Devotion Pierces My Heart
Translations | Basics, Training, Traditional

A Far-reaching Cry to the Guru Prayer1

Namo gurave

Everyone knows the form of prayer called far-reaching cries to the guru. The key to invoking energy is devotion inspired by disenchantment and determination,2 devotion that comes from the depths of your heart and the marrow of your bones, not merely from your lips mouthing the words. Sing this melodious song with complete conviction that your guru is none other than Buddha.

Guru, think of me.
Kind root guru, think of me.

Essence of the buddhas of the three times,
Source of the holy Dharma of teaching and experience,
Master of the sangha, the assembly of noble ones,
Root guru, think of me.

Great treasure of energy and compassion,
Source of the two attainments,3
Provider, through awakened activity,4 of everything needed,
Root guru, think of me.

Guru Amitabha,5 think of me.
Look upon me from the simplicity of the vastness of what is.
Because of my ruinous actions, I am lost in samsara,
Lead me to the pure Realm of Bliss.6

Guru Avalokitesvara, think of me.
Look upon me from the sheer clarity of the vastness of enjoyment.
Calm completely the suffering of the six realms
And churn the three realms of samsara to its depths.

Guru Padmakara,7 think of me
Look upon me from your palace, Lotus Light, in Chamara.8
In these dark times I am weary and without refuge.
Quickly, out of your compassion, shelter me.

Guru Yeshe Tsogyal,9 think of me.
Look upon me from the sky dweller10 city of bliss.
Evildoer that I am, release me from the sea of samsara
Into the city of freedom.

Gurus of the kama and terma lineages,11 think of me.
Look upon me from the vastness of indivisible pristine awareness.
Break through the darkness of my confused mind
And bring the dawn of direct understanding.

Complete knowing Trimé Özer,12 think of me.
Look upon me from the vastness of the five naturally present lights.
Help me to master how to be in original purity
And complete the four visions.13 father and son, think of me.
Look upon me from the midst of hundreds of gods in Tushita.14
Help me to give birth to awakening mind,
The essence of emptiness and compassion.

Three masters, Marpa, Mila, and Dakpo,15 think of me.
Look upon me from the space of indestructible bliss.
Help me to master mahamudra, bliss and emptiness,
And awaken the form of what is16 deep in my heart.

Karmapa,17 lord of the world, think of me.
Look upon me from the space where you teach beings without limit.
Help me to know that all experience is insubstantial and illusory.
Make appearance and mind dawn as the three dimensions of awakening.18 think of me.
Look upon me from the realm of sacred outlook.
Help me to clear away confusion in the four states19
And complete experience and understanding.

Five noble Sakya forefathers,20 think of me.
Look upon me from the vastness of inseparable samsara and nirvana.

Help me to connect pure outlook, practice, and activity
And tread the excellent path of mysteries.

Incomparable Shangpa21 masters, think of me.
Look upon me from the field of total purity.
Help me to practice method and release properly
And find the union beyond training.

Great master, Tongtong Gyalpo,22 think of me.
Look upon me from the vastness of effortless compassion.
Help me to practice the deliberate behavior of knowing no reality
And unite mind and energy in their natural power.

Only father, Padampa Sangje,23 think of me.
Look upon me from the realm of the mastery of action.
Make the energy of your lineage enter my heart
And make good conditions arise everywhere.

Only mother, Lapchi Dröma,24 think of me.
Look upon me from the vastness of the perfection of wisdom.
Help me to cut through the arrogance of self-fixation
And see the truth of simplicity beyond self.

Complete knowing Dolpo Sangje,25 think of me.
Look upon me from the space that is supreme in all respects.
Help me to still the movement26 energies in the central channel
And attain the vajra body beyond movement.

Noble Taranatha,27 think of me.
Look upon me from the space of the three messengers.28
Help me to tread the secret vajra path without hindrance.
And attain the sky dweller’s rainbow body.

