108 Verses Praising Great Compassion By Lama Lobsang Tayang
This translation of 108 Verses Praising is of the renowned Mongolian Lama Lobsang Tayang’s work. He was a highly esteemed interpreter of the Gelugpa tradition, and his writings cover a wide range of Tibetan literature, Tantra, logic and philosophy.
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About Lama Lobsang Tayang
Geshe Lobsang Tayang was born in 1867 in the Gobi desert, was renowned for his vast knowledge of Buddhism. He was compared to the Indian pandit Ashvagosha, author of the “50 Verses of Guru Devotion”, and served as the lineage holder of many sacred practices.
Traditional Buddhist education
Geshe Lobsang Tayang began his traditional Buddhist education at the age of four, during which he learned the alphabet and began translating different texts. 13 years later, at the age of 17, Geshe Lobsang Tayang departed for Ulaanbataar where he joined Kunga Choling Monastery. Kunga Choling was a philosophical college belonging to the Gelug lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, and its curriculum focused on the textbooks used in Drepung Loseling Monastery in Tibet.
It was originally founded in 1809 by the Fourth Jetsundampa Khutuktu as part of the Ikh Khuree Monastic City complex. Jebtsundamba Khutuktu is literally translated as “Holy Precious Master of Mongolia” and it is a title given to the spiritual heads of the Gelug lineage of Tibetan Buddhism in Mongolia. The spiritual head also holds the Bogd Gegeen title, which translates as the “Highest Enlightened Saint”, making him the highest ranking lama in Mongolia. In 1938, a year after Geshe Lobsang Tayang’s death, the monastery was almost completely destroyed and was later rebuilt in 2001 on the original site.
It was at Kunga Choling that Geshe Lobsang Tayang studied both Sutra and Tantra under the spiritual guidance of Khewan Jigje and Acharya Sangye. Later on, he received full monastic ordination from Palden Chophel, the abbot of Ulaanbataar. In 1907, Geshe Lobsang Tayang received the Kachupa degree which is the equivalent of a Bachelor’s degree, obtained after five to six years of study. He was 40 years old at the time.
In addition to his scholarly prowess, Geshe Lobsang Tayang is also known for performing miracles during his lifetime. One such incident was his revelation of two miraculous stupas inscribed with magical letters on Wu Tai Shan in Northern China, one of the four sacred mountains in Chinese Buddhism and a place where Manjushri, the Buddha of Wisdom, is said to reside. In 1922, Geshe Lobsang Tayang established a Tantric college, and in 1926, a Buddhist college based on Drepung Gomang Monastery’s curriculum.
A scholar and prolific author
Geshe Lobsang Tayang composed numerous works on classical Buddhist themes, especially Buddhist philosophy. History also occupied a very prominent role in his writings. Amongst his other works, he produced an abbreviated translation of Faxian’s travel journals that was later published in 16 volumes.
He also initiated the volume of texts known as the Dorje Shugden Be Bum or collected works, that includes a number of early Dorje Shugden texts written by various Tibetan and Mongolian masters. Geshe Lobsang Tayang composed the introduction and history for the Be Bum and the catalogue of texts that it included. The Namtharof Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen, the previous incarnation of Dorje Shugden, and his reincarnation lineage is also included in the Be Bum.
Geshe Lobsang Tayang’s collection of written works, known as his sungbum , has been used by Mongolian, Tibetan and Western scholars of Tibetan Buddhism such as Lhatsun Rinpoche, one of Kyabje Yongdzin Ling Rinpoche’s teachers. The late Kyabje Yongdzin Ling Rinpoche was, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama‘s senior tutor. In the book “The Life of My Teacher: A Biography of Kyabje Ling Rinpoche”, the Dalai Lama gave insight into the practices that were included in Geshe Lobsang Tayang’s collected works.
108 Verses Praising Great Compassion
- The door to the path of the Great Beings
The great seal of the Mahāyāna
The seed of Great Awakening
I prostrate with devotion to Great Compassion.
- The mother who gives birth to all Victorious Ones
The essential wealth of the Conqueror’s Children.
The anonymous benefactor of all beings
May I be protected by Great Compassion.
- Prostrating to it alone
Encompasses making prostrations and offerings
To all the Victorious Ones and their Children.
I praise Great Compassion.
