Category Archives: Dharma

From the most recognizable Buddhist World Leaders Respond To Violence Against Muslims In Myanmar


From the most recognizable Buddhist World Leaders:

Myanmar Buddhists Muslim

To Our Brother and Sister Buddhists in Myanmar,

As world Buddhist leaders we send our loving kindess and concern for the difficulties the people of Myanmar are faced with at this time. While it is a time of great positive change in Myanmar we are concerned about the growing ethnic violence and the targeting of Muslims in Rakhine State and the violence against Muslims and others across the country. The Burmese are a noble people, and Burmese Buddhists carry a long and profound history of upholding the Dharma.

We wish to reaffirm to the world and to support you in practicing the most fundamental Buddhist principles of non-harming, mutual respect and compassion.

These fundamental principles taught by the Buddha are at the core of Buddhist practice:

Buddhist teaching is based on the precepts of refraining from killing and causing harm.
Buddhist teaching is based on compassion and mutual care.
Buddhist teaching offers respect to all, regardless of class, caste, race or creed.

We are with you for courageously standing up for these Buddhist principles even when others would demonize or harm Muslims or other ethnic groups. It is only through mutual respect, harmony and tolerance that Myanmar can become a modern great nation benefiting all her people and a shining example to the world.

Whether you are a Sayadaw or young monk or nun, or whether you are a lay Buddhist, please, speak out, stand up, reaffirm these Buddhist truths, and support all in Myanmar with the compassion, dignity and respect offered by the Buddha.

We stand with you in the Dharma,

Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh
Nobel Peace Prize Nominee
Vietnam

Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi
President Buddhist Global Relief
(world’s foremost translator of the Pali Canon)
Sri Lanka/USA

Dr. AT Ariyaratne
Founder Nationwide Sarvodaya Movement
Ghandi Peace Prize Laureate
Sri Lanka

Ven. Chao Khun Raja Sumedhajahn
Elder, Ajahn Chah Monasteries
Wat Ratanavan, Thailand

Ven. Phra Paisal Visalo
Chair Buddhika Network Buddhism and Society
Thailand

Ven. Arjia Rinpoche VIII
Abbot Tibetan Mongolian Cultural Center
Mongolia/USA

Ven. Shodo Harada Roshi
Abbot Sogenji Rinzai Zen Monastery
Japan

Achariya Professor J Simmer Brown
Chairperson Buddhist Studies
Naropa Buddhist University
USA

Ven. Ajahn Amaro Mahathera
Abbot Amaravati Vihara
England

Ven. Hozan A Senauke
International Network of Engaged Buddhists
Worldwide

Younge Khachab Rinpoche VIII
Abbot Younge Drodul Ling
Canada

Ven. Sr. Thich Nu Chan Kong
President Plum Village Zen temples
France/Vietnam

Dr. Jack Kornfield Vipassana Achariya
Convener Western Buddhist Teachers Council
USA

Lama Surya Das
Dzogchen Foundation International
Vajrayana Tibet/USA

Ven. Zoketsu N. Fischer Soto Roshi
Fmr. Abbot largest Zen community in the West
USA/Japan

Tulku Sherdor Rinpoche
Director BI. Wisdom Institute
Canada

Professor Robert Tenzin C. Thurman
Center for Buddhist Studies
Columbia University
USA

HH the XIV Dalai Lama
Nobel Laureate
Tibet/India
Though not able to be reached in time to sign this letter, HH the Dalai Lama has publicly and repeatedly stated his concern about the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. He urges everyone to continue to practice non-violence and retain the religious harmony that is central to our ancient and revered culture.

Source:Huffington Post : Buddhist Leaders Respond To Violence Against Muslims In Myanmar

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/10/buddhist-leaders-respond-to-violence-against-muslims-in-myanmar_n_2272336.html

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idealshanghai | Fresco aficionado envisions grottoes


PAINTER Wang Zheng has devoted half his life, around 20 years, to studying and reproducing the spectacular frescoes in the earliest major Buddhist cave complex in China, in the far west Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

Wang sometimes bows and murmurs before grotto figures dating back more than 1,500 years. It has become Wang’s mission to research and spread appreciation of early religious art from Silk Road centers of civilization.

Though his work is acclaimed and he could earn large sums for both his reproductions and original art, which are considered treasures, he seldom sells his work, saying the profit motive violates Buddhist principles.  

 READ MORE at  idealshanghai | Fresco aficionado envisions grottoes.

“If the fearful mind does not come easily, the sincere mind cannot spring forth easily”


Recitation according to the Buddhas’ Intentions

As was said earlier, in those countries which follow Mahayana Buddhism, Pure Land practitioners are in the majority. Not only do many monks and laymen practice Buddha Recitation, even followers of various cults invoke the name of the Lord of the Western Paradise. Nevertheless, though many recite the Buddha’s name, very few truly understand the goal of recitation. Thus, their recitation is not in accordance with the true intention of the Buddhas.

There are those who, visiting Buddhist temples and monasteries and seeing people engaged in Buddhas Recitation, also join in, without a specific goal. This action, while garnering merits and virtues for the future, is not in accordance with the Buddhas’ true intention.

There are those who practice Buddha Recitation seeking escape from danger and calamities as well as health, happiness and tranquillity for their families and ever-growing success in their careers and business dealings. Such goals, although worthy, are not consonant with the Buddhas’ true intention.

There are those who, faced with hardships and the frustration of their wishes, become despondent. They recite Amitabha Buddha’s name, praying that they will be spared such adversity in their present and future lives, that they will be endowed with beauty and honor, and that everything will turn to their advantage and accord with their wishes. Such goals are of course worthy, but they are not consonant with the Buddhas’ true intention.

There are those who realize that life on earth does not bring any lasting happiness; even the noble, rich powerful and influential are beset by worry and suffering. They hope that through the merits and virtues of Buddha Recitation, they will be reborn in the celestial realms, endowed with longevity and leisure, joy and freedom. Such a goal, although worthy, is not consonant with the Buddhas’ true intention. There are those who, having committed many transgressions, think that they cannot easily be saved in this life. They therefore recite the Buddha’s name, praying that in their next life they will be reborn as a male, leave home to be a high-ranking monk, and become awakened to the Way. Such a goal, while exemplary, is still lacking in wisdom and faith, and is not consonant with the Buddhas’ true intention.

What, then, is the true intention of the Buddhas?

Buddha Sakyamuni clearly recognized that all conditioned dharmas are impermanent, and that all sentient beings have always possessed in full the virtues and wisdom of the Tathagatas (Buddhas). However, because of delusion about their Original Nature, they create evil karma and afflictions and revolve forever in the cycle of Birth and Death. Even if they were to be reborn in the Heavens, once their merits were exhausted, they would descend into the lower realms. For this reason, the real intention of Sakyamuni Buddha is that through the Pure Land method, sentient beings may realize an early escape from the sufferings of Birth and Death.

Throughout countless eons, all Buddhas have accumulated merits and wisdom. Anyone who recites their names will engender immeasurable virtues. Moreover, Buddha Amitabha has made this Vow: Any sentient being who singlemindedly recites His name and seeks rebirth in His Land will, at the final moment, be welcomed and guided to the Pure land, and attain non-retrogression.[7]To exchange the immeasurable virtues accumulated through Buddha Recitation for the small merits and blessings of the realm of gods and men — forfeiting liberation and rebirth in the Pure Land — would be no different from an innocent child bartering an invaluable diamond for a piece of candy. That would be a great waste indeed!

Moreover, the power of Amitabha Buddha’s Vows is so immense that no matter how heavy our karma may be, by reciting His name in all earnestness, we can, in this very lifetime, achieve rebirth in the Pure Land. To seek rebirth, for instance, as an enlightened, high-ranking monk is to lack wisdom and faith. It cannot ensure rebirth in the Pure Land in this very life or attainment of Bodhisattvahood at the stage of non-retrogression. Therefore, the real intention of the Buddhas is for sentient beings to practice Pure Land so that they can be liberated from Birth and Death — and this liberation is to be achieved in one lifetime.

But why do we need to escape the cycle of Birth and Death? It is because, in the wasteland of Birth and Death, we truly undergo immense pain and suffering. If students of Buddhism do not sincerely meditate on this truth of suffering, they cannot achieve results despite all their scholarship, as they do not experience fear and seek liberation. The sutras say:

If the fearful mind does not come easily, the sincere mind cannot spring forth easily.

This is the reason why Sakyamuni Buddha, when preaching the Four Noble Truths to the five monks led by Kaundinya, taught them first the Truth of Suffering. According to this truth, if we meditate on the suffering of the human condition, we will have a clearer idea as to why we must swiftly escape the cycle of Birth and Death.

From the book:

Buddhism of Wisdom & Faith: Pure Land Principles and Practice

Dharma Master Thich Thien Tam
Translated and edited by the Van Hien Study Group
Sutra Translation Committee of the United States and Canada  

Metaphysics


Metaphysics

The Myth of Metaphysics

Ven. David Xi-Ken Astor

As a Buddhist monk from a Ch’an and Soto Zen teaching linage, I would like to express how Zen Buddhism addresses the issue of metaphysics in a pragmatic Buddhist practice.  The question comes up often enough that it deserves a post of its own.  Not only do we confront the question today, the Buddha was ask multiple times too. READ MORE AT Metaphysics.

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

Verses On the Faith Mind By Third Ch’an Patriarch Chien-chih Seng-ts’an


Verses On the Faith Mind

By Third Ch’an Patriarch Chien-chih Seng-ts’an

Translated by Richard B. Clarke

至道無難  The Great Way is not difficult

唯嫌揀擇  for those who have no preferences.

但莫憎愛  When love and hate are both absent

洞然明白  everything becomes clear and undisguised.

毫釐有差  Make the smallest distinction, however

天地懸隔  and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart.

欲得現前  If you wish to see the truth

莫存順逆  then hold no opinions for or against anything.

違順相爭  To set up what you like against what you dislike

是爲心病   is the disease of the mind.

不識玄旨  When the deep meaning of things is not understood

徒勞念靜  the mind’s essential peace is disturbed to no avail.

圓同太虚  The Way is perfect like vast space

無欠無餘  where nothing is lacking and nothing is in excess.

良由取捨  Indeed, it is due to our choosing to accept or reject

所以不如  that we do not see the true nature of things.

莫逐有縁  Live neither in the entanglements of outer things,

勿住空忍  nor in inner feelings of emptiness.

一種平懷  Be serene in the oneness of things

泯然自盡  and such erroneous views will disappear by themselves.

止動歸止  When you try to stop activity to achieve passivity

止更彌動  your very effort fills you with activity.

唯滯兩邊  As long as you remain in one extreme or the other

寧知一種  you will never know Oneness.

一種不通  Those who do not live in the single Way

兩處失功  fail in both activity and passivity,

遣有沒有  assertion and denial. To deny the reality of things

從空背空  to assert the emptiness of things is to miss their reality.

多言多慮  The more you talk and think about it,

轉不相應  the further astray you wander from the truth.

絶言絶慮  Stop talking and thinking,

無處不通  and there is nothing you will not be able to know.

歸根得旨  To return to the root is to find the meaning,

隨照失宗  but to pursue appearances is to miss the source.

須臾返照  At the moment of inner enlightenment

勝卻前空  there is a going beyond appearance and emptiness.

前空轉變  The changes that appear to occur in the empty world

皆由妄見  we call real only because of our ignorance.

不用求眞  Do not search for the truth;

唯須息見  only cease to cherish opinions.

二見不住  Do not remain in the dualistic state

慎莫追尋  avoid such pursuits carefully.

纔有是非  If there is even a trace of this and that, of right and wrong,

紛然失心  the Mind-essence will be lost in confusion.

二由一有  Although all dualities come from the One,

一亦莫守  do not be attached even to this One.

一心不生  When the mind exists undisturbed in the Way,

萬法無咎  nothing in the world can offend,

無咎無法  and when a thing can no longer offend, it ceases to exist in the old way.

不生不心  When no discriminating thoughts arise, the old mind ceases to exist.

能隨境滅  When thought objects vanish, the thinking-subject vanishes,

境逐能沈  as when the mind vanishes, objects vanish.

境由能境  Things are objects because of the subject (mind);

能由境能  the mind (subject) is such because of things (object).

欲知兩段  Understand the relativity of these two

元是一空  and the basic reality: the unity of emptiness.

一空同兩  In this Emptiness the two are indistinguishable

齊含萬象  and each contains in itself the whole world.

不見精麁  If you do not discriminate between coarse and fine

寧有偏黨  you will not be tempted to prejudice and opinion.

大道體寛  To live in theGreat Way

無易無難  is neither easy nor difficult,

小見狐疑  but those with limited views

轉急轉遲  and fearful and irresolute: the faster they hurry, the slower they go,

執之失度  and clinging (attachment) cannot be limited;

必入邪路  even to be attached to the idea of enlightenment is to go astray.

放之自然  Just let things be in their own way

體無去住  and there will be neither coming nor going.

任性合道  Obey the nature of things (your own nature),

逍遙絶惱  and you will walk freely and undisturbed.

繋念乖眞  When thought is in bondage the truth is hidden,

昏沈不好  for everything is murky and unclear,

不好勞神  and the burdensome practice of judging brings annoyance and weariness.

何用疏親  What benefit can be derived from distinctions and separations?

欲取一乘  If you wish to move in the One Way

勿惡六塵  do not dislike even the world of senses and ideas.

六塵不惡  Indeed, to accept them fully

還同正覺  is identical with true Enlightenment.

智者無爲  The wise man strives to no goals

愚人自縛  but the foolish man fetters himself.

法無異法  This is one Dharma, not many: distinctions arise

妄自愛著   from the clinging needs of the ignorant.

將心用心  To seek Mind with the (discriminating) mind

豈非大錯  is the greatest of all mistakes.

迷生寂亂  Rest and unrest derive from illusion;

悟無好惡  with enlightenment there is no liking and disliking.

一切二邊  All dualities come from

妄自斟酌   ignorant inference.

夢幻虚華  They are like dreams of flowers in the air:

何勞把捉  foolish to try to grasp them.

得失是非  Gain and loss, right and wrong:

一時放卻  such thoughts must finally be abolished at once.

眼若不睡  If the eye never sleeps,

諸夢自除   all dreams will naturally cease.

心若不異  If the mind makes no discriminations,

萬法一如  the ten thousand things are as they are, of single essence.

一如體玄  To understand the mystery of this One-essence

兀爾忘虚  is to be release from all entanglements.

