25 August 2010

Sutra of Golden Light

On our altar is an image of Saraswati (Benzaiten in Japanese). She figures prominently in an important teaching of the Buddha called The Sutra of Golden Light. This sutra has a long and interesting history in the Tendai school. It was recited on Mt. Hiei with some frequency as a means to bring stability and peace to the nation and its people, in an immediate sense as well as a durable spiritual sense.

I would like to encourage you to read the Sutra of Golden Light, recite it, and if you like copy it out by hand. If you approach this practice with an attitude of bodhicitta, the yearning to be of ultimate benefit to all beings who suffer, then great benefit cannot be avoided.

Thanks to the diligent efforts and generosity of the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition, you can download the Sutra of Golden Light for free at this link.

May the merits ease the sorrows of this troubled world.


If you are interested, you can find other reading recommendations here.


  1. Thank you for the link and for the words of encouragement. I was unaware of the intimate relationship of the Tendai school with this very important Sutra, and with Saraswati (a Goddess who is very close to my heart).

    In her wonderful book "Buddhist Goddesses of India", Miranda Shaw has a chapter on Saraswati, and much of that chapter focuses on the Sutra of Golden Light.

  2. Hi egregores,

    You might find this useful or resonant:

    "Homage, Mother whose face is filled
    With the light of an array of a hundred full autumn moons,
    Shining with the brilliant open light
    Of the hosts of a thousand stars."

    verse of praise for Drolma Loter Yangchenma (Saraswati), from the Practice of 21 Taras. See: _Tara's Enlightened Activity_ by Khenchen Palden Sherab and Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal.

    I've not read Shaw's work but I've seen it cited quite often. I should crack that book open. Thanks for the comment.


  3. I too was unaware of the link with this sutra and Tendai. I have it printed off the FPMT website but have yet to delve into it. Funnily enough, I was sorting through all my written material just today when I came across it, and then I've just read this blog entry !
    Spooky !

  4. Hi Mark,

    Ha! There are no coincidences...

    If you'd like to read more on how the Sutra of Golden Light was practiced in Tendai-shu, check out the work of Paul Groner. He described the early history as well as anyone in his books on Ryogen and Saicho. Cheers!


  5. Hi Jikan

    Thanks for the recommendation. I'll definitely check out his books.
    The sutra I have is the 21 chapter version, although I believe translation work is being done on 29, and 31 chapter versions.
    The experiences of people who have read,recited and copied out the sutra, on the FPMT website are an inspiration to us all, and testament to the transformative power of sutras.