A review – Commentary on the prayer of blissful realm 

The Gateway to Sukhavati is a translation of the commentary on the prayer of blissful realm. It is a colossal 265-pages. Sukhavati is a Sanskrit word for Blissful Realm.

The Prayer of Blissful Realm, written by one of the great Tibetan masters, Karma Chakmé Rinpoche, popularly known as Dechen Monlam is recited by Bhutanese people of all ages including schoolchildren at all kinds of religious events.

However, the full comprehension of the meaning of the prayers has remained a challenge for many. Therefore, Khenchen Sonam Chodup wrote a commentary on the prayer in classical Tibetan.

This book is the translation of the commentary into English for those to whom classical Tibetan is inaccessible. Written in simple English, the book is the first of its kind to offer to the readers an opportunity to understand the meaning of the prayer in English.

This book gives detailed word-for-word explanation of the prayer and talks about the methods of taking birth in Blissful Realm (dewachengizhingkham), the heavenly realm of Buddha Amitabha (Odpakme). Therefore, the book is a comprehensive guide for the religious person who wishes to be born in the Blissful Realm in the next life.

The book is broken into four parts based on the four causal conditions to be born in the Blissful Realm: visualization of the Blissful Realm, accumulation of merit and purification of obscuration, generation of boddhicitta (jangchubsem), and making prayers and dedication.

In the first part, the visualization of the Blissful Realm, the book deals on the importance of remembering Buddha Amitabha all the time and making prayers to be born in the Blissful Realm. The text describes the virtues of remembering Buddha Amitabha and reciting the prayer with the visualization of the landscape of Blissful Realm and meaning of the prayer in mind. It is the first causal condition to be nurtured by the one who wishes to take birth in the Blissful Realm.

The second part which is about accumulation of merit and purification of obscuration talks about the necessity of accumulating merit and purifying obscuration. Methods of accumulating merit and purifying obscuration such as making prostration, confession and others are given exhaustive treatment while the third part guides the readers to generate an enlightened mind or boddhicitta.

The fourth part explains on the fourth casual condition which is to make perfect prayers. Readers are encouraged to make perfect prayers to be reborn in the Blissful Realm while reciting the prayer and after engaging in the virtuous deeds.

Embellished with moral stories from the starting till end, the book affords readers a unique pleasure of reading it along with the meaning of the prayer.

With the detailed description of the landscape and beings, the book enables the readers to visualize the Blissful Realm and make them capable of reciting the prayer with the meaning in mind which is believed to be more meritorious in Buddhism.

For instance, the book describing the landscape of Blissful Realm is made up of numerous precious gems and flat like the palm of a child. Rays always shine from precious gems. Since the ground is not hard like stone, it will sink up to four inches if pressed and rise four inches if lifted.

Each precious wish-granting tree is multi-coloured.  Its roots are gold, trunk silver, branches lapis lazuli, leaves crystal, flowers read pearl, and fruits diamond. Some wish-granting trees are made of all the seven kinds of jewels while lots of other wish-granting tree made of two or three of the seven jewels. Wish-granting tree is the tree that grants all our wishes due to merits of Buddha Amitābha and our fortune.

Excellent qualities of Blissful Realm are narrated beautifully. It is stated that not even a name of a suffering is ever heard.  All the wishes are fulfilled spontaneously at the mere thought in the Blissful Realm.

The book will be of great benefit for religious people who recite the prayer of Blissful Realm and who attend Zhingdrup (the puja of accomplishment for Blissful Realm).

The book is translated by Dorjee Wangdi. He has completed MA in Buddhist Philosophy from Ngagyur Nyingma Institute in Mysore, south India. Currently he teaches translation and Buddhism at the college of language and culture studies. The first edition was published this year and edited by Needrup Zangpo.

Dechen Dolkar from Thimphu