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.

Refuge Prayer by Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh


Refuge Prayer by Thich Nhat-Hanh

At the foot of the Bodhi tree, beautifully seated, peaceful and smiling,
the living source of understanding and compassion, to the Buddha I go for refuge.
The path of mindful living, leading to healing, joy, and enlighten- ment,
the way of peace, to the Dhamma I go for refuge.
The loving and supportive community of practice, realizing harmony, awareness, and liberation,
to the Sangha I go for refuge.
I am aware that the Three Gems are within my heart, I vow to realize them.
I vow to practice mindful breathing and smiling, looking deeply into things.
I vow to understand living beings and their suffering, to cultivate compassion and loving kindness,
and to practice joy and equanimity.
I vow to offer joy to one person in the morning and to help relieve the grief of one person in the afternoon.
I vow to live simply and sanely, content with just a few possessions, and to keep my body healthy.
I vow to let go of all worry and anxiety in order to be light and free.
I am aware that I owe so much to my parents, teachers, friends and all beings.
I vow to be worthy of their trust, to practice wholeheartedly,
so that understanding and compassion will flower,
and I can help living beings be free from their suffering.
May the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha support my efforts.

Great Compassion Dharani Sutra


Great Compassion Dharani Sutra

Thus I have heard, once Sakyamuni Buddha was at Potalaka Mountain, in the treasure-adorned Way-place in Avalokitesvara’s palace, sitting on a precious Lion-Throne adorned in purity with countless multifarious Mani-jewels. Hundreds of precious streamers and banners were hanging all around.

At that time, the Tathagata, who was sitting on his throne, intending to explain a teaching of the Total-Retention Dharani, was along with innumerable Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas, whose names are: Dharani King Bodhisattva, Treasure King Bodhisattva, Bhaisajya-Raja(Medicine King) Bodhisattva, Bhaisajya-Samudgata(Medicine Superior) Bodhisattva, Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, Maha-stamaprapta(Great Strength) Bodhisattva, Avatamsaka Bodhisattva, Great Sublime Bodhisattva, Precious Deposits Bodhisattva, Virtue Store Bodhisattva, Vajragarbha Bodhisattva, Akasagarbha(Space Store) Bodhisattva, Maitreya Bodhisattva, Samantabhadra(Universal Goodness) Bodhisattva, Manjusri Bodhisattva, and so on. Such Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas are all great Dharma-Princes who had been empowered through their crowns (Abhiseka).

The Buddha was also along with innumerable great Voice-Hearers (Sravakas), all of whom were practicing the tenth stage of Arhat, headed by Maha-Kasyapa;

He was also along with innumerable gods of Brahma-Heaven, headed by Sinza-Brahma;

Also along with Him were innumerable Gods of heavens of the desire realm, headed by Gopaka-God;

Also along with Him were innumerable four-guardian-gods, headed by Dhritarastra;

Also along with Him were innumerable gods, dragons, Yakshas, Gandharvas, Asuras, Garudas, Kinnaras, Mahoragas, human beings, Amanusyas, headed by Heavenly Virtue great dragon king;

Also along with Him were innumerable goddesses of heavens of the desire realm, headed by Virginal Eye goddesses;

Also along with Him were innumerable Sunyatas(Gods of spaces), gods of rivers and oceans, gods of fountains and spring, gods of stream and pond, gods of herb, gods of forest, gods of houses, gods of water, gods of fire, gods of earth, gods of wind, gods of ground, gods of mountains, gods of rocks, gods of palaces, and so on.

They all came and gathered in the congregation.

At that time in the congregation, Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva secretly emitted his sacrosanct light, thereupon, the worlds in the ten directions, along with this three-thousand-great-thousand worlds system, were all illuminated and became golden. Heavenly palaces, palaces of dragons, and palaces of all gods were all shaken. Rivers, oceans, Iron-Ring Mountains (Cakravada-parvata), Sumeru Mountains, Earth Mountains, and black mountains were also shaken. The light of suns, moons, pearls, fire, and constellations all disappeared.

Witnessing this rare scene, Dharani King Bodhisattva was more surprised than ever before, so he arose from his seat, joined his palms and asked the Buddha with a Gatha(verse):

“Who achieved the Correct-Awakening today,
emitting such great bright light universally?
The worlds of the ten directions are all golden,
so do these three-thousand-great-thousand worlds.

Who attained the ultimate freedom today,
manifesting the rare great holy power?
Innumerable Buddha-Worlds are shaken,
so do palaces of dragons and gods.

Now the entire congregation is wondering,
not knowing whose power caused these.
Is he a Buddha, Bodhisattva, or great Voice-Hearer,
or a Brahman, demon, heavenly god, or Sakra?

We pray for the Bhagavan (World Honored One)’s Great Compassion,
to tell us the source of this great supernatural power.”

The Buddha told Dharani King Bodhisattva: “Virtuous man, you all should know that in this congregation there is a Bodhisattva-Mahasattva named Avalokitesvara, the Unrestricted One. He had achieved the Great Kindness and Great Compassion since uncountable Kalpas before, and he excels at practicing countless Dharani-Gates. In order to comfort and please all living-beings, he secretly emits such great sacrosanct power.

After the Buddha said that, Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva arose from his seat, tidied up his clothes, joined his palms towards the Buddha and said:

“Bhagavan, I have a mantra of Great-Compassionate Heart Dharani and now wish to proclaim it, for comforting and pleasing all living beings; for healing all illness; for living beings to attain additional lifespan; for living beings to gain wealth; for extinguishing all evil karma and weighty sins; for keeping away from hindrance and disasters; for producing merits of all White (pure) Dharmas; for maturing all virtuous-roots; for overcoming all fears; for fulfilling all good wishes. Bhagavan, please be merciful and allow me to speak.”

The Buddha said: “Virtuous man, you have great kindness and great compassion, in order to comfort and please all living beings, you wish to speak the holy mantra, it is the proper time now, please speak it soon, the Tathagata approves and rejoices it, and so do all Buddhas.”

Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva then said to the Buddha: “Bhagavan, I remember that countless billions of kalpas ago, a Buddha, whose name was Thousand Rays King Stillness Thus Come One, appeared in the world. Because of his mercy and mindfulness towards me and all living beings, that Buddha, the World Honored One spoke this Vast, Perfect, Unimpeded, Great Compassionate Heart Dharani, rubbed my crown with his golden hand and said: ‘Virtuous man, you should hold this heart-mantra to give great benefit and happiness to all living beings in the future evil age.’ At that time I was just at the first Bhumi(stage of Bodhisattva), right after hearing this mantra, I exceeded the eighth Bhumi. At that time, as my heart was joyful, I vowed: ‘If I will be able to give benefit and happiness to all living beings in the future, let me have one thousand hands and one thousand eyes immediately.’ Instantly after the vow, I got fully one thousand hands and one thousand eyes on my body, then, the grounds of the worlds of the ten directions quaked in six ways, thousands of Buddhas of the ten directions emitted their light to my body and illuminated boundless worlds of the ten directions. From then on, from countless Buddhas and congregations, I have repeatedly heard, accepted and held this Dharani, and the joys were also repeatedly aroused from my heart, and made me greatly enthusiastic. Therefore, I transcended imperceptible births and deaths of countless billions of kalpas. Since then, I have always been reciting and holding this mantra, and have never forgotten it. Because of holding this mantra, I was always born by miraculous creation (nirmana) from lotuses in front of Buddhas, and have never been born from any womb.”

“If there are monks(Bhikshus), nuns(Bhikshunis), laymen(Upasakas), laywomen(Upasikas), pure youth and maidens who wish to recite and hold(keep reciting) this mantra, they should first arouse heir great merciful and compassionate hearts for all living beings, and follow me in making these vows:

(* The pronunciation of “Namo” is [na:mo:] in international phonetic symbols)

Namo great compassionate Avalokitesvara, May I quickly know all Dharmas;
Namo great compassionate Avalokitesvara, May I soon obtain the Wisdom Eye;
Namo great compassionate Avalokitesvara, May I quickly ferry all living beings (to the shore of liberation);
Namo great compassionate Avalokitesvara, May I soon obtain virtuous skillful means (to enlighten various living beings);
Namo great compassionate Avalokitesvara, May I quickly board the Prajna Boat;
Namo great compassionate Avalokitesvara, May I soon transcend the ocean of suffering;
Namo great compassionate Avalokitesvara, May I quickly achieve precepts, Samadhi and the Way;
Namo great compassionate Avalokitesvara, May I soon ascend the mountain of Nirvana;
Namo great compassionate Avalokitesvara, May I quickly dwell in the house of non-action;
Namo great compassionate Avalokitesvara, May I soon unite with the Dharma-Nature Body.

If I go towards the mountain of knives, the mountain of knives of itself breaks up;
If I go towards the boiling oil, the boiling oil of itself dries up;
If I go towards the hells, the hells of themselves disappear;
If I go towards the hungry ghosts, the hungry ghosts of themselves become full.
If I go towards the Asuras, their evil thoughts of themselves are tamed.
If I go towards the animals, they themselves attain great wisdom.”

“After making these vows, recite my name(Namo Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva) with the deep-felt sincere heart, also recite single-mindedly the name of my teacher — Amitabha Tathagata(Namo Amitabha), then recite this mantra, 5 times or more in a day, to remove from the body the weighty sins of births and deaths accumulated in hundreds of thousands of billions of kalpas.”

Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva then said to the Buddha: “Bhagavan, if humans or gods recite and hold the phrases of the Great Compassion Dharani, when they are about to die, all the Buddhas of the ten directions will come to receive them with their hands, and they will be reborn in whichever Buddha-World according to their wishes.”

Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva continued to say to the Buddha: “Bhagavan, Should any living being who recites and holds the holy mantra of Great Compassion fall into the three evil paths, I vow not to achieved the Correct-Awakening.