萬法齊觀  When all things are seen equally

歸復自然  the timeless Self-essence is reached.

泯其所以  No comparisons or analogies are possible

不可方比  in this causeless, relationless state.

止動無動  Consider movement stationary and the stationary in motion,

動止無止  both movement and rest disappear.

兩既不成  When such dualities cease to exist

一何有爾  Oneness itself cannot exist.

究竟窮極  To this ultimate finality

不存軌則  no law or description applies.

契心平等  For the unified mind in accord with the Way

所作倶息  all self-centered straining ceases.

狐疑盡淨  Doubts and irresolution’s vanish

正信調直  and life in true faith is possible.

一切不留  With a single stroke we are freed from bondage;

無可記憶  nothing clings to us and we hold to nothing.

虚明自照  All is empty , clear, self-illuminating,

不勞心力  with no exertion of the mind’s power.

非思量處  Here thought, feeling, knowledge, and imagination

識情難測  are of no value.

眞如法界  In this world of Suchness

無他無自  there is neither self nor other-than-self

要急相應  To come directly into harmony with this reality

唯言不二  just simply say when doubt arises, ‘Not two.’

不二皆同  In this ‘no two’ nothing is separate,

無不包容  nothing excluded.

十方智者  No matter when or where,

皆入此宗  enlightenment means entering this truth.

宗非促延  And this truth is beyond extension or diminution in time or space;

一念萬年  in it a single thought is ten thousand years.

無在不在  Emptiness here, Emptiness there,

十方目前  but the infinite universe stands always before your eyes.

極小同大  Infinitely large and infinitely small;

忘絶境界  no difference, for definitions have vanished

極大同小

不見邊表  and no boundaries are seen.

有即是無  So too with Being

無即是有  and non-Being.

若不如此  Don’t waste time in doubts and arguments

必不相守  that have nothing to do with this.

一即一切  One thing, all things:

一切即一  move among and intermingle, without distinction.

但能如是  To live in this realization

何慮不畢  is to be without anxiety about non-perfection.

信心不二  To live in this faith is the road to non-duality,

不二信心  Because the non-dual is one with the trusting mind.

言語道斷  Words! The Way is beyond language,

非去來今  for in it there is

no yesterday

no tomorrow

no today.

TAKING REFUGE IN THE THREE TREASURES by Ven Master Yin-shun


Taking Refuge in the Three Treasures

excerpt from Chapter 1 “The Way to Buddhahood” by Ven Master Yin-shun

To study Buddhism means to learn from the Buddha One takes the Buddha as ones’s ideal and one’s mentor and learns from him incessantly When one reaches the same level as the Buddha, then one has become a Buddha

The Budha is the great Awakened One, the great Compassionate One, the one perfect and compete virtue, the ultimate and unsurpassed great sage For an ordinary person with little good fortune and no wisdom, reaching this supreme and unsurpassed state of buddhahood through practice and study is difficult But by practicing and studying the necessary methods and by following the right way to buddhahood, one can reach the goal of buddhahood Only in this way, and without skipping any steps, can one advance to this distant and profound goal The methods necessary to become a Buddha are known as “ the way to buddhahood’ Because beings have different abilities, the Buddha Dharma has different ways: the way of blessedness and virtue, the way f wisdom, the difficult way, the easy way, the mundane way, the supramundane way, the way of the sravaka, the way of the bodhisattva, and so on But ultimately, there is only one way All of these ways are nothing but methods to become a Buddha “ in order to open up and make manifest the Buddha’s knowledge and insight to sentient beings, so that they can also apprehend and attain the same” Thus we have the saying “ One way to one purity, one flavor for one emancipation” and “Many doors exist for tactful reasons, but only one path runs to origin” The way to buddhahood is like a long river that has many streams, lakes, and rivers flowing into it; together they flow into the ocean In the same manner, all doctrines are nothing but the way to buddhahood Therefore, the Buddha Dharma is called the One Vehicle Way in the agama Sutra and the Lotus Sutra

 The Three Treasures represent the general principles of the Buddha Dharma, and taking refuge in them is the first step to entering the Buddhist path The merits of the Three Treasures are countless, limitless, and inconceivable But without taking refuge in them, one cannot receive and enjoy these merits It is like staying outside the entrance to a park; one cannot appreciate the  wonderful flowers and trees inside If one resolves to study Buddhism, the first thing one should do therefore is take refuge in the Three Treasures

Yinshun – The Way to Buddhahood Verses (成佛之道 頌) (English & Chinese)


“Original Chinese and English translation of the verses from Ven. Yinshun’s modern classic, The Way to Buddhahood (成佛之道).  Very useful outline for the whole book, which makes for great class outline notes.  Also useful for those who wish to learn some of the basic Buddhist terminology and concepts in Chinese and / or English. ” –

the-way-to-buddhahood-verses-english-chinese

Enjoy  May all beings benefit

 

 

Red Pine on “The Six Paramitas ”


Red Pine on “The Six Paramitas ”

….Concerning the first paramita of generosity, Bodhidharma once told his disciples, “Since what is real includes nothing worth begrudging, practitioners give their body, life, and property in charity, without regret, without the vanity of giver, gift, or recipient, and without bias or attachment. And to eliminate impurity, they teach others, but without becoming attached t form” (Red Pine trans., The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma, p.7). Thus, since the practice of the paramita of generosity is based on an insight as to what is real, early Mahayana practitioners focused on wisdom as the key that makes the other paramitas effective. Wisdom is often described as the center of a five-petalled flower from which the fruit of buddhahood grows. In the Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines, the Buddha tells Ananda, “The paramita of wisdom incorporates the other five paramita by means of practices that are based on all-embracing knowledge. Thus does the paramita of wisdom include the other five paramitas. The ‘paramita of wisdom; is simply a synonym for the fruition of all six paramitas”

Taken together, the paramitas are also likened to a boat that takes us across the sea of suffering.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The paramita of generosity, according to this analogy, is the wood, light enough to float but not so light that it floats away. Thus bodhisattvas practice giving and renunciation but not so much that they have nothing left with which to work.

The paramita of morality is the keel, deep enough to hold the boat upright but not so deep that it drags the shoals or holds it back. Thus the bodhisattva observes the precepts but no so many that they have no freedom of choice.

The paramita of forbearance is the hull, wide enough to hold a deck but not so wide that it can’t cut through waves. Thus the bodhisattvas don’t confront what opposes them but find the place of least resistance.

The paramita of vigor is the mast, high enough to hold a sail but not so high that it tips the boat over. Thus the bodhisattvas work hard but not so hard that they don’t stop for tea.

The paramita of meditation is the sail, flat enough to catch the wind of karma but not so flat that it holds no breeze or rips apart in a gale. Thus the bodhisattvas still the mind but not so much that it withers and dies.

And the paramita of wisdom is the helm, ingenious enough to give the boat direction but not so ingenious that it leads in circles. Thus the bodhisattvas who practice the paramitas embark on the greatest of all voyages to the far shore of liberation.

 

 

Excerpt taken from the book  “The Heart Sutra” A Translation and Commentary by Red Pine

Samantabhadra Bodhisattva’s answer to a question from the Buddha


Samantabhadra Bodhisattva’s answer to a question from the Buddha .

Excerpt from The Surangama Sutra 

chapter: IV Self Enlightenment

section: Meditation on the six consciousnesses

Commentary ( abridged) by Ch’an Master Han Shan (1546-1623) Translated by Upasaka Lu K’uan Yu   

The Buddhas question to Bodhisattvas and  chief  Arhants in the assembly :

” When you developed your minds to awaken to the eighteen fields of sense , which one did you regard as the best means of perfection and by what methods did you enter the state of Samadhi? “

Following is  Samantabhadra Bodhisattva’s answer which also contains his vows/deeds.

Samantabhadra Bodhisattva then rose from his seat, prostrated himself with his head at the feet of the Buddha and declared :

“I was already a son of the Dharma king when formerly I was with the Tathagatas who were countless as the sands in the Ganges. All Buddhas in ten directions who teach their diciples to plant Bodhisattva roots, urge them to practise Samantabhadra deeds which are called after my name.World Honoured One , I always use my  mind to listen in order to distinguish the variety of views held by living beings. If in a place, seperated frm here by a number of worlds as countless as the sands in the Ganges, a living beings practises Samantbhadra deeds, I mount at once on a six-tusked elephant and reproduce myself in a hundred and a thousand apparitions to come to his aid. Even if he is unable to see me because of his great karmic obstruction, I secretly lay my hand on his head to protect and comfort him so that he can succeed. As a Buddha now asks about the best means of perfection, according to my personal experience, the best consists in hearing with the mind, which leads to non-discriminative discernment”

Click to read Entire Sutra 

Ten Great Vows of Samantabhadra Bodhisattva / Pu Xain Pusa 

To worship and respect all Buddhas.

Samantabhadra Bodhisattva / Pu Xian Pusa

To make praises to the Thus Come Ones.
To practice profoundly the giving of offerings.
To repent and reform all karmic hindrance.
To rejoice and follow in merit and virtue.
To request that the Dharma wheel be turned.
To request that the Buddhas remain in the world.
To always follow the Buddha’s teaching.
To constantly accord with all living beings.
To transfer all merit and virtue universally.

Teaching Buddhism in America by Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi


Teaching Buddhism in America

by Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhiphoto credit: Brother Chou of Bodhi Monastery

Excerpted from Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi’s remarks to the Community Dharma Leaders program at BCBS, June 29, 2006.Insight Journal • WINTER 2006

I have been thinking about the discussion we had yesterday on the problems you’ve encountered in teaching Buddhism in America. I would like to off er a few of my own thoughts on this subject. As we go along, I will also share with you the general outlines of one scheme I’ve worked out for pulling the Buddha’s teachings together into a single, all-embracing whole. In my view one of the major errors that is being made in the teaching of Buddhism here in the U.S. (and more broadly in the West) is the fl at identifi cation of Buddhadhamma (the teachings of the Buddha) with meditation, especially with insight meditation. I see the Dhamma as having a much more extensive range. It involves at least three essential components, which I would call right faith, right understanding, and right practice. Th e practical side is also extensive, and might be summed up in the famous verse of the Dhammapada (183): “To abstain from all evil, to cultivate the wholesome, and to purify one’s mind: that is the instruction of the Buddhas.” Th ese three principles, stated so simply, are quite compressed. Th ey can be elaborated in diverse ways at great length. At the very root of all proper Dhamma practice, in my view, is proper faith, which is expressed by the act of going for refuge to the Triple Gem. By going for refuge, one reposes faith in the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha as one’s supreme ideals. Th is expression of faith should be grounded in understanding what the Th ree Gems represent. Th us faith, understanding, and practice are intricately interwoven. Now, the importance of going for refuge can be grasped by raising the question: “What connects a person to the Buddhadhamma from one life to the next?” Is it keeping one’s mind on the breath? Is it, when you hear sounds, noting “hearing, hearing”? Is it, when you’re walking, noting, “right step, left step,” or “lifting, putting down, lifting, putting down”? Of course, these practices are good. Th ey lead to calm and insight, but on their own they are insuffi cient. What keeps one tied to the Buddha’s teaching life after life, until one reaches the stage of irreversibility, is the act of sincerely and earnestly going for refuge to the Th ree Jewels: “Buddha§ sarana§ gacchāmi, Dhamma§ sarana§ gacchāmi, Sangha§ sarana§ gacchāmi.” Going for refuge to the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha is like placing a block of iron in one’s heart, so that the magnet of the Dhamma will attract one as one fares on from life to life. Right faith gives birth to right understanding. When one accepts the Buddha as the supremely Enlightened One, one opens oneself up to his disclosures on the human condition and on the fundamental principles at work behind the visible order of events. Th is means that one is prepared to accept his teachings on the basic ethical lawfulness of the cosmic process as it unfolds in human life and throughout all sentient existence. Th is lawfulness is expressed in the teaching on karma and its corollary, rebirth. Th e background to authentic Buddhist practice, even to the Four Noble Truths in their deeper dimensions, is this teaching of karma and rebirth. Yet many teachers find it embarrassing to talk about these principles that underlie the whole system. But to short-circuit the Dhamma in this way seems to me to be bargaining one’s trust in the Buddha. It’s almost as if one is half-guessing the Buddha as the Enlightened One.

“If one is a Dhamma teacher, one has to teach more than what one experiences in meditation.”

Student: When we finished our original training and various teachers were giving us advice, especially on how to teach with authenticity, one said, “Teach what you know to be true based upon your own experience. Do not teach what you do not know.” For most lay teachers in the West, it is relatively uncommon to have personal knowledge of previous lives. This presents something of a conundrum. For those who don’t have that personal knowledge, it becomes merely theoretical knowledge.

I would agree with this advice in so far as it pertains to one’s role as a meditation instructor. I agree that when one is giving instructions in meditation, one shouldn’t make pretensions to have experienced things that one has not personally experienced. However, if one is a Dhamma teacher, one has to teach more than what one experiences in meditation. One also has to explain the theoretical framework that underlies and supports the practice, and this is where these teachings on karma and rebirth enter in. If one is going to teach the Dhamma correctly, one has to teach on the basis of sammādiññhi, right understanding or right view, which includes understanding cyclical existence: how past lives, the present life, and future lives are interwoven and penetrated by the law of karmic causation, which is above all a law of moral causation.

If one intends to teach Dhamma without teaching this, I have to say very frankly one is not teaching the Dhamma correctly; one is not teaching the Buddhadhamma. One is basically teaching Buddhist meditation practices uprooted from their original foundation, integrated with transpersonal psychology, and grounded on a secular humanism. I should add that I don’t have any gripe with secular humanism as the foundation for our social and political life; in fact, I think that in any multi-religious, multi-cultural society, it is the best basis for political and social institutions. But we should not use secular humanism as a lens through which to interpret the Buddhadhamma. Let’s instead take it on its own terms.

Very few of the monastics inBurma,Thailand, andSri Lankahave recollections of previous lives, but when they teach the Dhamma, they explain the teachings of karma and rebirth. How is that? If we are going to understand our existence correctly, we have to take account, not just of the present—in what I call its vertical immediacy—but also of the ground out of which the present moment arises and against which it rests. This means that one has to locate the present in relation to its spatial and temporal horizons. If we want to understand this little black dot here on the whiteboard, we can’t just take this dot and separate it from the rest of the board. To understand this black dot, we have to see it in relation to the whole whiteboard: in relation to this point here, and that point there, and that point over there. If I’m going to explain to somebody what this black dot is all about, I’m going to have to situate it in relation to the whole board.

