Category Archives: Buddha Nature

Writing a Chant Poem on Fu Guo Dreaming of the Ocean By Grand Master Hsu Yun


Poems express a person’s feelings
And this can cause both profit or loss.
A teacher uses allegory to convey meaning.
And metaphor makes it easier to speak his truth.

So this moldy old man uses pen and ink for his explanations.
All my life I’ve been foolish and dull.

Sometimes I look at something and I think it’s so wonderful.
And then I realize I was pointing out a fact
That was as obvious as the moon.

Master Chinul Poem 1


Do not cling to the letter, just comprehend the meaning, referring each point to your own self, so as to merge with the original source. Then the knowledge that has no teacher will spontaneously appear, the pattern of natural reality will be perfectly clear, and you will attain the body of wisdom, attaining enlightenment without depending on anyone else.
~ Master Chinul (1158-1210)

Zen (2009) Part 1 Dogen Zenji


This is the story of Dogen Zenji who lived during the Kamakura period (750 years ago) . He trained in China in the great Ch’an monasteries to become a renowned Ch’an Buddhist monk and teacher. He subsequently returned to Japan founded the Japanese school of Zen Buddhism..

Directed by: Banmei Takahashi
Produced by and Copyright: Kadokawa Pictures

Three Bows (Why do Buddhists bow or prostrate?)


 

Why do Buddhists bow or prostrate?

It is a way to practice being humble and so to awaken the Buddha Nature in us. To bow is a way of learning humility and when we are humble, our mind is empty and so we can awaken the Buddha Nature within us. This is a reconfirmation to ourselves of being a lamp to ourselves just as the Buddha taught us and it also enables us to go forward in our bodhisattva practice of helping all beings. In addition, to bow is good for our health as it makes our abdominal muscles strong, and there is control of the breathing while doing a good form of physical exercise. When we bow, we feel our mind becoming modest as well as strong at the same time.

Here is short article written by Won-myong Sunim which explains the Korean point of view of bowing well.

Why we bow to the Buddha
Whenever anyone goes to a Buddhist temple he bows to the Buddha in the Main Hall. Visitors who do not know much about Buddhism think that the people are worshiping idols, that they are bowing to a statue of metal, wood or stone. This is wrong!

Buddhists make and keep statues as reminders. They do not worship the material that the statue is made of. They do not bow to the substance used by the artist to create that inspiring object. They bow in remembrance of the Buddha’s qualities and teachings. They bow out of gratitude for the Buddha’s great kindness in teaching us. They bow to themselves and to all living beings for each and every one has Buddha Nature ‑‑ the potential for enlightenment ‑‑ within: each one is a Buddha.

The Buddha did not teach in order to save us; he taught that we are already saved. Everybody has eternal life and infinite, limitless capacity. So we do not bow because there is an object of wood or stone, we bow to ourselves and look at ourselves as if in a mirror.

Master Chao Chou said:

A gold Buddha cannot pass through a furnace.
A mud Buddha cannot pass through water.
A wood Buddha cannot pass though fire.

In this way the real Buddha doesn’t depend on the material. It depends on our own nature, for Buddha is everywhere. Through the Buddha statue we see ourselves…

Master Hui-neng said, “Let each of us take refuge in the Three Gems, the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha within our mind!”

A great Theravada monk, Nyanaponika Thera said, “The Triple Gem… is transformed from an impersonal idea to a personal refuge only to the extent that it is realized in one’s own mind and manifested in one’s own life.”

The first step on this road is to take refuge and the second to accept to try to live according to the five precepts. The five precepts are the foundation of the establishment of morality, indispensable in our quest for happiness. For if the mind is not at peace on this the most basic level, then how can we grow?

The Precepts

The precepts are training rules by which I try to govern my life. Often I fail, I tell yet another little lie, I have to kill a mosquito. Then I look at my failure, I know that I must suffer the consequences. And so I continue to try with a positive mind.

So what are the training rules?

To refrain from killing and to practice Loving-kindness;
To refrain from taking anything not given and to practice Generosity;
To refrain sensual and sexual misconduct and to practice Awareness;
To refrain from lying, gossiping and slander and to practice Wholesome Speech;
To refrain from all intoxicants and to practice Clear-Mindedness.