Should any living being who recites and holds the holy mantra of Great Compassion not be reborn in any Buddha-World, I vow not to achieve the Correct-Awakening.

Should any living being who recites and holds the holy mantra of Great Compassion not obtain unlimited Samadhis and eloquence, I vow not to achieve the Correct-Awakening.

Should any living being who recites and holds the holy mantra of Great Compassion not obtain whatever he seeks in his present life, then it cannot be called the Dharani of the Great Compassionate Heart, unless it is used by those who are not virtuous or not completely sincere.

If a woman dislikes her female body and wishes to become a male, if she recites the phrases of the Great Compassion Dharani but can not change from a female to a male, I vow not to achieve the Correct-Awakening. However, if she arouses even a slightest doubt, her wish will not be satisfied.

If any living being usurps the drinks, foods, or possessions of Sanghas (group of monks), even though one thousand Buddhas appear in the world, he will not get to repent and reform. Even if he repents, his sins will not be eliminated. But now, by reciting this Great Compassion holy mantra, his sins will be eliminated. If anyone usurps, eats, or uses the drinks, foods, or possessions of Sanghas, he must repent to teachers of the ten directions to eliminate his sins. Now, when he reties this Great Compassion Dharani, the teachers of the ten directions will come to bear witness, and then all his weighty sins and hindrances will be eliminated.

All evil karma and weighty sins such as the ten evil deeds, the five rebellious sins, slandering people, slandering the Dharmas, breaking the Abstinent-precepts (*), breaking other precepts, destroying stupas (holy towers), wrecking temples, stealing properties of Sanghas, and profaning Brahma (pure) practices, can be completely eliminated (by reciting this Dharani), except this: if one has doubts about this Dharani, then even his small sins and light karma cannot be eliminated, not to mention the weighty sins. Although the weighty sins do not disappear immediately, the reciting can still be the cause of Bodhi in the future.”

(* Abstinent-precepts: The precepts of Tzie/Zhai. To observe these precepts, one must:
1. eats only vegetarian food;
2. takes only one meal before noon each day, eating after noon is prohibited;
3. also keeps the five basic precepts: no killing, no stealing, no sexual misconduct, no false speech, no consumption of alcohol.)

Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva continued to say to the Buddha:
“People and gods who recite and hold the Great Compassionate Heart Dharani will obtain fifteen kinds of good birth and will not suffer fifteen kinds of bad death. The bad deaths are:

1. They will not die of starvation or poverty;
2. They will not die from having been yoked, imprisoned, caned or otherwise beaten;
3. They will not die at the hands of hostile enemies;
4. They will not be killed in military battle;
5. They will not be killed by tigers, wolves, or other fierce beasts;
6. They will not die from the venom of poisonous snakes, black serpents, or scorpions;
7. They will not drown or be burned to death;
8. They will not be poisoned to death;
9. They will not be killed by mediumistic insects;
10. They will not die of madness or insanity;
11. They will not be killed by landslides or falling trees;
12. They will not die of nightmares sent by evil people;
13. They will not be killed by deviant spirits or evil ghosts;
14. They will not die of evil illnesses that bind the body;
15. They will not commit suicide;

Those who recite and hold the Great Compassion Holy Mantra will not suffer any of these fifteen kinds of bad death and will obtain the following fifteen kinds of good birth:

1. Their place of birth will always have a good king;
2. They will always be born in a good country;
3. They will always be born at a good time;
4. They will always meet virtuous friends;
5. The organs of their body will always be complete;
6. Their hearts of Way(Bodhi) will be pure and mature;
7. They will not violate the prohibitive precepts;
8. All their relatives will be kind and harmonious;
9. They will always have the necessary wealth and goods in abundance;
10. They will always obtain the respect and help of others;
11. Their possessions will not be plundered;
12. They will obtain everything they seek;
13. Dragons, gods, and good spirits will always protect them;
14. In the place where they are born they will see the Buddha and hear the Dharma;
15. They will awaken to the profound meaning of that Proper Dharma which they hear.

Those who recite and hold the Great Compassionate Heart Dharani will obtain these fifteen kinds of good birth. All gods and people should constantly recite and hold it without laziness.”

After saying that, Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva joined his palms and stood upright in front of the congregation, aroused his great compassionate heart for all living beings, smiled and in this way spoke the Sacrosanct Wonderful Phrases of the Vast, Perfect, Unimpeded, Great Compassionate Heart Great Dharani. The Dharani is:

—Audio of Dharani Chinese Chant  http://www.e-sangha.com/alphone/dabei_ch.mp3

— Audio of Dharani  Sanskrit  http://www.e-sangha.com/alphone/dabei_sk.mp3

Namo ratna-trayāya
Namo āriyā-valokite-śvarāya
Bodhi-sattvāya Maha-sattvāya Mahā-kārunikāya
Om sarva rabhaye sudhanadasya
Namo skritva imam
āryā-valokite-śvara ramdhava
Namo narakindi hrih Mahā-vadha-svā-me
Sarva-arthato-śubham ajeyam
Sarva-sata Namo-vasat Namo-vāka mavitāto
Tadyathā
Om avaloki-lokate-karate-e-hrih Mahā-bodhisattva
Sarva sarva
Mala mala
Mahi Mahi ridayam
Kuru kuru karmam
Dhuru dhuru
vijayate Mahā-vijayati
Dhara dhara dhrini
śvarāya cala cala
Mama vimala muktele
Ehi ehi śina śina
ārsam prasari
viśva viśvam prasaya
Hulu hulu mara
Hulu hulu hrih
Sara sara Siri siri Suru suru
Bodhiya Bodhiya Bodhaya Bodhaya
Maitreya narakindi dhrish-nina bhayamana svāhā
Siddhāya svāhā
Maha siddhāya svāhā
Siddha-yoge-śvaraya svāhā
Narakindi svāhā
Māranara svāhā
śira simha-mukhāya svāhā
Sarva mahā-asiddhaya svāhā
Cakra-asiddhāya svāhā
Padma-kastāya svāhā
Narakindi-vagalāya svaha
Mavari-śankharāya svāhā
Namo ratna-trāyāya
Namo āryā-valokite-śvaraya svāhā
Om Sidhyantu mantra padāya svāhā

When Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva finished speaking this mantra, the earth shook in six ways. The heavens rained down precious flowers, which fell in colorful profusion. All the Buddhas of the ten directions were delighted, while the heavenly demons and Exterior-paths practitioners were so frightened that their hair stood on end. Everyone in the congregation achieved different fruitions, including the fruitions of stream-enterer (srota-apanna), once-returner (sakrd-agamin), non-returner (Anagamin), and Arhat; others achieved the first Bhumi(stage of Bodhisattva), the second Bhumi, the third, fourth, fifth …… up to the tenth Bhumi. Innumerable living beings aroused the Bodhi-Heart (The resolve to save all living beings and help them to achieve the Correct Awakening).

Then the great Brahma heavenly king arose from his seat, tidied up his clothes, joined his palms respectfully, and said to Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva: “How virtuous, Mahasattva! I had attended innumerable Buddha-Congregations and heard myriads of Dharmas and Dharanis, but never before had I heard such Sacrosanct Wonderful Phrases of the Unimpeded Great Compassionate Heart’s Great Compassion Dharani. Mahasattva, please tell us the feature and characteristics of this Dharani, all of us will be pleased to know that.”

Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva told the Brahma king: “For the convenience of benefiting all living beings, you have asked me this question. Now you listen carefully, and I will tell you in brief.”

Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva said: “It is the great merciful and compassionate heart, the impartial heart, the motionless heart, the unpolluted and unattached heart, the emptiness-observing heart, the respectful heart, the humble heart, the uncluttered heart, the non-view and non-grasping heart, and the uppermost Bodhi-Heart. You should know that such hearts are the feature and characteristics of this Dharani, you should practice according to them.”

Then the great Brahma king said: “We now know the feature and characteristics of this Dharani, from now on, we will recite and hold it and will never dare to forget or loss it.”

Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva said: “If any virtuous men or virtuous women, who recite and hold this holy Dharani, can arouse the vast Bodhi-Heart that vow to ferry all living beings to the shore of liberation, keep the Abstinent-precepts(*) bodily, arouse the heart of equality towards all living beings, keep reciting this Dharani without interruption, reside in a clean room, wash themselves clean, wear clean clothes, hang up streamers and light up lamps, make offerings with fragrances, flowers, vegetable foods of hundreds of tastes, make their hearts stay still at one place, do not think about others, and recite and hold this Dharani according to the Dharma, then, Sunlight Bodhisattva, Moonlight Bodhisattva and innumerable gods and immortals will come to bear witness and enhance the efficacy of their recitation.”

“At that time, I will illuminate them with a thousand eyes, and protect and support them with a thousand hands. From then on, they will be able to master all worldly literature, and will perfectly understand all Exterior-paths’ theories and sorceries, as well as the Veda Scriptures.”

“One who recites and holds this holy mantra can heal all the 84000 kinds of diseases of the world, without exception. He also can command all ghosts and spirits, vanquish heavenly demons, and tame all Exterior-paths practitioners.”

“If one is reading Sutras or practicing Dhyana (Zen) in a mountain or a wild field, and some mountain-spirits, various ghosts, demons, monsters or Devas come to disturb and make him unable to concentrate, recite this mantra once, then all those ghosts and spirits will be tied up.”

“If one can recites this Mantra in accord with Dharma and arouse merciful and compassionate heart towards all living beings, I will then command all virtuous gods, dragon kings, and Vajra Secret-Traces Divinities to always follow and guard him, never leaving his side, guarding him as their own eyes and lives.”