Student: Bhante, the principle of karma is a difficult one for a Westerner who doesn’t have the background of Asian culture. Even from my own experience the idea of karma was so foreign that it was hard to get my mind around it. Over the years of doing my practice, I began to understand that karma is a central principle, but to introduce it to someone who hasn’t had it in the culture….

One has to change the culture! The question is, do you capitulate on the Buddhadhamma to fit the culture, or do you provide an opportunity for the culture to be changed by the Buddhadhamma?

Student: It’s not that most Western teachers don’t want to teach the true Buddhadhamma. We struggle to find graduated teachings to bring people along. With a new group of students, I’m a little reticent to begin laying out the cosmology in terms of rebirth. For me it’s a question of timing.

I agree that if somebody comes in and asks, “What is Buddhism about?” one shouldn’t begin with a detailed lecture on Buddhist cosmology, or even on karma and rebirth. I myself would be reticent about introducing the teaching of karma and rebirth at the very beginning. I think it is best to let people see the clear existential truth in the Dhamma first, those aspects that are immediately visible. But when the time is ripe, explain the real Dhamma. One can lead them on to see that the same causal relations that explain suffering in the here and now can be extrapolated to explain the unsatisfactory nature of the cycle of existence. Don’t be afraid to teach the real thing. Don’t think that you’re going to frighten people off by doing so. If you teach the Dhamma straight and direct, people will come to it and drink it up. They’ll delight in the taste of the real Dhamma.

Many people turn to fundamentalist Christianity because they’re teaching something straight, direct, and clear. Even though their doctrines are dogmatic and intellectually shaky, people are drawn to them because they are straightforward, clear, and ethically consistent. From what I have seen, much of Buddhism as presented inAmericahas been ambiguous and apologetic. It’s almost as though we are half-hiding the truth about the Dhamma, saying it’s not really this, it’s not really that. It’s almost as if we are trying to put it across in a pleasant disguise, fitting it out in a nice skirt and blouse, with falsies and lots of makeup. With one side of our mouth we pay homage to Gotama the Buddha as our original teacher; with the other side, we make the teaching sound not much different from that of a transpersonal psychologist with a shaved head and saffron robes.

There is a popular saying nowadays: “The Buddha didn’t teach Buddhism, he taught the Dhamma.” This saying is a half-truth, and a misleading half-truth. Of course, the Buddha didn’t teach “Buddhism,” because that is a word of Western coinage, and it has come to include all the cultural and social phenomena that have arisen in the course of Buddhist history.

“If you teach the Dhamma straight and direct, people will come to it and drink it up. They’ll delight in the taste of the real Dhamma”

But please don’t say that there is no such thing as a distinctive Dhamma unique to the Buddha with its own unique goal. Don’t say that one can have faith in another religious teacher or another religious doctrine and be practicing Dhamma in the same way, with the same intention, with the same view and conviction, as someone who has taken refuge in the Triple Gem.

Student: Bhante, when I first came to the Insight Meditation Society, I was so disillusioned with organized religion that if there had been anything that really seemed religious, I probably would have left. But through years of practice, the levels of the teaching gradually reveal themselves as one sees experience match what the teaching says. The concept of karma over many lifetimes remains a difficult one for me, though.

I’m aware that there have to be different approaches to the presentation of the Dhamma in theU.S., and I wouldn’t want all to present the same “religious” front. I 12 appreciate the use of diff erent “dharma doors” for people with diff erent inclinations and aptitudes. For many who have turned against traditional religion, a non-religious presentation of the Dhamma will be more appealing. But this doesn’t mean that one should abandon the core insights at the heart of the teaching just to be more accommodating. Perhaps one can emphasize the “immediately visible” aspects of the Dhamma, while also keeping the “world-transcending” aspects in view.

“One should not abandon the core insights at the heart of the teaching just to be more accommodating.”

Of course, karma is a diffi cult subject to teach, especially in light of anattā (non-self ). In the commentaries it is said that it isn’t easy to explain the technical details of how a rebirth takes place without a being that’s reborn. Student: Are you saying it would be unskillful of us to present the Dhamma and to not include teachings on karma? Of course, the teaching on karma and rebirth can be misused. I am hesitant to explain peoples’ personal troubles in terms of past life retribution. Generally, I prefer to seek concrete causes in this present life and to work out present-life solutions. It’s hard to give one simple recipe for how one should bring in the teaching on karma. When I teach an introductory class, I usually begin with the enlightenment of the Buddha, and then I have to teach truthfully what the Buddha realized on the night of his enlightenment. Am I going to hide, out of embarrassment, the fact that he recollected his previous lives and saw the death and rebirth of beings according to their karma? Th at would be a cover up, a bowdlerized version of the teaching. And these knowledges weren’t unique to the Buddha himself. During the Buddha’s time, many of his disciples also realized these knowledges, and there are indeed meditators even today who attain them. Th ese knowledges don’t serve the purpose of entertainment, either, but contribute towards the destruction of the āsavas (taints, infl uxes, outfl ows). When one sees one’s many past lives, one sees how one repeatedly goes through the cycle of birth, aging and death; how one takes up so many false, transient identities, gives each one up, goes through growth, romance, relationships, separation, then decay and death. Everything appears as an ever-changing, shifting stream of appearances and forms. When one sees with the divine eye the death and rebirth of beings as a process governed by their karma, how they fall from higher realms to lower realms, and then rise up, and fall again, one obtains an extraordinarily vivid picture of samsāra. Th is strengthens the understanding of dukkha, the fi rst noble truth, the truth of suff ering, and thereby the understanding of all four noble truths. Th at truth of suff ering isn’t just about: ‘’When I miss the bus, I get upset.” “When my children don’t follow my instructions, I get annoyed.” “When I stub my toe, I get angry.” “When I have to sing in front of a group, I feel embarrassed.” Of course, all that is dukkha, but the deeper meaning of dukkha is this ever-changing, empty flow of five aggregates, a changing kaleidoscopic of empty phenomena, the rolling on of bare “formations” (sankhārā) from life to life.

The scheme for arranging the Buddha’s teaching I would like to share with you today is based on a short text in the Anguttara Nikāya:

Monks, abandon the unwholesome. I tell you it is possible to abandon the unwholesome. If it were not possible to abandon the unwholesome, I would not tell you to do so. But it is possible to abandon the unwholesome. Th erefore, I tell you, abandon the unwholesome. (A 2:2.9)

Unwholesome conduct is summed up in the ten unwholesome deeds of body, speech and mind, which are explained in many places (e.g., M 41). Th en there are unwholesome states that constantly arise in the mind, in day-today life, that have to be dealt with through meditation. One list is the sixteen upakkilesas, sometimes called the “minor defilements” of the mind (listed, e.g., in M 7), followed by the five hindrances, which we find in many texts. At the deeper level there are the three (in early lists) or four (in later lists) āsavas and the seven dormant tendencies (anusaya).

But I don’t want to dwell on the unwholesome types just now. This might reinforce the perception of Buddhism, especially Theravada Buddhism, as negative, over-obsessed with the dark side of human nature. You probably have students who have left the Protestant fold after being told, “All sinners are condemned to hell,” or who have left the Catholic church after hearing, “You are stamped with original sin.” If they turn to Buddhism and are immediately told, “You have seven underlying tendencies, four āsavas, five hindrances, three unwholesome roots, and ten fetters,” they’ll conclude: “Wow! Perhaps I should just settle for the one original sin.”

I suggest instead that we place more emphasis on developing what I call “the power of the wholesome,” taking joy in the wholesome. This Anguttara text encourages us to do just that:

Develop the wholesome. It is possible to develop the wholesome. If it were not possible to develop the wholesome, I would not tell you to do so. But because it is possible to develop the wholesome, therefore, I tell you develop the wholesome. (A 2:2.9)

I have taken the wholesome qualities and put them into three main categories, each governed by a different principle.

The Bases of Merit

The first group of wholesome deeds in Buddhism is called the ten bases of merit. The suttas speak of three bases of merit; the commentaries then extend the list to ten:

1) Giving or generosity (dāna).

2) Moral conduct (sīla).

3) Meditative development (bhāvanā). Here, meditative development is considered as a cause or basis for merit that leads to a favorable rebirth rather than as a means to enlightenment. Meditative development of this sort is considered principally as the devotional meditations, such as recollection of the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha, or as the four divine abodes (brahmavihāra).

4) Reverence: toward those worthy of reverence, like honoring the Buddha, stupas, elders, venerable monks and nuns, and one’s parents.

5) Service: doing service to others, anything helpful and beneficial to others, any kind of self-sacrificial labor for the good and benefit of others. In a way, service is an extension of giving, but the commentaries make it an item in its own right.

“I suggest we place more emphasis on taking joy in the wholesome.”

6) Sharing one’s merits with others. When one does meritorious deeds, one invites other beings to rejoice in one’s meritorious deeds. One can’t actually transfer the merits to others, but one mentally requests others to acknowledge one’s deeds and rejoice in the merits.

7) Rejoicing in the merit of others: When one sees or hears about others doing good deeds, one rejoices in those meritorious deeds, or tries to help them and support them in those meritorious deeds.

8 Listening to the Dhamma. In ancient times, this was the way one learned because there were no printed books. But today we can even include studying the Dhamma in this base of merit, if one is studying with the aim of understanding the Dhamma as a guide to life and not just as a subject of research.

9) Teaching the Dhamma.

10) Straightening out one’s view, which can be done by listening to the Dhamma, studying the Dhamma, reflection, and by insight meditation.

The Bases of Merit are governed by what I call “the principle of fortunate retribution,” the law that wholesome activities create wholesome karma, and this in turn leads to fortunate results in the future. Wholesome activities will lead to a fortunate rebirth, and to fortunate circumstances within that rebirth.

The Perfections

The perfections (pāramis) are ten qualities that one has to develop both in daily life and through meditation practice. These qualities are seen primarily as contributing to the development of a noble character, to the upliftment and transformation of character.

They enable one to bring one’s character into accord with the noble ideals of the Dhamma. They are:

1) generosity,

2) moral conduct,

3) renunciation,

4) wisdom,

5) energy,

6) patience,

7) truthfulness,

8 determination,

9) loving-kindness and

10) equanimity.

The one who fulfills the pāramis to the ultimate degree is the perfectly enlightened Buddha (sammā sambuddha), who has become like a perfectly crafted diamond, with each pārami in balance with the others, just as

“I encourage you all to bring at least as much attention to the cultivation of what is wholesome as to the abandoning of the unwholesome.”

each facet of the diamond is balanced with every other facet. Disciples fulfill the pāramis to different levels, but everyone who wants to reach the liberating path has to develop them to a sufficient degree. So these pāramis provide a useful scheme for understanding the wholesome qualities we need to implement in our daily lives in order to develop as worthy human beings in the noble Dhamma. The pāramis, in my scheme, represent “the principle of conservation of energy” in the spiritual domain. As one continually develops these qualities and pursues the goal of enlightenment by the practice of the pāramis, the energy inherent in wholesome qualities is conserved and accumulates from life to life until it is sufficient to permit a breakthrough to realization.

Student: Is it true the pāramis are not mentioned together in any sutta?

That is so. One doesn’t find the pāramis mentioned in the old Nikāyas. They first appear in a later stratum of the Sutta Pitaka, in such texts as the Cariyāpitaka and the Buddhavamsa. The idea of the pāramis probably arose in the early Buddhist schools even before the rise of the Mahayana. This idea was originally introduced to schematize the virtues a bodhisattva perfects to reach Buddhahood, but it was later extended to signify the qualities that have to be developed by any practitioner in order to reach any kind of enlightenment. The pāramis explain how our moral qualities build up an inner force from life to life, gain momentum, and then become integral components of our character.

The Aids to Enlightenment

Now we come to the third group, the thirty-seven bodhipakkhiyā dhammā. These are thirty-seven states, factors, or aids to enlightenment, arranged in seven groups. The popular name for them now has become “wings to enlightenment,” though this is not literal. Ven. Thanissaro Bhikkhu has published a helpful book about them called The Wings to Awakening, which collects numerous sutta passages on each of the seven groups. These are the things that initially contribute to enlightenment, and then, at the most advanced stage, become the factors that precipitate the experience of enlightenment itself. I’m sure you’re familiar with the basic groups: 1) the four foundations of mindfulness; 2) the four right efforts; 3) the four bases for spiritual potency; 4) the five faculties; 5) the five powers; 6) the seven factors of enlightenment; and 7) the eight factors of the noble eightfold path.

Of these thirty-seven factors, four occur repeatedly in the different lists: energy, mindfulness, concentration, and wisdom. It is these factors, rooted in faith or trust, that bring realization of the Dhamma. First they bring gradual insights into dependent origination, impermanence (anicca), suffering (dukkha), and non-self (anattā). Then, at the peak of their development, they bring the breakthrough beyond the conditioned to the unconditioned—nibbāna.

Student: I wonder if you could say more about the way faith is understood in Buddhist context. So often in a western context it’s associated with belief and dogma, but I know in Buddhism there is also the sense of confidence.

The Pali word saddhā, which I translate as “faith” rather than “confidence,” doesn’t suggest belief in dogmas. I know some people who come from Christian backgrounds struggle with “faith” as a translation, but for me this word has a richer emotional nuance than confidence. In my translation scheme I use the word “confidence” to render the Pali word pasāda, which seems to fit well. Pasāda suggests the clarity and tranquility of

mind that come when one meets a teacher whom one trusts. I take saddhā, faith, to be faith in the Triple Gem, particularly in the Buddha as the Fully Enlightened One, the one who has fully understood the ultimate truths that bring the resolution of our existential predicament. It also means trusting confidence in the Dhamma as the teaching that discloses the truth about the existential predicament and its solution, as well as the path that leads to that resolution; in other words, the path that leads to enlightenment and liberation. And faith in the Sangha, that is trusting confidence in the community of noble ones, the confidence that those who have followed the teaching have personally gained wisdom and purified themselves of defilements.

Faith, as I see it, has three interwoven components: one is intellectual, one volitional, and one emotional. Of course, such separation is somewhat artificial, but with this qualification one can still speak about them separately. The intellectual component is a willingness to accept on trust the truths that the Buddha discloses, even though they might go contrary to our own habitual ways of understanding. It doesn’t mean blind belief. The way we arrive at this faith is to first test and verify for ourselves certain things the Buddha teaches that come within range of our experience. So we try out the Buddha’s teaching and find that it does bring well-being and happiness. It changes our lives for the better, so instead of being miserable, wretched, and degraded, we now feel wholesome, healthy, and strong, on the way to peace, bliss and liberation. So even though we cannot, right now, verify everything for ourselves, we have confidence that as we advance, when we develop the required faculty of wisdom, we’ll be able to validate the crux of the Dhamma and gain liberation from all suffering. That is the intellectual component of faith.

