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The Practice of Releasing Lives

(By Kathy Wesley, after instructions from Bardor Tulku Rinpoche. Last revised 5.26.06)

In many Buddhist societies, life release was practiced to accumulate the merit toward
long life and good health.

Animals to be freed should be those that can survive in the climate and location of the
release. To be certain, you should ask the merchant from whom you buy the animals.

Your intention in releasing the lives should be for the long life and virtuous activity of all
sentient beings in general, and for the long life and virtuous activity of dharma teachers
and practitioners in particular.

Two methods of practicing the release of lives are given here: Simple and Elaborate.

Simple Method: Based on the short Chenrezig sadhana

• Begin with the Four-Line Refuge Prayer: SANG GYE CHÖ DANG TSHOK KYI
CHOK NAM LA. [Until I reach enlightenment, I take refuge in the Buddha,]
Recite it three times.
• Next, recite the Prayer of Praise to Chenrezig from the Chenrezig Sadhana: JO
WO KYÖN GYI MA GÖ KU DOK KAR …[Lord, you who are without
stain/with body white …] Recite it three times.
• Recite the Mantra OM MANI PEME HUNG together, with a tune. While reciting
the mantra, you may release the animals.
• In conclusion, recite any Dedication Prayer you wish (such as SON AM DI YI ..)

A sheet with these prayers is included with this document (see page 3).

Elaborate Method: Based on “The Essence of Benefit and Joy” sadhana


(Using the text, “The Essence of Benefit and Joy: A Method for the Saving of Lives”) published
by Siddhi Publications. Page Numbers given are from this Text)

Before the puja, you may sprinkle the animals with sand from a sand mandala; show
them pictures of the Buddhas or bodhisattvas, waft them with incense or apply any other
blessing substances. You also may recite the 100-syllable mantra of Vajrasattva, the
mantra of Mitrukpa (also called Akshobya), or other dharanis.

The Mitrukpa mantra is as follows:

NAMO RENA TRAYAYA OM KAM KANI KAM KANI ROTSANI ROTSANI


TROTANI TROTANI TRASANI TRASANI TRATI HANA TRATI HANA
SARWA KARMA PARAM PARA NIMÉ SARWA SATO NENTSA SOHA

1
The liturgy may be chanted by the entire assembly. The bell usually is played only by the
Loppon (the ritual leader) and/or the Umdze (the chant leader). If a group has both a
Loppon and an Umdze, both may play the bell. Drum and silnyen cymbals also may be
used. The Tibetan liturgy may be chanted using the tunes of the Green Tara sadhana; the
intervals of music also can be those in Green Tara.

• Page 4 (English text) or Page 16 (Tibetan text). First, recite the Four-Line
Refuge Prayer. Recite it three times
• Page 4 (English) Page 17 (Tibetan) At OM VAJRA…if you have blessing pills
or “dharma medicine,” place them in water and sprinkle the animals to be released
with this water.
• Page 5 (English) Page 17 (Tibetan) recite visualization. You may use the same
tune used in Green Tara practice.
• Page 6 (English); Page 23 (Tibetan) At “ …inviting the wisdom deities”
(English) or “Yeshe Lha Tshog Jen Drang Gyur” (Tibetan) play the bell or
perform music. (Music during this sadhana can be the same as used in Green Tara
sadhana. Three Pekors may be performed by the cymbal musician for this
invitation music.)
• Page 7 (English); Page 23 (Tibetan): at “ Bhagavats, with your retinues, please
come to this place.” Or “Chom Den Khor Che Ne Dir Sheg Su Sol” Play the
bell or perform music.
• Page 7 (English); Page 25 (Tibetan) at “And offer them to the deities of
immortality” or Chi Me Tshe Yi Lha Tshog Cho,”, play the bell or offer music.
(One pekor may be played by the cymbal musician.)
• Page 7 (English); Page 25 (Tibetan), at SABDA, play the bell or offer music.
• Page 7 to 8 (English) or Page 25 through 27 (Tibetan), the Loppon holds the
bell and dorje in the position called “Holding Dorje.” Every fourth line, s(he)
should ring the bell.
• Page 8 (English) or Page 28 (Tibetan), Mantras printed on this page should be
recited 7, 25, or 108 times each.
• Page 8 to 9 (English) or Page 29 (Tibetan), Mantras on these pages should be
recited 7, 25, or 108 times each.
• Page 9 (English) or page 30 (Tibetan), at SABDA, play the bell or offer music.
• Page 10 (English) or Page 31 (Tibetan), the Loppon holds bell and dorje in the
position called “Mudra of Praise.” Every fourth line, s(he) should ring the bell.
• Page 10 to 11 (English) or Page 32-33 (Tibetan). Read the description of the
dissolution of the visualization. After reading this, visualize that the mandala of
immortality dissolves into the animals to be freed. Then, free the animals.
• Although none are included in this text, you may add any auspiciousness prayers
you wish (such as those at the conclusion of the Nyung-ne, etc.)

2
Prayers for Releasing Lives (Simple Method)
Refuge and Bodhicitta:
SANG GYE CHÖ DANG TSHOK KYI CHOK NAM LA
Until I reach enlightenment, I take refuge in the Buddha,
JANG CHUP BAR DU DAK NI KYAP SU CHI
In the Dharma, and the noble Sangha.
DAK GI JIN SOK GYI PAY SÖ NAM KYI
Through the merit of accomplishing the six perfections,
DRO LA PHEN CHIR SANG GYE DRUP PAR SHOK (Recite three times)
May I achieve awakening for the benefit of all sentient beings

Prayer of Praise to Chenrezig:


JO WO KYÖN GYI MA GÖ KU DOK KAR
Lord, not touched by any fault, white in color,
DZOK SANG GYE KYI U LA GYEN
Whose head a perfect Buddha crowns,
THUK JEY CHEN GYI DRO LA ZIK
Gazing compassionately on all beings,
CHEN RE ZIK LA CHAK TSHAL LO (Recite three times)
To you, Chenrezig, I prostrate.

Mantra:
OM MANI PEME HUNG (many times, while releasing animals)

Dedications:

SÖ NAM DI YI THAM CHE ZIK PA NYI


By this merit may all attain omniscience.
THOP NE NYE PAY DRA NAM PAM JE NE
May it defeat the enemy, wrongdoing.
KYE GA NA CHI BA LAP THRUK PA YI
From the stormy waves of birth, old age, sickness and death
SI PAY TSHO LE DRO WA DRÖL WAR SHOK
From the ocean of samsara, may I free all beings.

JAM PAL PA WÖ JI TAR KHYEN PA DANG


The courageous Manjushri, show knows everything as it is,
KÖN TU ZANG PO DE YAN DE ZHIN TE
Samantabhadra, who also knows in the same way,
DE DAK KÜN GYI JE SU DAK LOP CHING
And all the bodhisattvas – that I may follow in their path,
GE WA DI DAK THAM CHE RAP TU NGO
I completely dedicate all this virtue.

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