Then Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva said the Gatha:

“I command the Vajra Secret-Traces Knights: Ucchusma, Kundalin, Ankusa, and the eight clans’ powerful knight Shankara,
to guard the Mantra-holders constantly;

I command Mahesvaras, Narayana, Kumbhiraba and Kapila,
to guard the Mantra-holders constantly;

I command Pajis, Sahassakkhas, perfect-virtuous chebuds and Kimnaras,
to guard the Mantra-holders constantly;

I command Sajamahoras, Kumbhandas, Katabhutanas, and Banjras,
to guard the Mantra-holders constantly;

I command Bhipagara kings, and morality Vitasaharas,
to guard the Mantra-holders constantly;

I command Brahma king Sambra, the five clans of pure-abode heavens and Yamarajas,
to guard the Mantra-holders constantly;

I command Sakra Devanam indra, the Lord of the thirty-three heavens, Sarasvatis, and Vardhanas,
to guard the Mantra-holders constantly;

I command Dhritarastra king, Haritis, goddess and great strength gods,
to guard the Mantra-holders constantly;

I command Virudhaka king, Virupaksa king and Vaisravana king,
to guard the Mantra-holders constantly;

I command the Golden Peacock King, and the twenty-eight clans of great immortals,
to guard the Mantra-holders constantly;

I command Manibhadra, and Pancika-imperator Phalava,
to guard the Mantra-holders constantly;

I command Nanda, Upandanda, and the Sagara dragon-king Ibhra,
to guard the Mantra-holders constantly;

I command the Asuras, Gandharvas, Karunas, Kimnaras, and Mahoragas,
to guard the Mantra-holders constantly;

I command the gods of water, fire, thunder, lightning, Kumbhanda king and Pisacas,
to guard the Mantra-holders constantly;

“Those virtuous gods, dragon-kings and goddess, each along with 500 retinues of great-strength Yaksas, will always follow and guard the holders of the Great Compassion Holy Mantra. If the Mantra-holder dwells and sleeps alone in an uninhabited mountain or wilderness, those virtuous gods will guard him by turns to eliminate misfortunes. If the Mantra-holder loses his way deep in the mountain, because of reciting this Mantra, the virtuous gods and dragon-kings will transform themselves into virtuous people and tell him the correct way. If the Mantra-holder lacks water or requires fire in a mountain, forest, or wilderness, the dragon-kings will protect him by miraculously creating water and fire for him.”

Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva then said a misfortune-eliminating and refreshingly cool Gatha(verse):

“When walking in wilderness, mountain or marsh,
if encountering tigers, wolves, or other fierce beasts,
or snakes, spirits, demons, monsters, ghosts,
they will be unable to harm the Mantra-holder when they hear this Mantra;

When voyaging on river or sea,
poisoned dragons, flood dragons and Makaras,
Yaksas, Rakshas, fishes, and soft-shelled turtles,
will dodge when they hear this Mantra;

If besieged by battle arrays or robbers,
or being robbed by villains,
recite the Great Compassion Dharani sincerely,
those villains will show mercy and go back;

If one is imprisoned by government official,
jailed, chained and locked,
recite the Great Compassion Dharani sincerely,
the officer will show mercy and set him free;

If entered a house of a poisonous insects raising family in a wild way,
the family purpose to venom with drinks, foods or medicines,
recite the Great Compassion Dharani sincerely,
the poison will turn to nectar;

When a woman is giving birth to a child,
evil demons comes to obstruct the birth and causing suffering and oppressive pain,
recite the Great Compassion Dharani sincerely,
the demons will disperse, leaving a safe and comfortable birth;

If evil dragons or pestilence ghosts spread poison,
people are infected by pyrexia and about to die,
recite the Great Compassion Dharani sincerely,
diseases will be healed and lives of people will be lengthen;

If evil dragons or ghosts spread the tumescent diseases,
people suffer from carbuncles, sore, abscess, ulcer and bleeding,
recite the Great Compassion Dharani sincerely,
then spit three times to the abscesses and it will be cured.

If there are muddled and wicked living beings who aroused immoral minds,
causing hatred by sending nightmares, ghosts and curses to you,
recite the Great Compassion Dharani sincerely,
then the hexes and evil spells will return to its original senders.

When Dharma is about to disappear,
the world is evil, feculent and disordered,
poeple’s sexual desire are like raging fire,
their hearts are deluded and they confuse right and wrong.
They have adulteries behind their spouses,
and think of lust days and nights ceaselessly.
If they can recite the Great Compassion Dharani sincerely,
the fire of sexual desire will quench and the evil minds will extinguish.

If I glorify the effect and power of this Mantra in detail,
even one kalpa is not enough for the glorification.”

Then Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva told the Brahmas: “Recite this Mantra 5 times, use threads of 5 colors to tie knots, then recite the Dharani 21 times, tie 21 knots, wear it on neck. This Mantra has been spoken by previous 9.9 billions Ganges-river-sands Buddhas.

Those Buddhas spoke this Mantra for the practitioners who practice the six Perfections (Paramita) but have not yet fulfilled them, to make them succeed quickly;

For those who have not yet aroused Bodhi-Heart, to make them arouse their Bodhi-Heart quickly;

For Sravakas who have not yet achieved fruitions, to make them achieve fruitions quickly;

For all gods and supernatural persons in the three-thousand-great-thousand worlds, who have not yet aroused the unsurpassed Bodhi-Heart, to make them arouse the Bodhi-Heart quickly;

For all living beings who have not yet gained the root of faith in Mahayana, with the mighty holy power of this Dharani, their seeds of Mahayana and Dharma-buds will grow quickly; with the power of my expedients, mercy and compassion, all of their needs will be supplied.

For those living beings of the three evil paths, who live in the gloomy regions of the three-thousand-great-thousand worlds, when they hear this Mantra, they will all be free from suffering;

For Bodhisattvas who have not yet achieved the first Bhumi, to make them achieve quickly, and make them achieve even up to the tenth Bhumi, and even up to the Buddhahood, with the thirty-two marks and the eighty minor marks achieved naturally.

If a Voice-Hearer (Sravaka) once hears this Dharani pass by his ears, if he practices and writes this Dharani, and if he settles down with straightforward heart in accord with Dharma, then he will naturally achieve the four Sramana-fruits even if he does not seek for the fruitions.

Suppose all the mountains, rivers, cliffs, and oceans in the three-thousand-great-thousand worlds can be boiled; the Sumeru mountains and Cakravada-parvata mountains can be shaken, and grinded to dust, all living beings of that magnitude will arouse the unsurpassed Bodhi-Hearts [by the power of this Dharani].

If anyone prays for any wish in his present life, he should keep the Abstinent-precepts(*) and keep reciting this Dharani for 21 days, then his wishes will certainly be fulfilled. From the verge of the previous birth-and-death to the verge of the next birth-and-death, all his evil karmas will be cleaned up. In the three-thousand-great-thousand worlds, all the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Brahmas, Sakra Devanam-Indra (heavenly lord), the four guardian gods, divinities, immortals, and dragon-kings, will bear witness.”

(* Abstinent-precepts: The precepts of Tzie/Zhai. To observe these precepts, one must:
1. eats only vegetarian food;
2. takes only one meal before noon each day, eating after noon is prohibited;
3. also keeps the five basic precepts: no killing, no stealing, no sexual misconduct, no false speech, no consumption of alcohol.)

“If a human or heavenly being, who recites and holds this Dharani, baths in a river or a sea, the nearby living beings wet by his bath-water will have all their weighty sins cleaned and be reborn in pure-lands of other directions. They will be born through miraculous creation from lotuses, and will not undergo birth from wombs, moistures, or eggs. How much more so, for those who recite and hold this Dharani themselves!”

“If one who recites and holds this Dharani is walking, a wind blows his hair and clothes, then the living beings blown by the wind that previously touched the Mantra-holder will have all their heavy obstructions and evil karmas cleansed, will not continue to suffer from karmas of the three evil paths, and often be born in front of Buddhas. It should be known that the Mantra-holder’s blessings, virtues, and fruit-repayments will be unimaginable.”

“If the Mantra-holder says anything, no matter good or bad, it sounds like pure Dharma-sound to all heavenly demons, Exterior-paths practitioners, gods, dragons, ghosts, and spirits, thus they will respect the Mantra-holder as if he were a Buddha.”

“As to one who recites and holds this Dharani, we should know that he is a store of Buddha-bodies, because he is cherished by 9.9 billions Ganges-river-sands Buddhas;

We should know that he is a brilliant light store, because he is illuminated by the light of all Tathagatas;

We should know that he is a store of mercies and compassions, because he constantly saves living beings with this Dharani;

We should know that he is a wonderful-Dharmas store, because this Dharani includes all Dharani-Gates;

We should know that the he is a store of Dhyana and Samadhi, because hundreds of thousands of Samadhis often appear in front of him;

We should know that the he is an Empty Spaces store, because he constantly observes living beings with wisdom of emptiness;

We should know that the he is a store of intrepidities, because he is constantly guarded by dragons, gods, and virtuous gods;

We should know that the he is a Wonderful Language store, because the Dharani-Sound come from his mouth is uninterrupted;

We should know that the he is an Eternally-Abiding store, because the three-disasters and evil-kalpas cannot harm him;

We should know that the he is a Liberation store, because heavenly demons and Exterior-paths practitioners cannot detain him;

We should know that the he is a Medicine-King store, because he constantly heals living beings with this Dharani;

We should know that the he is a supernatural power store, because he can freely travel round the Buddha-Worlds.

The glorifications for the merits and virtues of the Mantra-holder are endless.”

“Virtuous men, if one tires of the sufferings of the world and seeks for happiness of long life, he should settle down in an unoccupied and clean place, make a pure Secure Boundary, recite this Dharani towards his clothing, water, foods, fragrances, or medicines for 108 times and then use them, then he will certainly gain a long life. If he can make a Secure Boundary, accept and hold the Dharani in accord with Dharma, then all things will be achievable.”

