Event : Sakya Monlam 2011
Date : November 13-23
Venue : Lumbini, Nepal
Website : http://www.sakyadrotonling.org/
At that moment the Bodhisattva Samantabhadra extended his hand and blessed the head of the youth Subahu, opening myriad doors of Dharma in his mind. The Bodhisattva Samantabhadra then explained how his emanations achieve benefit for sentient beings, how they venerate the Buddhas as a cause to achieve that benefit, and how they engage in the limitless conduct of the Bodhisattvas. The Bodhisattva Samantabhadra explained how his emanations have purified limitless pure realms and matured infinite sentient beings. Combining all of these explanations into verse, he sang a song which became known as Samantabhadra’s Aspiration to Noble Deeds, and which was the condensation of all other aspirations into one. How this aspiration is more exalted than others is explained by the following verses from the Samantabadhra prayer:
Whoever offers to the victorious Buddhas
All the realms of the ten directions adorned with jewels
And all the excellent joys of gods and men
For as many eons as there are atoms n those realms, shall gain great merit.
But whoever hears this greatest dedication prayer
Greatly aspires to perfect enlightenment
And even once generates faith
Shall gain ever higher and holier merit.
There are thirteen other benefits, which are explained in detail:
Whoever utters this Aspiration to Noble Deeds
Will never again endure lower rebirth,
Will abandon all evil friends,
And soon behold the Buddha of Boundless Light.
They will find that which is sought
And live in happiness,
Find joy also in this life,
And soon become like Samantabhadra imself.
Even though they may have in ignorance
Committed the five irredeemable sins,
They will soon be completely purified
Through uttering this Aspiration to Noble Deeds.
They will achieve perfect wisdom, a radiant countenance,
Ethereal form, auspicious physical marks, and a noble birth.
Profane and devilish beings will not trouble them,
And they will be honored in the three realms.
They will quickly reach the royal tree of enlightenment,
Residing there to benefit beings.
As enlightened Buddhas, they will turn the wheel of Dharma,
Taming the demonic hosts.
The ultimate benefit is also explained:
Whoever knows, teaches, or recites
This Aspiration to Noble Deeds
Shall ultimately attain perfect Buddhahood.
May none despair of complete enlightenment.
As these verses show, the benefit of reciting Samantabhadra’s Aspiration to Noble Deeds is inconceivable and beyond description. Because of this great benefit, many masters in Tibet instituted large prayer gatherings where the Aspiration to Noble Deeds was recited by hundreds or thousands of monks, nuns, and lay people. These prayer, or monlam, festivals were performed by all the major schools of Tibetan Buddhism, and were often held where holy masters of the past had dwelt, taught the Dharma, or passed away, or near temples or other places of great religious significance.