Samantabhadra Bodhisattva’s Repentance Practice 普贤菩萨之忏悔行

Excerpt From ‘Flower Adornment (Avataṃsaka) Sūtra’s Chapter [On] Universal Virtues’ [i.e. Samantabhadra Bodhisattva] Practices [And] Vows’:


[Samantabhadra Bodhisattva told the youth Good Wealth (Sudhanakumâra)]: ‘Furthermore, good man! Speaking [of] repentance of karmic obstacles, Bodhisattvas [are] personally mindful [thus],


“I, within past beginningless kalpas [i.e. world cycles of about 1.3 trillion years each], by greed, anger [and] delusion, arising [from] body, speech [and] mind, created all evil karma, [that is] immeasurable [and] boundless.


If this evil karma has physical form, exhausting [the] realms [of] empty space, [they will] not [be] able [to] contain [or] receive [it]. 


I now, with all three pure karmas [of body, speech and mind], before all Buddhas [and] Bodhisattva assemblies [that] pervade [the] Dharma realm’s [i.e. universe] extremely fine dustlike worlds, [with my] sincere mind repent, in future not again creating [evil karma, by] constantly abiding [upon] all pure precepts’ meritorious virtues.   


Thus, [when] empty space’s realms exhaust, sentient beings’ realms exhaust, sentient beings’ [negative] karma exhausts, sentient beings’ afflictions exhaust, my repentance [will] then exhaust, and [as] empty space’s realms and even [up to] sentient beings’ afflictions cannot [be] exhausted thus, my this repentance [is] without end [or exhaustion].


[With] thought [to] thought [in] continual succession, without having interruption, [with] body, speech [and] mind’s karma [for purification], without having weariness [and] disgust.”‘ …


[Samantabhadra Bodhisattva to the ten directions]:



[Verse (For) Repentance]

[From] my past, those created all evil karmas,
all due [to] beginningless greed, hatred [and] ignorance,
from body, speech [and] mind, of those arisen,
[for] all I now all repent.

[i.e. Have remorse for misdeeds,
with resolution to make amends,
and to never repeat the misdeeds.]

Summary: Samantabhadra Bodhisattva taught that those who practise the Bodhisattva path, for guiding one and all to Buddhahood, should practise repentance of karmic obstacles by being mindful, that since countless world cycles ago, they have already created all kinds of negative karma, from physical, verbal and mental deeds, arising from the three poisons of attachment, aversion and delusion, so much so that the whole of the boundless universe’s space cannot bear it all, should this karma take shape all at once. 

Thus, all should immediately, with body, speech and mind as pure as possible, sincerely repent before all immeasurable Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, with them bearing witness, with us resolving to never do evil again, and to always accord to all precepts purely. 

We should see ourselves to have no fixed self, while our negative karma is interconnected to all other beings’ negative karma. [Even them doing wrong (to others and) ourselves is also partly our wrong, due to (others and) us having done wrong to karmically be wronged, and due to (others and) us not doing enough of what is right, to guide them to realise they are wrong. If we currently lack skilful means to guide them, all the more should we repent.]

As long as empty space, with its realms of immeasurable sentient beings’ negative karma and afflictions yet to be exhausted, such repentance should be continual and not end. Even if the collective negative karma cannot be exhausted, out of equally immeasurable compassion for all, repentance on the behalf of one and all should likewise not be exhausted.

Of course, for repentance to be practised for full effect, it must be personally done. However, even the greatest Bodhisattvas like Samantabhadra Bodhisattva continue to selflessly and diligently repent for all beings, including you and me. How very moving! If so, how can we not also do the same, by heeding his teaching by example, to lighten everyone’s load of suffering?

Note: Sincere practice of mindfulness of Amitābha Buddha’s name (i.e. 阿弥陀佛: Āmítuófó) can be used to express repentance too. 

Namo Amituofo : Translation, summary and note by Shen Shi’an

Related Article:

How Are Others’ Faults Also My Faults?

Please be mindful of your speech, Amituofo!

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