- I praise you, Great Compassion
The unrivaled ultimate root
The cause and the condition
From which Sravakas, Pratyekabuddhas, and Bodhisattvas are born.
- I praise you, Great Compassion,
Who are important at the beginning, like a seed,
In the interim, like water, and at the end like the fruit
In (obtaining) the excellent harvest of the Victorious Ones.
- I praise you, Great Compassion,
Whose defining characteristic is the desire to protect
All aged mother sentient beings
From the subtle and gross fears of existence and pacification.
- I praise the compassion that focuses on sentient beings,
That sees them in their suffering aspect
Overpowered by their ignorance
Like a waterwheel in the well of cyclic existence.
- You see all beings to be like ripples on [the surface of] a river
They do not last even a moment
I praise the compassion that focuses on phenomena
That sees them in their impermanent aspect.
- I praise compassion that focuses on the objectless,
That sees all beings, however they appear,
To be empty of inherent existence
Like the reflection of the moon in water.
- When one has completely perfected the ability
To meditate on great compassion,
One must be perfectly awakened.
Therefore you are the quality that makes the Buddha a Buddha.
- All of the Buddha’s teachings,
Which are the nature of nonviolence,
Are elucidated by means of compassion.
Thus you are the quality that makes the Dharma the Dharma.
- The disciples of our Teacher, the Conqueror
Are defined in terms of whether or not they follow the four duties of a sramana
And by the rules of the discipline of compassion.
Hence, you are the quality that makes the Sangha the Sangha.
- There is a great deal of difference
Between one who does possess you in one’s mind-stream,
And those who do not: Like the Supreme Teacher and Shariputra,
The former of whom restored the life’s breath of the swan while the latter could not
- Hence it is you, Great Compassion,
Who liberates one from all fears,
Who is the sole and definitive source of refuge
For the world with its gods and other beings.
- The determination that the Conqueror, the Lord Buddha
Is a reliable individual
Comes down to a logical proof
For which you, Great Compassion, are the reason.
- Therefore, even the conviction that only the Buddha’s teachings
Serve as the holy gateway
For those desiring liberation- even this
Depends upon skill in your ways.
- Although numerous are the reasons why
The Jewel of the Buddha is a fitting object of refuge,
Great impartial compassion
Is the chief reason
- The same reason proves that the Dharma and the Sangha
Are also fitting objects of refuge.
Hence you are the chief arbiter
Distinguishing what is an object of refuge from what is not.
- Although Shravakas and Pratyekabuddhas
Can remain in equipoise for many hundreds of eons due to the power of their concentration
They have not paid you any attention
And so (are constrained to) sleep for a long time in a gulf of peacefulness.
- But the perfect Buddhas and Bodhisattvas
Have already offered into your hands
Whatever authority they have, and so
They remain, benefiting others, until the end of existence.
- As an inferior mind like my own sees it,
When someone turns their attention to you, Compassion,
They urgently think: “All the suffering that [beings] must endure
Lies over there,
So I had better wave them on down here.”
- If a single pleasure arises in another [who lacks compassion],
Later it turns into a great deal of suffering;
If a single suffering arises in you [compassionate ones],
Later it disperses all suffering.
- If there is something that, by adopting it,
Becomes the cause for the eradication of many sufferings
Then whatever brand of suffering one might experience,
Is it not You who eliminates [that suffering]?
- Moreover, in order to prevent the onslaught
Of the harm that could strike beings,
You oh protector, bring suffering upon yourself
As did the Bodhisattva Supuúpachandra.
- So as to protect the lives of many beings,
And so that the sinful will not fall into hell,
You would even [physically] harm another
As did the compassionate Merchant Trader.
- Individuals expert in the ways of Compassion,
Though they may, for the sake of others, enter into the Avici hell
Will have their bodies and minds refreshed by happiness and bliss
Like a swan in a sea of lotuses.
- In liberating sentient beings, you captivate their minds
With happiness that is like an ocean.
By comparison [the happiness that comes from] obtaining personal liberation
Is like the water in a hoof-print. What is it next to you?
- Those heroes who devote themselves
To the lady they admire, Great Compassion
Are voluntarily born into the six realms of beings
Due to the power of their karma and prayers.
- Yet, by the power of their merit, their bodies are happy;
Because of their skill, their minds are happy;
So even though they abide for the sake of others until the end of existence,
How could they experience weariness?
- Oh mind of Compassion, how astounding
That you are exclusively devoted to the welfare of others.
But how much more astounding that you do this
Without hope of reward and without conceit.
- There is no better example [to illustrate] the way
That you desire to protect all beings from suffering
Than the pity that a wise mother feels
For her beloved son.
- Though she has many children,
A mother feels special concern for the one who is sick.
Likewise, you show the greatest kindness
To the beings who are tormented.
- An ordinary person like me
Can only cherish and value my own self;
Hence there can be no comparison to you
Who cherishes and values all beings.
- Even though I greatly fear suffering
I have no fear of sin; that is how I am.
But your nature is to fear sin
Millions of times more than you fear suffering.
- As long as the fetters of afflictions
Bind sentient beings to Saîsåra,
For that length of time you
Secure the Buddhas to this Saîsåric abode.
- Therefore, it was the custom of the Bearded Ones in India
To bow first to you, and then to the Buddhas For you are what causes them
To remain in the three realms of existence.
- Whose power likens yours
Which can even incite the Tathagata Lord of Nagas
To leave the peaceful lake waters’ swirling expanse
And appear in the parched land of disciples
- While asleep in the state of peace
The Able One knows all phenomena that can be known,
Subduing the haughty ones through skillful means.
This is your magic, Compassion.
- By rubbing it on the Kashi rock of Great Compassion
One tests the gold
Of the Victor’s noble qualities of might and fearlessness,
[And] inferentially determines its qualitative nature.
- The chief object of others’ attachment
Is limited to the self as the basis (i.e., the body).
But that is not the object of your attachment.
Yours instead is more amazing than this mere support of the self.
- For according to your predilection
If they do not consider their own life to be of secondary importance
Then how could the Stable Ones engage in the hundreds of thousands
of offerings and alms
Which they make of their own bodies?
- Although others may benefit one,
Greater is the harm that they inflict.
How magnanimous is the benefit you bring
Even to those who inflict harm.
- Beings may treat you as everything
From friend to foe to neutral.
Yet how wondrous that you constantly manage
To think of each of them as you would your only child.
- If one’s aged mother went insane under the influence of spirits,
Who in their right mind would see her as an enemy?
How amazing that your mind
Perceives all beings as your kind mother.
- The fact that the Buddhas remain in the world
Teaching the path to liberation as they see fit
Both day and night during the six timesThat is your kindness, the wide eye of compassion.
- And when someone shouts with a lion’s roar:
“I am the refuge of all beings
Who lack protectors,”
That is your magic, the noble tongue of compassion.
- Although spirits have spells
That can harm beings in all sorts of ways,
It is your blessing, Great Mercy,
That transform [these spells] into beneficial things.
- Even when the hordes of Mara’s army
Shower their frightful weapons upon one,
The power of the mighty armor of compassion
Makes them crumble into a mist of flowers.
- An arm firmly embraces
The vast numbers of beings,
Feeling that it cannot part from them;
That is you, the long arm of compassion
- And what is it that appears as the tool
Which the Supreme Guide uses to lift all beings
Out of the intense dangers of the chasm of existence?
It is only the hook of compassion
- Hence you are everywhere, both in the realm of SaÚsåra and Nirvåïa,
[Carrying] all embodied creatures
From the troubles out of which they have not yet been led
To the excellence which they have yet to find.
- As for me, I try to transfer or infect others
With all of my suffering and loss;
And whatever excellence others may have,
I covet them for myself.
- But you share and give to others
All of the happiness which belongs to you;
And whatever suffering others may have,
You cultivate the attitude: “May they be my own.”
- The suffering of the world is the result of self-cherishing
While its happiness is the reward for cherishing others.
Only you, Protector, Can provide the confidence that this is so.
- Although others revere the Victorious Ones
They revile sentient beings.
But you respectfully serve even the unruly
As if they were Buddhas.
- We understand by the magic of your skillful means
That in obtaining the state of a Victorious One
The Buddhas and sentient beings
Are both equally kind to us.
- “The Sages do not wash away the sins of beings with water;
They do not wipe away suffering with their hands.”
Thus is it stated in the Buddhas’s own words [Kangyur]
And in the [later] commentaries [Tengyur].