Jamyang Khyentse Wongpo,29 think of me.
Look upon me from the space of pristine awareness in its two aspects.30
Help me to remove the darkness of not knowing
And expand the brilliance of complete knowing.

Ösel Trulpe Dorje,31 think of me.
Look upon me from the vastness of the five rainbow rays.
Help me to remove the impurities in vitality, energy, and mind,
And awaken in the youthful vase body.32

Pema Do-ngak Lingpa,33 think of me.
Look upon me from the vastness of unchanging empty bliss.
Help me to be able to fulfill completely
All intentions of the victorious ones and their heirs.

Nga-wang Yonten Gyatso,34 think of me.
Look upon me from the vastness where space and wisdom are one.
Help me to utterly destroy clinging to the reality of appearances
And be able to use whatever arises as the path.

Son of the victorious ones, Lodrö Tayé, think of me.
Look upon me from the state of love and compassion.
Help me to know that all beings are my kind parents
And be able to work sincerely to help others.

Padma Kargyi Wangchook, think of me.
Look upon me from the space of sheer clarity and bliss.
Help me to release the five poisons as the five wisdoms
And destroy my attachment to loss or gain.

Ten-nyi Yung-drung Lingpa, think of me.
Look upon me from the space where existence and peace are balanced.
Help me to give rise to natural devotion
So that understanding and release arise at the same time.

Kind root guru, think of me.
Look upon me from the bliss center, the crown of my head.
Help me to meet what is, natural awareness, face to face,
And awaken completely in this one life.

Alas!
Sentient beings like myself, evildoers with bad karma,
Have wandered in samsara for time without beginning.
Though I continue to suffer endlessly,
I do not experience even a moment’s disillusionment.
Guru, think of me: look upon me quickly with compassion.
Give me energy to feel renunciation deep inside.

Even with a free and well-favored birth,35 I waste this life.
The meaningless activities of conventional life constantly distract me.
When I work at freedom, which is truly important, laziness carries me away.
Because I am turning away from a land of jewels with my hands empty,
Guru, think of me: look upon me quickly with compassion.
Give me energy to make my life worthwhile.

No one on this earth has ever escaped death.
Even now, one after another, people pass away.
While I, too, will have to die soon,
I close my heart and prepare to live for a long time.
Guru, think of me: look upon me quickly with compassion.
Give me energy to stop useless planning.

I will be separated from each and every person I love.
Others will enjoy the wealth and goods I greedily gathered.
Even this body that I hold so dear, I will leave behind
As my consciousness goes — who knows where — in the intermediate states and samsara.
Guru, think of me: look upon me quickly with compassion.
Give me energy to know that I need nothing at all.

The black darkness of terror awaits me.
The violent gales of karma howl behind me.
The Lord of Death’s hideous goons beat and hack me.
As I will have to experience the horrendous sufferings of the lower realms,
Guru, think of me: look upon me quickly with compassion.
Give me energy to be free from the ravines of the lower realms.

My faults are huge, like mountains, but I conceal them within me.
Others’ faults are tiny, like sesame seeds, but I publicly condemn them.
Though I have no abilities, I brag about how good I am.
I call myself a practitioner, but I don’t really practice.
Guru, think of me: look upon me quickly with compassion.
Give me energy to subdue my self-centered pride.

Within I hide my downfall — the demon of fixation on self.
Every thought is the genesis of a reactive emotion.
Every action produces a non-virtuous result.
Because I’m not going anywhere near the path of freedom,
Guru, think of me: look upon me quickly with compassion.
Give me energy to cut this clinging to “I” at its root.

The slightest praise or blame makes me happy or sad.
One harsh word and I lose my armor of patience.
I see destitute people but feel no compassion.
When I have a chance to be generous, greed ties me in knots.
Guru, think of me: look upon me quickly with compassion.
Give me energy to mix my mind with the Dharma.

