A Method for Freeing Lives
by Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche
Homage to the Guru and Transcendent Free Conqueror, Lord Boundless Life (Buddha Amitayus).
The accomplished master Ngagi Wangchuk Drakpa said:
By saving the lives of birds, fish, and deer,
Or thieves, snakes and others to be killed,
Your present life will be extended,
Even though it would otherwise be short.
As indicated by the above statement, all the sutras and tantras teach that freeing the lives of sentient beings who are certain to be killed is supreme among all types of longevity practices. This can be established through intelligent reasoning. For this reason and because freeing lives brings immeasurable benefits, all sensible people should increase their efforts to free lives.
Generally speaking, this means, with noble frame of mind, to primarily free the lives of the animals in your own possession. Additionally, refrain from killing them yourself or selling them to others. Instead nurture them in peace. By merely doing so, while dedicating the roots of virtue and making aspirations (for their benefit), you will have fulfilled this present purpose and it is therefore permissible not to perform any other specific ceremony.
If you prefer to perform a slightly more elaborate version in accordance with place, occasion, and degree of detail, then you can do so as found in several instructions from the Early Translations, such as making the [animal] a support for a Dharma protector and so forth. Or, if you wish to perform more detailed versions of the utterance of auspiciousness, dedication and aspirations, it would be excellent if you combine this with a special time such as the Miracle Month (the 1st month), the eight day, or the new of full-moon.
If the primary purpose is to extend someone’s lifespan, then perform this at sunrise at the conducive time of the ‘ascending life-planet’. In any case, place those whose lives are to be freed in front of you and say three times:
In the Buddha, the Dharma and the supreme assembly, I take refuge until enlightenment. By the merit of generosity and so forth, may I attain buddhahood for the welfare of all beings. May all beings have happiness and the cause of happiness. May they be free of suffering and the cause of suffering. May they not be apart from the sublime happiness that is free of suffering. May they remain in the great equanimity free from bias and partiality.
Thus contemplate the four immeasurables. If you like, you can chant the names of the Buddhas and their particular dharani mantras. To repeat these many times will bring immense, such as sowing the seed of liberation in the mind-stream of the animals. If you are unable to do that much, then say:
Transcendent Free Conqueror, Thus Gone, Foe Destroyer,
Truly and Perfectly Awakened Buddha Boundless Light, I salute you.
Transcendent Free Conqueror, Thus Gone, Foe Destroyer, Truly and Perfectly Awakened Buddha Unshakable, I salute you.
Transcendent Free Conqueror, Thus Gone, Foe Destroyer, Truly and Perfectly Awakened Buddha Jewel Crest, I salute you.
Transcendent Free Conqueror, Thus Gone, Foe Destroyer, Truly and Perfectly Awakened Buddha Renowned King of Splendor, I salute you.
Transcendent Free Conqueror, Thus Gone, Foe Destroyer, Truly and Perfectly Awakened Buddha Jewel, Moon and Lotus Adorned King of Knowledge, Brilliance and Eloquence, I salute you.
Transcendent Free Conqueror, Thus Gone, Foe Destroyer, Truly and Perfectly Awakened Buddha Flawless Pure Gold, Jewel Light, Master of Courageous Conduct, I salute you.
Transcendent Free Conqueror, Thus Gone, Foe Destroyer, Truly and Perfectly Awakened Buddha Sorrowless Eminent Splendor, I salute you.
Transcendent Free Conqueror, Thus Gone, Foe Destroyer, Truly and Perfectly Awakened Buddha Dharma Expounding Melodious Ocean, I salute you.
Transcendent Free Conqueror, Thus Gone, Foe Destroyer, Truly and Perfectly Awakened Buddha Dharma Ocean Higher Knowledge Displayed through Eminent Insight, I salute you.
Transcendent Free Conqueror, Thus Gone, Foe Destroyer, Truly and Perfectly Awakened Buddha Supreme Healer King of Lapis Light, I salute you.
