Sūtras for Well-Being

The Sūtras for Well-Being series shares a curated selection of texts from the Tibetan Buddhist Canon, and offers our friends a multimedia look at the sūtras traditionally recited for resilience and well-being in times of adversity, and the stories behind them.

As people around the world entered into successive waves of Coronavirus-induced uncertainty and sufferings, we had many of our friends and followers asking us for inspiring content to help get us through this challenging time of distancing, quarantines, and lockdowns. In June, we launched Sūtras for Well-Being.

This series shares the stories behind these beautiful texts and the mantras within them that have traditionally focused minds in times of uncertainty. In addition to the translations we provide, we share audio tracks of these texts chanted in Tibetan by a teacher of the living tradition, and recited in English, by one of our general readers; as well as videos in which academics share their learned insights with us too.

This balanced representation—of teacher, academic, and reader—is essential in creating a quality of inclusivity and accessibility, allowing everyone to connect, and to be inspired.

We hope that these digital offerings help bring compassion and inspiration to all, a little bit of relief to those that need, a reminder to remain cognizant of the fact that all things will pass, and above all, we hope that this series may be a meaningful source of resilience and well-being for everyone.


Ep.1 | The Mahāsūtra “On Entering the City of Vaiśālī”

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The full text is available in English in our Reading Room, with interactive, comprehension tools. The summary reads:

Invited to visit the city of Vaiśālī, which has been ravaged by a terrible epidemic, the Buddha instructs Ānanda to stand at the city’s gate and recite a proclamation, a long mantra, and some verses that powerfully evoke spiritual well-being. Ānanda does so, and the epidemic comes to an end. One of the mahāsūtras related to the literature of the Vinaya, this text, like other accounts of the incident, has traditionally been recited during times of personal or collective illness, bereavement, and other difficulties.

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In Tibetan, with Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche

RECITE

In English, with Gary Dyson

WATCH

with Dr. John Canti


Ep. 2 | Two Dedications: “Fulfilling All Aspirations” and “Protecting All Beings”

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The full texts are available in English in our Reading Room – The Dedication “Fulfilling All Aspirations” and The Dedication “Protecting All Beings”, with interactive, comprehension tools.

These two dedications contain beautiful and inspiring prayers that are very closely related, and in many ways form a pair. Interestingly, while working on the text, our editors believe that The Dedication “Protecting All Beings” appears to contain the Kangyur’s only explicit articulation of the paradigmatic aspiration of mind-training–the wish that the suffering of others instead “ripen for me”–later popular in the Tibetan mind-training (blo-sbyong) teachings.

The Dedication “Fulfilling All Aspirations”

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In Tibetan, with Pema Wangyal Rinpoche

RECITE

In English, with Jigme Khyentse Rinpoche

The Dedication “Protecting All Beings”

CHANT

In Tibetan, with Pema Wangyal Rinpoche

RECITE

In English, with Jigme Khyentse Rinpoche

WATCH

with Dr. Nathaniel Rich

84000 editor, Dr. Nathaniel Rich, talks us through these two beautiful, lesser-known prayers for recitation in the Kangyur: “The Dedication: Fulfilling All Aspirations” and “The Dedication: Protecting All Beings.” He speaks about the significance of these texts, and highlights why the latter in particular is especially interesting with regards to the now widely practiced Tibetan “lojong” (or mind training) tradition.


Ep. 3 | “Tārā Who Protects from the Eight Dangers”

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The full text is available in English in our Reading Room, with interactive, comprehension tools. The summary reads:

In this sūtra, the goddess Tārā warns the gods of the desire realm about the miseries of saṃsāra and offers a pithy Dharma teaching to free them from harm. Tārā begins by vividly portraying the various kinds of suffering endured by beings in each of the six realms of saṃsāra and then points out the futility of reciting mantras without maintaining pure conduct. She goes on to encourage the listeners to engage in virtue, which puts an end to saṃsāra, and she bestows on them an incantation (dhāraṇī) that will help them to achieve this goal. The gods then commend Tārā for her instruction, praise her qualities, and request her divine protection. Finally, the Buddha enjoins his audience to read and practice Tārā’s teaching and share it with others.

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In Tibetan with, H.H. Drikung Kyabgön Chetsang Rinpoche

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In English with, Ani Jasmine

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with Dr. Jan Willis

Dr. Jan Willis, Professor of Religion at Wesleyan University, introduces 84000’s newly published translation of “Tārā Who Protects from the Eight Dangers” by sharing with us some of the stories behind the significance of Tārā, the eight outer and inner dangers, and why Tārā’s qualities and attributes are – in these tumultuous times of Covid-19, Black Lives Matter, and economic crisis – needed more than ever.