“The method of making a Secure Boundary is:

Recite the Dharani 21 times towards a knife, and then countermark the ground with the knife to make a boundary;

or recite the Dharani 21 times towards some clean water, and then sprinkle it around as the boundary;

or recite the Dharani 21 times towards some white mustard seeds, and then scatter them around to mark a boundary,;

or make a boundary by mental visualisation;

or recite the Dharani 21 times towards some clean ashes(of Incense) and use them to mark a boundary;

or recite the Dharani 21 times towards a five-colored thread and then make a closed circle on the ground with the threads as a boundary.

All of these will do.

If one can accept and hold the Dharani in accord with the Dharma, he will achieve the fruit naturally.”

“If anyone just hears the name of this Dharani, his weighty sins of births and deaths of countless kalpas will be eliminated, how much more so, of those who recite and hold this Mantra themselves! If anyone can know and recite this holy Mantra, we should know that he has already offered and sustained innumerable Buddhas and have widely planted his virtuous roots. If he can recite and hold the Dharani in accord with Dharma to relieve all living beings from sufferings, we should know that he is the one with the great compassionate heart, and will become a Buddha soon.”

“If he recites the Dharani for all living beings that he sees, make them hear the Dharani and make it become a cause of their achievement of Bodhi, then, his merits and virtues are immeasurable, boundless, and cannot be praised completely.”

“If he can, with pure sincerity, apply his heart to keep the Abstinent-precepts, repent the previous sins on behalf of all living beings, also repent his own various sins accumulated in countless past kalpas, keep reciting this Dharani and never allow the sound of recitation to be interrupted, then he will achieve the four Sramana-fruits in his present life; if he has excellent talent for Dharma (literally: sharp root) and masters the skillful means of Wisdom-Observing, then achieving the fruits of ten Bhumis is not difficult for him, not to mention those small worldly blessings. All his wishes will be fulfilled.”

“If he wishes to command ghosts, he should find a skull in the wild, wash it clean, set up a Mandala(altar) in front of a statue of Thousand-Handed and Thousand-Eyed Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, and make offerings of multifarious fragrances, flowers, drinks, and vegetable foods. Do this day after day, then 7 days later, the ghost will appear and obey his orders.”

“If he wish to command the four guardian gods, he should recite towards a sandalwood and burn it, then he will achieve the goal – because the power of the Bodhisattva’s great compassionate vows are deep and weighty, and the power of this holy Dharani is mighty and vast.”

The Buddha told Ananda: “When there are catastrophes in a country, if the king of the country can manage state affairs according to correct laws, be liberal toward people and animals, not to do anybody an injustice, absolve people from blames, and for 7 days and 7 nights, keep both his body and his mind sincere and diligent, and in this way recite and hold this Great Compassionate Heart Dharani Holy Mantra, then all the catastrophes of his country will disappear, the five kinds of crops will be abundant and his people will live in peace and happiness.”

“If a country is being frequently invaded by enemies from other countries, people are unsafe and ministers are traitorous, pestilences are spreading everywhere, the rains and the droughts are unbalanced and unseasonable, or even the sun and the moon lost their accuracy, when such disasters come, the people should make a statue of Thousand-Handed and Thousand-Eyed Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva and set it facing the west, make offerings to it sincerely with fragrances, flowers, streamers, precious canopies, or vegetable foods and drinks of hundreds of tastes, and, for 7 days and 7 nights, if the king of the country can keep both his body and mind sincere and diligent, and in this way recite and hold the Sacrosanct Wonderful Phrases of this Dharani, then the foreign enemies will be tamed of themselves, they will return to their own countries and make no further disturbance. These countries will be in communication and will have friendly relations, the princes and officers will be loyal, the queen, the prince’s wife, and the maids will also be loyal to the king. Dragons, ghosts and spirits will protect this country, the rains will be seasonal, the fruits will be abundant, and the people will be happy.”

“If anyone in a family gets a serious evil disease, or if hundreds of monsters appear, or if ghosts, spirits, and demons deplete and demolish the family; or if some villains malign the family and plot to harm them; or if the members of the family are disharmonious, they should set up a Mandala(altar) in front of a statue of Thousand-Handed and Thousand-Eyed Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, recite the name of Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva with their deep-felt sincere heart, and then recite this Dharani fully 1000 times, then all those misfortunes will disappear, the family will be peaceful forever.”

Ananda asked the Buddha: “Bhagavan, what is the name of this Mantra? How should we accept and hold it?”

The Buddha told Ananda: “This holy Mantra has many names, one of them is Vast, Great, Perfect, another is Unimpeded Great Compassion, another is Relieving Sufferings Dharani, another is Lengthening Life Dharani, another is Extinguishing Evil Destinies Dharani, another is Breaking Evil Karma Hindrances Dharani, another is Wish-Fulfilling Dharani, another is The Dharani Of The Freedom In Accord With The Heart, another is Quickly Exceeding The Upper Stages Dharani. Thus should you accept and hold it.”

Then Ananda asked the Buddha: “Bhagavan, what is the name of this Bodhisattva-Mahasattva, who is so good to teach us this Dharani?”

The Buddha said: “This Bodhisattva is called Avalokitesvara, the Unrestricted One, also called Nipping a Lariat, also called A Thousand Bright Eyes. Virtuous man, this Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva has unimaginable mighty and holy powers. Uncountable kalpas before, he had already been a Buddha named True Dharma Brightness Tathagata. Because of the power of his great compassionate vows, and in order to call upon all Bodhisattvas to comfort and please all living beings, he appears as a Bodhisattva. All of you, including the Bodhisattvas, Brahmas, Gods of the 33 heavens, dragons, and divinities, should show respect to him, do not despise him. All heavenly and human beings should constantly make offerings to him and recite his name absorbedly, then they will get infinite blessings and eliminate countless sins, and at the end of their lives, they will be reborn in the Pure Land of Amitabha Buddha.”

The Buddha told Ananda: “This holy Mantra spoken by Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva is true, real, and not false. If you wish to invite this Bodhisattva to come, recite the Mantra 21 times towards a Guggula Incense and burn it, then this Bodhisattva will come.”

“If being possessed by a soul of cat, find a dead cat’s skull, burn it to ashes, mix the ashes with clean soil, and then use them to shape a cat. In front of a statue of Thousand-Handed and Thousand-Eyed Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, recite the Dharani 108 times towards a wrought iron knife, and then cut the model into 108 pieces with the knife. Recite once, cut once, and say his name once, then the cat’s soul will leave and never return.”

“If harmed by mediumistic insects(Gu), mix Karpura(Dragon Brain Incense) with a same bulk of Guggula Incense, add 1 bowl of Well-flower-water and decoct them into 1 bowl of decoction; when done, recite the Dharani 108 times towards the decoction in front of a statue of Thousand-Handed and Thousand-Eyed Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, then take the decoction, the illness will be healed.”

(*[Note] Well-flower-water: the purest water from a well – each morning, the very first bucket of water from the well)

“If bitten by fierce snakes or scorpions, recite the Dharani 7 times towards some powder of dry gingers, apply the powder on the bite and they will be healed.”

“If someone plots to harm you because of hatred and resentment, you should find some clean soil, or flour, or wax, to shape the enemy’s body. In front of a statue of Thousand-Handed and Thousand-Eyed Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, recite the Dharani 108 times towards a wrought iron knife, then cut the model into 108 pieces with the knife. Recite once and cut once and say his name once, and then burn up all 108 pieces. After that, the enemy will be happy, will respect you and will like to befriend you for his entire life.”

“If you have the eye-diseases of dimmed vision or blindness, or if your eyes are covered by a white haze or a red film, you should find a Haritaki fruit, an Amala fruit, and a Vihetaki fruit, and grind them into powder. During the grinding, you must guard their purity: do not be seen by women who have just given birth, or by pigs or dogs, and you should keep reciting a Buddha’s name, mix the powder with white honey or human milk. The human milk must be from a mother of a boy, not from mothers of girls. When the medicine is done, in front of a statue of Thousand-Handed and Thousand-Eyed Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, recite the Dharani 1008 times towards the medicine, then apply it on the sick eyes for fully 7 days, stay in a quite room and do not be exposed to wind, then the eyes will recover, the white haze and red film will disappear, and the eyesight will be very clear.”

“If you are afflicted by recurrent fevers, recite the Dharani 21 times towards the skin of a tiger, panther, or a wolf, place the skin on your body and the fever will be healed. The skin of a lion is best.”

“If someone is bitten by a snake, get some earwax of that person, recite the Dharani 21 times towards the earwax, apply them on his sore, then it will be healed.”

“If an evil fever enters your heart, and it is so oppressive that makes you even wish to die, in this case, you should find a peach-glue as big as a normal peach, add 1 bowl of clean water and decoct them into a half bowl of decoction. When done, recite the Dharani 7 times towards the decoction, take them all, than the disease will be healed. The medicine should not be decocted by a woman.”

“If you are possessed by a ghost, recite the Dharani 21 times towards a Guggula incense and burn it to fume the nostrils, further, make 7 pills of Guggula each as big as a rabbit dung, recite the Dharani 21 times towards them and take them, then you will be cured. Be careful: do not drink alcohol, do not eat meat or the five-pungencies, and do not abuse others. If you find some Manahsila (realgar), mix it with white mustard seeds and YanSheng-salt, then recite the Dharani 21 times towards the mixture and burn it under the bed of the patient, then the possessing ghost will run away and not dare to stay.

(*[Note] The five-pungencies are: onions, leeks, garlic, chives or shallots)

“For deafness, recite the Dharani towards some sesame oil and drop the oil into ears, then the disease will be healed.”

“If someone is suffering from hemiplegias, his nose is blocked and his hands and feet cannot move because of apoplexy, you should mix some sesame oil with Green-wood-spice and decoct them, recite the Dharani 21 times towards the mixture, and rub it on the body, then the diseases will forever be healed. Another prescription: recite the Dharani 21 times towards some pure cow ghee, and rub it on the body, then the diseases will also be healed.”

“For dystocias, recite the Dharani 21 times towards sesame oil and apply on both the navel and the jade-gate of the woman who is giving birth, then there will be an easy birth.”