Next time you see someone bow to the statue when you enter the temple, please remember they are taking refuge and reminding themselves of the five precepts. For an active Buddhist, one who lives life in a participatory way, is not blind or passive. If a person decides to live in this way, then they must grow and become a less selfish, more open-minded, compassionate person. Isn’t that the aim of our lives?  

Source Three Bows (Why do Buddhists bow or prostrate?) « Somewhere in Dhamma….

 

 

 

 

The Sutra of Hui Neng SUTRA SPOKEN BY THE SIXTH PATRIARCH ON THE HIGH SEAT OF “THE TREASURE OF THE LAW”


The Sutra of Hui Neng
SUTRA SPOKEN BY THE SIXTH PATRIARCH
ON THE HIGH SEAT OF
“THE TREASURE OF THE LAW”
 

 

The Sutra of Hui Neng
SUTRA SPOKEN BY THE SIXTH PATRIARCH
ON THE HIGH SEAT OF
“THE TREASURE OF THE LAW”

 

translated by

C. Humphreys and Wong Mou-Lam

 


All Chinese proper names have been changed to Pinyin except the names of the principal translator (Wong Mou-Lam) and commentator(Ding Ping Tsze)

From the print version published by the Buddhist Association of the United States in April 1998.

Foreword To New Edition

The first, and apparently the only published translation into English of the Sutra of Wei Lang (Hui Neng) was completed by the late Mr. Wong Mou-Lam in 1930, and published in the form of a 4to paper-covered book by the Yu Ching Press of Shanghai. Copies were imported to London a few dozen at a time by the Buddhist Lodge, London (now the Buddhist Society, London), until 1939, when the remaining stock was brought to England and soon sold out. The demand, however, has persisted; hence this new edition.

Three courses were open to the present publishers, to republish the translation as it stood, with all its imperfections, to prepare an entirely new translation, with commentary, or to ‘polish up’ the existing version without in any way altering the sense. As the first seemed undesirable, and the second impracticable at the present time, the third course was adopted.

As Mr. Wong Mou-Lam has since passed away, to the great loss of Western scholarship, it has been impossible to invoke his approval of the revisions made in his text. I have therefore scrupulously avoided any re-writing or even paraphrasing, and knowing how many users of the Sutra had learnt whole passages of its somewhat quaint phraseology by heart, I have confined myself to the minimum of alterations.

A few words were so obviously incorrect, due to the translator’s imperfect knowledge of English, that I have substituted others which I am sure he would have approved. I have improved the punctuation, sequence of tenses, and certain awkward or clumsy phrasing, in the course of which I noted how the translator’s grasp of English improved as the work went on.

It will be noticed how Mr. Wong Mou-Lam assisted his readers to grasp the meaning of certain key terms, such as Prajna, Samadhi and dhyana, without offering any single English term as a final equivalent. Sometimes he gives the Sankrit word with one English meaning after it in brackets; later he gives a different English word with the Sankrit term in brackets after it. Thus the meaning of the word is built up in the reader’s mind in part at least of its manifold complexity. Later in the work he tends to leave the word untranslated, as though satisfied that the student had learnt what it meant in the original. It may be helpful to remind readers that the Sankrit term, Dhyana, was corrupted in China into Ch’an, and in Japan into Zen.

On the rare occasions on which the actual meaning of a passage was in doubt I have compared it with the late Mr. Dwight Goddard’s version, which first appeared in A Buddhist Bible,published by him at Thetford, Vermont, U.S.A., in 1932. This edition was admittedly only ‘based upon’ the translation of Mr. Wong Mou-Lam, and though it was meant to be ‘more readable,’ it varies at times from the original meanings as well as form, to my mind without adequate reason. I have nevertheless found this edition of occasional assitance, and have incorporated Mr. Goddard’s valuable note on page 92.

I have somewhat shortened the original Preface of Mr. Dih Ping Tsze, the translator’s patron and inspirer, but left in most of his valuable footnotes.

Mr. Alan Watts, the author of the Spirit of Zen, and other works on Zen Buddhism, has pressed for the adoption of the Sixth Patriarch’s name as Hui Neng, instead of Wei Lang. It is true that he is so referred to by such authorities as Professor D. T. Suzuki, but most Western students already know the work as the Sutra of Wei Lang, and the translator used this dialect rendering throughout the work. I have therefore kept to the name best known to Western readers, adding the alternative rendering for those who know him better as Hui Neng. In Japan he is known as Eno, or Yeno.