Samsara has no purpose, but I give it one.
To get food and clothing I let go of solid intentions.
Though I have the essentials, I always need more.
I fool myself with insubstantial and illusory experiences.
Guru, think of me: look upon me quickly with compassion.
Give me energy to let go of conventional matters.

I can’t endure the slightest physical or mental pain,
Yet I am so stubborn I don’t fear falling into the lower realms.
Though I see the inevitable evolution from seed to result,
I still do not act virtuously but just add to my store of bad karma.
Guru, think of me: look upon me quickly with compassion.
Give me energy to trust karma.

I hate my enemies, cling to friends,
And am befuddled about what to do or not do.
When I practice, I am dull, sluggish, and sleepy.
When I don’t practice, my senses are clear and sharp.
Guru, think of me: look upon me quickly with compassion.
Give me energy to destroy my enemy, emotional reactions.

From the outside, I look like a practitioner,
But inside, the practice has not taken root.
Like a snake, I conceal poisonous emotions.
My hidden flaws come out when I experience difficulties.
Guru, think of me: look upon me quickly with compassion.
Give me energy to tame my own mind.

Because I don’t see my own shortcomings
I behave like a materialist though I look like a practitioner.
I am completely addicted to reactions and non-virtuous activity.
Good intentions constantly arise but they are constantly cut off.
Guru, think of me: look upon me quickly with compassion.
Give me energy to see my own faults.

As each day passes, I move nearer to death.
As each day passes, my personality becomes increasingly rigid.
Though I follow my teacher, devotion steadily fades.
Sacred outlook and affection for fellow students decay bit by bit.
Guru, think of me: look upon me quickly with compassion.
Give me energy to tame this wild mind.

I take refuge, arouse awakening mind, and pray,
But I don’t feel devotion or compassion deep in my heart.
I’m not touched by practice or virtue:
I just pay lip service and go through the motions.
Guru, think of me: look upon me quickly with compassion.
Give me energy to make what I do effective.

While the teachings say that all suffering comes from desiring happiness for oneself,
And full awakening comes from intending to help others,
When I foster awakening mind, I secretly focus on what I want.
Never mind helping others, I harm them as a matter of course.
Guru, think of me: look upon me quickly with compassion.
Give me energy to put myself in another’s place.

My guru is really the Buddha, but I see him as an ordinary person.
I completely forget how kind he is in giving such profound instruction.
When I don’t get what I want, I lose faith.
My doubts and distrust of his behavior blind me.
Guru, think of me: look upon me quickly with compassion.
Give me energy so that devotion continually grows.

My own mind is fully awake, but I don’t recognize it.
The essence of thinking is what is36 but I don’t know this.
Not controlling is true being, but I can’t stay there.
Settling naturally leads to how things are, but I don’t believe it.
Guru, think of me: look upon me quickly with compassion.
Give me energy so that awareness releases naturally.

Death is certainly coming, but I can’t take it to heart.
The holy Dharma is certainly helpful, but I can’t practice it properly.
Karma is certainly true, but I don’t act appropriately.
Attention is certainly necessary, but I’m swept away by distractions.
Guru, think of me: look upon me quickly with compassion.
Give me energy to be constantly mindful.

Because of former bad karma, I was born in a dark age.
Everything I’ve done so far will just give rise to more suffering.
The bad influence of others casts shadows over me.
Pointless conversations sidetrack my efforts to do good.
Guru, think of me: look upon me quickly with compassion.
Give me energy to work hard at practice.

At first, I thought of nothing but practice;
In the end, the only results are lower realm seeds.
The frost of non-virtue destroys the harvest of freedom!
Barbarians like me undermine our own worthwhile intentions.
Guru, think of me: look upon me quickly with compassion.
Give me energy to follow the Dharma to the end.

Give me energy to feel disenchantment deeply.
Give me energy to stop useless planning.
Give me energy to take death seriously.
Give me energy to trust the evolution of actions.