“If a baby dies in a pregnant woman’s womb, find one large Lerng(*) of hyssops, mix it with 2 bowls of clean water, and decoct them into 1 bowl of decoction. Recite the Dharani 21 times towards the decoction and let the woman take it, then the dead baby will come out, and the woman will not be in pain. If the placenta does not come out, let her take this medicine again and it will be fine.”

(* Lerng: a Chinese measurement)

“If you have a disease that your heart is often attacked by an unbearable pain, this is called Hidden Corpse Disease. Find a Fume-Land Incense with mature nipples, recite the Dharani 21 times towards it, chew and swallow it – no matter more or less. After some time, it will cause vomiting or diarrhoea, then the disease will be healed. Do not eat any of the five-pungencies, do not eat meat, and do not drink alcohol.”

“If burned by a fire, recite the Dharani 21 times towards some dung of black cows, apply them on the sores, the pain will be healed.”

“If one’s heart is being attacked by ascarids, recite the Dharani 21 times towards a half bowl of urine of a white horse and take it, then the disease will be healed. If the disease is serious, take more medicine up to 1 bowl, then the ascarids will come out like a linked rope.”

“For a Nail-sore, find some Ling-Sil-leaves, grind them and get the juice, recite the Dharani 21 times towards the juice, apply the juice to the sore, pull the sore out by the root and it will be healed immediately.”

“If one’s eyes were bitten by flies, find some new dung of donkey, filter it and get the liquid, recite the Dharani 21 times towards the liquid, drop it into the eyes when lying on the bed at night, then the disease will be healed.”

“For bellyaches, mix Well-flower-water with YanSheng-salt to make 21 pellets, recite the Dharani 21 times towards them, take half a bowl of the medicine, then the disease will be healed.”

“For red-eyed diseases, or neoplasms in eyes, or cataracts, find some leaves of Chinese-wolfberry (Gau-Gey), grind them and get their juice, recite the Dharani 21 times towards the juice, soak a bronze copper coin in the juice overnight, recite the Dharani towards it 7 more times, drop the juice into the eyes, then the disease will be healed.”

“If someone is afraid and not peaceful at night, and he may even be frightened when entering or leaving a house, he should make a rope with white threads, recite the Dharani 21 times towards it, tie it into 21 knots, and wear it on his neck, then the fear will disappear. Not only will his fear disappear, his sins will also be eliminated.”

“If some unexpected calamities come to your household, find a guava branch, cut it into 1008 segments, smear some ghee and honey on both ends of them, recite the Dharani once and burn one segment, burn up all 1008 segments in this way, then all calamities will disappear. This must be done in front of a Buddha.”

“If you recite the Dharani 21 times towards a white flagleaf and tie it to your right arm, you will always win others in all fighting places and debating places.”

“If you find some leaves and branches of Sami(*), cut them into 1008 segments, smear some true-cow-ghee and white-honey-cow-ghee on both ends of them, recite the Dharani once towards each segment and burn it, and burn up all 1008 segments in this way. Do this 3 times each day, 1008 times each time, for 7 days, then you, as a Mantra-master, will realize the Through-Wisdom of yourself.”

(* Sami: Chinese wolfberry / medlar)

“If you wish to tame powerful ghosts or spirits, find some Wood-Wan-Tzee, recite the Dharani 49 times towards them, smear some ghee and honey on them, and burn them up. This must be done in front of a statue of Great Compassionate Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva.”

“If you put 1 large Lerng of bezoar(Cow yellow) into a lapis-lazuli bottle, then put the bottle in front of a statue of Great Compassionate Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, recite the Dharani 108 times toward it, apply the bezoar on your body and dot it on your forehead, then all gods, dragons, ghosts, spirits, human and non-human beings will be pleased.”

(* Lerng: A Chinese measurement)

“If being chained and locked, find some dung of white pigeons, recite the Dharani 108 times towards them, smear them on your hands and rub the chains and locks, then the chains and locks will open of themselves.”

“If a husband and wife have a disharmonious relationship and their situation is like that of water and fire, find some feathers of the tail of mandarin ducks, in front of a statue of Great Compassionate Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, recite the Dharani 1008 times towards the feathers and let the couple wear them, then the couple will be delightful, and will love and respect each other unto the end of their lives.”

“If the seeds and fruits in your farm are being eaten by insects, find some clean ashes, or clean sands, or clean water, recite the Dharani 21 times towards them, sprinkle them around the farm and the seedlings, then the insects will quit. If you sprinkle some Mantra-water on the fruit trees, the insects will not dare to eat the fruits.”

The Mudras of Great Compassion Dharani

The Buddha told Ananda: ”
For richness, treasures, or various valuables and necessities, use the Wish-Fulfilling Pearl Mudra(gesture).

For seeking stable life in various unstable situations, use the Pasa(lasso / lariat) Mudra.

For various diseases in abdomen, use the Precious Bowl Mudra.

For vanquishing all demons, monsters, ghosts, and spirits, use the Precious Glave(double edge sword) Mudra.

For vanquishing all heavenly demons and deities, use the Vajra Mudra.

For taming all enemies, use the Vajra Pestle Mudra.

For eliminating all fears in any situation, use the Fearless-Giving (Abhayam-dada) Mudra.

For healing dim eyes, use the Sun-Quintessence Mani Mudra.

If one has a disease caused by the poison of heat and seeks for refreshing coolness, he should use the Moon-Quintessence Mani Mudra.

For high positions and promotions, use the Precious Bow Mudra.

For meeting all virtuous friends as soon as possible, use the Precious Arrow Mudra.

For healing various diseases on one’s body, use the Willow Branch Mudra.

For eliminating evil obstacles and misfortunes of one’s body, use the White Whisk Mudra.

For good harmony among all relatives, use the Precious Vase Mudra.

For evading all tigers, wolves, jackals, panthers, and other fierce beasts, use the Shield Mudra.

For always resting in peace and avoiding being imprisoned, use the Axe-Tomahawk Mudra.

For commanding men and women, use the Jade Bracelet Mudra.

For various merits and virtues, use the White Lotus Mudra.

For rebirth in pure lands of the ten directions, use the Blue Lotus Mudra.

For great wisdom, use the Precious Mirror Mudra.

For personally meeting all Buddhas of the ten directions, use the Purple Lotus Mudra.

For underground precious deposits, use the Precious Box Mudra.

For achieving the Way(Tao) of immortals, use the Five Colored Cloud Mudra.

For rebirth in Brahma heaven, use the Bath Bottle Mudra.

For rebirth in heavenly palaces, use the Red Lotus Mudra.

For vanquishing traitors of other places, use the Precious Halberd Mudra.

For summoning all virtuous heavenly gods, use the Precious Trumpet Shell Mudra.

For commanding all ghosts and spirits, use the Skull Staff Mudra.

For the Buddhas of the ten directions coming to receive you with their hands quickly, use the Prayer Beads Mudra.

For achieving all superior wonderful Brahma sounds, use the Precious Bell Mudra.

For the ability of eloquent, clever, and wonderful speech (mouth karma), use the Precious Seal Mudra.

To be constantly guarded by virtuous gods and dragon kings, use the Kusinagara Iron Hook Mudra.

For mercifully sheltering and protecting all living beings, use the Tin Staff Mudra.

For making all living beings always respect and love each others, use the Joining Palms Mudra.

For always being reborn beside Buddhas for all lifetimes, use the Nirmana(Miraculously Created) Buddha Mudra.

To be always reborn in the palaces of Buddhas for all lifetimes, and never be born from a womb, use the Nirmana-Palace Mudra.

For eruditeness, use the Precious Sutra Mudra.

If you wish that from your current incarnation(lifetime) to the incarnation that you are a Buddha, you will never retrogress from or lose the Bodhi-Heart, use the Non-retrogression Gold Wheel Mudra.

If you wish that the Buddhas of the ten directions will come quickly to rub your summit and award you the mark of future Buddhahood, use the Summit Nirmana Buddha Mudra.

For fruits, melons, and various crops, use the Grape Mudra.

There are thousands of such requesting Mudras, now I have just briefly said some of them.”

Sunlight Bodhisattva then spoke a great holy Mantra for those who accept and hold the Great Compassionate Heart Dharani to protect them:

“Namo Buddha Kunami, Namo Dharma Mahadi, Namo Sangha Tayeni, DhriBhuBhi Sattva Yam Namo”

“This Mantra can extinguish all sins, and can evade demons and natural disasters. If one can recite the Dharani once and bow to the Buddhas once, 3 times daily, recite the Dharani and bow to the Buddhas, then in his next lifetime, he will gain the delightful fruit-repayment that all of his facial features are handsome.”

Moonlight Bodhisattva also spoke a Dharani to protect practitioners:

“Sumdhidi Tusuza Ahjamidi Uduza SumKiza Bolaidi Yemijaza Uduza Kuladiza Kimoza Svaha”

(* in the above sentence, the ‘z’ should be pronounced as [tz])

“Recite this Mantra five times, making a Mantra-Rope with five colored threads, and wear it on where it is sore. This Mantra had been spoken by the previous 40 Ganges-river-sands Buddhas, now I also speak it, for supporting all practitioners, for eliminating all obstacles and calamities, for healing all serious diseases and relieving all sufferings, for accomplishing all virtuous Dharmas, for eliminating all fears.”

The Buddha told Ananda: “You should accept and uphold this Great Compassion Dharani with a deeply pure heart, spread it abroad widely throughout Jambudvipa and never allow it to be lost. This Dharani can greatly benefit all living beings of the Three Realms of Transmigrations, all living beings suffering from diseases can use this Dharani to heal their diseases. Even a withered tree can grow new branches, flowers and fruits when someone recites this great holy Dharani towards it. Thus, it is impossible that any diseases of sentient and conscious beings cannot be healed by this Dharani.”