The volitional component means that faith acts upon the will, motivating one to undertake the training, to make a resolution, a commitment, a determination to follow this path without turning away, and to follow this path, not only in this life, but as long as it takes to reach the goal.

The emotional component of faith is love and devotion directed towards the Buddha, by reason of his exalted, incomparable qualities; towards the Dhamma, by reason of its beauty, purity and profundity; and towards the Sangha, by reason of the excellent qualities of its members.

To summarize briefly, I encourage you all to bring at least as much attention to the cultivation of what is wholesome as to the abandoning of the unwholesome. And you may find it a more complete and skillful means when teaching the Dhamma to others. I have sketched a very broad outline of how this might be done, and invite you to continue your own investigation of the teachings with clarity and diligence.

Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi is a Buddhist monk originally fromNew York City. He lived in Sri Lanka for 23 years . His publications include several translations from the Pali Nikayas and most recently an anthology, In the Buddha’s Words (Wisdom 2005). He currently resides at Chuang Yen Monastery in Carmel, New York (2011).  Bhikkhu Bodhi is founder of the organization ( founded in 2008) “Buddhist Global Relief“, which  provides relief to the poor and needy throughout the world regardless of nationality, ethnicity, gender, or religion. Bearing in mind the Buddha’s statements that “hunger is the worst kind of illness” and “the gift of food is the gift of life.” BGR especially focuses on providing food aid to those afflicted by hunger and lack of food security. Its long-range goal, however, is to combat all the manifestations of poverty that detract from the inherent dignity of human life.

Words To Live By // The Gospel of Buddha


The Gospel of Buddha (1894) The Gospel of Buddha is a compilation from ancient records by Paul Carus
Neither fire, nor moisture, nor wind can destroy the blessing of good deeds, and blessings enlighten the whole world.

Ch. 58 The Buddha Replies to the Deva

On a certain day when the Blessed One
dwelt at Jetavana, the garden of Anathapindika,
a celestial deva came to him in the shape of a Brahman
enlightened and wearing clothing as white as snow.

The deva asked,

What is the sharpest sword?
What is the deadliest poison?
What is the fiercest fire?
What is the darkest night?”

The Blessed One replied,

The sharpest sword is a word spoken in wrath;
the deadliest poison is covetousness;
the fiercest fire is hatred;
the darkest night is ignorance.

The deva said,

What is the greatest gain?
What is the greatest loss?
Which armour is invulnerable?
What is the best weapon?

The Blessed One replied,

The greatest gain is to give to others;
the greatest loss is to greedily receive without gratitude;
an invulnerable armor is patience;
the best weapon is wisdom.

The deva said,

Who is the most dangerous thief?
What is the most precious treasure?
Who can capture the heavens and the earth?
Where is the securest treasure-trove?

A saviour has a greater right over the saved one than killer.

The Blessed One replied,

The most dangerous thief is unwholesome thought;
the most precious treasure is virtue;
the heavens and the earth may be captured by the mind’s eye;
surpassing rebirth locates the securest treasure-trove.

The deva asked,

What is attraction?
What is repulsion?
What is the most horrible pain?
What is the greatest enjoyment?

The mind is everything. What you think you become.

The Buddha replied,

Attraction is wholeness;
repulsion is unwholesomeness;
the most tormenting pain is bad conscience;
the height of bliss is redeemed awakening.

The deva asked,

What causes ruin in the world?
What breaks off friendships?
What is the most violent fever?
Who is the best physician?”

The Blessed One replied,

Ruin in the world is caused by ignorance;
friendships are broken off by envy and selfishness;
the most violent fever is hatred;
the best physician is the Buddha;

The deva continued,

Now I have only one doubt to resolve and absolve:
What is it fire cannot burn,
nor moisture corrode,
nor wind crush down,
but is able to enlighten the whole world.

To conquer oneself is a greater task than conquering others.

The Buddha replied,

Blessing!
Neither fire, nor moisture, nor wind
can destroy the blessing of good deeds,
and blessings enlighten the whole world.

Hearing these answers,

the deva was overflowing with joy.
Then clasping hands, bowed down in respect and
disappeared suddenly from the presence of the Buddha.

Sutra of the Past Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva// Chapter 9 The Names of Buddhas


Sutra of the Past Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva// Chapter 9 The Names of Buddhas

Chapter IX

The Names of Buddhas

At that time, Earth Store Bodhisattva Mahasattva said to the Buddha, “World Honored One, I want to discuss some practices that will be helpful to beings of the future and will enable them to gain great benefit throughout their lives and deaths. World Honored One, please hear my words.”

The Buddha told Earth Store Bodhisattva, “Now with your expansive compassion you wish to discuss the inconceivable events involved in rescuing all those in the Six Paths who are suffering for their offenses. This is the right time. Speak now, since my Nirvana is near, so that I may soon help you complete your vows. Then neither of us will need to be concerned about beings of the present or future.”

Earth Store Bodhisattva said to the Buddha, “World Honored One, countless asamkhyeya eons ago, a Buddha named Boundless Body Thus Come One appeared in the world. If men or women hear this Buddha’s name and have a momentary thought of respect, those people will overstep the heavy offenses involved in birth and death for forty eons. How much more will that be the case for those who sculpt or paint this Buddha’s image or praise and make offerings to him. The merit they obtain will be limitless and boundless.

“Furthermore, in the past, as many eons ago as there are grains of sand in the Ganges River, a Buddha named Jewel Nature Thus Come One appeared in the world. If men or women hear this Buddha’s name and instantly decide to take refuge, those people will never retreat from the Unsurpassed Path.

“Furthermore, in the past, a Buddha named Lotus Supreme Thus Come One appeared in the world. If men or women hear this Buddha’s name or if the sound of his name merely passes by their ears, those people will be reborn one thousand times in the Six Desire Heavens. How much more will that be the case if those people sincerely recite the name of that Thus Come One.

“Furthermore, in the past, inexpressibly ineffable asamkhyeya eons ago, a Buddha named Lion’s Roar Thus Come One appeared in the world. If men or women hear this Buddha’s name and in a single thought take refuge, those people will encounter numberless Buddhas who will rub the crowns of their heads and bestow predictions of enlightenment upon them.

“Furthermore, in the past, a Buddha named Krakucchanda appeared in the world. If men or women hear this Buddha’s name and sincerely gaze at, worship, or praise him, those people will become Great Brahma Heaven kings in the assemblies of the Thousand Buddhas of the Worthy Eon and will there receive superior predictions.

“Furthermore, in the past, a Buddha named Vipashin appeared in the world. If men or women hear this Buddha’s name, those people will eternally avoid falling into the Evil Paths, will always be born among people or gods, and will abide in supremely wonderful bliss.

“Furthermore, in the past, as many eons ago as there are grains of sand in limitless and countless Ganges Rivers, a Buddha named Jeweled Victory Thus Come One appeared in the world. If men or women hear this Buddha’s name, those people will never fall into the Evil Paths and will always abide in the heavens, experiencing supremely wonderful bliss.

“Furthermore, in the past, a Buddha named Jeweled Appearance Thus Come One appeared in the world. If men or women hear this Buddha’s name and give rise to a thought of respect, those people will soon attain the fruitions of Arhatship.

“Furthermore, limitless asamkhyeya eons ago, a Buddha named Kashaya Banner Thus Come One appeared in the world. If men or women hear this Buddha’s name, those people will overcome the offenses created throughout one hundred great eons of births and deaths.

“Furthermore, in the past a Buddha named Great Penetration Mountain King Thus Come One appeared in the world. If men or women hear this Buddha’s name, those people will encounter as many Buddhas as there are grains of sand in the Ganges. Those Buddhas will speak Dharma extensively for them, making certain that they realize Bodhi.

“Furthermore, in the past there were Buddhas named Pure Moon Buddha, Mountain King Buddha, Wise Victory Buddha, Pure Name King Buddha, Accomplished Wisdom Buddha, Unsurpassed Buddha, Wonderful Sound Buddha, Full Moon Buddha, Moon-Face Buddha, and indescribably many other Buddhas. World Honored One, beings of the present and future, both gods and humans, both male and female, can amass such limitless merit and virtue by reciting only one Buddha’s name. How much more merit will they amass by reciting many names. Those beings will personally obtain benefits in their lives and deaths significant enough to keep them from ever falling into the Evil Paths.

“When people are on the brink of death, a group of their relatives, or even just one of them, should recite a Buddha’s name aloud for the people who are ailing. If they do, the karmic retributions of those people who are about to die will be dissolved, even offenses deserving Fivefold Relentless Retribution. Offenses warranting Fivefold Relentless Retribution are so extremely heavy that those who commit them should not escape retribution for millions of eons. If, however, at the time of such offenders’ deaths, someone recites the names of Buddhas on their behalf, then their offenses can gradually be dissolved. How much more will that be the case for beings who recite those names themselves. The merit they create will be limitless and will eradicate measureless offenses.”

SOURCE

 

The Rituals and Festivals of the Buddhist Life by Robert C. Lester


The Rituals and Festivals of the Buddhist Life
by Robert C. Lester

Daily and Periodic Rituals

Merit is made and shared through daily, periodic, and special rituals and yearly festivals. Morning and evening services of chanting or worship take place in every monastery, temple, and home. With the placing of flowers and the lighting of candles and incense before a Buddha-image or some other symbol of the presence of the Buddha, monks chant together and the lay family offers a prayer. The flowers, beautiful one moment and wilted the next, remind the offerers of the impermanence of life; the odor of the incense calls to their mind the sweet scent of moral virtue that emanates from those who are devout; the candle-flame symbolizes enlightenment.

 

The central daily rite of lay Buddhism is the offering of food. Theravada laity make this offering to the monks. Mahayana laity make it to the Buddha as part of the morning or evening worship. In both settings merit is shared.

The weekly Observance Day rituals at the Theravada monastery are opportunities for both laity and monks to quicken faith, discipline, and understanding, and make and share merit. On these days, twice each month, the monks change and reaffirm the code of discipline. On all of these days, they administer the Eight Precepts to the gathered laity, the laity repeating them after the monks and offer a sermon on the Dharma. The monks our water to transfer merit to the laity; the laity pour water to share this merit with their ancestors.

Zen monks twice each month gather in the Buddha-hall of their head temple and chant for the welfare of the Japanese people. Pure Land Buddhist congregate at the temple once each week to praise Amida.

Rites of Passage

There are special rituals to mark, protect, and bless the occasions of major life transitions. They publicly mark and protect times of passage from one status to another times of unusual vulnerability such as birth, birthdays, coming of age, marriage, the entering into a new house, and death. Monks preside over ordinations, funerals, and death commemoration rites. In the Theravada tradition, ordination is a puberty or coming-of-age rite. Theravada monks also preside over birthday and new-house blessing rites. Ex-monks elders in the lay community perform the rituals for childbirth and marriage.

In Japanese Pure Land, the lay priest presides over rituals of the first presentation of a child at the temple, confirmation of boys and girls at the age of puberty, and death. Japanese Buddhists undertake marriage at the Shinto shrine, presided over by Shinto priests.

Yearly Festivals

Buddhists everywhere celebrate the New Year and the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, and death. The beginning of a new year is, generally, a time for “taking stock” of one’s karma, cleansing, and well-wishing. In Theravada communities the New Year is celebrated in mid-April on the lunar calendar and lasts for two or three days. The laity ritually bathe the Buddha-images and sprinkle water on the monks and the elders, showing respect and offering good wishes. The monks chant blessings on the laity, and together they share the merit of the occasion with the dead. The New Year appropriately begins at the end of the dry season and the beginning of new life in nature. The pouring of water is not only an honoring of the Buddha, the monks, the elders, and the dead but also an offering for plentiful rain and prosperity in the days to come. In Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia, the laity build sand mounds (stupas) at the monastery or on the bank of the river. Each grain of sand represents a demerit, and placing the grains in the monastery or letting them be washed away by the river symbolizes a cleansing from bad deeds. Bringing sand to the monastery also serves to renew the floor of the compound.

Zen and Pure Land Buddhists celebrate the New Year on the Western calendar. This is an occasion for Zen monks to publicly read large volumes of sacred sutras, thereby sending out cleansing and enlivening sound waves for the benefit of all beings. Pure Land Buddhist hold special services at the temple twice daily in praise of the Buddha Amida.

Theravada Buddhists celebrate the birth, enlightenment, and death of the Buddha on the same day the full moon of May, called Vaisakha. In Sri Lanka, it is a festival of lights, and house, gardens, and streets are decorated with lanterns. It is not a major festival in other Theravada countries, but, occurring on an Observance Day, it is at least an occasion for special food offerings to the monks and more than the usual devotion to keeping the moral precepts.

Japanese Buddhist celebrate the Buddha’s birth, death, and enlightenment on different days of the year: the birth on April 8, the enlightenment on December 8, and the death on February 15. The birth celebration, Hanamatsuri, is a flower festival and time for ritually bathing images of the Buddha. Enlightenment Day (Bodhi) and Death Day (Nehan [Nirvana]), are simply occasions for social worship.

Theravada Buddhists mark the beginning and end of the rain-retreat, which generally coincide with the beginning and end of the rains. They conclude the year with a harvest festival. Theravada monks enter rain-retreat on the full moon of either June or July. The three- or four-month period is a time of relative austerity for both laity and monks.

The monks remain in the monastery, spending more than the usual time in study and meditation. No marriages or public entertainments occur in the lay community and the laity are more devout in their attendance of Observance Day ceremonies and in their daily food offerings. The Observance Day on which rain-retreat commences is generally occasion for the entire lay community to offer food and many more than usual undertake to spend the day at the monastery, keeping the monastic precepts.

The full-moon observance with which the rain-retreat ends is much like that with which it begins, with the exception that the monks gather privately and invite each other to point out infractions of the monastic code during the retreat period. The mood of this observance is a happy one the rains have ended (usually), the monks may again move about, and public celebrations are in order. The month that follows, mid-October to mid-November, is the time for Kathina, the offering of cloth from which the monks prepare new robes. Kathina offerings are typically a group effort of an entire village, a lay association for merit making, a government agency, or the employees of a prominent commercial establishment. Typically, the group approaches the monastery in joyful procession. Upon arrival, the presiding monk administers the Five Precepts to the laity, receives the cloth, and declares the great merit of such offerings. The monks jointly chant a blessing verse and the laity pour water, symbolically transferring apportion of the merit to the ancestors.

