The Life of Atisha

Atisha Dipamkara

The Life of Atisha.

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Kopan Monastery, Nepal, 1976.

Having a little bit of understanding of the life story of Atisha is very beneficial for our mind, so we can try to understand the teaching he wrote. By understanding Atisha’s life story and how he practiced Dharma and achieved realizations, devotion arises and we can feel that his teaching is most precious and pure.

Actually it is a very long life story, and it is divided into three parts. In order to have some idea about the great bodhisattva Atisha and how he benefited sentient beings, there are stories about his birth, his home, his birthplace and his early life. The stories explain how he achieved great knowledge and realizations with that holy body. Then after achieving the knowledge and realizations of the path, he benefited the teachings and helped sentient beings— he led the disciples and sentient beings to happiness. Continue reading »

Advice from Atisha’s Heart

Atisha Dipankara Shrijnana

Atisha Dipankara Shrijnana

Advice from Atisha’s Heart

When Venerable Atisha came to Tibet he first went to Ngari, where he remained for two years giving many teachings to the disciples of Jangchub Ö.

After two years had passed he decided to return to India, and Jangchub Ö requested him to give one last teaching before he left.

Atisha replied that he had already given them all the advice they needed, but Jangchub Ö persisted in his request and so Atisha accepted and gave the following advice.

How wonderful!

Friends, since you already have great knowledge and clear understanding, whereas I am of no importance and have little wisdom, it is not suitable for you to request advice from me. However because you dear friends, whom I cherish from my heart, have requested me, I shall give you this essential advice from my inferior and childish mind. Continue reading »

Atisha: A Lamp for the Path of Enlightenment

Atisha Dipankara Shrijnana

Atisha Dipankara Shrijnana

A Lamp for the Path of Enlightenment

by Atisha Dipankara Shrijnana

1 I bow in great reverence to all past, present and
Future Victors, to their Doctrine and Communities.
I shall light a Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment,
At the request of my good disciple Byang-chub-‘od.

2 In that they are Inferior or Mediocre or Superior,
Persons should be understood as three:
The characteristics of each are very clear,
and I shall note how they differ from one another.

3 One who by every means he finds,
Seeks by the pleasure of samsara,
And cares but for himself alone, that one
Is known as the Inferior Person. Continue reading »

Leveling Out All Conceptions

Atisha Dipankara Shrijnana: Self is the root of negative actions.

Atisha Dipankara Shrijnana: Self is the root of negative actions.

Leveling Out All Conceptions

A Commentary on the “Leveling out all Conceptions”

Seeking refuge, I pay homage to the precious spiritual teacher Protector Serlingpa, and to the entire lineage of this master and his disciples. Pray, bless me!

Embodiment of wisdom and great compassion, the protector Serlingpa once said to Atisha. ‘O my son, if you wish to serve others in these degenerate times, you must distill the sacred words of all three collections of discourses, scriptures, and reasonings, as well as all the heartwood instructions of the spiritual teachers, and practice them in one sitting. To accomplish this you need the teachings I shall now give you, teachings that will make you invulnerable to sickness, harm, interference from obstructive forces, demons, or upholders of false teachings, and any other adverse conditions and impediments.’ Then, he taught the following:

Level out all preconceptions,
Bring forth the force of all antidotes,
Cultivate the aspiration that embodies all wishes,
And seek the path where all paths converge.
These are the antidotes, the four enlightened factors. Continue reading »

The Jewel Rosary of the Bodhisattvas

Atisha Dipankara Shrijnana: When giving advice or instructions, do so with compassion and goodwill.

Atisha Dipankara Shrijnana: When giving advice or instructions, do so with compassion and goodwill.

The Jewel Rosary of the Bodhisattvas by Atisha Dipamkara

In the language of India: Bodhisattvamaṇyāvalī
In the language of Tibet:
byang chub sems dpa’i nor bu’i phreng ba
In the English language: The Jewel Rosary of the Bodhisattvas

Homage to great compassion!
Homage to the masters!
Homage to the deities who inspire devotion!

Put aside all doubt and hesitation,
And take delight in earnest practice,
Abandon entirely lethargy, dullness and laziness,
And exert yourself constantly with enthusiasm.

With mindfulness, vigilance and carefulness,
Guard the doors of your senses at all times.
Again and again, thrice by day and by night,
Examine the continuum of your mind. Continue reading »

Atisha: Light Offering Prayer

Atisha Dipankara Shrijnana

Atisha Dipankara Shrijnana

Light Offering Prayer

by Atisha Dipankara Shrijnana

May this vessel become as vast as the entire billionfold universe!
May its wick grow as large as Sumeru, the king of mountains!
May the oil within become as vast as the great ocean at the edge of the world!
And may a billion such lamps appear before each and every buddha!
Their light banishing the darkness of ignorance everywhere, from the very peak of existence down to the lowest hell, may they reveal all the realms of buddhas and bodhisattvas throughout the ten directions!

