufferings of hunger and thirst
and the two obscurations and be fully satisfied by this
nectar. May all miserliness and similar minds, including even
their imprints, be completely purified. By completing the
paramita of charity, may they be enriched with enjoyments
infinite as the sky. May all beings be free of harm and freely
enjoy ‘sky treasure’ forever.”
The benefits of doing this practice are that you accumulate
inconceivable merit, do not experience poverty of necessities,
enjoyments and so forth, and get reborn in the pure
MAKING CHARITYOF WATER TO THE INTERMEDIATE STATE BEINGS
Clarify your visualization of yourself as the Arya
Compassionate-eyed Lord. The syllable HRIH in the palm of your
right hand transforms into Transcendental Wisdom Star-Arrow
(Yeshe Karda), who has a blue-green holy body. Her left hand
is in the mudra of concentration and her right in the mudra of
granting sublime realizations. Nectar flows from her whole
body as well as her palms, satisfying all sentient beings,
especially those pitiful migrators, the intermediate state
beings. Pray, “May this flow of nectar satisfy migratory
As before, hold the water container in your right hand,
visualize numberless intermediate state beings and, while
snapping the fingers of your left hand, recite OM JNANA
AVALOKITE SAMANTA PARANA RAMI BAWA SAMAYA MAHA MANI DURU DURU
HRIH DAYA JALANI SOHA seven times and OM MANI PADME HUM as
many times as possible, blow on the water, and pour it back
into the body of water where you’re doing this practice
(swimming pool, pond, lake, river or beach).
The nectar enters the intermediate state beings’ mouths and
immediately relieves them of all their heavy sufferings. They
experience inconceivable bliss and generate in their minds the
entire path to enlightenment.
Then pray, “Due to the merits of offering this water, may
all the migratory beings of the intermediate state be
liberated from all suffering and fear and reach the pure
Repeat this entire process seven times, each time
substituting another mantra for the OM MANI PADMEHUM. The
first time, recite the Medicine Buddha mantra at least seven
times, blow on the water and offer it. Repeat this process
with the Namgyalma, Mitukpa, Kunrig, Wish-granting Wheel,
Stainless Pinnacle and Stainless Beam mantras. In this way,
since the water you pour is blessed, the entire body of water
gets blessed and all the sentient beings in that water get
purified and receive good rebirths. After pouring the water,
think and visualize that all the water appears as nectar to
all the pretas that the buddhas perceive; all the pretas
receive the nectar and are totally satisfied; the nectar
purifies all their negative karma, they get liberated from all
their suffering and all become Chenrezig. Do this after each
time you have poured the water.
Finally, pray, “May the intermediate state beings who died
or were killed yesterday and so forth, those who have not
received a body, whose minds are wandering without support in
the intermediate state, be satisfied by this nectar charity.
May they be able to remember the guru-deity. By recognizing
the intermediate state as the intermediate state, may they be
liberated immediately from the fear of the four terrifying
enemies”— your own negative karma manifested in the terrifying
appearance of the four elements—“the three precipices of the
lower realms, and so forth. May they achieve the holy body of
complete enjoyment (sambhogakaya).
“Due to the merits of offering this water charity, as soon
as the appearance of the intermediate state occurs, may every
sentient being immediately be shown the unmistaken path by the
eight bodhisattvas and be born in a blissful realm. Through
transformations, may they guide the migratory beings of the
MAKING CHARITY OF WATER TO THE NAGAS
After you have finished the water offering and prayers for
the intermediate state beings, Transcendental Wisdom
Star-Arrow transforms into the fully qualified destroyer,
Immovable Vajra (Mitukpa). From his right hand, which is in
the mudra of granting sublime realizations, nectar flows and
purifies the sentient beings of the six realms, particularly
the nagas, and satisfies them.
Visualize infinite sentient beings, especially the nagas,
and while snapping your fingers, recite, “Due to the water
charity flowing from these fingers, may the pitiful migratory
beings be able to free their breath” and the Mitukpa mantra OM
KAMKANI KAMKANI ROTSANI ROTSANI TROTANI TROTANI TRASANI
TRASANI PRATIHANA PRATIHANA SARVA KARMA PARAM PARA NIME SARVA
SATTVA N�NYTSA SOHA seven times.
The nectar enters the intermediate state beings’ mouths and
immediately relieves them of all their heavy sufferings. They
experience inconceivable bliss and generate in their minds the
entire path to enlightenment.