Tārā images from Himalayan Art Resources: (1) item #237 | Rubin Museum of Art; (2) item #997 | Rubin Museum of Art


Ep. 4 | “The Dhāraṇī of Parṇaśavarī”

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The full text is available in English in our Reading Room, with interactive, comprehension tools. The summary reads:

“The Dhāraṇī of Parṇaśavarī” is a short incantation dedicated to the piśācī Parṇaśavarī, who is renowned in Buddhist lore for her power to cure disease, avert epidemics, pacify strife, and otherwise protect those who recite her dhāraṇī from any obstacles they may face.  

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In Tibetan, with H.H. 41st Sakya Trichen

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In English, with Catherine Fordham

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With Dr.Ryan Damron

84000 editor, Dr.Ryan Damron, introduces our newly published translation of the oldest known text on Parṇaśavarī, “The Dhāraṇī of Parṇaśavarī” and shares with us some of the stories behind  piśācīs, their nature and characteristics, and how the iconography of Parṇaśavarī has evolved over the centuries.

Images from Himalayan Art Resources: (1) Item #8033 | Private; (2) Item #434 | Rubin Museum of Art; (3) #Item 32081 | Private; (4) Item #52548686 | Shechen Archives – photographs; (5) Item #40412 | Private; (6) Item #59346 | The Norton Simon Museum.


Ep. 5 | Praise to Tārā with Twenty-One Verses of Homage

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The full text is available in English in our Reading Room, with interactive, comprehension tools. The summary reads:

Praise to Tārā with Twenty-One Verses of Homage is a liturgy that consists of twenty-seven verses of praise and reverence dedicated to the deity Tārā. The first twenty-one verses are at once a series of homages to the twenty-one forms of Tārā and a poetic description of her physical features, postures, and qualities. The remaining six verses describe how and when the praise should be recited and the benefits of its recitation.

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In Tibetan, with Mayum Kunsang Dechen

RECITE

In English with, Emily Avery Yoshiko Crow

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With Dr. Sangseraima Ujeed

Dr. Sangseraima Ujeed, professor of Tibetan Buddhist Studies at the University of Michigan – and a contributing translator for 84000 – introduces our recently published translation of arguably the most popular Tārā text amongst Tibetan Buddhists, lay and monastic alike, “Praise to Tārā with Twenty-One Verses of Homage” and shares with us some of the stories behind Tārā and the swiftness of her activity.

Images from Himalayan Art Resources: (1) Item #88907 | Santa Barbara Museum of Art; (2) Item #9304 | Private; (3) #Item 139 | Rubin Museum of Art; (4) Item #99628 | Cleveland Museum of Art


Ep. 6 | The Aspiration Prayer from “Destroyer of the Great Trichiliocosm”

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The full text is available in English in our Reading Room, with interactive, comprehension tools. The summary reads:

This short text contains a set of verses spoken by the Buddha as he put an end to the epidemic of Vaiśālī, extracted from one of the two main accounts of that episode. The verses call for well-being, especially by invoking the qualities of the Three Jewels and a range of realized beings and eminent gods. The text comprises two passages from the parent work, and of these the first and longest corresponds closely to a well-known Pali text, the Ratana-sutta, widely recited for protection and blessings.

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In Tibetan, with Garchen Rinpoche

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In English, with Sarah K.C. Wilkinson

WATCH

With Dr. John Canti

84000 editorial co-director, Dr. John Canti, introduces The Aspiration Prayer from “Destroyer of the Great Trichiliocosm” and shares with us some of the stories behind this text, and similarities with a previous well-being series text, On Entering the City of Vaiśālī, as well as one from the Pali Canon, the Rattanasutta. Dr. Canti offers insight into a reading of these texts that focuses on how we can relate to them, and specifically how one can interpret the performance of miracles in these sūtras.

Images from Himalayan Art Resources: (1) Item #57601 | National Gallery in Prague; (2) Item #363 | Rubin Museum of Art; (3) #Item 59246 | The Cleveland Museum of Art; (4) Item #59204 | The Cleveland Museum of Art; (5) Item #72053 | Tibet House Museum, New Delhi

Photographs: (1) and (2) Fan Wei; (3) Jamyang Zangpo


Ep.7 | The Dhāraṇī of Tārā

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This short dhāraṇī is available in our Reading Room with interactive comprehension tools, such as the ability to read along in Tibetan with our e-Kangyur feature. The summary of this text reads:

The Dhāraṇī of Tārā is a short dhāraṇī that invokes the goddess Tārā, seeking her intervention in the face of obstacles and negative forces.

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In Tibetan, with Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche