35 CONFESSION BUDDHAS
The Confession of Downfalls to the Thirty-Five Buddhas is also known as the Sutra of the Three Heaps because it is comprised of three parts: recognizing and taking responsibility for the mistakes we’ve made, rejoicing in our own and others’ good actions, and dedicating merit. A complete purification practice includes the four opponent powers:
- Regret: This is not the same as guilt. Regret is acknowledging our mistake without beating ourselves up over it.
- Restoring the relationship: We cultivate constructive feelings towards those we have harmed.
- Resolving not to do the action again: Depending on the action, this can be for a manageable period of time or for the rest of our lives.
- Remedial action: Purification practices are among the most powerful remedial actions.
All four of these are found in the Confession of Downfalls to the Thirty-Five Buddhas and offer us the opportunity to make amends for situations in which our actions were not in accord with our ethics, release them, and purify our mindstreams.
We visualize the 35 Confession Buddhas and 8 Medicine Buddhas emanating from the heart of Shakyamuni Buddha. Taking inspiration from their compassion, we offer prostrations while reciting their names. We meditate on the infinite good qualities of all these buddhas whom we seek to emulate. In doing so, we reconnect with our own inner goodness and joyfully emerge from this inspiring practice with our hearts and minds cleansed and energized to move ahead in our lives.
In this transformative practice, prostrations may be offered physically or mentally. It has been said by Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche that the real power of the practice comes from the sincere repetition of the names of the Confession Buddhas, so we need not hesitate to participate because of any physical challenges that we may have. All are welcome in this powerful practice!