“Due to this water charity, may the mental continua of the
King of the Nagas, The Joyful One, The Near-Joyful One and so
forth, the Owner of All Water, landlords and all other
sentient beings be adorned by the thought of pure charity,
become the supreme meaning of the yoga of pure enjoyment and
be quickly enlightened.” With this prayer, offer water charity
to the nagas.
OFFERING DHARMA CHARITY
“Due to the power of my pure attitude, the blessings of the
one Gone As It Is and the sphere of Dharma (profound
emptiness), in order to make offerings to all transcendent
beings and to benefit all sentient beings, may all my
intentions happen instantly, without resistance.”
With your right hand in the mudra of revealing Dharma,
recite, “All the causes and the dharmas that arise from these
causes have been explained by the one Gone As It Is.
Everything that ceases these causes has been taught by the
great one in the training in virtue.”
Then recite The Heart Sutra in full or its
essence: “The inexpressible, inconceivable Wisdom Gone Beyond,
unborn, unceasing, only in the nature of sky, is the object to
be perceived by discerning, self-recognizing wisdom. To the
Mother of the Victorious Ones of the three times, I
prostrate.” Then recite the mantra of the perfection of
wisdom, TAYATHA OM GAT� GAT� PARAGAT� PARASAMGAT� BODHI SOHA,
Think that all sentient beings of the six realms understand
the meaning of the mantra, generate the entire Mahayana path
and its result in their mental continua, ripen and gain
While reciting, “And thus, O venerable compassionate gurus,
I seek your blessings that all karmic debts, obstacles and
sufferings of mother beings may, without exception, ripen upon
me right now, and that I may give my happiness and virtue to
others, thereby investing all beings in bliss,” three times,
take into the center of your own heart the suffering and its
cause of all samsaric sentient beings and give them your own
happiness and merit.
Then recite, “Should even the environment and the beings
therein be filled with the fruits of their karmic debts and
undesired sufferings pour down like rain, I seek your
blessings to take these miserable conditions as a path by
seeing them as causes to exhaust the results of my negative
Dedicate the merits with the intense understanding that you
yourself, the action and the object of charity are all merely
labeled by the mind; that nothing in the slightest exists from
above the object; and that in name, cause and result,
dependent arising is unbetraying.
Thinking of the meaning of the words, slowly recite the
“Due to all these merits, may the holy enlightened beings
be the guide and refuge of the pitiful sentient beings, who
suffer because of contaminated cause and have no guide or
“Due to the merits accumulated in the three times and the
merit of my having done this practice, may I become the holy
guide and refuge for all pitiful migratory beings.
“For all the narak beings tormented by heat, may I become
rain and protect them with coolness. For all the narak beings
suffering from cold, may I become the supreme sun eliminating
“May I become oceans of food and drink of a hundred tastes
and give breath to all the pretas.
“May I become the sublime light eliminating the darkness of
ignorance of those used for work and food (animals).
“May I become armor for those who suffer jealousy, quarrel
and receive rainfalls of arrows (asuras).
“And may I become the stable ship liberating those for whom
the tidal wave of death means downfall (suras).
“To those attacked by the intense contagious diseases of
terrifying rebirth, old age, sickness and death, may I become
the supreme medicine eliminating all disease of disturbing
“To those with poverty of merit and no means of living, may
I become the great treasure granting all wishes.
“To those tormented by separation from relatives and
friends, may I become steadfast relatives and friends.
“In all my lifetimes may I be able to receive a perfect
body with freedoms and richnesses, and hold the virtuous
friend, the wish-granting jewel, on my crown. By entering the
boat of listening, reflecting and meditating, may I go to the
land of the three kayas.
“I dedicate the merits of having done this practice to
accomplish every single prayer and action of the Ones Gone to
Bliss and the bodhisattvas of the three times, and to cause
the holy Dharma of scriptural understanding and realization to
“Due to this, in all my lifetimes may I never be separated
from the four wheels of the supreme vehicle [residing in
places where enlightened beings are present and you have
facilities for Dharma practice such as food and teachings;
having a guru; accomplishing your past vows; and already
having a great accumulation of merit] and complete the
principles of the path—the determination to be free, the
thought of enlightenment, perfect view and the two stages.”
It is said that it is more difficult to meet the sutra and
tantra teachings of Lama Tsong Khapa, which are refined with
the three analyses, than it is to find a perfect human body,
receive many hundreds of thousands of times the wealth of
Brahma, Indra, wheel-turning kings and so forth, meet the
teachings of the buddha, or be born in the special buddha
field of Pure Sky Enjoyment (Dagpa Kach�). Therefore, the
reliable holy beings of the past say with one voice that it is
extremely important to pray to meet these teachings. There are
elaborate prayers for this, but here is a condensed one
written by the Fifth Dalai Lama:
“May I and all others be able to live lives of pure moral
conduct, like Lama Tsong Khapa himself, train our minds in
bodhicitta and live in pure view and conduct. In this way may
we be able to complete our lives without corrupting the pure
wisdom of the Second Buddha’s teachings.”
