Deeds of the Buddha’s Life
- Giving his crown to Maitreya Buddha
- Entry into his mother’s womb
- Birth in Lumbini
Deeds of the Buddha’s Life
Motivation & Salutations
Generate the motivation of bodhicitta. As much as possible generate a strong thought of impermanence-death, which allows your mind to become Dharma. Then generate compassion and strong bodhicitta toward sentient beings.
Then think of those you have a karmic responsibility towards, those close to you, those recently deceased, and bring them all along with you on pilgrimage!
OṂ NAMO MAÑJUŚHRIYE / NAMAḤ SUŚHRĪYE / NAMA UTTAMAŚHRIYE SVĀHĀ (3x)
Refuge & Bodhicitta
I go for refuge until I am enlightened
To the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Supreme Assembly.
By the merits I create through listening to the Dharma, May I become a buddha to benefit all sentient beings. (3x)
Seven Limb Prayer
Reverently I prostrate with my body, speech, and mind;
I present clouds of every type of offering, actual and imagined;
I declare all my negative actions accumulated since beginningless time, and rejoice in the merit of all holy and ordinary beings.
Please, remain until the end of cyclic existence, and turn the wheel of Dharma for living beings.
I dedicate my own and other’s merits to the great enlightenment.
This ground, anointed with perfume, strewn with flowers,
Adorned with Mount Meru, four continents, the sun and the moon:
I imagine this as a buddha-field and offer it.
May all living beings enjoy this pure land!
IDAM GURU RATNA MANDALA KAM NIRYATA YAMI
Slideshow of the Area
Over 2,600 years ago, the Buddha was born in a natural grove, where rare and beautiful flowers bloomed and one could hear the humming of five different types of bees. Queen Maya Devi was passing through this earthly paradise on the way to her parents’ house when the pangs of labor began. After bathing in a nearby pond the queen walked 25 paces, took support of a sal tree and gave birth standing up. The infant Buddha then took seven steps forward and declared that this would be his final birth.
There are many versions of this well-known story, but they all take place at the same sacred site: Lumbini, Nepal. Unlike long-established pilgrimage sites such as Varanasi, Mecca, or Lourdes, Lumbini was rediscovered only a little over a century ago. Presently, Lumbini is undergoing a complex development process.
5th Century B.C.E. – Siddhartha Gautama is born.
3rd Century B.C.E. – Emperor Ashoka erects a stone pillar, proclaiming Lumbini as the Buddha’s birthplace.
5th and 7th centuries C.E. – Two famed Chinese pilgrims, the monks Fa-hsien (Faxian) and Hsuan-Tsang (Xuanzang), make pilgrimages to Lumbini, writing down detailed travel accounts of their journeys.
14th century C.E. – Ripu Malla, the king of Jumla (now a district in modern Nepal), carves his name on the upper portion of the Ashoka pillar.
1896 – The longstanding interest of the ruling British authorities in finding the location of the neglected site bears fruit, and Lumbini is rediscovered during explorations.
1967 – UN secretary general U Thant visits Lumbini and presses for international cooperation to develop the Buddha’s birthplace.
1972 – Renowned Japanese architect Kenzo Tange is assigned to create the “master plan” for Lumbini. It was completed in 1978.
1997 – UNESCO declares Lumbini a World Heritage Site. It is surrounded by large zone in which only monasteries can be built and no commercial premises.
2013 – Archaeologists digging at Buddha’s birthplace have uncovered remains of the “earliest ever Buddhist shrine”. They unearthed a 6th Century BC timber structure buried within the Maya Devi Temple at Lumbini in Nepal. The shrine appears to have housed a tree. This links to the Buddha nativity story – his mother gave birth to him while holding on to a tree branch. Its discovery may settle the dispute over the birth date of the Buddha, the team reports in the journal Antiquity.