Several scholars having pointed out that my reading of “Vehicle” for “Gem or Treasure” in the original title of the Suta was due to a misprint in the word provided, I have taken the first opportunity to restore the original translation. I have likewise, at the suggestion of the late Mr. A. J. Hamester of the Hague, who worked on the MS with the late Ven. Fa Fang in Ceylon, altered the transcription of various Sanskrit terms to accord with modern usage, and corrected a number of minor mistakes.

For the rest, this unique work, ‘the only Sutra spoken by a native of China,’ may be left to speak for itself in the form in which Mr. Wong Mou-Lam gave it us. May it play its part in guiding Western thought and action into the Middle Way which leads to peace and to the heart’s enlightenment.
Christmas Humphreys
December, 1952.

[*] Note: In this electronic edition, the Chinese proper names have been changed into Pinyin, the Chinese romanization system used universally. Exceptions include the names of the translator and the commentator.

Preface

It has long been my desire to have this Sutra translated into a European language so that the message of Zen may be transmitted to the West. The idea obsessed me unremittingly for nearly thirty years, as I could not find a translator to undertake the work until I met Mr. Wong last spring. In an ecstacy of joy, I invited him to stay in my house to translate this Sutra into English. Working on and off, it took him nearly a year and a half to complete the translation. My desire is now fulfilled, and may it prove to be one of the happiest events during the period of the past twelve hundred years.

Now, since an attempt has been made to disseminate this Good Law to the West, I look forward to the day when Europe and America will produce a type of Zen follower whose quick understanding and spontaneous realization in the solution of the ‘Ultimate Problem’ will be far superior to our Eastern brethren. Thinking that I have connected the most favourable link with the Occidentals, my happiness is beyond measure.
Dih Ping Tsze
Shanghai, March, 1930.

 

Translator’s Preface

This is an English translation of the Sutra Spoken by the Sixth Patriarch on the High Seat of the Treasure of the Law (Nanjio’s Catalogue No. 1525) which records the sermons and the sayings of Wei Lang (638-713), the most famous Dhyana Master of the Tang Dynasty. It may be of interest to note that of all the Chinese works which have been canonized in the Tripitaka, this standard work of the Dhyana School is the only one that bears the designation of ‘Sutra,’ a designation which is reserved for the sermons of Lord Buddha and those of great Bodhisattvas. Hence, it is not without justification to call it, as some one does, ‘the only Sutra spoken by a native of China.’

As it takes a poet to translate Virgil, the translator keenly realizes how incompetent he is in tackling this difficult task, since neither his knowledge of Buddhism nor his linguistic attainment qualifies him for the work. He reluctantly agreed, however, to bring out an English version of this Sutra, when urged to do so by his teacher, who admits the incompetence of his pupil but still insists that the translation should be done for the following reasons :-

(1) That in training himself as a translator for Buddhist work in the future, this is a good excercise.
(2) That the translation may receive the benefit of correction and revision from the hands of those who have better qualifications, but not enough time to do the complete work themselves.
(3) That, with due allowance for mistranslation, the book may still be useful to those who cannot read the original, but who had mastered it so well in their previous lives that they only need a paragraph or two, nay even a word or two, to refreah their memory in order to bring back the valuable knowledge that they have now forgotten.

On this understanding alone the translator undertakes the work, and the result of his feeble attempt is now put before the public for what it is worth. As the book stands, the translator knows to his sorrow that the greater part of it will be jargon to readers who have had no previous knowledge of the Dhyana School. May the day come soon when either the translator himself or some other full-fledged Dhyana Master will bring out a new translation with copious notes and explanations, so that the Sutra may be readable by all.

It is from Dr. Ting Fo Po’s edition that this translation is made. To this learned gentleman, whose commentaries the translator has made free use of, and to other friends who have given him valuable advice and liberal support he wished to express his deepest gratitude.
“Pupil-Translator”
[Wong Mou-Lam]
Shanghai, November 21st, 1929
Sutra Of Hui Neng

 

 

Only One Heart -Master Hsu Yun


Only One Heart -Master Hsu Yun

Gaze into the Emptiness, the illusory changings of this world.
Enter the Emptiness. Others have. It’s not so hard.
Is there any place that’s unreachable when you make the effort?
Don’t be left behind because you’ve confused yourself over this.

