The Mandala Offering

First Verse

This ground, anointed with perfume, flowers strewn,
Mount Meru, four lands, sun and moon,
Imagined as a Buddha land and offered to you.
May all beings enjoy this pure land.

In the mandala offering, we’re imagining the universe and everything beautiful in it and offering it to the Buddha.

  • This is very different from how we live our lives, because usually, when there’s something beautiful, we offer it to ourselves.
  • So we’re offering to the Buddha all the things that we’re attached to, all the things that we’re craving and wanting, and we take joy in offering them to the Buddha.
  • We’re offering everything around us, thinking of it as a pure land, making it more beautiful than it is, then offering it to the Buddha and hoping that all sentient beings can enjoy it.

Second Verse

The objects of attachment, aversion, and ignorance – friends, enemies and strangers, my body, wealth and enjoyments – I offer these without any sense of loss. Please accept them with pleasure, and inspire me and others to be free from the three poisonous attitudes.

Here in the second verse, instead of clinging on to things that are the objects of our negative emotions (such as ignorance, anger, and attachment), we are offering those things.

  • We are freeing ourselves from the "sticky mind" that is involved with them.
  • We’re asking the Buddha to accept them and, as a result, may I and everybody else be free of the three poisonous attitudes.
  • If you’re very attached to a person, it’s very helpful to offer that person to the Buddha. In this way, you mentally give up your attachment.
  • When you offer somebody you love to the Buddha, actually they’re in much better hands than if you cling onto them, being possessive.

Third Verse

Idam guru ratna mandala kam nirya tayami.

I offer to my teacher (the Buddha) this beautiful, precious universe.

The Diagram

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