“Virtuous man, the mighty and sacrosanct power of this Dharani is unimaginable, is unimaginable, and one will never be able to fully praise it. If one has not extensively planted virtuous roots since the long distant past, he is not able to hear even the name of this Dharani, much less that he could see it. All of you in this congregation — the gods, human beings, dragons, spirits, should accordingly rejoice when hearing my praise. Slandering this Dharani is equal to slandering those 9.9 billion Ganges-river-sands Buddhas.

If anyone doubts, or disbelieves this Dharani, we should know that he loses great benefits forever. For billions of kalpas, he will constantly fall into the evil categories (of hell beings, hungry ghosts, and animals) and unable to escape; he will always be unable to see the Buddhas, unable to hear the Dharmas, and unable to see the Sanghas.”

After hearing the Buddha praise this Dharani, the whole congregation — the Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas, Vajra Secret-Traces Divinities, Brahmas, Sakra, gods, the four heavenly kings, dragons, ghosts, and spirits, were all delighted, they accepted the teaching respectfully and started practicing it.

“The Sutra on Knowing the Better Way to Live Alone” A Dhamma Talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh


“The Sutra on Knowing the Better Way to Live Alone”

A Dhamma Talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh

April 5, 1998, Plum Village, France

Dear friends,

“Knowing how to live alone” here does not mean to live in solitude, separated from other people, on a mountain in a cave. “Living alone” here means living to have sovereignty of yourself, to have freedom, not to be dragged away by the past, not to be in fear of the future, not being pulled around by the circumstances of the present. We are always master of ourselves, we can grasp the situation as it is, and we are sovereign of the situation and of ourselves. There are many places in the sutras where the Buddha says that “being alone” does not mean to be separated from other people. We can be sitting in a cave, but we are not necessarily alone, because we have lost ourselves in our thinking, so we are not alone. In the Majjhima Nikáya there are at least four sutras that talk about the subject of knowing how to live alone, and in the Madhyama Agama there are also sutras that talk about the subject of living alone. Therefore, we know that the subject of living alone is a very important subject in the teachings of the Buddha. We have to know how to do this, how to live in freedom, not being imprisoned by the future and not being carried away by things in the present.

The Sutra on Knowing the Better Way to Live Alone teaches us how to live each moment of our daily life very deeply. When we can live our daily life deeply, we begin to have concentration and wisdom; we can see the true nature of life, and we arrive at a great freedom, and freedom is the essence of happiness. If we are suffering, it is because we are not free, and therefore to practice is to recover our freedom. When we have freedom, we will become solid. Freedom and solidity are the two characteristics of nirvana, so we need a program of freedom and solidity. If somebody is suffering, we know that person is not free; because they are not free, they are suffering, they are being imprisoned by the past, or they are being oppressed by the present, or they are being carried away by the future, and that is why they are suffering. The practice is to re-establish our freedom, and then we will no longer suffer, and our happiness will increase. The oldest writings on the better way to live alone, on how to live deeply in the present moment, are found in this sutra.

For example, someone hears the doctor say, “You have cancer, you may live for six months more.” That person feels completely overwhelmed. The fear, the idea that I’m going to die in six months takes away all our peace and joy. Before the doctor told us that we had cancer, we had the capacity to enjoy ourselves with our friends. However, once the doctor told us that, we lose all our capacity to sit and enjoy our tea, or enjoy our meal, or watch the moon, because we are so afraid of the moment when we will die. It takes away all our freedom. If you know that death is something that comes to everybody, you will not suffer so much. The doctor says we have six months left to live, but the doctor also will die. Maybe the doctor knows we have six months, but the doctor does not know how many months he himself has left to live. Maybe the doctor will die before us. Maybe driving home after the examination he will have an accident, and therefore the knowledge of the doctor isn’t so great. He tells us we only have six months left. We may be lucky to live six months, because the doctor may die before us. So if we look deeply we see things, which if we don’t look deeply we wouldn’t see. Looking deeply we can get back our freedom from fear, and with that freedom, with our non-fear, we may live happily those six months.

All of us are equal as far as life and death are concerned: we are all going to die. So it is very equal, it will happen to everybody. Everyone has to die, but before we die, can we live properly? I am determined to live properly until I die. That is a very awakened thing to say. If we are going to die, then we have to live the best we can, and if we can live six months in the best way we can then the quality of that six months will be as if we were living for six years, or sixty years. If our life is filled with being caught in the fetters of suffering, then our life doesn’t have the same kind of meaning as if we live in freedom. So knowing that we have to die, I am determined to live my life properly, deeply. All of us have to die, but if we are able to live with peace, joy, and freedom before we die, then we live as if we are dead already, even before we die.

First of all, the Buddha teaches us that we must struggle to get back our freedom, to be able to live the moments of our daily life deeply. In these moments of our daily life we can have peace, we can have joy, and we can heal the suffering we have in our bodies and in our minds.

Living deeply at each moment of our life helps us to be in touch with the wonderful things of life, helps us to nourish our body and our mind with these wonderful elements, and at the same time helps us to embrace and transform the suffering that we have. So to live deeply in the present moment of every day of our life is to live a life of wonder, nourishment, and healing. Living like that we can revive our freedom, and live deeply: we give rise to the truth, we have awakened understanding, and our fears, our anxieties, our sufferings, and our sadness, will evaporate, and we will become a source of joy and life to ourselves and to those around us.

According to Buddhism, that is the method of dwelling happily in the present moment. Looking carefully, we will see that this writing on knowing the better way to live alone is the oldest human writing about how to live the present moment, so it is a very important sutra. We should study it carefully, and then apply it in our lives and in the practice. We know that all the teachings related to the teachings on living in the present moment should be studied in the same way.

There was a monk whose name was Thera. His friends probably gave him the name Thera, which means “the elder.” That monk liked to live on his own. He always went off on the alms round on his own. He liked to do walking meditation on his own. He like to eat on his own, he liked to wash his clothes on his own. He really liked to do everything on his own. He seemed to like to avoid his friends in the practice as much as possible. All the monks had heard the Buddha praising the better way to live alone, but the way the Buddha used the meaning of “living alone,” he meant not to be imprisoned by the past, not to be pulled away by the future, and not to be carried away by what was happening in the present. The Buddha did not mean that living alone means to distance yourself and separate yourself from your friends in the practice. Nevertheless, this monk liked to do things on his own, eating on his own, going to the town on his own, and avoiding other people. The other monks knew that he liked to do things alone, but they felt that there was something not quite right about this way of life. They felt that he wasn’t really practicing according to the spirit of the Buddha’s teachings. So the other monks went to the Buddha and they said, “Lord Buddha, one of our fellow practitioners called Thera, the elder, likes to do everything on his own: walking meditation, eating meditation, working on his own, and we don’t know if living like that that is really truly living alone.” And Buddha said, “Where is that monk? Ask him to come here and have a cup of tea with us.” So the monks went and invited Thera to join them, and the Buddha said, “I hear you like to live alone. How do you live on your own? Please tell me.” And Thera said, “Lord Buddha, I sit in meditation alone, I eat on my own, I wash my clothes on my own, I go into the village for alms on my own.” And the Buddha said, “Oh, that is true, then you really do live alone. But maybe the way you live alone is not the best way to live alone, there is a better way to live alone.” And then the Buddha recited a gatha: “If you live without being imprisoned by the past, not being pulled away by the future, not being carried away by the forms and images of the present moment, living each moment of your life deeply, that is the true way of living alone.” When Thera heard this he knew that he had been living alone just as an outer form, and there was a deeper way to live alone.

The sutra where this story is told is called the Theranama Sutra, it is in the Samyutta Nikáya, and there is also an equivalent sutra in the Samyukta Agama, it is Number 71 in the Samyukta Agama. The essence of the sutra is a poem. The Buddha wrote poems, but the poems of the Buddha were more designed to show us how to practice. The gatha which talks about the art of living alone is called the Bhaddekaratta-gatha, Bhaddekaratta means “the best way to live alone.” Many people have mistranslated this title: One master translated it as “practicing for one night.” There’s also another master who translated this title as “being present.” The correct translation is to say “The better way to practice living alone.” This poem says:

Do not pursue the past.
Do not lose yourself in the future.
The past no longer is.
The future has not yet come.
Looking deeply at life as it is
in the very here and now,
the practitioner dwells
in stability and freedom.

All of the essence of the Buddha’s teachings lies in these words. We know that stability and freedom are the two characteristics of nirvana, and that is the aim of our practice.

The aim of our practice is that every moment of ourdaily life we can produce stability and freedom: walking, lying down, sitting, standing, we produce freedom and stability. Nirvana is something we can touch right in the present moment, not only with our mind, but also with our body. When our feet are walking in a leisurely way, solid and free, then our feet are touching nirvana. As soon as we have stability and freedom, nirvana is there. The level of freedom and stability tells us whether we have been able to touch nirvana deeply.

Do not pursue the past. There are people who are tired of the present and think that the past was more beautiful, and that life was more beautiful before. They always think the past was more beautiful. Therefore, they cannot see the happiness of the present.

Many of us are caught in this way of thinking. The past is no longer there, and we compare it with the present, and we say that the past was more beautiful than the present; but even when we had those moments in the past we didn’t really value them at the time, because in the past we were not able to live in the present moment. We were always running after the future, and now if we were taken back to the past, we would do the same. At that time life was more beautiful, the sun was brighter, the moon was brighter–those are words from a French song. There are people who pursue the past, not because they think the past was beautiful, but because the past has made them suffer, the past was a trauma, a heavy wound for them. We have suffered, we have been wounded, we have died in the past, and those heavy wounds are calling us back to the past, crying, “Come back here, come back to the past. I am the subject, you cannot escape me.” That is what the past says to us. We are like sheep running back to the past, to enclose us, to imprison us, to make us suffer. The past is also a very great prison. We hear the words of the past, and we run back to the past, we refuse to live our life in the present moment, we are always going back to the past. So the Buddha says, “Don’t pursue the past.”