- How is it that the Yogi who meditates on compassion
Can actually take away
The swelling sickness from the body of a dog
And the lice infestations from the body of a person?
- But this is something that the Omniscient One himself understands:
That the ability of the mind of the yogi
Who meditates on accepting the suffering of others and
Giving them his own happiness is inconceivable.
- We ourselves are in that same position
As the Supreme Teacher who, in a previous life,
Was the Charioteer in hell in the depths of Saîsåra.
- But that strongman is now a Buddha
While we are still left behind.
And when we contemplate it is clear that It is due to this fact:
The mind of compassion arose in his mind stream but not in ours.
- What brand of partiality do you engage in, Great Compassion?
You realize the faults that ensue from securing one’s own welfare,
And the benefits that ensue from accomplishing only the welfare of others.
- By obtaining you for just one moment,
Even those who must remain in hell for many eons
Exhaust their karma and they take rebirth as one of the Gods of the Thirty-Three.
- In smothering the masses of the fires of suffering
You are like a great rain and in burning up the piles of sins
You are equal to the fire at the end of time.
- As soon as he generated the compassion
That wished to relieve sentient beings of headache pains Priyaputra was liberated
From the hellish (punishment) of the revolving wheel.
- How then can one measure the heaps of merit
Amassed through meditating on supreme compassion,
The desire to eliminate the one hundred and ten forms of suffering
That torment all sentient beings equal [in number] to space?
- When other bodhisattvas [and Buddhas] of the Good Eon
Would look upon sentient beings, those who live to the age of 100,
During this evil time of the appearance of the five degenerations,
Seeing them as difficult to subdue, they would give up, discouraged.
- But at that time the Brahmin Samudraråja
With the courage of his great compassion
Perfectly made five hundred aspiration prayers
And accepted the fortunate disciples as supreme.
- The Tathågatha Ratnagarbha etc.
The Buddhas of the ten directions and their children
Scattered abundantly the flowers of praise
By calling him “The Precious White Lotus.”
- That the proclamation of the excellence of Great Compassion
Is the method of extolling the greatness of their biographies
Proves that you are the first great tutor
For the Buddhas of the three times.
- That is why Shakyamuni
Arrived at the state of Buddhahood much sooner than the Protector
Maitreya: Even though he generated Bodhicitta (the mind of enlightenment)
Forty-two great eons after the latter.
- And you, O mind of compassion,
Are the kindness that assumes the burden of an inner tutor,
Urgently inciting us: “Strive toward the threefold [goal]
Of perfecting, ripening, and purifying.”
- The activity of the Conqueror’s children
The pure thought of compassion
That takes up the burden of others’ welfare,
Is difficult for the minds of ordinary beings to fathom.
- Never mind seeing near a tree
Someone giving away his [own] head a thousand times over [frightens us],
Even to hear about such a thing
Arises awesome fear in our hearts.
- And the supreme children who are born into the family
Of the King of Dharma, the Sugata
Like lotuses borne from the water
Are sustained and nurtured by you, their mother, the mother of compassion.
- The sages have said that the only difference between
That pure thought of renunciation
And you, Great Compassion
Is that one is turned inward, the other outward.
- All aspects, whether birth, maintenance, or growth
Of the wish-fulfilling tree of the Awakening Mind (Bodhicitta)
Depend upon the firm root of compassion
Which is what integrates the seven “causes and effects.”
- When the snake Mandara repeatedly churns
The mountain of skillful means
In the great ocean of emptiness,
You, the nectar of compassion, erupts as its essence.
- There are many authentics and charlatans who claim to have attained
The five extrasensory powers and the four results.
But it is rare that even charlatans arise
Claiming to have attained Great Compassion.
- Those who show signs of having obtained other qualities
Are as rare as stars in the night sky,
But those who show signs of having obtained Great Compassion
Are even rarer than stars seen in broad daylight.
- That is why the Prajñåpåramitå sūtras attest
That the existence in the billion world-systems
Of a being who has obtained the precious supreme mind of Compassion
Is just barely possible.
- Who, whether sage or fool can fathom
The one in whose mind stream you reside,
So that even if he cuts his own flesh and gives it away
Will rejoice even more than the one who devours it?
- The bliss that arises from hearing the sound of the word “Alms!”