Here! Let me rap you on the head with my stick!
Shut up, foolish face! Stop talking a minute!
Don’t be so quick to argue!
The mystery is so exquisite! It can’t be discussed!

Yes, I recite the Buddha’s name… or is the Buddha reciting mine?
What’s the recitation for anyway?
There’s only One Heart and It’s in the Pure Land.
The Buddha is my own True Nature.

The Buddha and me! We’re one, not two. So are you!
You’re chanting to this? You are this!
Come, hold on to this reality! Don’t be swept away into illusion.
History is an endless lie.

Let today be the day that the clouds and fog lift.
Don’t let a wisp of them remain.
Let your body live here, but keep your spirit evanescent.
See that when it’s free,
It can’t be bogged down into those old familiar ruts

THE FOUR IMMEASURABLE STATES by Ven. Traleg Rinpoche


THE FOUR IMMEASURABLE STATES

Ven. Traleg Rinpoche

of Kagyu Evam Buddhist Institute, Melbourne

EQUANIMITY

All religious traditions emphasise that we should love one another. All of us, whatever we choose to believe, suffer, and all of us want to be happy, and are frustrated that our efforts so often are counter productive.
Over the centuries, practitioners of Buddhism have created a rich toolbox of methods to enable us to love our fellow humans, to drop hatred and become more effective human beings, more capable of knowing our own needs and of actually being of benefit to others.
In the Buddhist tradition each of these four positive attitudes can be developed with precision and clarity, so that we know ourselves well enough to be of real use to others. At the same time we cease imprisoning ourselves in habitual anger and hatred and liberate ourselves, at the same time as being more capable of helping others.
In order to cope better with our own roller coaster of emotions, the starting point is to develop equanimity. In the Buddhist tradition it’s not a question of contriving or manufacturing equanimity. It’s nothing to do with positive thinking, or blotting out the negative, or making affirmations. Equanimity is a discovery. It is discovered to be ever present. Underneath our roller coaster experience of pain, pleasure, happiness and dissatisfaction is the basic ground of our being, which is equanimity.
Equanimity means the absence of evaluation. Usually we are unable to look at the situation or deal with anybody without superimposing our own value judgements or subjective evaluations. We never see situations as they simply are. Our value judgements colour our understanding of the world and other people. Usually when we meet someone, even while we are in the midst of conversation, we are drawing our conclusions. Then we go away with a fixed impression that he is like this and like that. We project onto people rather than relate to them as they are.
From the viewpoint of equanimity, no-one is a downright enemy, or an everlasting friend. There are no real ultimate friends or enemies at all. As long as we look for friends we are bound to have enemies. The two exist simultaneously. We want to possess and have friends, which is why we create enemies. As soon as the communists cease to be our enemies, we make the Arabs into enemies. It is because we have the attitude of enmity towards others, we can have friends as well.
So equanimity is the key which unlocks the whole toolbox of spiritual development. It gives us access to the enormous diversity of tools available to anyone who wants to be more effective, capable, loving and compassionate. Equanimity is the start of the spiritual path.
Equanimity is not apathy, it is not a fatalistic indifference to what is going on. Equanimity is being completely open to reality so we can directly experience things as they are, rather than interpreting everything and making it into a second hand experience.
But equanimity isn’t enough. The next stage, in the Buddhist tradition, is to discover your capacity to love.