Theravada Buddhist honor and transfer merit to their ancestors on every occasion of merit making and sharing. Japanese Buddhist give special honor and merit to their ancestors three times each year: on the spring and autumn equinoxes in March and September and during the month July 15-August 15. The equinox festivals, called Higan, “Other Shore,” mark times of transition in nature and therefore are occasions to reflect on the passage of time and the progress of being toward enlightenment — the other shore.

SOURCE Copyright © 1987 by Robert C. Lester

 

The Diamond Sutra Parts 1-12 English w/ Korean subtitles


WISDOM, COMPASSION and EQUANIMITY




WISDOM, COMPASSION & EQUANIMITY

“You, me, us, we, them, those and whoever else you can think of do not have the authority to decide the existence of another life but our own. If in the construction of our existence we purposefully and intentionally make the destruction of another life part of the foundational frame work for our relationships with another, on any level, we cascade the effect through our own entire existence.
Believing then that another has no redeeming qualities, is in capable of change, is not worthy of respect, is the worst of the worst, and at the very least not fit for compassion is to build the same qualities upon our existence through every level.
Human life no matter the struggle and it obstacles, however personal, is worth the time and effort it takes to build compassion, to grow in non-judgement, and extend our understanding beyond our own incipient maturities. If on the other hand we should choose not to build these qualities into our existence then it is only a matter of time before such qualities, and that which embody them, are removed due to there non functionality within the larger existence of life we share. A larger existence that supports without judgement, gives without expectation of appreciation, accepts the purpose in all things, and provides for each regardless of its fitness to receive.
So, though we build the existence of another, know we are choosing our own.”

-Robert Pental

copied from a discussion on the death penalty, however the wisdom, compassion and equanimity the writer speaks of and defines in his post can be applied to any circumstance, any time, to anyone by anyone.

Namo Buddhaya

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.

Essentials Of Chan Practice Parts 1 & 2 -Master Hsu-Yun


Essentials Of Chan Practice part 1 & 2 -Master Hsu-Yun  (source)

PART 1

The Prerequisites and Understanding Necessary to Begin Chan Practice

1. The Objective of Chan Practice

The objective of Chan practice is to illuminate the mind by eradicating its impurities and seeing into one’s true self-nature. The mind’s impurities are wrong thoughts and attachments. Self nature is the wisdom and virtue of the Tathagata. The wisdom and virtue of Buddhas and sentient beings are not different from one another. To experience this wisdom and virtue, leave behind duality, discrimination, wrong thinking and attachment. This is Buddhahood. If one cannot do this, then one remains an ordinary sentient being.

The prerequisite for Chan practice is to eradicate wrong thinking. Sakyamuni Buddha taught much on this subject. His simplest and most direct teaching is the word “stop” from the expression “stopping is Bodhi.” From the time when Bodhidharma transmitted Chan teachings to today, the winds of Chan have blown far and wide, shaking and illuminating the world. Among the many things that Bodhidharma and the Sixth Patriarch taught to those who came to study with them, none is more valuable than the saying, “Put down all entangling conditions, let not one thought arise.”

This expression is truly the prerequisite of Chan. If you cannot fulfil this requirement, then not only will you fail to attain the ultimate goal of Chan practice, but you will not even be able to enter the door of Chan. How can you talk of practicing Chan if you are entangled by worldly phenomena with thought after thought arising and passing away?

2. Put Down All Entangling Conditions

“Put down all entangling conditions, let not one thought arise” is a prerequisite for the practice of Chan. Now that we know this, how do we accomplish it? The best practitioner, one of superior abilities, can stop all thoughts forever, arrive directly at the condition of non-arising, and instantly experience Bodhi. Such a person is not entangled by anything.The next best kind of practitioner uses principle to cut off phenomena and realises that self-nature is originally pure. Vexation and Bodhi, Samsara and Nirvana – all are false names which have nothing to do with one’s self-nature. All things are dreams and illusions, like bubbles or reflections.

Within self-nature, my body, made up of the four great elements, as well as the mountains, rivers and great earth itself are like bubbles in the sea, arising and disappearing, yet never obstructing the original surface. Do not be captivated by the arising, abiding, changing and passing away of illusory phenomena, which give rise to pleasure and aversion, grasping and rejecting. Give up your whole body, as if you were dead, and the six sense organs, the six sense objects and six sense conciousnesses will naturally disperse. Greed, hatred, ignorance and love will be destroyed. All the sensations of pain, suffering and pleasure which attend the body – hunger, cold, satiation, warmth, glory, insult, birth and death, calamity, prosperity, good and bad luck, praise, blame, gain and loss, safety and danger – will no longer be your concern. Only this can be considered true renunciation – when you put everything down forever. This is what is meant by renouncing all phenomena.

When all phenomena are renounced, wrong thoughts disappear, discrimination does not arise, and attachment is left behind. When thoughts no longer arise, the brightness of self-nature manifests itself completely. At this time you will have fulfilled the necessary conditions for Chan practice. Then, further hard work and sincere practice will enable you to illuminate the mind and see into your true nature.

3. Everyone Can Instantly Become a Buddha

Many Chan practitioners ask questions about the Dharma. The Dharma that is spoken is not the true Dharma. As soon as you try to explain things, the true meaning is lost. When you realize that “one mind” is the Buddha, from that point on there is nothing more to do. Everything is already complete. All talk about practice or attainment is demonic deception.

Bodhidharma’s “Direct pointing at the mind, seeing into one’s nature and attaining Buddhahood” clearly states that all sentient beings are Buddhas. Once pure self-nature is recognized, one can harmonize with the environment yet remain undefiled. The mind will remain unified throughout the day, whether walking, standing, sitting or lying down. This is to already be a Buddha. At this point there is no need to put forth effort and be diligent. Any action is superfluous. No need to bother with the slightest thought or word. Therefore, to become a Buddha is the easiest, most unobstructed task. Do it by yourself. Do not seek outside yourself for it.

The vow to deliver all sentient beings, made by all the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and patriarchs, is not a boast nor is it a baseless, empty vow. The Dharma is exactly that. It has been elucidated again and again by the Buddha and the patriarchs. They have exhorted us with the truth. They do not deceive us.

4. Investigating Chan and Contemplating Mind

Our sect focuses on investigating Chan. The purpose of practising Chan is to “Illuminate the mind and see into one’s true nature.” This investigation is also called “Clearly realizing one’s self-mind and completely perceiving one’s original nature.”

Since the time when Buddha held up a flower and Bodhidharma came from the East, the methods for entry into this Dharma door have continually evolved. Most Chan practitioners, before the T’ang and Sung dynasties, became enlightened after hearing a word or half a sentence of the Dharma. The transmission from master to disciple was the sealing of Mind with Mind. There was no fixed Dharma. Everyday questions and answers untied the bonds. It was nothing more than prescribing the right medicine for the right illness.

After the Sung dynasty, however, people did not have such good karmic roots as their predecessors. They could not carry out what had been said. For example, practitioners were taught to “Put down everything” and “Not think about good or evil,” but they could not do it. They could not put down everything, and if they weren’t thinking about good, they were thinking about evil. Under these circumstances, the patriarchs had no choice but to use poison to fight poison, so they taught the method of investigating gongans (ie. Koans) and hua-t’ous.1

When one begins looking into a hua-t’ou, one must grasp it tightly, never letting go. It is like a mouse trying to chew its way out of a coffin. It concentrates on one point. The mouse doesn’t try different places and it doesn’t stop until it gets through. Thus, in terms of hua-t’ou, the objective is to use one thought to eradicate innumerable other thoughts. This method is a last resort, just as if someone had been pierced by a poison arrow, drastic measures must be taken to cure the patient.

The ancients used gongans, but later on practitioners started using hua-t’ou. Some hua-t’ous are: “Who is dragging this corpse around?” “Before you were born what was your original face?” and “Who is reciting the Buddha’s name?”

In fact, all hua-t’ous are the same. There is nothing uncommon, strange or special about them. If you wanted to, you could say: “Who is reciting the sutras?” “Who is reciting the mantras?” “Who is prostrating to the Buddha?” “Who is eating?” “Who is wearing these clothes?” “Who is walking?” “Who is sleeping?” They are all the same. The answer to the question “who” is derived from one’s Mind. Mind is the origin of all words. Thoughts come out of Mind; Mind is the origin of all thoughts. Innumerable Dharmas generate from the Mind; Mind is the origin of all Dharmas. In fact, hua-t’ou is a thought. Before a thought arises, that is Mind. Before a thought arises there is the origin of words. Hence, looking into a hua-t’ou is contemplating Mind. There was Mind before your parents gave birth to you, so looking into your original face before you were born is contemplating Mind.

Self-nature is Mind. When one turns inward to hear one’s self-nature, one is turning inward to contemplate Mind. In the phrase, “Perfectly illuminating pure awareness,” pure awareness is Mind and illumination is contemplation. Mind is Buddha. When one recites Buddha’s name one contemplates Buddha. Contemplating Buddha is contemplating Mind.

Investigating hua-t’ou or “looking into who is reciting Buddha’s name ” is contemplating Mind. Hence contemplating Mind is contemplating pure awareness. It is also illuminating the Buddha-nature within oneself. Mind is nature, pure awareness, Buddha. Mind has no form, no characters, no directions; it cannot be found in any particular place. It cannot be grasped. Originally, Mind is purity, universally embracing all Dharma realms. No in or out, no coming or going. Originally, Mind is pure Dharmakaya.

When investigating hua-t’ou, the practitioner should first close down all six sense organs and seek where thoughts arise. Practitioners should concentrate on the hua-t’ou until they see the pure original mind which is apart from thoughts. If one does this without interruption, the mind becomes fine, quiet, tranquil, silently illuminating. At that moment the five skandas are empty, body and mind are extinguished, nothing remains. From that point, walking, standing, siting and lying down are all done motionlessly. In time the practice will deepen, and eventually practitioners will see their self-nature and become Buddhas and suffering will cease.

A past patriarch named Kao-feng (1238-1295) once said: “You must contemplate hua-t’ou like a falling roof tile sinking endlessly down into a pond ten thousand feet deep. If in seven days you are not enlightened, I will give you permission to chop off my head.” These are the words of an experienced person. He did not speak lightly. His words are true.

Although many modern day practitioners use hua-t’ou, few get enlightened. This is because compared to practitioners of the past, practitioners today have inferior karmic roots and less merit. Also, practitioners today are not clear about the purpose and path of hua-t’ou. Some practitioners search from east to west and from north to south until they die, but still do not penetrate even one hua-t’ou. They never understand or correctly approach the hua-t’ou. They only grasp the form and the words. They use their intellect and attach only to the tail of the words.

Hua-t’ou is One Mind. This mind is not inside, outside or in the middle. On the other hand, it is inside, outside and in the middle. It is like the stillness of empty space prevailing everywhere.

Hua-t’ou should not be picked up. Neither should it be pressed down. If you pick it up, your mind will waver and become unstable. If you press it down you will become drowsy. These approaches are contrary to the nature of the original mind and are not in accordance with the Middle Path.

Practitioners are distressed by wandering thoughts. They think it is difficult to tame them. Don’t be afraid of wandering thoughts. Do not waste your energy trying to repress them. All you have to do is recognize them. Do not attach to any wandering thoughts, do not follow them, and do not try to get rid of them. As long as you don’t string thoughts together, wandering thoughts will depart by themselves.

1 A classic hua-t’ou is a brief pithy sentence or question which is the main point or “punchline” of a koan story. (JHC)

PART 2

Methods of Practice in the Chan Hall

By Master Hsu Yun.

This is part two of a translation of a text by the great Chan master of the early part of the 20th century, Hsu Yun (1839-1 959). It is reprinted by permission of the Institute of Chung Hwa Buddhist Culture, New York, from Chan Newsletter 87, August 1991. The first part of this talk appeared in New Chan Forum No.4. Spring 1992.

1. Introduction:

Many people come to ask me for guidance. This makes me feel ashamed. Everyone works so hard – splitting firewood, hoeing the fields, carrying soil, moving bricks – and yet from morning to night not putting down the thought of practising the Path. Such determination for the Path is touching. I, Hsu-Yun, repent my inadequacy on the Path and my lack of virtue. I am unable to instruct you and can use only a few sayings from the ancients in response to your questions. There are four prerequisites concerning methods of practice:

  1. Deep faith in the law of cause and consequence
  2. Strict observance of precepts
  3. Immovable faith
  4. Choosing a Dharma door method of practice

2. The Essentials of Chan Practice:

Our everyday activities are executed within the Path itself Is there anywhere that is not a place for practising the Path? A Chan Hall should not even be necessary. Furthermore, Chan practice is not just sitting meditation. The Chan Hall and Chan sitting meditation are for sentient beings with deep karmic obstructions and shallow wisdom.

When one sits in meditation, one must first know how to regulate the body and mind. If they are not well regulated, then a small harm will turn into an illness and a great harm will lead to demonic entanglements. This would be most pitiable. Walking and sitting meditation in the Chan Hall are for the regulation of body and mind. There are other ways to regulate the body and mind, but I will talk about these two fundamental methods.

When you sit in the lotus position, you should sit naturally straight. Do not push the waist forward purposely. Doing so will raise your inner heat, which later on could result in having sand in the comer of your eyes, bad breath, uneasy breathing, loss of appetite, and in the worst case, vomiting blood. If dullness or sleepiness occur, open your eyes wide, straighten your back and gently move your buttocks from side to side. Dullness will naturally vanish. If you practice with an anxious attitude, you will have a sense of annoyance. At that time you should put everything down, including your efforts to practice. Rest for a few minutes. Gradually, after you recuperate, continue to practice. If you don’t do this, as time goes on you will develop a hot-tempered character, or, in the worst case, you could go insane or fall into demonic entanglements.

There are many experiences you will encounter when sitting Chan, too many to speak of. However, if you do not attach to them, they will not interfere with you. This is why the proverb says: “See the extraordinary yet do not think of it as being extraordinary, and the extraordinary will retreat.” If you encounter or perceive an unpleasant experience, take no notice of it and have no fear. If you experience something pleasant, take no notice of it and don’t give rise to fondness. The “Surangama Sutra” says: “If one does not think he has attained a supramundane experience, then this is good. On the other hand, if one thinks he has attained something supramundane, then he will attract demons.”