Cannot be rivaled even by the bliss of the peace
Of Shravakas and Pratyekabuddhas.
Hence, the skill of the being (who practices) You is amazing.
- No matter how much of poison of sensual delights
The hosts of Peacocks, the children of the Conquerors, those heroes, may eat
It only serves to enhance the beauty of the Peacocks’ feathers, their qualities,
And that (beauty) is your splendor.
- Other precious jewels
Can only fulfill their own individual purpose,
But the king (of jewels) that has the power to fulfill one’s wishes
Can accomplish all of one’s needs and desires effortlessly.
- The six perfections, such as generosity,
Bring about their own individual [results] such as wealth.
But Great Compassion
Brings about the two goals and every excellence.
- Hence, if one has the supreme jewel of compassion
In the palm of one’s hand,
All of the Buddha’s qualities
Will come into one’s grasp without being sought.
- What does it mean to say that someone is “The Fully Perfected Buddha?”
How can it have any meaning to say that it is
Someone who demonstrates incongruous works of magic
From some abode wreathed in rainbow light?
- Instead, a Buddha is defined as one
Who always sees the world
According to your predilections, Great Compassion,
And protects it from suffering.
- The superior teacher, the Compassionate one,
Gave up the last fifth of his life
As the cause for the perdurance of the teachings.
And his passing into Peace
- Is an expression of the extent of the mercy
He showed to us.
Hence, your kindness, Great Compassion,
Is beyond the scope of verbal description.
- The protector Avalokiteshvara
Even blessed his own name
To eliminate the fear of those who hear it.
This too is the magic of boundless compassion.
- Although the Venerable Āsaðga tried to obtain [vision of] the Protector
Maitreya In a forest for a period of twelve years,
Still nothing happened.
But on one occasion, he encountered a dog in distress.
- In that instant, a powerful compassion overwhelmed him
And he had a vision of [Maitreya]61
Therefore, those who concentrate on you as their single deity
Will effortlessly behold the faces of a hundred deities.
- The incomparable Lord Atïsha
Unconcerned that his lifespan
Would be shortened by nineteen years,
Journeyed to the Land of Snows.
- This is definitely the power of Great Compassion.
Having sustained the embers of the Doctrine,
Even to this day they have not gone out.
That is the enlightened activity of his compassion.
- There are many amazing stories [telling] of how cats and even wolves
Would cease hunting, etc.,
Near the place where the Great Son of the Conqueror, Shrïbhadra
Was engaged in the practice of compassion.
- The Protector Mañjushri, Lama Tsongkhapa,
During the age of the final five hundred years of extreme degeneration,
Beautified the world
With his pure discipline and stainless preaching and practice
- But this is said to be the later ripening into a good result
Of a prayer that he made previously in the presence of Indraketu:
To grasp the holy Dharma,
His mind moved by great compassion.
- In short, whatever vast and narrow rivers of benefit and happiness
Cascade and fall into the great sea of SaÚsåra and Nirvåna,
For each, its source can only be found
In the great snows of compassion.
- When the reaches of the vast and noble qualities
Of the sky-like supreme mind of compassion
Cannot be fathomed even by the eye of the Omniscient One,
How can a pauper, a fly, fathom it?
- Yet just as a rain sparrow is satisfied
By a few drops of the nectar of the clouds,
My spirit is uplifted
When I pronounce the noble qualities of Great Compassion.
- This tongue and palate of mine,
Accustomed since childhood to the four non-virtues of speech For the first time, today only now are they imbued with purpose.
- It is that which, when it arises in the mind
Differentiates thinking beings from domesticated animals.
It is what makes us worthy of being called human.
I take refuge in Great Compassion.
- If you yearn from the heart to obtain Buddhahood,
Then in the presence of a kind-hearted master
Abide with humility in your heart
And meditate on the supreme heart of compassion.
- By the accumulated virtue of praising this,
May the mind of compassion quickly arise in my heart,
And may it never degenerate
But always spread and increase.
- May I become a great captain
Of the ship of Great Compassion
Skilled in navigating the hosts of my aged mothers, innumerable as space
Along the sea of Great Awakening.
- May all beings of this degenerate age who lack compassion,
And who are themselves objects of compassion,
Be blessed by the deity of compassion
That their minds be soaked with the nectar of compassion.