Om mani peme hung hrih, namo ratna trayaya, namo bhagavate akshyobhyaya, tathagataya, arhate samyak sambuddhaya,
Tadyatha, om kamkani kamkani, rotsani rotsani, trotani trotani, trasani trasani, pratihana, sarva karma parampara, nime sarva satva nañtsa soha,
Nama ratna trayaya, namah arya jnana sagara baitsana bhyuha rayaya,
Tathagataya, arhate samyak sambuddhya,
Namah sarva tathagatebhya arhatabhya samyak sambuddhebhya,
Namah arya avalokiteshvaraya bodhisatvaya mahasatvaya mahakarunikaya,
Tadyata om dhara dhara dhiri dhiri dhuru dhuru itte bitte tsale tsale pratsale pratsale pratsale kusume kusuma bare ilimili tsiti dvala mapanaya soha
Repeat this with a clear and loud voice. Then, hold flowers in your hand, and say:
In the sky before me is the Guru indivisible from the Transcendent Free Conqueror Buddha Boundless Light encircled by an ocean-like assembly of the precious objects of refuge, including the buddhas and bodhisattvas of the ten directions, and the devas and rishis accomplished in truthful speech. They are vividly present and their melodious voices utter auspicious wishes. The immense rain of flowers they shower down increases and extend further and further the life-span and merit, splendor and prosperity, wisdom and virtues, of myself and all sentient beings headed by the benefactor.
All those who are reborn as animals are presently freed from the fear of untimely death and live peacefully under the protection of the Three Jewels. Ultimately, when the seed of liberation ripens within their stream of being, they are invested with the fortune of quickly attaining enlightenment.
Then, while imagining this, say:
Like the mighty royal crest of the victory banner, Sublime deity adorning these practitioners’ heads, Bestowing upon them the supreme accomplishment, Glorious and eminent guru, may your auspiciousness be present.
Unexcelled teacher, precious Buddha, Unexcelled protector, precious sacred Dharma, Unexcelled guide, precious Sangha; May the auspiciousness of the refuge objects, the Three Jewels, be present.
Boundless Life, the primary guide of this world, Who overcomes all types of untimely death, Protector of all unprotected and suffering beings, May the auspiciousness of the Buddha Amitayus, be present.
After you have chanted whatever verses of auspiciousness you know, then say:
The strength of giving truly exalts the Buddha. The Lion of Men has realized the strength of giving. When entering the city of compassion, May the life-span of perfect giving also increase.
The strength of ethics truly exalts the Buddha. The Lion of Men has realized the strength of ethics. When entering the city of compassion, May the life-span of perfect ethics also increase.
The strength of patience truly exalts the Buddha. The Lion of Men has realized the strength of patience When entering the city of compassion, May the life-span of perfect patience also increase.
The strength of perseverance truly exalts the Buddha. The Lion of Men has realized the strength of perseverance. When entering the city of compassion, May the life-span of perfect perseverance also increase.
The strength of concentration truly exalts the Buddha. The Lion of Men has realized the strength of concentration. When entering the city of compassion, May the life-span of perfect concentration also increase.
The strength of insight truly exalts the Buddha. The Lion of Men has realized the strength of insight. When entering the city of compassion, May the life-span of perfect insight also increase.
Om namo bhagavate, aparirmita ayurjñana subinishcha tatejo rajaya, tathagataya, arhate samyak sambuddhaya,
Tadyata, om punye punye mahapunye aparirmita punye, aparimita punye jñana sambharo pachite,
Om sarva samskara pari shuddha dharma tegagana samudgate svabhava vishuddhe mahanaya parivare svaha.
Utter this as many items as you can while scattering flowers. Then say:
As implied by the virtuous roots of doing this, may the virtuous roots gathered throughout the three times make the Buddha’s teachings prosper and bring forth immense virtuous goodness in the world.
May all sublime people upholding the Dharma live long and steadfast and may their activities flourish. May I and all sentient beings, headed by this benefactor, have increased life-span and merit, splendor, prosperity, and wisdom. May these animals too be freed from the fears of samsara and the lower realms, and soon attain the precious state of enlightenment.
Having formed these thoughts, with one-pointed resolve then say:
By this virtue may all beings Perfect the accumulations of merit and wisdom, And may they attain the sacred two kayas Resulting from this merit and wisdom.
By this virtue may all attain omniscience. Having defeated the enemy, wrongdoing, From the stormy waves of birth, old age, sickness, and death, From the ocean of samsara, may I free all beings.
In all our lives, wherever we take rebirth, may we never be separate from the Three Jewels. May we always venerate them, and receive their blessings.
May the precious mind of enlightenment arise in those it has not arisen. Where it has arisen, may it not wane, but increase further and further.