These are the words of our teacher: “Don’t pursue the past.” We should write a poem, how can we write a poem so we are able to do this? Sometimes we are sitting with our friend. Our friend is sitting there, but we feel abandoned by our friend, because our friend is drowning in the past. Our friend is sitting next to us, but our friend is not with us, our friend is imprisoned by the past. Our friend is there, but our friend is not really there. We know that we are sitting there, and we feel that our friend is not sitting there with us. So we find a way to free our friend from the past, and we say to our friend: “A penny for your thoughts. What are you thinking about? Tell me. I’ll give you ten centimes if you tell me.” That person may wake up, jump up and smile and be free from the prison of the past.

If we are a monk or a nun, we should know how to do this. We should know the method of being able to release our friend in the practice who is imprisoned and drowning in the past. We have to use our love, our mindfulness, and our friendship, to help that person out of the prison of the past. If we are a monk or a nun, we should know how to use our brothers and sisters in the practice to help us get out of our prison of the past. Therefore, living in a Sangha has these kinds of benefits.

source

 

Cloud and Water/ Ch’an Poem 1 ‘Forbearance’ by Venerable Master Hsing Yun


When people slander me, what should I do? Forbearance is the path of least harm. Set a good example for my children and grandchildren; Follow the gentle, not the violent.

By Venerable Master Hsing Yun 

We should not get too upset when slandered by others. It does not hurt us too much to get the short end of the stick once in a while for when the clouds clear, the sun will shine through. We need to treat others with sincerity and honesty, thereby setting a good example for the younger gen-erations. Even further, we need to “Follow the gentle, not the violent”. We should be reasonable when someone slanders us. Once slandered it appears we are getting the short end of the stick. This is not true. In reality, if we can be patient and uncalculating, if we refrain from seeking revenge, in time people will know the truth. Then the slander not only will not harm us but will become an opportunity to gain merit. Just as the Sutra of Forty-two Sections says, “To slander others is like blowing dust into the wind; not only will it not harm others, the dust will ulti-mately fall back on ourselves. To slander others is also like spitting up into the sky, when it falls, it will fall flat in our face”. Thus, we should not be bothered by others’ idle talk and slander. Instead, we should be tolerant, patient, and forgiving. The greatest strength in this world comes not from fists nor guns but from tolerance under insult. According to Buddhist teachings, the merit gained from practicing the precepts is not as great as the merit gained from practicing tolerance. So you can see here the strength of tolerance. In our practice the first thing we need to learn is tolerance. We have to be tolerant in our speech and should not yell at others for no apparent reason. We have to be tolerant in our bodies and should not show anger on our face. We have to be tolerant in our minds and be truly forgiving of the bad deeds that others have done to us. If we can do this, we set a good and invaluable example to the younger generations. There is a story in the Sutra of the One Hundred Parables. One day, a father sent his son to the market to buy some food and drinks to serve his guests. When his son did not return for a long time, the father was getting worried and went out to look for him. He found his son standing on the street staring at a stranger. The father was puzzled and asked him why he stared so. The son told his father that since the stranger would not step aside to let him pass, both of them decided to stare at each other to see who would give up first. The father was very mad and told his son to run home with the groceries and he would take his place and see who would win. Does not giving a single step mean victory? Does this make us truly happy? If we want to set a good example to the younger generations, we should be tolerant, patient, and forgiving. Our children will benefit from it tremendously.

 

Source: Cloud and Water

An Interpretation of Ch’an Poems

By Venerable Master Hsing Yun

Translated by

FoGuangShanInternationalTranslationCenter

________________◊_______________

May all beings benefit

Thank you to whoever posted Cloud and Water  ebook and ALLOWED copying, That is how we share the Dharma, keep it free

 

 

Ven Master Sheng-yen // 23 Videos with English subtitles


This Youtube site has videos of Ven Master Sheng-yen’s lectures with English subtitles!
May all beings be happy
May all beings benefit

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When you emerge from the absorbed, meditative state after realizing no-s…   more
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Group cultivation enables us to enjoy steady growth in a safe environment.
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Sitting meditation is not only a method of Chan practice but also the be…   more
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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

 

 

The Six Paramitas (Perfections)


The Six Paramitas (Perfections)

The Sanskrit word paramita means to cross over to the other shore. Paramita may also be translated as perfection, perfect realization, or reaching beyond limitation. Through the practice of these six paramitas, we cross over the sea of suffering (samsara) to the shore of happiness and awakening (Nirvana); we cross over from ignorance and delusion to enlightenment. Each of the six paramitas is an enlightened quality of the heart, a glorious virtue or attribute—the innate seed of perfect realization within us. The paramitas are the very essence of our true nature. However, since these enlightened qualities of the heart have become obscured by delusion, selfishness, and other karmic tendencies, we must develop these potential qualities and bring them into expression. In this way, the six paramitas are an inner cultivation, a daily practice for wise, compassionate, loving, and enlightened living. The paramitas are the six kinds of virtuous practice required for skillfully serving the welfare of others and for the attainment of enlightenment. We must understand that bringing these virtuous qualities of our true nature into expression requires discipline, practice, and sincere cultivation. This is the path of the Bodhisattva—one who is dedicated to serving the highest welfare of all living beings with the awakened heart of unconditional love, skillful wisdom, and all-embracing compassion.

1) The Perfection of Generosity (Dana Paramita)

This paramita is the enlightened quality of generosity, charity, giving, and offering. The essence of this paramita is unconditional love, a boundless openness of heart and mind, a selfless generosity and giving which is completely free from attachment and expectation. From the very depths of our heart, we practice generously offering our love, compassion, time, energy, and resources to serve the highest welfare of all beings. Giving is one of the essential preliminary steps of our practice. Our giving should always be unconditional and selfless; completely free of any selfish desire for gratitude, recognition, advantage, reputation, or any worldly reward. The perfection of generosity is not accomplished simply by the action of giving, nor by the actual gift itself. Rather, the true essence of this paramita is our pure motivation of genuine concern for others—the truly generous motivation of the awakened heart of compassion, wisdom, and love. In addition, our practice of giving should be free of discrimination regarding who is worthy and who is unworthy to receive. To cultivate the paramita of generosity, it is wise to contemplate the enormous benefits of this practice, the disadvantages of being miserly, as well as the obvious fact that our body and our wealth are impermanent. With this in mind, we will certainly be encouraged to use both our body and wealth to practice generosity while we still have them. Generosity is a cure for the afflictions of greed, miserliness, and possessiveness. In this practice of giving, we may offer our time, energy, money, food, clothing, or gifts so as to assist others. To the best of our ability, we may offer the priceless treasure of Dharma instruction, giving explanations on the Buddha’s teachings. This offering serves to free others from misperceptions that cause confusion, pain, and suffering. We can offer fearless giving and protection by delivering living beings (insects, animals, and people) from harm, distress, fear, and terror. In this way, we offer care and comfort, helping others to feel safe and peaceful. We do this selflessly, without counting the cost to ourselves. We practice the perfection of generosity in an especially powerful way when we embrace all living beings continually in the radiant love of our heart.

2) The Perfection of Ethics (Sila Paramita)

This paramita is the enlightened quality of virtuous and ethical behavior, morality, self-discipline, impeccability, personal integrity, honor, and harmlessness. The essence of this paramita is that through our love and compassion we do not harm others; we are virtuous and harmless in our thoughts, speech, and actions. This practice of ethical conduct is the very foundation for progressing in any practice of meditation and for attaining all higher realizations on the path. Our practice of generosity must always be supported by our practice of ethics; this ensures the lasting results of our generosity. We should perfect our conduct by eliminating harmful behavior and following the Bodhisattva precepts. We abstain from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, divisive speech, harsh speech, gossip, greed, malice, and wrong views. Following these precepts or guidelines is not meant to be a burden or a restriction of our freedom. We follow these precepts so we can enjoy greater freedom, happiness, and security in our lives, because through our virtuous behavior we are no longer creating suffering for ourselves and others. We must realize that unethical behavior is always the cause of suffering and unhappiness. If we give even the slightest consideration to the advantages of cultivating ethical behavior and the disadvantages of unethical behavior, we will certainly develop great enthusiasm for this practice of ethics. Practicing the perfection of ethics, we are free of negativity, we cause no harm to others by our actions, our speech is kind and compassionate, and our thoughts are free of anger, malice, and wrong views. When our commitment is strong in the practice of ethics we are at ease, naturally confident, without stress, and happy because we are not carrying any underlying sense of guilt or remorse for our actions; we have nothing to hide. Maintaining our personal honor and integrity, our moral impeccability, this is the cause of all goodness, happiness, and even the attainment of enlightenment.

3) The Perfection of Patience (Kshanti Paramita)

This paramita is the enlightened quality of patience, tolerance, forbearance, and acceptance. The essence of this paramita of patience is the strength of mind and heart that enables us to face the challenges and difficulties of life without losing our composure and inner tranquility. We embrace and forbear adversity, insult, distress, and the wrongs of others with patience and tolerance, free of resentment, irritation, emotional reactivity, or retaliation. We cultivate the ability to be loving and compassionate in the face of criticism, misunderstanding, or aggression. With this enlightened quality of patience, we are neither elated by praise, prosperity, or agreeable circumstances, nor are we angry, unhappy or depressed when faced with insult, challenge, hardship, or poverty. This enlightened attribute of patience, acceptance, and tolerance is not a forced suppression or denial of our thoughts and feelings. Rather, it is a quality of being which comes from having our heart open and our mind deeply concentrated upon the Dharma. In this way, we have a clear and correct understanding of impermanence, of cause and effect (karma), and with strong determination and patience we remain in harmony with this understanding for the benefit of all beings. The ability to endure, to have forbearance, is integral to our Dharma practice. Without this kind of patience we cannot accomplish anything. A true Bodhisattva practices patience in such a way that even when we are hurt physically, emotionally, or mentally by others, we are not irritated or resentful. We always make an effort to see the goodness and beauty in others. In practicing this perfection of patience and forbearance, we never give up on or abandon others—we help them cross over the sea of suffering. We maintain our inner peace, calmness, and equanimity under all circumstances, having enduring patience and tolerance for ourselves and others. With the strength of patience, we maintain our effort and enthusiasm in our Dharma practice. Therefore, our practice of patience assists us in developing the next paramita of joyous effort and enthusiastic perseverance.

