Buddhist Hymns and Prayers

On Opening the Sutra

The Dharma incomparably profound and exquisite
Is rarely met with, even in hundreds of thousands of millions of kalpas;
We are now permitted to see it, to listen to it, to accept and hold it;
May we truly understand the meaning of the Tathagata’s words!


All the evil karma ever committed by me since of old,
On account of greed, anger, and folly, which have no beginning,
Born of my body, mouth, and thought --
I now make full open confession of it.

The Threefold Refuge

I take refuge in the Buddha;
I take refuge in the Dharma;
I take refuge in the Sangha.

I take refuge in the Buddha, the incomparably honoured one;
I take refuge in the Dharma, honourable for its purity;
I take refuge in the Sangha, honourable for its harmonious life.

I have finished taking refuge in the Buddha;
I have finished taking refuge in the Dharma;
I have finished taking refuge in the Sangha.

The Four Great Vows

However innumerable beings are, I vow to save them;
However inexhaustible the passions are, I vow to extinguish them;
However immeasurable the Dharmas are, I vow to master them;
However incomparable the Buddha-truth is, I vow to attain it.

The Teaching of the Seven Buddhas

Not to commit evils,
But to do all that is good,
And to keep one’s thought pure --
This is the teaching of all the Buddhas

The Gatha of Impermanence

All composite things are impermanent,
They are subject to birth and death;
Put an end to birth and death,
And there is blissful tranquility.

[The preceding quoted in D. T. Suzuki, Manual of Zen Buddhism.  N.Y.:  Grove, 1960.]

Mahamangala Sutta

[Discourse of Supreme Happiness]

Pali English
Bahu deva manussa ca
Mangalani acintayum
Akankha-mana sotthanam
Bruhi mangala muttamam
Many deities and humans,
yearning after good,
have pondered on Blessings.
Pray, tell me the Supreme Blessings.
Asevana ca balanam
Panditanan ca sevana
Puja ca puja-niyanam
Etam mangala muttamam
Not to follow or associate with the foolish,
to associate with the wise,
and honor those who are worthy of honor.
This is the Supreme Blessing.
Patirupa-desa vaso ca
Pubbe ca kata-punnata
Atta samma panidhi ca
Etam mangala muttamam
To reside in a suitable locality,
to have done meritorious actions in the past, 
and to have set oneself on the right course 
This is the Supreme Blessing.
Bahu saccanca sippanca
Vinayo ca susikkhito
Subhasita ca ya vaca
Etam mangala muttamam
Vast-learning, perfect handicraft,
a highly trained discipline
and pleasant speech.
This is the Supreme Blessing.
Mata pitu upatthanam
Putta darassa sangaho
Anakula ca kammanta
Etam mangala muttamam
The support of mother and father,
the cherishing of spouse and children
and peaceful occupations.
This is the Supreme Blessings.
Danam ca dhamma-cariya ca
Natakananca sangaho
Anavajjani kammani
Etam mangala muttamam
Liberality, righteous conduct,
the helping of relatives
and blameless action.
This is the Supreme Blessing.
Arati virati papa
Majja-pana ca sannamo
Appa-mado ca dhammesu
Etam mangala muttamam
To cease and abstain from evil,
forbearance with respect to intoxicants
and steadfastness in virtue.
This is the Supreme Blessing.
Garavo ca Sovacassata,
Samana nanca dassanam
Kalena dhamma sakaccha
Etam mangala muttamam
Patience, obedience,
sight of the holy ones
and religious discussions at due season. 
This is the Supreme Blessing.
Tapo ca brahma cariyaca
Ariya sacana dassanam
Nibbana sacchi kiriyaca
Etam mangal muttamam
Self-control, pure life,
perception of the Noble Truths
and the realization of Nibbana.
This is the Supreme Blessing.
Putthassa loka dhammehi
Cittam yassa na kampati
Asokam virajam khemam
Etam mangala muttamam
He whose mind does not flutter,
by contact with worldly contingencies,
sorrowless, stainless and secure.
This is the Supreme Blessing.
Eta-disani katvana
Sabbattha maparajita
Sabbattha sotthim gacchanti
Tam tesam mangala-muttamamti
To them, fulfilling matters such as these,
everywhere invincible,
in every way moving happily.
These are the Supreme Blessings.