Om vajra aloke ah hum

Emaho! This wondrous and amazing light, burning brightly,
I offer to the gurus, yidam deities, dakinis Continue reading »

Atiśa: Prayer to Ārya Tārā

Atiśa Dīpaṃkara

Atiśa Dīpaṃkara

Prayer to Ārya Tārā
by Atiśa Dīpaṃkara
ཨོཾ། འཇིགས་པ་བརྒྱད་སྐྱོབ་མ་ལ་ཕྱག་འཚལ་ལོ། །
om, jikpa gyé kyobma la chaktsal lo
Oṃ! Homage to you, lady who protects us from the eight fears!
བཀྲ་ཤིས་དཔལ་འབར་མ་ལ་ཕྱག་འཚལ་ལོ། །
tashi palbarma la chaktsal lo
Homage to you, lady who blazes with the splendour of auspiciousness!
ངན་སོང་སྒོ་འགེགས་མ་ལ་ཕྱག་འཚལ་ལོ། །
ngensong go gekma la chaktsal lo
Homage to you, lady who closes the door to lower rebirth!
མཐོ་རིས་ལམ་འདྲེན་མ་ལ་ཕྱག་འཚལ་ལོ། །
tori lam drenma la chaktsal lo
Homage to you, lady who leads us on the path to higher realms!
རྟག་ཏུ་ཁྱེད་ཀྱིས་སྡོང་གྲོགས་མཛད། །
taktu khyé kyi dongdrok dzé
You are the one who holds us always in your care—our guide, support and friend;
ད་དུང་ཐུགས་རྗེས་བསྐྱབ་ཏུ་གསོལ། །
dadung tukjé kyab tu sol
So protect us still, we pray, with all of your vast compassion!
འདི་ནི་ཇོ་བོ་རྗེ་ཨ་ཏི་ཤའི་བླ་མ་གསེར་གླིང་པ་མཇལ་དུ་ Continue reading »

Atisha: The Bodhisattva’s Jewel Mala


The Bodhisattva’s Jewel Malaa
A Bodhisattva’s Garland of Gems
by Lama Atisha

1 Abandon all doubt,

And earnestly apply yourself to practice.

Abandon laziness, dullness and drowsiness,
And always cultivate joyous effort.
With mindfulness, alertness and conscientiousness
Protect the doors of the senses at all times.

During the three times of day and night
Check your mental continuum again and again

Proclaim your own faults,
But do not look for the mistakes of others.

Hide your own good qualities,
But proclaim the good qualities of others.

Abandon wealth and honors,
And reject profit and reputation always.
Continue reading »

Atiśa: The Bodhisattva’s Garland of Jewels

Atiśa Dīpaṃkara

The Bodhisattva’s Garland of Jewels
by Atiśa Dīpaṃkara

In the language of India: Bodhisattvamaṇyāvalī
In the language of Tibet: 
changchub sempé norbü trengwa
In the English language: 
The Bodhisattva’s Garland of Jewels

Homage to great compassion!
Homage to the deities who inspire faith and devotion!
Homage to the masters!

Be done with doubt and indecision,
And embrace your practice with all your heart.
Shake off lethargy, dullness and laziness,
And strive always with enthusiasm and joy.

Mindful, vigilant and careful,
Guard the doorways of your senses at every moment.
Three times each day, three times at night,
Again and again, examine your thoughts.
Continue reading »

Instructions on The Seven Points of Mind Training by Atisha


His Eminence the Third Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche, Karma Lodrö Chökyi Senge
Instructions on The Seven Points of Mind Training by Lord Atisha


I am very happy to be here and would like to thank the Berkeley Dharmadhatu/Shambhala Center for providing the opportunity to make this connection with you. It is a great pleasure for me to be here and to talk to you.

Generally speaking, at a Dharma seminar, both the teacher and the students should generate the pure motivation of the altruistic mind of Bodhicitta. The purpose of presenting and receiving the teachings is to benefit all living beings. So, please generate the altruistic mind of awakening.

From the three levels of teachings that Lord Buddha presented, the subject of this seminar is Lo-jong in Tibetan, which means “mind training,” and accords with the great Bodhisattva vehicle. The Bodhisattvayana is also known as Mahayana. Maha means “great” and is translated into Tibetan to mean “heightened.” The weight of what is lifted and heightened is in no way light or small. Now, Mahayana should not be seen as greater than Hinayana, i.e., Hinayana should not be considered inferior. All vehicles teach the means to overcome delusiveness and lead to enlightenment. Continue reading »

Khunu Lama Rinpoche: Commentary on “A Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment”

Khunu Lama Rinpoche: After generating bodhicitta, our main task is to attain enlightenment.

Khunu Lama Rinpoche: Commentary on “A Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment”
Boudhanath, Nepal, 1975.

Before listening to this teaching, first generate bodhicitta, thinking, “I want to receive enlightenment for the benefit of all mother sentient beings.” In other words, before listening to teachings, it is necessary to think of, to remember, all mother sentient beings.

The subject today is Lam-drön, A Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment, which was written in Tibet by the great Atisha (Dipamkara Shrijnana), who was born about the year 982 in northeast India as the son of a Bengali king.


Buddhadharma had already been established in Tibet before Atisha’s arrival there, but an evil king called Langdarma (Udumtsen), who was said to have horns growing from his head, hated the Dharma and caused it to degenerate in Tibet. But even though the teachings had been corrupted, they still existed—just not as purely as before. It took about sixty years to restore the teachings to their original purity in what became known as the later spreading of the Dharma in Tibet. Continue reading »