Many Buddhists are familiar with prayers to be reborn in the western Pure Land of Bliss (known Sanskrit as Sukhavati, in Tibetan as Dewachen, and in Chinese Jílè, Ānlè, or Xītiān) where Amitabha, the Wisdom Buddha of Limitless Light, teaches the Dharma.
Less commonly recited are the prayers to reborn in the eastern Pure Land of Manifest Joy (Sanskrit Abhirati, Tibetan Ngonpar Gawa, Chinese Miàoxǐ). Those fortunate enough to be reborn in Abhirati receive teachings directly from the Wisdom Buddha Akshobhya (Tibetan Mitrukpa, Chinese Āchùrúlái), whose name means “Unwavering,” “Unshakable.”
During the 2016 North American Kagyu Monlam, participants will have a rare opportunity to chant An Aspiration for Birth in the Realm of Abhirati on Wednesday, July 6, and Thursday, July 7.
Composed in the 16th century by the great lama and scholar Taranatha, this profound prayer invites us to commit ourselves to the aspirations made by Akshobhya: to refrain from anger until we have reached full awakening for the benefit of all sentient beings, and to maintain the moral conduct that is essential for travelling the path to liberation. Through cultivating these qualities combined with strong aspiration, beings are said to be reborn in Akshobya’s pure realm. In the Tibetan lineage, both the great yogin Milarepa and the renowned scholar Sakya Pandita are said to have attained buddhahood in Abhirati.
His Holiness the Seventeenth Karmapa, Orgyen Trinley Dorje, has repeatedly emphasized the importance of taking vows and making aspirations like Akshobya in his teachings at the Kagyu Monlam in Bodhgaya, India. We are very fortunate to have the opportunity to join with many others to chant this powerful prayer during the 2016 North American Kagyu Monlam at KTC Monastery.