Four Powers of Purification
purification practices we find in Buddhist teachings are similar to those in many other religions. The most
essential factor that one requires is sincerity or honesty with oneself.
want to purify past negative karma, we must apply ourselves to engaging in all actions with the correct motivation and by using the following Four Powers of Purification:
Power of the Object: One should practice remembering and thinking of all sentient beings one may have
hurt. Traditionally, one remembers and generates compassion for all sentient beings and takes refuge in the
Three Jewels of Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.
Power of Regret: One realizes soberly, “what I did was wrong and negative.” One regrets having
committed that action and feels this regret in the heart. This regret should not be senseless guilt,
self-recrimination, or criticism, which are said to be useless emotional torture. What is intended here is to
examine oneself and one's actions and to truly recognize that negative actions done in the past were very
unwise. With the power regret, one feels deep remorse for one's past negative actions.
Power of Promise or Remedy: As a logical consequence of the above, one should promise not to repeat
these negative actions and apply oneself diligently to doing virtuous actions in order to counteract the
negative ones. It can be helpful to at least promise oneself to avoid a negative behavior for a specific period
of time. Not being honest at this stage makes the practice useless or even harmful to oneself. Here one can also
rely on and pray to the Buddhas and Bodhisttavas for the purification of the negative actions one regrets.
Power of Practice: Basically any positive action with a good motivation can be used. Traditionally in
Buddhism one can use practices such as prostrations (as a means to destroy pride), making offerings (to
counteract greed), reading Buddhist texts (to counteract ignorance and negative thoughts), and acts of kindness
to cultivate a heart of compassion, and so forth.
applying these Four Powers of Purification and dedicating ourselves to the Buddha’s Path of Liberation, we can
purify the karma of negative actions and completely transform our lives!
Source: Used with permission from Neil Cohen at Naljor Prison
Dharma Service, PO Box 1177, Mount Shasta CA 96067. (
Photo Credit: Intellimon Ltd.