As the single source of benefit and well-being, may the teachings remain for a long time, and may the life-span of the people who uphold these teachings be steadfast like the banner of victory.
May the world have peace and delightful years, may crops be bountiful and cattle increase, may the source of every peace and goodness be present, and may all wishes be fulfilled.
In this very life as well may all types of unfavorable conditions subside, may we have long life, good health, and prosperity, and attain enduring happiness.
By the strength of this powerful merit in this life may the benefactors, along with their following accomplish their aims, be free of obstacles, have the best of luck, and fulfill their spiritual wishes.
In this way make dedication and aspirations. Then say:
By the blessings of the supreme Buddha, eminent and unexcelled, the victorious sun of truth, may the harmful foes of maras and obstructors subside so that the auspiciousness or constant splendor is present day and night.
By the blessings of the Dharma of the unconditioned nature, eminent and unexcelled, the sacred Dharma’s nectar of truth, may the painful foes of the five poisonous emotions subside, so that the auspiciousness of constant splendor is present day and night.
By the blessing of the Sangha’s qualities, blazing in precious brilliance, the truly beneficial deeds of the conqueror’s offspring, may the flaws of misdeeds be removed and may goodness increase, so that the auspiciousness of constant splendor is present day and night.
Having uttered these and other suitable verses of auspiciousness, say:
Enjoyment of the splendor of immortal life, intelligence and discerning insight, whatever splendor and wealth of samsara and nirvana there may be, may their auspiciousness be spontaneously present.
May merit increase and flourish like the lofty king of mountains, may great fame spread throughout the sky, may there be long life, good health and spontaneous benefit for others, and may the auspiciousness of an ocean of eminent qualities be present.
May this place have peace and happiness morning and night, may the midday as well be peaceful and happy, may there be peace and happiness every day and night, and the auspiciousness of the Three Jewels be present.
Om yedharma hetu prabhava hetun teken tathagato haya wadet tekeñchayo nirodha ewam vadi maha shramana svaha
Uttering this, make peace and goodness by strewing flowers. If you prefer, some other texts for longevity practice mention that one can “make the sun and moon marks on the forehead of those whose lives you have freed so that they will henceforth not be killed.” In this way, it is taught that drawing the design of the sun and moon with butter on their foreheads creates the auspicious coincidence for their life-span being equal to the sun and moon. It is also taught that giving a few of the choicest cattle with white marks the name “Lucky” (Tib. Tashi, Skt Mangala), creates the auspicious coincidence for luch and good fortune. Do so accordingly.
Furthermore, if you refrain from using traps, fishing nets or the like, in order to save the lives of birds, fish and deer, do so while including the above-mentioned bodhichitta resolve as well as the dedications and aspirations. By combining this with smoke offering (lhasang) and so forth, the benefits will be immeasurable, as exemplified by freeing lives.
In particular, in the area where you do so many auspicious signs will appear, such as seasonal rainfall, and prosperous crops and cattle.
In his Jewel Garland, the noble Nagarjuna says:
Sensible people should always place good, water and plant oil, or heaps of grains at the entrance to an ant nest.
Accordingly, giving food to ants, clean food to fish, or medicine to the sick, throwing a feast for children, or giving food and drink to birds and the destitute, all these should be embraced with skillful means of the bodhichitta resolve and sincere dedications and aspirations. If you do so, it will become a cause for averting death, increasing prosperity and, ultimately, great enlightenment. Since this is easy to do, involves minor hardship and brings immense benefit, all intelligent people should, in various ways, persevere in these skillful means for gathering the accumulations.
In order to benefit both myself and others, this was written by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, someone who is devoted to the Bodhisatta Pitaka, motivated by pure intentions. May this be a cause for the lives of the sublime upholders of the teachings to last for a hundreds eons, for all sentient beings to be liberated from the fears of untimely death, and or their imminent attainment of the state of the Buddha of Boundless Life. Sarva Mangalam.
At the command of Chadral Rinpoche, a great bodhisattva who truly embodies the virtues mentioned here, this was translated by Erik Pema Kunsang and edited by Marcia Binder Schmidt and Michael Tweed. Proofread and reprinted by Idan in 2003.
© Rangjung Yeshe Translations & Publications, 2000. Copies can be freely made. If sold, please use the funds for releasing animals.