Translated by Lama Zopa Rinpoche in Sydney, Australia,
October, 1991. Originally transcribed and lightly edited by
Vens. Tenzin Tsapel and Ailsa Cameron and first published in
Mandala, October, 1992, and April, 1993. Edited for this
book by Nicholas Ribush using material from the teaching at
WATER CHARITY TO THE PRETAS WITH TARA
There is a very simple practice of making charity of water
to pretas that can be done anywhere, but is extremely
beneficial for them. It is especially good to do when you go
to the beach; there is so much water there that you can do the
practice all day long. Just take along a big jug or watering
can, bless the water and make charity of it to the pretas.
You can do this practice with Chenrezig, Buddha of
Compassion, or Tara. She herself taught it to the great yogi,
Tagpu Dorje Chang, who often saw Tara and received directly
from her the initiation and entire teaching of the Highest
Yoga Tantra path of Cittamani Tara, which mentions that Tara
advised that this practice of offering water to the pretas be
Even if you have not received Tara initiation, you can
still do this practice with Tara; just don’t visualize
yourself in her aspect. Otherwise, generate yourself as Tara.
Fill a container with water and visualize Tara on the water
with her mantra at her heart. Invoke the wisdom beings, who
absorb into Tara and become non-dual. Then invoke the
empowering deities, who bestow the initiation. Make offerings
and give praise to Tara.
Now recite one or more malas of the Tara mantra. Visualize
that from the ten directions, the blessings of all buddhas and
bodhisattvas in the form of nectar beams [beams of light
together with streams of nectar] absorb into the mantra at
Tara’s heart. Nectar flows down from the mantra through Tara’s
holy body to mix with and bless the water in the container.
After the recitation, Tara melts into light and absorbs
into the water, becoming oneness with it. If you have
visualized yourself as Tara, emanate numberless Taras to fill
the whole earth. Around each Tara are numberless pretas with
flames coming from the mouth. Nectar flows into the mouths of
the pretas from the right hand of each Tara, immediately
putting out the flames and completely purifying the pretas.
While visualizing this, recite the mantra that dedicates the
nectar to the pretas enabling them to receive it: OM TAR�
TUTTAR� TUR� SARVA PRETA BHYAH SOHA.
Through your making water charity like this, the pretas
receive inconceivable benefit. They are liberated from the
lower realms and receive the body of a happy transmigrator or
are born in a pure realm. This water charity makes a huge
difference to them. It stops their lives of unbelievable
suffering and enables them to receive happy rebirths. It is a
very simple practice but brings the pretas these unbelievable
benefits. And that’s not even mentioning the benefits received
by the person doing this practice, which is actually part of a
bodhisattva’s practice of charity. As well as making material
charity of the water, by reciting the mantra, you are also
making Dharma charity.
Making charity of water is also a practice of the tantric
vows, the samayas of the five dhyani buddhas. It is part of
the practice of the morality of working for sentient beings,
which is one of the three moralities of the Vairocana samaya,
and includes the four types of charity— material,
fearlessness, Dharma and loving kindness—of the samaya of
Ratnasambhava. (By doing this practice motivated by the wish
that all pretas be happy, you make it the charity of loving
You can also bless the water by reciting the mantras of the
deities that purify the causes of the lower realms, such as
Chenrezig, Medicine Buddha and Milarepa. Recite the mantra and
blow on the water.
The reason I have explained this practice is that it is
something we can add to our lives without much extra effort.
Since you are going to the beach, lake or pool anyway, even if
you are going for your own pleasure, doing this practice once
you get there gives meaning to your having gone. No matter how
far you’ve traveled to get to that water, how long, expensive
or difficult your journey, using that trip as a means of
practicing Dharma and benefiting others gives great meaning to
all the time, effort and expense involved.
This practice is unbelievably important for the happiness
of the pretas and, just by the way, becomes the cause of our
own greatest success— of our enlightenment, the greatest
possible success; liberation from samsara; and the temporal
success of this life, such as wealth and so forth. It brings
success in this and future lives.
This teaching by Lama Zopa Rinpoche was originally edited
by Ven. Ailsa Cameron and first appeared in Mandala, April,