3. How to Start the Practice: Distinction between Host and Guest

How should one begin to practice? In the Surangama assembly, Kaundinya the Honoured One mentioned the two words “guest” and “dust”. This is where beginners should begin their practice. He said, “A traveller who stops at an inn may stay overnight or get something to eat. When he is finished or rested, he packs and continues his journey, for he does not have time to stay longer. If he were the host, he would have no place to go. Thus I reason: he who does not stay is called a guest because not staying is the essence of being a guest. He who stays is called a host. Again, on a clear day, when the sun rises and the sunlight enters a dark room through an opening, one can see dust in empty space. The dust is moving but the space is still. That which is clear and still is called space; that which is moving is called dust because moving is the essence of being dust.” Guest and dust refer to illusory thoughts, whereas host and space refer to self-nature. That the permanent host does not follow the guest in his comings and goings illustrates that permanent self-nature does not follow illusory thoughts in their fleeting rise and fall. Therefore it was said, “If one is unaffected by all things, then there will be no obstructions even when one is constantly surrounded by things.” The moving dust does not block the clear, still empty space; illusory thoughts which rise and fall by themselves do not hinder the self-nature of Suchness. Thus it was said, “If my mind does not arise, all things are blameless.” In such a state of mind, even the guest does not drift with illusory thoughts. If he understands space and dust, illusory thoughts will no longer be hindrances. It is said that when one recognizes an enemy, there will be no more enemy in your mind. if one can investigate and understand all this before starting to practice, it is unlikely that one will make serious mistakes.

4. Hua-t’ou and Doubt:

The ancient patriarchs pointed directly at Mind. When one sees self-nature, one attains Buddhahood. This was the case when Bodhidharma helped his disciple to calm his mind and when the Sixth Patriarch spoke only about seeing self-nature. All that was necessary was the direct understanding and acceptance of Mind and nothing else. There was no such thing as investigating hua-t’ou. More recent patriarchs, however, saw that practitioners could not throw themselves into practice with total dedication and could not instantaneously see their self-nature. Instead, these people played games and imitated words of wisdom, showing off other people’s treasure and patriarchs were compelled to set up schools and devise specific ways to help practitioners, hence the method of investigating hua-t’ou.

There are many hua-t’ous, such as “All dharmas return to one, where does this one return to?” “What was my original face before I was born?” and so on. The most common one, however, is “Who is reciting the Buddha’s name?”.

What is meant by hua-t’ou? Hua means the spoken word; t’ou means the head or beginning, so hua-t’ou means that which is before the spoken word. For example, reciting Amitabha Buddha is a hua, and hua-t’ou is that which precedes one’s reciting the Buddha’s name. The hua-t’ou is that moment before the thought arises. Once the thought arises, it is already the tail of the hua. The moment before that thought has arisen is called non-arising. When one’s mind is not distracted, is not dull, is not attached to quiescence, or has not fallen into a state of nothingness, it is called non-perishing. Singlemindedly and uninterruptedly, turning inward and illuminating the state of non-arising and non-perishing is called investigating the hua-t’ou or taking care of the hua-t’ou.

To investigate the hua-t’ou, one must first generate doubt. Doubt is like a walking cane for the method of investigating hua-t’ou. What is meant by doubt? For example, one may ask, “Who is reciting the Buddha’s name?” Everyone knows that it is he himself who is reciting the name, but is he using his mouth or mind? If it is his mouth, then after the person dies and the mouth still exists, how come the dead person is unable to recite Buddha’s name? If it is the mind, then what is the mind like? It cannot be known. Thus there is something one does not understand, and this gives rise to a slight doubt regarding the question of “who”.

This doubt should never be coarse. The finer it is the better one should singlemindedly watch and keep this doubt, and keep it going like a fine stream of water. Do not get distracted by any other thought. When the doubt is there, do not disturb it. When the doubt is no longer there, gently give rise to it again. Beginners will find that it is more effective to use this method when stationary rather than when moving; but you should not have a discriminating attitude. Regardless of whether your practice is effective or not or whether you are stationary or moving, just singlemindedly use the method and practice.

In the hua-t’ou, “Who is reciting the Buddha’s name?” The emphasis should be on the word “who”. The other words serve to provide a general idea, just like in asking, “Who is dressing?”, “Who is eating?”, “Who is moving their bowels?”, ”Who is urinating?”, ”Who is ignorantly fighting for an ego?”, ”Who is being aware?”. Regardless of whether one is walking, standing, sitting or reclining, the word “who” is direct and immediate. Not having to rely on repetitive thinking, conjecture, or attention, it is easy to give rise to a sense of doubt.

Hence, hua-t’ou’s involving the word “who” are wonderful methods for practising Chan. But the idea is not to repeat, “Who is reciting Buddha’s name?” like one might repeat the Buddha’s name itself; nor is it right to use reasoning to come up with an answer to the question, thinking that this is what is meant by having doubt. There are people who uninterruptedly repeat the phrase, “Who is reciting the Buddha’s name?” They would accumulate more merit and virtue if they repeatedly recited Amitabha Buddha’s name instead. There are others who let their minds wander, thinking that is the meaning of having doubt, and they end up more involved in illusory thoughts. This is like trying to ascend but descending instead. Be aware of this.

The doubt that is generated by a beginning practitioner tends to be coarse, intermittent and irregular. This does not truly qualify as a state of doubt. It can only be called thoughts. Gradually, after the wild thoughts settle and one has more control, the process can be called “ts’an” (ts’an means to investigate or look into). As one’s cultivation gets smoother, the doubt naturally arises without one’s actively inducing it to. At this point one is not aware of where one is sitting. One is not aware of the existence of a body or mind or environment. Only the doubt is there. This is a true state of doubt.

Realistically speaking, the initial stage cannot be considered cultivation. One is merely engaging in illusory thoughts. Only when true doubt arises by itself can it be called true cultivation. This moment is a crucial juncture, and it is easy for the practitioner to deviate from the right path:

  1. At this moment it is clear and pure and there is an unlimited sense of lightness and peace. However, if one fails to fully maintain one’s awareness and illumination (awareness is wisdom, not delusion; illumination is samadhi, not disorder), one will fall into a light state of mental dullness. If there is an open-eyed person around, he will be able to tell right away that the practitioner is in this mental state and hit him with the incense stick, dispersing all clouds and fog. Many people become enlightened this way.
  2. At this moment it is clear and pure, empty and vacuous. If it isn’t, then the doubt is lost. Then it is “no content”, meaning one is not making an effort to practice any more. This is what is meant by “the cliff with dry wood” or “the rock soaking in cold water”. In this situation the practitioner has to “bring up”. “Bring up” means to develop awareness and illumination. It is different from earlier times when the doubt was coarse. Now it has to be fine – one thought, uninterrupted and extremely subtle. With utter clarity, it is illuminating and quiescent, unmoving yet fully aware. Like the smoke from a fire that is about to go out, it is a narrow stream without interruption. When one’s practice reaches this point, it is necessary to have a diamond eye in the sense that one should not try to “bring up” any more. To “bring up” at this point would be like putting a head on top of one’s head.

Once a monk, asked Chan master Chao-chou, “What should one do when not one thing comes?” Chao-chou replied, “Put it down”. The monk, asked, “If not one thing comes, what does one put down?” Chao-chou replied, “If it cannot be put down, take it up”. This dialogue refers precisely to this kind of situation. The true flavour of this state cannot be described. Like someone drinking water, only he knows how cool or warm it is. If a person reaches this state, he will naturally understand. If he is not at this state, no explanation will be adequate. To a sword master you should offer a sword; do not bother showing your poetry to someone who is not a poet.

5. Taking Care of Hua-t’ou and Turning Inward to Hear One’s Self-Nature:

Someone might ask, “How is Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara’s method of turning inward to hear self-nature considered investigating Chan?”. I have previously explained that taking care of hua-t’ou is being, moment after moment, with only one thought, singlemindedly shining the light inward on “that which is not born and not destroyed”. Inward illumination is reflection. Self-nature is that which is not born and not destroyed. When “hearing” and “illuminating” follow sound and form in the worldly stream, hearing does not go beyond sound and seeing does not go beyond form. However, when one turns inward and contemplates self-nature against the worldly steam, and does not pursue sound and form, then he becomes pure and transparent. At that time, “hearing” and “illuminating” are not two different things.

Thus we should know that taking care of the hua-t’ou and turning inward to hear self-nature does not mean using our eyes to see and our ears to hear. If we use our ears to hear or our eyes to see, then we are chasing sound and form. As a result we will be affected by them. This is called submission to the worldly stream. If one practices with one thought only, singlemindedly abiding in that which is not born and not destroyed, not chasing after sound and form, with no wandering thoughts, then one is going against the stream. This is also called taking care of the hua-t’ou or turning inward to hear one’s self-nature. This is not to say you should close your eyes tightly or cover your ears. Just do not generate a mind of seeking after sound and form.

6. Determined to Leave Samsara and Generating a Persevering Mind:

In Chan training the most important thing is to have an earnestness to leave birth and death and to generate a persevering mind. If there is no earnestness to leave birth and death, then one cannot generate the “great doubt” and practice will not be effective. if there is no perseverance in one’s mind, the result will be laziness, like a man who practices for one day and rests for ten. The practice will be incomplete and fragmented. Just develop a persevering mind and when great doubt arises, vexations will come to an end by themselves. When the time comes, the melon will naturally depart from the vine.

I will tell you a story. During the Ch’ing dynasty in the year of K’eng Tse (1900) when the eight world powers sent their armies to Peking, the Emperor Kuang-hsu fled westward from Peking to Shen Hsi province. Everyday he walked tens of miles. For several days he had no food to eat. On the road, a peasant offered him sweet potato stems. After he had eaten them, he asked the peasant what they were because they tasted so good. Think about the Emperor’s usual awe-inspiring demeanour and his arrogance! How long do you think he could continue to maintain his imperial attitude after so long a journey on foot? Do you think he had ever gone hungry? Do you think he ever had to eat sweet potato stems? At that time he gave up all of his airs. After all, he had walked quite a distance and had eaten stems to keep from starving. Why was he able to put down everything at that time? Because the allied armies wanted his life and his only thought was to save himself But when peace prevailed and he returned to Peking, once again he became proud and arrogant. He didn’t have to run any more. He no longer had to eat any food that might displease him. Why was he unable to put down everything at that time? Because the allied armies no longer wanted his life. If the Emperor always had an attitude of running for his life and if he could turn such an attitude toward the path of practice, there would be nothing he could not accomplish. It’s a pity he did not have a persevering mind. When favourable circumstances returned, so did his former habits.

Fellow practitioners! Time is passing, never to return. It is constantly looking for our lives. It is more frightening than the allied armies. Time will never compromise or make peace with us. Let us generate a mind of perseverance immediately in order to escape from birth and death! Master Kao-fung (1238-1295) once said, “Concerning the practice, one should act like a stone dropping into the deepest part of the pool – ten thousand feet deep – continuously and persistently dropping without interruption toward the bottom. If one can practice like this without stopping, continuously for seven days, and still be unable to cut off one’s wandering, illusory thoughts and vexations, I, Kao-fung, will have my tongue pulled out for cows to plough on forever”. He continued by saying, “When one practices Chan, one should set out a certain time for success, like a man who has fallen into a pit a thousand feet deep. All his tens of thousands of thoughts are reduced to one – escape from the pit. If one can really practice from morning to dusk and from night to day without a second thought, and if he does not attain complete enlightenment within three, five or seven days, I shall be committing a great lie for which I shall have my tongue pulled out for cows to plough on forever”. This old master had great compassion.

The Song of the Skin Bag – Master Hsu Yun


The Song of the Skin Bag
Written by Master Xu-Yun in his 19th year
From “Empty Cloud: The Autobiography of the Chinese Zen Master”.
Translate by Charles Luk. Rev. and edited by Richard Hunn

The Song of the Skin Bag, (1) the skin bag is sung. Before the empty aeon (2)

it had neither name nor form,

After the Buddha with awe-inspiring voice (3) it became a hindrance.

Three hundred and sixty tendons are linked within the body (4)

Enclosed by four and eighty thousand pores.(5)

Divided it splits into heaven, earth and man,

United it combines the four elements.

It supports heaven, props up earth,

But what of its mettle?

Understand cause and effect, discern the times

Survey the stupidity of past and present.

Because of wrong clinging to illusory forms,

Parents are involved and wife and children loved.

By vain indulgence in delusion karma is left behind,

The Song of the Skin Bag, the skin bag is sung.

Drinking wine and eating meat upset the mind-nature,

Indulgence in pleasure and desire leads to utter ruin

When officialdom is strong to oppress the innocent(6)

And traders artful against their consciences, how long

Will their wealth and power last, the their pride and their extravagance?

The poor and lowly will not so last while there is cruelty and violence.

Discrimination between self and others leads to inequality,

Destroying living beings as worthless things.

Thinking and discerning cause desire, stupidity and hatred,

While becoming lost in heresies invites self-destruction..

Killing, stealing, adultery and lying have no end,

And rude behavior to others increases attachment and aversion.

To scold the wind and curse the ram is disrespectful to the gods,

While depression comes from ignorance of birth and death.

When leaving a cow’s womb to enter a mare’s belly

Who will sing of or lament your change of form?

Many evil acts without a good deed will make

Aimless and toilsome your transmigration.

Entering the three evil realms, falling into hell (7)

Causes suffering to animals and hungry ghosts.

The ancient sages would oft repeat their warning,

Likewise the morning bell and drum at eve are to change your bean.

Good and evil karma bring certain retribution,

Escape then, worldly men, from the five periods of impurity.(8)

The Song of the Skin Bag, the skin bag is sung;

If the owner of form is not entangled by it,

For illusory matter to interdependence owes its name –

He can readily turn his mind within

To contemplate in sovereign case.

With no desire for fame and for wealth no craving,

Cut off all liking and from the world retire.

With no love for wife and no affection for children

Enter a monastery to keep the discipline;

Look for learned teachers, seek out their teaching

On Chan practice and meditation to O’er-leap the three worlds.(9)

Store what you see arid hear, forsake all causal clingings

To escape for ever from the worldly way.

By taming the six senses and stopping all your thoughts,

With neither self nor other, no trouble will remain,

Unlike worldly men who sigh when mist and dew disperse. (10)

With one robe to cover you and food enough

To satisfy your hunger, keep yourself in shape.

Give wealth away, sacrifice your body and life

Without a second thought as when you spit or sneeze.

