Monks and nuns have incorporated the following poignant lament into part of their daily practice. It appeals to the meditational deity Vajrasattva for inspiration in seeking release from the matrix of the heartless imprisonment built by the ego.Vajrasattva is an aspect of the fully enlightened mind, the Buddha especially related to purification—that is, with the insight and compassion that removes the dissonance created by ego-bound thought patterns, speech, and activities:
O great compassionate and transcendent Lord Vajrasattva, whose supremely exquisite form, immaculate and white, is suffused by a pure inner radiance, glowing like a hundred thousand suns and moons, emanating heroic rays of light, which illuminate the chiliocosm. You, who are known as the guide and teacher of the three levels of existence, the unique friend to all living beings of the three world-systems. O Lord of Loving Kindness, deity of compassion—please attend to us!
From beginningless time, without end, I have roamed throughout cyclic existence—Led astray by the momentum of my mistaken past actions and improper past behavior, I have mistaken the path and become lost on the path. I regret with powerful remorse the negative past actions I have committed of any kind. Drawn by the momentum of momentary yet violently resonant past acts. I have sunk into this ocean of suffering, the sea of cyclic existence. The fires of blazing hatred have unabatingly seared my mind. The dense darkness of delusion has blinded my discriminative awareness.
The ocean coasts of desire have drowned my consciousness. The mountain of fierce pride has entombed me in the lower existences. The cruel whirlwind of envy has sucked me into these turning worlds, where, entwined by the tight knot of egocentricity, I have fallen into he pit of desire, this chasm of blazing fires. Unbearably brutal misery has poured down on me like heavy rain. Damaged by such extreme and unbearable suffering, seared by the blazing ferocious fires of my negative past actions, the shoots of my consciousness and sense of faculties have been blunted. If my body, this illusory aggregate, can no longer withstand all this pain, how can you bear to witness this, O Compassionate Lord of Loving Kindness?
Obscured fool that I am, burdened by the most negative, evil past acts, propelled by the momentum of these past actions, I have taken birth as the personification of rampant egohood within this world-system of desire. I regret having taken such birth, and am dismayed by my past acts! Yet, regardless of my regret and my dismay, past actions cannot be remade. The momentum of past actions is as strong as a river’s inexorable flow, so how can the mighty river of past actions be reversed in a mere moment! All that ripens is born from one’s own past actions, and I am one who has been swept along by the violent whirlwind of my past actions, and accordingly have roamed over countless past aeons, lost within the dark prisons of cyclic existence. 0 Lord of Loving Kindness, through the blessing of your compassion, purify the obscurations generated by my past actions and dissonant mental states, and secure me in the presence of your mother-like loving kindness!
Here am I, continuously yearning for the sight of your compassionate face, which shines with a luminosity like that of the sun, and radiates with a clarity like that of the moon. Yet my darkened eyes, blinded by the cataracts of beginningless ignorance, are unable to see you, 0 Lord of Living Beings, where are you now?
When I am terrified by the utterly unbearable and virulent power of past actions, and my hair stands on end, out of fear, I call out this lament, in heartfelt passion, and cry out to you in a voice of utter despair! 0 Lord of Loving Kindness, if you do not attend to me with compassion now, at the time of my death, when my mind and body separate, when I am cut off from the company of spiritual friends, and dragged away by Yama, at that time, when my relatives stay behind in the world, yet I alone am led away by the power of past actions, at that time, I will be unprotected and without a refuge. So, do not on any account hesitate or delay now, but draw near to me at this very moment, and enact the wrathful rites of liberation.
Beings such as I, who are afflicted by past actions, have been subject to misconceptions since beginningless time. As a result, we have not achieved release from the turning states of cyclic existence. Indeed, beings such as I have assumed such a countless number of corporeal forms, during countless births in countless aeons, that if our flesh and bones were to be collected together, their accumulated mass would fill this world, and if our pus and blood were to be collected together, their accumulated mass would fill a vast ocean, and if the residue of our past actions were to be collected together, their extent would be beyond conception and inexpressible.
Though I have continued endlessly in a cycle of births and deaths, throughout the three world-systems, the actions that I have committed have been pointless and unproductive. Yet from among all these many countless births, the actions committed in the course of just a single lifetime could have been worthwhile if only I had trained well, pursued the path of unsurpassed enlightenment, and thus attained the genuine final nirvana. But, swayed by the virulence of past actions and the great potency of dissonant mental states, I have assumed bodies, these networks of flesh and blood, and roamed throughout cyclic existence, thrust into a succession of prison-like existences, where the suffering is hard to bear.
All my transgressions, resonant with such unbearably intense suffering, have been born out of my own past actions. Please, through your great compassion, shatter the momentum of these past actions, and reverse the vital energy of past actions, generated by dissonant mental states!
From your heart, 0 compassionate conquering deity, gaze upon me now! Draw me up from the swamp of cyclic existence! Lead me swiftly to the supreme level of the three Buddha-bodies.
—The Tibetan Book of the Dead
With deepest sincerity on my own path; may yours be just as fulfilling and meaningful.