Give me energy so my path is not interrupted.
Give me energy to work hard at practice.
Give me energy to make use of adversity.
Give me energy to apply correctives with confidence.

Give me energy to feel genuine natural devotion.
Give me energy to meet how things are.
Give me energy to awaken natural awareness in my heart.
Give me energy to destroy confusion and projections.
Give me energy to awaken fully in this one life.

Treasured guru, I pray to you.
Kind Lord of the Dharma, I longingly cry out to you.
Unworthy though I am, my only hope is you.
Give me energy to make my mind one with yours.


Although several devoted practitioners asked me to compose a prayer of this genre, I neglected to fulfill their request. Recently, because Samdrup Dronma, a lady practitioner of noble family, and Deva Rakshita have earnestly made the same request, I, Lodrö Tayé, who merely maintains the appearance of a guru in this dark age, wrote this at the great meditation center, Dzongsho Deshek Dupa. May virtue increase.

In order to give his students a taste of the power of devotion, Ken McLeod translated this prayer in Los Angeles, California, building on the previous translations by the Nalanda Translation Committee and Rangjung Yeshe.

  1. The Tibetan term jang bö (rgyang.’bod) can be read in two ways, “crying from a distance” or “a cry that carries a long way.” Most translations take the former interpretation. The latter rendering has been chosen here because it avoids the connotation that one is separated from the guru, is emotionally more compelling, and makes for more natural English. []
  2. Disenchantment (also rendered as disgust and disillusionment) comes from the appreciation of the difficulties of pattern-based existence (samsara). Determination (also rendered as renunciation) is the wish or intention to become free of suffering and of pattern-based existence. []
  3. Ordinary attainments are sorcery abilities such as being able to disappear in a crowd or live on stones. These abilities arise from developing the capacity to charge objects with energy by focusing attention with visualizations and mantras. The special or supreme attainment is direct knowing of the nature of experience. []
  4. The four kinds of awakened activity are pacification, enrichment, magnetization, and destruction. []
  5. The buddha Boundless Light, head of the lotus family with its ethic of compassion. In this prayer, he is regarded as the expression of what is (dharmakaya), with Avalokiteshvara (the bodhisattva of awakened compassion) being the associated expression of enjoyment or quality (samboghakaya), and Padmakara (Guru Padmasambhava) being the associated expression in form (nirmanakaya). []
  6. The domain of awakening (buddha field or pure land) associated with Amitabha. []
  7. The Indian master who came to Tibet in the 8th century and became the archetypal teacher for the Nyingma tradition. []
  8. The subcontinent to the southwest of India in ancient cosmology, often identified with present-day Madagascar. []
  9. The archetypal female teacher in the Nyingma tradition, a consort of Padmakara. []
  10. Sky dweller is similar in meaning to the term sky traveler (Sanskrit dakini, Tibetan khandro). []
  11. The two forms of texts in the Nyingma tradition. Kama is the collection of teachings traced from Buddha Shakyamuni and Indian sources. Terma is the collection of texts originally hidden by Padmakara to be revealed at appropriate times. []
  12. Trime Oser (dri.med.od.zer), the Nyingma master Longchen Rabjampa (1308-1364). []
  13. The four stages of tögal in dzogchen: true pure being, increasing experience, maturation of awareness, and ending in pure being.)

    Incomparable Lord Atisha, ((Dipankara Atisha (982-1054), an Indian master who came to Tibet in the 11th century and began what became known as the Kadampa tradition. His coming marks the beginning of the new translation schools of Tibetan Buddhism. []