Every year thousands of Buddhists make a holy pilgrimage to Lumbini – long identified as the birthplace of Siddhartha Gautama, who became the Buddha. Yet despite the many texts chronicling his life and teachings, it is still uncertain when he lived. Estimates for his birth stretch as far back as 623 BC, but many scholars believed 390-340 BC a more realistic timeframe. Until now, the earliest evidence of Buddhist structures at Lumbini dated no earlier than the 3rd Century BC, in the era of the emperor Ashoka.
To investigate, archaeologists began excavating at the heart of the temple – alongside meditating monks, nuns and pilgrims. They unearthed a wooden structure with a central void which had no roof. Brick temples built later above the timber were also arranged around this central space. To date the buildings, fragments of charcoal and grains of sand were tested using a combination of radiocarbon and optically stimulated luminescence techniques.
“Now, for the first time, we have an archaeological sequence at Lumbini that shows a building there as early as the 6th century BC,” said archaeologist Prof Robin Coningham of Durham University, who co-led the international team, supported by the National Geographic Society.
Sutra to Read
The Great Discourse on the Lineage
Thus have I heard. Once the Lord was staying at Savatthi, in Anathapindika’s park in the Jeta Grove, in the Kareri hutment. And among a number of monks who had gathered together after their meal, after the alms-round, sitting in the Kareri pavilion, there arose a serious discussion on former lives, as they said, “This is how it was in a former life,” or “That is how it was.”
And the Lord, with purified divine-ear faculty surpassing the powers of humans, heard what they were talking about. Getting up from his seat, he went to the Kareri pavilion, sat down on the prepared seat, and said, “Monks, what was your conversation as you sat together? What discussion did I interrupt?” and they told him.
“Well, monks, would you like to hear a proper discourse on past lives?”
“Lord, it is time for that! Well-Farer, it is time for that! If the Lord were to give a proper discourse on past lives, the monks would listen and remember it!”
“Well then, monks, listen, pay close attention, and I will speak.”
“Yes, Lord.” The monks replied, and the Lord said,
“Monks, ninety-one aeons ago the Lord, the Arahant, the fully enlightened Buddha Vipassi arose in the world. He was born of the Khattiya race, and arose in a Khattiya family. He was of the Kondanna clan. The span of his life was eighty thousand years. He gained his full enlightenment at the foot of a trumpet flower tree. He had the pair of noble disciples Khanda and Tissa as his chief followers. He had three assemblies of disciples: one of 6,800,000, one of a hundred thousand, and one of eighty thousand monks, all Arahants. His chief personal attendant was the monk Asoka. His father was King Bandhuma, his mother was queen Bandhumati. The Kings Capital was Bandhumati.
“And so, monks, the Bodhisattva Vipassi descended from the Tushita heaven, mindful and clearly aware, into his mothers womb. This, monks, is the rule.
“It is the rule, monks, that when a Bodhisattva descends from the Tushita heaven into his mother’s womb, there appears in this world with its devas, Maras and Brahmas, its ascetics and Brahmins, princes and people an immeasurable, splendid light surpassing the glory of the most powerful devas. And whatever dark spaces lay beyond the worlds end, chaotic, blind and black, such that they are not even reached by the mighty rays of sun and moon, are yet illumined by this immeasurable splendid light surpassing the glory of the most powerful devas. And those beings that have been reborn there recognize each other by this light and know, ‘Other beings too, have been born here!’ and this ten-thousand-fold world system trembles and quakes and is convulsed. And this immeasurable light shines forth. That is the rule.
“It is the rule that when a Bodhisattva has entered his mother’s womb, four devas come to protect him from the four quarters, saying, “Let no man, no non-human being, no thing whatsoever harm this Bodhisattva or this Bodhisattvas mother!” That is the rule.
“It is the rule that when a Bodhisattva has entered his mother’s womb, his mother becomes by nature virtuous, refraining from taking life, from taking what is not given, from sexual misconduct, from lying speech, or from strong drink and sloth producing drugs. That is the rule.