Keep pure the discipline, be without fault

And correct in your deportment.(11) Be not angry

When insulted, bear no hatred when you are beaten,

Forget all derison by enduring the unendurable.

Without deviation, without interruption

Hold for ever the one thought of Amitabha.

Let there be no dullness, no confusion,

But like the fir and cypress defy the bitter cold.

Doubt no more the Buddha, doubt no more the Dharma;

With innate wisdom look clearly into what you see and hear,

Bore the paper, cut the hide(12) and go back

To the source, for self-liberation means

Returning to the spring and source of reality.

There is neither ‘non-existence’ nor emptiness

Exposed is the potentiality divine, wondrous and inconceivable

When you reach here al lgrievance ends.

Hurrah, for now you realize the goal.

With the ten titles of Buddha (13) you will teach a myriad worlds.

Aha, that same leaking shell (14) is now

The omnipresent Buddha-body. (15)

Clearly good and evil karmas are infallible, so why

Rely on falsehood instead of practicing the truth?

When the absolute is split the two extremes appear,

The spiritual mind turns into heaven and earth.

Kings and ministers are noble owing to their past karmas,

None are rich or noble, poor or humble without previous cause

Where there is birth – there will be death,

Why grumble since this is known to everyone?

For wife, children (and self), for happiness and wealth

All prospects are spoiled by anger and desire.

For what fame or gain did I trifle

Away my last nineteen springs? (16)

Frustrations of a thousand, nay ten thousand kinds

Harass and make your life yet more unbearable.

When you grow old with failing sight and snow-white hair

You will have vainly passed a lifetime ignorant of virtue.

From day to month, from month to year in vain will you

Regret that months and years turn like a wheel.

Who is an immortal in this world of ours?

‘Tis better to revere once more the cloud of compassion (17)

Ánd on a famous mountain or in some renowned place

To live at ease in transcendental bliss

Do not you know how fast the temporary flies?

Respectfully ponder a few expedient sentences,

Recite Amitabha’s name, see clearly into birth and death,

Then enjoy happiness beyond the reach of others.

Practice Chan, seek out its aim; the pure

And the spiritual are only this.

With clear tea and vegetarian food the mind

Errs not enjoying Dharma night and day.

Forsake both self and other, relinquish ‘you’ and ‘I’

Treat friend and foe alike forgetting praise and censure

When the mind is free from hindrance and disgrace

Do Buddhas and Patriarchs regards its Oneness as being without use?

The World-Honoured One renounced his love to climb the snowy mountains(18)

While Avalokitesvara left home to become a son of the Buddha. (19)

In the days of Yao and Shun(20) lived Zhao and Yu,(21)

When the throne was offered to Zhao he washed his ears.(22)

Remember Zhang Zi-fang and Liu Cheng-Yi

Who cast away their glory, retiring from the world.

In this period of termination when troubles lie ahead, (23)

Why do you not awaken to vie with the ancestors?

To indulge in ignorance, commiting the ten evils

Exhaust  your ingenuity and wins the world’s contempt.

Wars, epidemies, droughts and floods are frequent,

Dearth, famine and strife succeed each other and

When weird tales prevail misfortune follows.

‘Midst earthquakes, landslides and tidal waves

What will you do in order to escape?

Evil acts in past transmigrations

Cause present falsehood and frustration

When poor and in trouble virtue should first be cultivated,

Then in a monastery worship with virtuous heart the King of the Law,

Repentance and reform from past wrong deeds improve your lot.

Call on learned teachers, seek your experience to seal,

First learn, then leave both birth and death to realize the Mind-nature,

Impermanence exposed reveals eternity.

Path lies in path within your practice.

the saints and sages left clear sayings to reform the world,

Slight not then the teaching of the Tripitaka.

With earnestness and deep sincerity

I urge all human beings to be righteous

Take not my words as idle nor forget them,

for self-cultivation leads to perception of self-nature.

Hasten your practice, be ever zealous,

For the sowing of Bodhí is the direct cause of awakening.

the nine stages alter rebirth in the lotus are testified by the Buddha,

An Amitabha will take you to the Western Paradise.

Lay down your bag of skin, leap en the Vehicle Supreme.

This is the Song of the Skin Bag, hearken to it friends !

____________________________________________________________________

Notes Source

1. The human body is likened to a skin-bag which obstructs our realization of the truth.

2. The empty aeon is regarded as coming after that of the destruction of the world systems and preceding that of their formation, the latter being followed by that of ‘existence’.

3. Bhimsa-garjita-ghosa-svara-raja (short form Bhímsa-raja) or the King with awe-inspiring voice, the name of countless Buddhas, successively appearing during the aeon free from misery, decay, calamities, epidemics, etc.

4. The digit 3 symbolizes the past, present and future, or time. The digit 6 stands for the six worlds of existence and the six directions north, south, east, west, the zenith and nadir, or space.

5. The digit 8 stands for the eight consciousnesses and the digit 4 for the four elements: earth, water, fire and air which constitute the human body.

6. The Master’s father was an official.

7. The three evil realms: hungry ghosts, animals and hells.

8. The five periods of impurity: (1) the aeon in decay when it suffers deterioration giving rise to form; (2) Deterioration of views, selfishness etc., arising; (3) Passions and delusions arising from desire, anger and stupidity in which pride and doubt prevail; (4) the subsequent increase in human miseries and decrease in happiness and <5) the gradual shortening of human life to ten years.

9. The Triple realms’ of Desire, form and formlessness.

10. All worldly men are grieved about the impermanence of things which are likened to mist and dew.

11. That is, while walking, standing, sitting and reclining.

12. Bore the paper of the sutras to extract the correct meaning and pierce the ox-hide ignorance to realize the truth.

13. The ten titles of a Buddha are: (1) Tathagata, He who comes thus as do all other Buddhas; the absolute ‘coming’; (2) Arhat or one worthy of worship; (3) Samyak-sambuddha, Omniscient; (4) Vidyacarana-sampanna perfect knowledge and conduct; (5) Sugata, the well-departed; (6) Lokavid, knower of the world; (7) Anuttara, the peerless lord; (8) Purusadamya-sarathi, the tamer of passions; (9) Sasta deva-manusyanam, teacher of gods and men; (10) Bhagavat or Lokanatha, the World-Honoured One.

14. The illusory human body.

15. The spiritual body appearing in full.

16. Xu-Yun complained that he had wasted his time until his 19th year before succeeding in escaping from home.

17. The over-spreading, fructifying cloud of compassion, the heart of the Buddha.

18. The Himalayas. According to the Chinese Buddhist tradition, this symbolizes the Buddha’s renunciation ascent on the Bodhi-path.

19. A bodhisattva, son of ‘the Buddha’s family’.

20. The golden age of Chinese history when the country was ruled by the wise Emperors Yao and Shun.

21. Yao knew that Zhao and Yu were two sages and offered to abdicate in their favour but both declined,

22. When Zhao heard of Yao’s offer the throne to him, he went to the river bank to wash his ears from the ‘impurity’ of the offer.

23. The present period of the Dharma-ending age.

24. The nine stages of progression as described in the Sutra of Amitabha.

Stages of Mindfulness


Hwa Tsang Buddhist Monastery – Contents of Page.

The Buddha said there were Four Foundations of Mindfulness, that can overcome our sorrow, our lamentation, destroy our suffering and grief, and guide us towards the attainment of Nirvana. He explained this in the ‘Satipatthana Sutta’, from the ‘Majjhima Nikaya 10’. This is an edited summary.

Dependent Origination // Charts and Commentary


Following chart complied by a friend ❤

Dependent Origination (12-links of Dependent Arising)

(PaticcaSamuppada in Pali and Pratityasamutpada in Sanskrit)

A Twelve Links of Dependent Origination 十二因緣

There is no existing phenomenon that is not the effect of dependent origination. All phenomena arise dependent upon a number of casual factors, called conditions. This is a very simple way to express the Law of Dependent Origination.

Dependent origination is essentially and primarily a teaching to understand suffering and cessation of suffering. It is not a description of the evolution of universe. The twelve links of dependent origination provide a detailed description on the problem of suffering and rebirth.

1   Avijjā (Avidya)           Ignorance

無明 Ignorance is the condition for mental formation.

Lack of wisdom, which is the root of all evils. Obscuration as to self of persons and self of phenomena.

Ignorance means the lack of right understanding. One is ignorant to take oneself as a real, independent, permanent entity of “I.” We do not really understand what our lives are and what the universe is. That is why we are in trouble, in anger, in illusion, in anxiety, in fear, etc. If we understand more about the universe and our lives, then we will live in accordance with the way it goes (not against it). Then we will be happy, free and comfortable.

2   Sankhārā (Samskara)  Karma formations , Compositional action

Mental formation is the condition for consciousness

Wholesome or unwholesome thoughts, speech and bodily deeds.

Mental formation arises from ignorance. The mental impurities (the result of actions done in the previous lives) have resulted in the formulation of habitual energy and actions done in the present life, which are generally liable to conform to the patterns established in previous lives. The Law of Karma governs all. That is why some people live better than the others in this world. Mental formation is a condition for consciousness.

3   Viññāna (Vijnana)       Consciousness

Consciousness is the condition for name and form

Normally 6 consciousnesses but is taken as 8 in the Yogacara School.

Consciousness arises from mental formation. Literally, it means perceiving, comprehending, recognizing, differentiating, etc. Usually it is interpreted to be our mind. In the twelve links, mental formation is then condition for consciousness, as our personalities belong to our internal mind. Our personalities can only be realized upon:

(1) the subjective differentiating mind (consciousness) and

(2) the objective matter (name and form). Consciousness is a condition for name and form

4   Nāma-rūpa Name & form, Corporeality & mentality,

Mental & physical existence.

名色 name – form is the condition for the six senses

Mental aggregates and one physical body.

Name and Form is the combination of spirit and matter, mind and body. It refers to Five Aggregates, i.e. form, feeling, perception, mental formation and consciousness. Form has its colour and shape, and the other four do not. Therefore, they are called “name.” Name and form is a condition for the six senses.

5    Salāyātana (Shadayatana)   Six sense bases, Six sense organs/spheres

六入 six sense organs are the conditions for contact

Eye, ear, nose, tongue, touch and mental faculty.

The six senses arise from name and form. They are eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind. These six organs are the tools used to get in contact with the external objects and to be aware of the existence of an objective matter. They are also organs to express our characters and personalities. The six senses are the conditions for contact.

6    Phassa (Sparsha)       Contact, Sense impression

contact is the condition for feeling

A mental factor and period in which the objects, sense power/organ and consciousness come together, causing one to distinguish an object as pleasurable, painful or neutral.

Contact arises from the six senses. It is the psychological process created by the six senses, the objects and the consciousness. Therefore contact is the condition for feeling. Without contact, we will have no feeling. It is the very first link where suffering begins.

7    Vedanā Feeling, Sensation

feeling is the condition for craving

Posited as a mental factor that experiences pleasure, pain and neutral feeling. Pleasure leads to a strong desire for more while pain generates an avoidance desire.

Feeling arises from contact. It is the feeling towards a matter. There are three kinds of feeling, namely, suffering, pleasure, no-suffering-no-pleasure. Feeling is a condition for craving.

8    Tanhā (Trishna)        Craving, Attachment, Desire

desire is the condition for clinging

A mental factor that increases desire but without any satisfaction.

Craving arises from contact. It is the sensuous desire, pursuit for pleasures, attachment to gain and fear of loss. Craving is a condition for clinging.

9    Upādana Clinging,  Grasping

grasping is the condition for becoming

A stronger degree of desire. 4 basic varieties: desired objects, views of self, bad system of ethics and conduct; and other bad views.

Clinging arises from craving. It is an attachment to a matter. We have the desire to keep it and possess it permanently. However, all phenomena are impermanent. We are bound to suffer because of our ignorance. Clinging is a condition for becoming.

10  Bhava (Bjava) Process of becoming, Existence

Existence is the condition for birth

A period lasting from the time of fully potential’s karma up to the beginning of next lifetime.

Becoming arises from clinging. It means to give birth, create and exist. Since we are so attached to all phenomena, including matter and self, we assume that there is an existence. However, the existence is void because it is not real. It is conditioned, impermanent and transient. Becoming is a condition for birth.

11   Jāti Rebirth, Birth

Rebirth  is the condition for aging and death

Birth arises from becoming. Birth implies life. It is an effect of all mental activities, which make the life to happen. Birth is a condition for old age and death.

12   Jarā-marana (Jaramaranam) Ageing & Death, Decay & Death

老死 Old- age ,death is the condition for ignorance

Old age and death arises from birth. It is a life “cycle”. Death is one of the greatest affliction and fear of the layman beings, but none of them is exempted from old age and dying. Death is a condition for ignorance.

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COMMENTARY ON DEPENDENT ORIGINATION

DEPENDENT ORIGINATION

Today, in this tenth session, we are going to take up a very important topic in Buddhist studies and this is the teaching of dependent origination. I am aware of the fact that many people believe that dependent origination is a very difficult subject and I would not say that there is no truth in that belief. In fact, on one occasion Ananda remarked that despite its apparent difficulty, the teaching of dependent origination was actually quite simple; and the Buddha rebuked Ananda saying that in fact the teaching of dependent origination was very deep. Certainly in the teaching of dependent origination we have one of the most important and profound teachings in Buddhism. Yet I sometimes feel that our fear of dependent origination is to some extent unwarranted. There is nothing particularly difficult, for instance, in the term dependent origination. After all, we all know what dependent means, and what birth, origination or arising means. It is only when we begin to examine the function and application of dependent origination that we have to recognize the fact that we have a very profound and significant teaching. Some indication of this can be gained from the Buddha’s own statements. Very frequently, we find that the Buddha expressed His experience of enlightenment in one of two ways, either in terms of having understood the Four Noble Truths, or in terms of having understood the nature of dependent origination. Again, the Buddha has often mentioned that in order to attain enlightenment one has to understand the Four Noble Truths; or similarly, one has to understand dependent origination.

On the basis of the Buddha’s own statements, we can see a very close relationship between the Four Noble Truths and dependent origination. What is it that the Four Noble Truths and dependent origination have in common? The principle that both have in common is the principle of causality – the law of cause and effect, of action and consequence. In one of our earlier lectures we have mentioned that the Four Noble Truths are divided into two groups. The first two – suffering and the causes of suffering, and the last two – the end of suffering and the path to the end of suffering. In both of these groups, it is the law of cause and effect that governs the relationship between the two. In other words, suffering is the effect of the cause of suffering; and similarly, the end of suffering is the effect of the path to the end of suffering. Here too in regard to dependent origination, the fundamental principle at work is that of cause and effect. In dependent origination, we have a more detailed description of what actually takes place in the causal process.