  14. Tushita is the only heaven in the gods’ realm where Dharma is practiced. Tradition holds that buddhas reside here until the time has come for them to take form in the world. []
  15. Marpa (1012-1097) was a translator who traveled to India and studied with Naropa and other Indian masters. Milarepa (1040-1123) was a mountain hermit who became one of the great folk heros of Tibet. Gampopa (1084-1161) was a Kadampa monk who combined the esoteric practices of Milarepa with the monastic discipline. All the Kagyu schools recognize these three as their patriarchs. []
  16. To the extent possible, this translation avoids Sanskrit terms. The form of what is is a literal rendering of dharmakaya, the open dimension of awakened mind. []
  17. The Karmapas, the heads of the Karma Kagyu school, are the oldest line of incarnations in Tibet. The first Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa (1110-1193), was a student of Gampopa. Jamgön Kongtrul (1812-1899), the author of this prayer, was closely associated with the Karma Kagyu and the Nyingma traditions. []
  18. The three kayas, dharmakaya, samboghakaya, and nirmanakaya.)

    Kagyus of the four primary and eight secondary lineages, ((The four major Kagyu Schools were established by four of Gampopa’s disciples: Barom Dharma Wangchuk founded the Barom Kagyu, Pagdru Dorje Gyalpo founded the Pagdru Kagyu, Shang Tsalpa Tsondru Drag founded the Tsalpa Kagyu, and Karmapa Dusum Khyenpa founded the Kamtsang Kagyu (also known as the Karma Kagyu). The eight minor Kagyu lineages originated with Pagdru Dorje Gyalpo’s eight main disciples. These eight lineages are: Taglung Kagyu, Trophu Kagyu, Drukpa Kagyu, Martsang Kagyu, Yerpa Kagyu, Yazang Kagyu, Shugseb Kagyu and Drikung Kagyu. []

  19. Waking, sleeping, dreaming, and sexual union. []
  20. The Sakya tradition traces its origin to the Indian master Virupa. The five patriarchs are Kunga Nyingpo (1092-1158), Sonam Tsemo (1142-1182), Drakpa Gyeltsen (1147-1216), Sakya Pandita Kunga Gyeltsen (1182-1251) and Drogön Chögyal Phakpa (1235-1280). []
  21. The line of transmission brought to Tibet by Khyungpo Naljor (984-1139) who journeyed to India at the age of 57 and studied with numerous teachers, most importantly, Niguma and Sukha Siddhi. []
  22. Tongtong Gyalpo (1361-1485) was a Shangpa master extraordinarily skilled in many areas. He is probably most famous for discovering a process of making iron into a form of steel and building iron bridges that lasted into the 20th century. []
  23. Padampa Sangye, the 11-12th century Indian master who came to Tibet and established the Zhijé (pacifying) tradition. []
  24. Machik Labdrön, the 11-12th century Tibetan teacher who established the Chö tradition. []
  25. Dolpo Sherab Gyaltsen (1292-1361), a Jonangpa master and expert in the Kalacakra tantra. []
  26. Possibly a reference to the energies that cause the transference of consciousness at the moment of death. []
  27. Taranatha (1575-1634), the last Jonangpa lineage holder. A great historian and scholar, he also held the Shangpa transmission lineage. []
  28. The reference is unclear but probably refers to the three kinds of dakinis: energies associated with places and realms, energies associated with Vajrayana practice, and natural inherent energies. []
  29. Khyentse Wangpo (1820-1892), the great teacher of the eclectic movement in Eastern Tibet in the 19th century. []
  30. Knowing how experience is (empty) and how it arises (like an enchantment). []
  31. This verse also refers to Khyentse Wangpo, using one of his other names. []
  32. A technical term for awakening in the Dzogchen tradition, the term refers to the view that the “youthful” form of awakening is already present within. []
  33. This verse is also addressed to Khyentse Wangpo. []
  34. The next four verses all refer to Jamgön Kongtrul, the author of this prayer. As did many teachers, he received a name at each major step in his life: one when he took ordination as a monk, another when he took the vow of the awakening being, another as a scholar, and another as treasure revealer. []
  35. A set of 18 conditions that make practice possible. See The Great Path of Awakening, page 63. []
  36. In order to fit the line to the Tibetan meter, Kongtrul abbreviates this saying. The more accurate statement is the essence of thoughts is what is (dharmakaya). []