“It is the rule that when a Bodhisattva has entered his mother’s womb, she has no sensual thoughts connected with a man, and she cannot be overcome by any man with lustful thoughts. That is the rule.
“It is the rule that when a Bodhisattva has entered his mother’s womb she enjoys the fivefold pleasures of the senses and takes delight, being endowed and possessed of them. That is the rule.
“It is the rule that when a Bodhisattva has entered his mother’s womb, she has no sickness of any kind, she is at ease and without fatigue of body, and she can see the Bodhisattva inside her womb, complete with all his members and faculties. Monks, it is as if a gem, a beryl, pure, excellent, well cut into eight facets, clear, bright, flawless and perfect in every respect, were strung on a blue, yellow, red, white, or orange cord. And a man with good eyesight, taking it in his hand would describe it as such. Thus does the Bodhisattva’s mother, with no sickness, see him, complete with all his members and faculties. That is the rule.
It is the rule that when a Bodhisattva’s mother dies seven days after his birth and is reborn in the Tushita heaven. That is the rule.
It is the rule that whereas other women carry the child in their womb for nine or ten months before giving birth, it is not so with the Bodhisattva’s mother, who carries him for exactly ten months before giving birth. That is the rule.
It is the rule that whereas other women give birth sitting or lying down, it is not so with the Bodhisattva’s mother, who gives birth standing up. That is the rule.
It is the rule that when the Bodhisattva issues forth from his mothers womb, devas welcome him first, and then humans, that is the rule.
It is the rule that when the Bodhisattva issues forth from his mothers womb, he does not touch the earth. Four devas receive him and place him before his mother, saying, “Rejoice, your majesty, a mighty son has been born to you!” That is the rule.
“It is the rule that when the Bodhisattva issues from his mothers womb, he issues forth stainless, not defiled by water, mucus, blood, or any impurity, pure and spotless. Just as when a jewel is laid on the muslin from Kasi, the jewel does not stain the muslin, or the muslin the jewel. Why not? Because of the purity of both. In the same way the Bodhisattva issues forth stainless, not defiled by water, mucus, blood, or any impurity, pure and spotless. That is the rule.
“It is the rule that when the Bodhisattva issues forth from his mothers womb, Two streams of water appear from the sky, one cold, the other warm, with which they ritually wash the Bodhisattva and his mother. That is the rule.
“It is the rule that as soon as he is born the Bodhisattva takes a firm stance on both feet, facing north, then takes seven strides, and then under a white sunshade he scans the four quarters, and then declares with a bull-like voice, “I am chief in the world, supreme in the world, eldest in the world. This is my last birth, there will be no more re-becoming. That is the rule.
“It is the rule that when the Bodhisattva issues from his mothers womb there appears in this world with its devas, Maras and Brahmas, its ascetics and Brahmins, princes and people an immeasurable, splendid light surpassing the glory of the most powerful devas. This is the rule.
Dedicate that you too may complete the Twelve Deeds of a buddha. Dedicate for your friends and family and those you have responsibility for, that you may lead them all to enlightenment. Make any other specific dedications for the end of war, the halt of climate change, the eradication of all pandemics and disease, and the success of all your spiritual endeavours.
Due to the merits of these virtuous actions
May I quickly attain the state of a Guru-Buddha
And lead all living beings, without exception,
Into that enlightened state
May the supreme jewel bodhicitta
Not yet born, arise and grow
May that born have no decline
But increase forever more
Long Life Prayer for HH Dalai Lama
The wish-granting wish-fulfilling jewel,
Source of every single benefit and happiness in this world,
To the incomparably kind Tenzin Gyatso, I beseech:
May all your holy wishes be spontaneously fulfilled.
Long Life Prayer for Lama Zopa Rinpoche
You who uphold the Subduer’s moral way, who serve as the bountiful bearer-of-all,
Sustaining, preserving, and spreading Manjunath’s
Who masterfully accomplish magnificent prayers honouring the Three Jewels:
Savior of myself and others, your disciples, please, please live long!