How Bodhisattvas Should Always Practise Repentance 菩萨应当如何常修忏悔

忏悔文 (1)


– 普贤菩萨
《华严经: 普贤行愿品》

Verse For Repentance (1)

Of all my past created evil karma,
all by beginningless greed, anger and delusion,
from my body, speech and mind as arisen,
for all I now express repentance.

[i.e. Have remorse for misdeeds,
with resolution to make amends,
and to never repeat the misdeeds.]

– Samantabhadra Bodhisattva
(Flower Adornment Sūtra:
Chapter On Universal Virtues’ Practices And Vows)

From ‘Flower Adornment (Avataṃsaka) Sūtra’s Chapter On Universal Virtues’ (i.e. Samantabhadra Bodhisattva) Practices And Vows’《华严经普贤行愿品》:


[Samantabhadra Bodhisattva told the youth Good Wealth (Sudhanakumâra)]: ‘Furthermore, good man! Speaking of repentance of karmic obstacles, Bodhisattvas are personally mindful thus, “I, within past beginningless kalpas [i.e. world cycles of about 1.3 trillion years each], by greed, anger and delusion, arising from body, speech and mind, created all evil karma, that is immeasurable and boundless. If this evil karma has physical form, exhausting the realms of empty space, they will not be able to contain or receive it.


I now, with all three pure karmas [of body, speech and mind], before all Buddhas [and] Bodhisattva assemblies that pervade the Dharma realm’s [i.e. universe] extremely fine dustlike worlds, with my sincere mind repent, in future not again creating [evil karma, by] constantly abiding upon all pure precepts’ meritorious virtues. Thus, when empty space’s realms exhaust, sentient beings’ realms exhaust, sentient beings’ [negative] karma exhausts, sentient beings’ afflictions exhaust, my repentance will then exhaust, and as empty space’s realms and even up to sentient beings’ afflictions cannot be exhausted thus, my this repentance is without end [or exhaustion. With thought to thought in continual succession, without having interruption, with body, speech and mind’s karma [for purification], without having weariness and disgust.”‘ 

Summary: Samantabhadra Bodhisattva taught that those who practise the Bodhisattva path, for guiding one and all to Buddhahood, should practise repentance of karmic obstacles by being mindful, that since countless world cycles ago, they have already created all kinds of negative karma, from physical, verbal and mental deeds, arising from the three poisons of attachment, aversion and delusion, so much so that the whole of the boundless universe’s space cannot bear it all, should this karma take shape all at once. Thus, all should immediately, with body, speech and mind as pure as possible, sincerely repent before all immeasurable Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, with them bearing witness, with us resolving to never do evil again, and to always accord to all precepts purely.

We should see ourselves to have no fixed self, while our negative karma is interconnected to all other beings’ negative karma. [Even them doing wrong (to others and) ourselves is also partly our wrong, due to (others and) us having done wrong to karmically be wronged, and due to (others and) us not doing enough of what is right, to guide them to realise they are wrong. If we currently lack skilful means to guide them, all the more should we repent.] As long as empty space, with its realms of immeasurable sentient beings’ negative karma and afflictions yet to be exhausted, such repentance should be continual and not end.

Even if the collective negative karma cannot be exhausted, out of equally immeasurable compassion for all, repentance on the behalf of one and all should likewise not be exhausted. Of course, for repentance to be practised for full effect, it must be personally done. However, even the greatest Bodhisattvas like Samantabhadra Bodhisattva continue to selflessly and diligently repent for all beings, including you and me. How very moving! If so, how can we not also do the same, by heeding his teaching by example, to lighten everyone’s load of suffering? [Note: Sincere practice of mindfulness of Amitābha Buddha’s name (i.e. 阿弥陀佛: Āmítuófó) can be used to express repentance too.]

忏悔文 (2)


Verse For Repentance (2)

Of all past created evil karma,
all by beginningless greed, anger and delusion,
from my body, speech and mind as arisen,
now before the Buddhas I seek repentance.

Related Article:
How Are Others’ Faults Also My Faults?

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