Let us take a few examples that establish the nature of dependent origination. Let us take first an example used by the Buddha Himself. The Buddha has said the flame in an oil lamp burns dependent upon the oil and the wick. When the oil and the wick are present, the flame in an oil lamp burns. If either of these is absent, the flame will cease to burn. This example illustrates the principle of dependent origination with respect to a flame in an oil lamp. Let us take the example of the sprout. Dependent upon the seed, earth, water, air and sunlight the sprout arises. There are in fact innumerable examples of dependent origination because there is no existing phenomenon that is not the effect of dependent origination. All these phenomena arise dependent upon a number of causal factors. Very simply, this is the principle of dependent origination.

Particularly, we are interested in the principle of dependent origination as it applies to the problem of suffering and rebirth. We are interested in how dependent origination explains the situation in which we find ourselves here. In this sense, it is important to remember that dependent origination is essentially and primarily a teaching that has to do with the problem of suffering and how to free ourselves from suffering, and not a description of the evolution of the universe. Let me briefly list the twelve components or links that make up dependent origination. They are ignorance, mental formation, consciousness, name and form, the six senses, contact, feeling, craving, clinging, becoming, birth, and old age and death.

There are two principal ways in which we can understand these twelve components. One way to understand them is sequentially, over a period of three lifetimes: the past life, the present life and the future life. In this case, ignorance and mental formation belong to the past life. They represent the conditions that are responsible for the occurrence of this life. The following components of dependent origination – consciousness, name and form, the six senses, contact, feeling, craving, clinging and becoming – belong to this life. In brief, these eight components constitute the process of evolution within this life. The last two components – birth and old age and death – belong to the future life. According to this scheme, we can see how the twelve components of dependent origination are distributed over the period of three lifetimes, and how the first two – ignorance and mental formation result in the emergence of this life with its psycho-physical personality and how in turn, the actions performed in this life result in rebirth in the future life. This is one popular and authoritative way of interpreting the twelve components of dependent origination.

But for today, I am going to focus on another interpretation of the relation between the twelve components of dependent origination. This interpretation too is authoritative and has the support of recognized Buddhist masters and saints. This interpretation might be called a cyclical interpretation because it does not depend upon a distribution of the twelve components amongst three lifetimes. Rather, it divides the twelve components into three groups, and these are defilements (Klesha), actions (Karma), and sufferings (Duhkha). This scheme has the advantage of not relying upon a temporal distribution amongst three lifetimes. According to this scheme, ignorance, craving and clinging belong to the group of defilements. Mental formation and becoming belong to the group of actions. The remaining seven, that is, consciousness, name and form, the six senses, contact, feeling, birth, and old age and death belong to the group of sufferings. Through this interpretation we can see how the teaching of the Four Noble Truths and particularly the teaching of the Second Noble Truth – the truth of the cause of suffering, is conjoined with the teaching of karma and rebirth; and how together these two important teachings explain in a more complete way the process of rebirth and the origination of suffering.

You may recall that in the context of the Four Noble Truths, we have said that ignorance, desire and ill-will are the causes of suffering. If we look here at the three components of dependent origination that are included in the group of defilements, we will find ignorance, craving and clinging. Here too, ignorance is the most basic. It is because of ignorance that we crave for pleasures of the senses, for existence and for non-existence. Similarly, it is because of ignorance that we cling to pleasures of the senses, to pleasant experiences, to ideas and, perhaps most significantly, to the idea of an independent, permanent self. This ignorance – craving and clinging – is the cause of actions.

The two components of dependent origination that are included in the group of actions are mental formation and becoming. Mental formation refers to the impressions or habits that we have formed in our stream of conscious moments – our conscious continuum. These impressions or habits are formed by repeated actions. We can illustrate this by means of an example taken from geography. We know that rivers form their course by means of a process of repeated erosion. As rain falls on a hillside, that rain gathers into a rivulet. That rivulet gradually creates a channel for itself, and gradually grows into a stream. Eventually, as the channel of the stream is deepened and widened by repeated flows of water, the stream becomes a river which develops well-defined banks and a definite course. In the same way, our actions become habitual. These habits become part of our personality and we take these habits with us from life to life in the form of mental formation or habit energy. Our actions in this life are conditioned by the habits which we have formulated over countless previous lives. So to return to the analogy of the channel of the river and the water in it, we might say that mental formations are the channel of the river, and the actions that we perform in this life are the fresh water that flow again through the eroded channel created by previous actions. The actions that we perform in this life are represented by the component known as becoming. So here, as regards mental formation and becoming, we have the habits that we have developed over the course of countless lives combined with new actions performed in this life, and these two together result in rebirth and suffering.

To summarize, we have the defilements which may be described as impurities of the mind – ignorance, craving and clinging. These mental impurities result in actions, actions done in previous lives which have resulted in the formulation of habit energy, and actions done in the present life which on the whole are liable to conform to the patterns established in previous lives. Together, these impurities of the mind and these actions result in rebirth. In other words, they result in consciousness, in name and form, in the six senses, in contact between the six senses and the objects of the six senses, in feeling which is born of that contact, in birth, and in old age and death. In this interpretation, the five components of dependent origination included in the groups of defilements and actions – ignorance, craving, clinging, mental formation and becoming – are the causes of rebirth and suffering. Consciousness, name and form, the six senses, contact, feeling, birth, and old age and death are the effects of the defilements and actions. Together, the defilements and actions explain the origin of suffering and the particular circumstances in which each of us find ourselves, in which we are born.

You may recall that in one of our earlier lectures, we refer to the fact that whereas the defilements are common to all living beings, actions differ from individual to individual. So whereas the defilements account for the fact that all of us are prisoners within samsara, yet actions account for the fact that some are born as human beings, others are born as gods, and others as animals. In this sense, the twelve components of dependent origination present a picture of samsara with its causes and its effects.

There would be no point in painting this picture of samsara if we do not intend to use this picture to change our situation, to get out of samsara. It is in this sense that recognizing the circularity of samsara, the circularity of dependent origination is the beginning of liberation. How is this so? So long as defilements and actions are present, rebirth and suffering will occur. When we see that repeatedly, ignorance, craving, clinging and actions will lead to rebirth and suffering, we will recognize the need to break this vicious circle.

Let us take a practical example. Suppose you are looking for the home of an acquaintance whom you have never visited before. Suppose you have been driving about for half an hour or more and have failed to find the home of your friend, and suppose suddenly you recognize a landmark that you saw half an hour previously. Suppose you again come upon the landmark, and it dawns upon you that you have passed the landmark half an hour ago. At that moment it will also probably dawn upon you that you have been going around in circles, and you will stop and look at your road guide, or enquire the way from a passer-by so as to stop going around in circles and reach your destination. This is why the Buddha has said that he who sees dependent origination sees the Dharma and he who sees the Dharma sees the Buddha. This is why the Buddha has, as I have mentioned earlier, said that understanding dependent origination is the key to liberation. So once we see the functioning of dependent origination, we can then set about breaking this vicious circle of dependent origination. We can do this by removing the impurities of the mind – ignorance, craving and clinging. Once these impurities are eliminated, actions will not be performed, and habit energy will not be produced. Once actions cease, rebirth and suffering will also cease.

I would like to spend a little bit of time on another important meaning of dependent origination and that is dependent origination as an expression of the Middle Way. During one of our earlier lectures, we had occasion to refer to the Middle Way, and on that occasion we confined ourselves to only perhaps the most basic meaning. We have said that the Middle Way means avoiding the extreme of indulgence in pleasures of the senses and the extreme of self-mortification. In that context the Middle Way is synonymous with moderation. Now in the context of dependent origination, the Middle Way has another meaning which is related to the earlier meaning but deeper. In this context the Middle Way means avoiding the extremes of eternalism and nihilism. How is this so? The flame in the oil lamp exists dependent upon the oil and the wick. When either of these are absent, the flame will be extinguished. Therefore, the flame is neither permanent nor independent. Similarly, this personality of ours depends upon a combination of conditions – defilements and actions. It is neither permanent nor independent. Recognizing the conditioned nature of our personality, we avoid the extreme of eternalism, of affirming the existence of an independent, permanent self. Alternatively, recognizing that this personality, this life does not arise through accident, or mere chance, but is instead conditioned by corresponding causes, we avoid the extreme of nihilism, the extreme of denying the relation between action and consequence. While nihilism is the primary cause of rebirth in states of woe and is to be rejected, eternalism too is not conducive to liberation. One who clings to the extreme of eternalism will perform wholesome actions and will be reborn in states of happiness, as a human being or even as a god, but he will never attain liberation. Through avoiding these two extremes, through understanding the Middle Way, we can achieve happiness in this life and in the future life by performing wholesome actions and avoiding unwholesome actions, and eventually we can achieve liberation.

The Buddha has constructed His teachings with infinite care. The Buddha’s teachings are sometimes likened to the behaviour of a tigress towards her young. When a tigress carries her young in her teeth, she is most careful to see that her grip is neither too tight nor too loose. If her grip on the neck of her young is too tight, it will injure or kill the cub. If her grip is too loose, the cub will fall and will be injured. Similarly, the Buddha was careful to see that we should avoid the extremes of eternalism and nihilism. Because He saw that clinging to the extreme of eternalism would be like a chain that would bind us in samsara, the Buddha was careful to teach us to avoid belief in an independent and permanent self. Because He saw the possibility of freedom destroyed by the sharp teeth of belief in the self, the Buddha asked us to avoid the extreme of eternalism. Yet understanding that clinging to the extreme of nihilism would lead to catastrophe – rebirth in the states of woe – He was careful to teach the reality of the law of cause and effect, of moral responsibility. Because He saw that one would fall into the misery of the lower realms by denying the law of moral responsibility, He taught us to avoid the extreme of nihilism. This objective is admirably achieved through the teaching of dependent origination which safeguards our understanding of the conditioned, dependent and impermanent nature of this personality and our understanding of the reality of the law of cause and effect.

In the context of dependent origination, we have established the dependent, impermanent nature of the personality, the self, by means of underlining its dependent nature. In the two weeks to follow, we are going to arrive at the impermanence and impersonality of the self through examining its composite nature and through analyzing it into its constituent parts. By these means, we will elucidate the truth of not-self that opens the door to enlightenment.

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Dependent Origination (12-links of Dependent Arising) - (PaticcaSamuppada in Pali and Pratityasamutpada in Sanskrit)  

#
Pali (Sanskrit)
Usual Translation
Other Reference
Remarks
1
Avijja (Avidya) Ignorance Lack of wisdom, which is the root of all evils. Obscuration as to self of persons and self of phenomena.
2
Sankhara (Samskara) Karma formations Compositional action Wholesome or unwholesome thoughts, speech and bodily deeds.
3
Vinnana (Vijnana) Conciousness Normally 6 consciousnesses but is taken as 8 in the Yogacara School.
4
Nama-rupa Name & form Corporeality & mentality Mental & physical existence. 4 mental aggregates and one physical body.
5
Ayatana (Shadayatana) Six bases Six sense organs/spheres Eye, ear, nose, tongue, touch and mental faculty.
6
Phassa (Sparsha) Sense impression Contact A mental factor and period in which the objects, sense power/organ and conciousness come together, causing one to distinguish an object as pleasurable, painful or neutral.
7
Vedana Feeling Sensation Posited as a mental factor that experiencespleasure, pain and neutral feeling. Pleasure leads to a strong desire for more while pain generates an avoidance desire.
8
Tanha (Trishna) Craving Attachment A mental factor that increases desire but without any satisfaction.
9
Upadana Clinging Grasping A stronger degree of desire. 4 basic varieties: desired objects, views of self, bad system of ethics and conduct; and other bad views.
10 Bhava (Bjava) Process of becoming Existence A period lasting from the time of fully potentialised karma up to the beginning of next lifetime.
11 Jati Rebirth
12 Jara-marana (Jaramaranam) Ageing & Death Decay & Death

Notes:
 

Links 1, 2, 8, 9 and 10 are the five karmic causes of rebirths.
Links 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 are the five karmic results in the rounds of rebirths.

This doctrine is interpreted in various ways and levels:

  • The Theravada tradition uses it to explain the arising of sufferings; that all composite existence is without substantiality. This doctrine is then used the basis for the negation of self.
  • In the Mahayana, condition arising is further interpreted to validate the unreality of existence by reason of its relativity.
  • Madhyamika School equates this doctrine with shunyata (emptiness). Condition arising is taken to show that because of their relativity, appearances have only empirical validity and are ultimately unreal.
  • In the Yogacara view, only true understanding of this doctrine can overcome the error of taking what does not exist for existent and what does exist for nonexistent.
  • The Prajnaparamita Sutras stresses that this doctrine does not refer to a temporal succession but rather to the essential interdependence of all things.

Sources of compilation:

  • The Meaning of Life; The Dalai Lama, Wisdom Publications 92
  • The Shambhala Dictionary of Buddhism and Zen; Shambhala Pubn 91
  • Living Dharma; Jack Kornfield, Shambhala Pubn 96
  • Buddhist Dictionary; Nyanatiloka, Singapore Buddhist Meditation Centre 91


Attending to the Dharma to Enter the Path -Ven. Yin-Shun ( How to HEAR/Listen to the Dharma)


Attending to the Dharma to Enter the Path

Ven. Master Yin-Shun

 

( How to HEAR/Listen to the Dharma)

After taking refuge, one should hear more of the true Dharma, for only by doing so can one enter into the Buddhist way. Some people think: “The Buddha Dharma should be practiced. What is the use of hearing the Dharma? In the assembly of Surangama, the honorable Ananda was always hearing, yet was unable to attain enlightenment, and he was incapable of avoiding Matangi’s enticement.” They do not know that the honorable Ananda’s problem was with “always hearing” was actually not a problem of hearing the Dharma. All the scriptures say that that if one wants to learn and practice th Buddha Dharma, hearing the Dharma is a must. If one does not hear any of it, how can one learn about emancipation from birth and death , about the most blissful land and Amitabha Buddha, about the way to self-realization, about the true Dharma of Buddhism? If one does not listen to or hear anything, one will not even know about taking refuge in the Three Treasures!

click here to read pages 29-46 /Attending to the Dharma to Enter the Path

Chapter 2 form The Way to Buddhahood by Ven. Master Yin-shun