LOVE

Love is the great four letter word. The greatest art, the latest video clips, the most sublime religious poetry are all about love. Our whole culture is driven by the search for love, but we have become cynical, because our experience is mixed up with attachment, possession, clinging, expectation and demands.
In the Buddhist tradition, love is one of the four immeasurably great catalysts of being, along with equanimity, joy and compassion. Love is an indispenable foundation of spiritual practice. Love is the soil in which the flower of compassion may flower, nurtured by the pure water of joy in the shade of equanimity.
Yet we usually find ourselves slaves to love, held in the thrall of an elusive ideal in hope of deliverance from the complicated lives we have created for ourselves. Love so often is the name we give to a euphoric state which perpetuates our habitual lack of genuineness, or authenticity. In the name of love we make so many demands on others, we expect so much, we work out intellectually a whole drama. “Maybe she loves me, maybe she doesn’t.” Intellectualizing the love we think we feel loses touch with it.
The Buddhist tradition is to generate love unconditionally, without exceptions of being loved in return. In Buddhist meditation, the practitioner imaginatively pervades the world with love, in every direction. Start with yourself, filling your heart with loving kindness, abundant, grown great, free from enmity and free from distress. To love yourself is to be able to love all sentient beings, without reserve. There is nothing intellectual about this. There is no story to tell yourself about whom you love and whom you can’t.
You may be able to pause, and imagine someone who is hard to get on with, a difficult person in your life, and remember that they too are driven by the same desire for happiness as is everyone. Make use of your enemy to teach yourself patience, and the ability to love unconditionally.
Love is of the heart. It manifests in the level of intuition rather than intellect. You don’t need to interpret, or make judgements, or give yourself a part in a soap opera version of your own life. The heart directly experiences love. If you love completely then you don’t need to say, “I love you.” Because love becomes you and I. Love actually dissolves the gate between you and I, and between I and the universe.
Unconditional love is without desire to possess, because ultimately there is no possession and no possessor. Love does not take the inborn sense of I, me, mine as the constant reference point. It is spacious, neither selecting nor excluding.
Intellectualizing love creates such confusion you know longer no whether you love the person or hate him. You can no longer differentiate. Then, even when the relationship begins to break up you are still attached, still clinging to how it used to be in the past, still hoping it can magically come good again. You don’t even have enough space for a new relationship, a new space where you could actually appreciate and love someone else. When that happens we have to generate something else – compassion.

COMPASSION

If we are to be effective and capable in daily life, if we are to live up to our ideals, if we are to be of actual help to others, we need to train. The Buddhist tradition offers us a wide range of tools we can use to train ourselves. There are specific methods practiced over many centuries, to generate equanimity, to create a little spaciousness amidst our habitual clutter. There are methods to allow us to become more loving. But love can go stale and cold. This is when we need to generate compassion, which has larger connotations than love.
Compassion means openness or spaciousness, opening up to all situations we are in. It means not bogging down in subjective judgements. It means dropping the compulsion to be constantly asking: “How does this affect me? What do I think about this?” We create space, which allows us to sit back and look at everything properly and precisely. We can then see where our attachment comes from, how we colour our view of the world, how things go wrong.
In order to generate compassion one has first to generate warmth, firstly warmth towards oneself. One has to learn how to accept and like oneself, as only then can one like someone else. Unless you know how to have warmth and compassion towards yourself, you won’t be able to have it for other people. When you have it, then you can share it with others. You can’t share what you don’t have.
Compassion fulfils the needs of situations, as they arise. It is a readiness, an openness to respond properly and precisely, spontaneously, without the selfish agenda, without being so needy that the self gets in the way.
Compassion is the opposite of passion. Passion is egocentric. It is demanding, it makes demands on people. Compassion is open space, it’s undemanding, it’s generous. Compassion is direct, spontaneous. It is felt, rather than manufactured. It requires no investment of your identity or personality. It may take a bit of practice, but it is a natural capacity.
But then compassion can also go askew. You get involved with someone, trying to help them, but you judgement is tinged with sentimentality. It becomes part of ego’s game. You try to help someone, only they don’t respond as you want them to. You can’t rescue them, and that is frustrating. They insist on learning the hard way. No matter how hard you try to help him or her, they don’t change. You feel terrible and get depressed. You feel it would have been better if you hadn’t taken up the practice of compassion. At that point, you need another spiritual practice, which is to generate joy.
As an old Buddhist prayer says:
May all sentient beings enjoy
happiness and the root of happiness.
May they be free from suffering
and the root of suffering.
May they not be separated from the
great happiness devoid of suffering.
May they enjoy the great equanimity that is
free from passion, aggression and prejudice.
JOY

Buddhist tradition teaches us equanimity, love, compassion and joy. These four attitudes can be developed, with practice. They are helpful in daily life, and are the root of the spiritual life.
How does one cultivate joy? First, let’s be clear about what we mean. Joy is not the momentary elation of backing a winner. Joy is the steady appreciation of the qualities and potential of others without envy.
The basis of joy is self acceptance. I may be confused, I may suffer from conflicting emotions, and from intellectual perplexity, yet basically I recognise my capacitay to attain liberation. Joy arises from recognizing that your confusion is not inherent, your sufferings are not inevitable, that you do have choice. Your anxiety is not your human nature, it is merely a passing cloud, which will pass from the sky of its own accord.
This historic Buddha was a human being, who awoke to reality, and to his actual nature. He isn’t a god to be worshipped but a person whose example can be followed. What he did, is open to each person to do. None of us is a terrible person, or beyond redemption. No-one can save us from ourselves, but each of us can save ourselves. There is no person who does not have the capacity to become enlightened.
With that attitude one begins to have joy, which is the ability to look at things without being overwhelmed by emotion. Joy is the ability to appreciate the attributes and abilities of others, to rejoice in their beauty and strength, rather than become envious or judgemental. Joy is the antidote to competitiveness, Joy unlocks our ability to relate to the social world.
Joy is a sense of richness, of unboundedness, of not being necessarily a prisoner of the past. It is the opposite of a poverty stricken attitude, which is always comparing oneself, judging, ranking, criticising myself as better or worse than others.
But joy can also beome a prop. a reassurance that things aren’t so bad after all. Joy can become elation, you begin to congratulate yourself, which is nothing but an ego boost. Elation is just as irrelevant as feeling depressed.
It’s a highly emotional, unstable state, and it’s not the same as a quiet, steady joy.
When joy becomes elation, it’s time to go back to equanimity, to the practice of accommodating everything as it is in actuality. You accommodate your depression, elation, joy, happiness, dissatisfaction. You can actually sit back and accommodate everything without judgement. You aren’t trying to force anything. You can accomodate your own emotional ups and downs and the whole universe. This isn’t some mystical process of becoming one with the universe, or that you identify yourself with the universe, but you actually are the universe, and you realize that.

BUDDHA NATURE

Equanimity, love, compassion and joy are four specific attitudes which Buddhists cultivate so as to enter the path of spiritual development.
The beginning of spirituality is facing up to the reality of personal experience, which is the kaleidoscopic mix of pain, suffering, happiness, dissatisfaction. There must be more to life than alternating pleasure and pain.
Our usual way of dealing with suffering and pain is to try to possess pleasure and happiness. We try to fight off whatever is unpleasant.
Buddhist spirituality asks of us that we awaken, that we wake up to our selves, that we recognize that there is no such thing as one hundred percent pleasure or one hundred percent pain.
When we experience pleasure or happiness there is always a fraction of suffering at the same time. Without suffering, we cannot experience one hundred percent pleasure. That applies the other way round, to suffering as well. Suffering and pleasure both help us to exist, and confirm our existence. Suffering, pleasure and pain exist simultaneously. It’s a basic fact of existence, like a dog having hair or the sun radiating warmth, we can’t have one without the other. So we don’t have to condemn pain, or anything else that happens.
We simply accept our experience as a message that comes from our Buddha Nature. That everything requires courage, the courage needed to deal with everyday life.
Usually we feel we are going to be overwhelmed by our emotions. We become depressed or unhappy, and then defensive and avoid looking into things as they are. We fail to learn how depression comes about, from where depression actually comes. So we need courage to face situations as they arise, without becoming alarmed or defensive.
Courage to face life comes from the practice of developing equanimity, love, compassion and joy. These four attitudes are the first steps on the great path of spiritual development which, in the Buddhist tradition, culminates in enlightenment. The courage to face life is practical and immediate, yet it is also a necessary preliminary to the process of mental cultivation as practiced over many centuries by Buddhist meditators.
Enlightenment may seem like a far distant goal, but Buddhists have always stressed that we all possess the seed of enlightenment, whether we are aware of it or not. In fact, enlightenment isn’t really the right word, it would be more accurate to speak of awakening, or of wakefulness.
There is no-one to turn to who can wake us up. It is up to us to do it for ourselves. We are not woken up by anything divine, or magical or mystical. Enlightenment is not a hypotheses, it is not a theroy or a dogma, it is born from personal experience.
With equanimity, love, compassion and joy we are ready to fully wake up.