4) The Perfection of Joyous Effort / Enthusiastic Perseverance (Virya Paramita)

This paramita is the enlightened quality of energy, vigor, vitality, endurance, diligence, enthusiasm, continuous and persistent effort. In order to practice the first three paramitas of generosity, virtuous conduct, and patience in the face of difficulties, we need this paramita of joyous effort and perseverance. Joyous effort makes the previous paramitas increase and become even more powerful influences in our life. The essence of this paramita of joyous effort is the courage, energy, and endurance to continuously practice the Dharma and pursue the supreme goal of enlightenment for the highest good of all beings. From a feeling of deep compassion for the suffering of all sentient beings, we are urged to unfailing, persistent, and joyous effort. We use our body, speech, and mind to work ceaselessly and untiringly for the benefit of others, with no expectations for personal recognition or reward. We are always ready to serve others to the best of our ability. With joyous effort, devoted energy, and the power of sustained application, we practice the Dharma without getting sidetracked by anything or falling under the influence of laziness. Without developing Virya Paramita, we can become easily disillusioned and drop our practice when we meet with adverse conditions. The word virya means persistence and perseverance in the face of disillusionment, energetically striving to attain the supreme goal of enlightenment. When we cultivate this type of diligence and perseverance we have a strong and healthy mind. We practice with persistent effort and enthusiasm because we realize the tremendous value and benefit of our Dharma practice. Firmly establishing ourselves in this paramita, we also develop self-reliance, and this becomes one of our most prominent characteristics. With joyous effort and enthusiastic perseverance, we regard failure as simply another step toward success, danger as an inspiration for courage, and affliction as another opportunity to practice wisdom and compassion. To develop strength of character, self-reliance, and the next paramita of concentration, is not an easy achievement, thus we need enthusiastic perseverance on the path.

5) The Perfection of Concentration (Dhyana Paramita)

This paramita is the enlightened quality of concentration, meditation, contemplation, samadhi, mindfulness, mental stability. Our minds have the tendency to be very distracted and restless, always moving from one thought or feeling to another. Because of this, our awareness stays fixated in the ego, in the surface layers of the mind and emotions, and we just keep engaging in the same habitual patterns of behavior. The perfection of concentration means training our mind so that it does what we want it to. We stabilize our mind and emotions by practicing meditation, by being mindful and aware in everything we do. When we train the mind in this way, physical, emotional, and mental vacillations and restlessness are eliminated. We achieve focus, composure, and tranquility. This ability to concentrate and focus the mind brings clarity, equanimity, illumination. Concentration allows the deep insight needed to transform the habitual misperceptions and attachments that cause confusion and suffering. As we eliminate these misperceptions and attachments, we can directly experience the joy, compassion, and wisdom of our true nature. There is no attainment of wisdom and enlightenment without developing the mind through concentration and meditation. This development of concentration and one-pointedness requires perseverance. Thus the previous paramita of joyous effort and perseverance brings us to this paramita of concentration. In addition, when there is no practice of meditation and concentration, we cannot achieve the other paramitas, because their essence, which is the inner awareness that comes from meditation, is lacking. To attain wisdom, compassion, and enlightenment, it is essential that we develop the mind through concentration, meditation, and mindfulness.

6) The Perfection of Wisdom (Prajna Paramita)

This paramita is the enlightened quality of transcendental wisdom, insight, and the perfection of understanding. The essence of this paramita is the supreme wisdom, the highest understanding that living beings can attain—beyond words and completely free from the limitation of mere ideas, concepts, or intellectual knowledge. Beyond the limited confines of intellectual and conceptual states of mind, we experience the awakened heart-mind of wisdom and compassion—prajna paramita. Prajna paramita is the supreme wisdom (prajna) that knows emptiness and the interconnectedness of all things. This flawless wisdom eliminates all false and distorted views of the absolute. We see the essential nature of reality with utmost clarity; our perception goes beyond the illusive and deceptive veils of material existence. With the perfection of wisdom, we develop the ability to recognize the truth behind the temporary display of all appearances. Prajna paramita is a result of contemplation, meditation, and rightly understanding the nature of reality. Ultimately, the full realization of prajna paramita is that we are not simply a separate self trying to do good. Rather, virtuously serving the welfare of all beings is simply a natural expression of the awakened heart. We realize that the one serving, the one being served, and the compassionate action of service, are all the same totality—there is no separate ego or self to be found in any of these. With this supreme wisdom, we go beyond acceptance and rejection, hope and fear, dualistic thoughts, and ego-clinging. We completely dissolve all these notions, realizing everything as a transparent display of the primordial truth. If our ego is attached even to the disciplines of these paramitas, this is incorrect perception and we are merely going from one extreme to another. In order to free ourselves from these extremes, we must release our ego attachment and dissolve all dualistic concepts with the insight of supreme wisdom. This wisdom transforms the other five paramitas into their transcendental state as well. Only the illumination of supreme wisdom makes this possible. source

Why Take Refuges in Three Jewels by Master Sheng Yen (聖嚴法師)


Why Take Refuges in Three Jewels

by Master Sheng Yen (聖嚴法師)

Titles
What is Taking Refuge in the Three Jewels?
Different Levels of the Three Jewels
How to Take Refuge in the Three Jewels
The Benefits to Taking Refuge

Introduction

Sheng Yen and Ren Jun Make offerings
Above: Master Sheng-Yen (L) with one of his teachers, Master Jen-Chun, ca. 2002. Taken during an offering ceremony at CMC

Buddhism values our intelligence and our own choices in life. It encourages us to cultivate wisdom and compassion to the fullest extent and to be responsible for all our actions. This attitude not only applies to how we approach Buddhism and the world, but to our own relationship to its traditions, practices, and rituals.

If you wish to be formally recognized as a Buddhist, you are encouraged to first learn and try to understand the teachings. If they truly resonate with you, then the next step is to become a Buddhist and begin the path of cultivation. This booklet is for those who have already read about Buddhism, practiced some of the teachings, found them useful, and now wish to proceed further on the path.

Participating in the ceremony of taking refuge in the Three Jewels is the first, important step for anyone who wants to become a Buddhist. Why? Because the heart of Buddhism is the Three Jewels of the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. Still, many people have erroneous ideas about the significance of the refuge ceremony. Let us first examine some of these misconceptions before we discuss the profundity of the Three Jewels.

In the West, many people are increasingly attracted to Buddhism, even though they have not participated in the formal ceremony of taking refuge in the Three Jewels. They fear taking refuge will bind them to the institution of Buddhism, so they maintain a window-shopping attitude. Or perhaps they view taking refuge as analogous to rushing into marriage without sufficient knowledge of the future spouse and worry that personalities may clash, interests differ, and divorce ensue.

But taking refuge in the Three Jewels is completely different from marriage! It is about committing one’s life towards a path to awakening, which is, in fact, freeing not binding. It is a relationship that includes all sentient beings, not just two people. If we realize that the Buddhist teaching is beneficial or meaningful in our lives, then the next step is to take refuge in the Three Jewels. When we become Buddhists, we commit ourselves to bringing genuine liberation to ourselves and to everyone around us. This is the Buddhist path.

Trying to learn Buddhism without taking refuge is to be a bystander and not a participant. If we feel constrained by taking refuge, then Buddhism is no path to liberation. It may happen that you ultimately embrace a set of principles or develop a line of reasoning that leads you away from the teachings. After taking refuge, it is still possible to follow other religions or even decide not to believe in any religion. Taking refuge is not a contract written in blood and stone. The preciousness of the Dharma is that after leaving Buddhism, the door is always open, ready to welcome any who decide to return.

Those who believe that having a pure, sincere heart is enough to qualify them as Buddhist practitioners and who see no need to go through the formal refuge ceremony, are not really Buddhists. If you want to get an education, you must first register and then proceed through elementary, middle, and high school until you reach college—perhaps reaching as far as a Ph.D. It is impossible to progress in one’s education without taking these successive steps.

Similarly, self-proclaimed Buddhists are not real Buddhists. They are like people who are fond of another country, emigrate there, pretend to be citizens, but never apply for citizenship. Those who refrain from taking refuge, but insist upon calling themselves Buddhists, may glean some benefit from the teachings, but the essence of Buddhism will always elude him. Taking refuge is a required process, not an option. The sutras or Buddhist scriptures tell us that even people who perform good deeds will not be able to eradicate bad karma unless they take refuge in the Three Jewels.

Some people believe that their comprehension of the Buddhist sutras, which they take to be one and the same as the Dharma, is sufficient to enable them to advance directly to full enlightenment. They see no need to practice meditation or receive the Three Refuges. While this may have its appeal, it is a serious mistake.

The Buddhist sutras were taught by the Buddha and his disciples, and later collected and written down by members of the Sangha. Concentrating on these texts only yields a limited understanding of the Dharma Jewel. This would lead us to disregard the Buddha, who gave these teachings, and the Sangha, who spread the Dharma. Buddhism stresses the Dharma—the path which leads to the ending of suffering—only in conjunction with the Buddha and the Sangha. The three are inseparable. It is true that taking refuge requires investigation of the Buddha’s teachings, but it also necessitates participation in the refuge ceremony, which must be conducted by a precept master, who is usually a member of the Sangha. This confers the formal recognition that you are a Buddhist.

Precept masters also began their practice by taking refuge in the Three Jewels. Each consecutive precept master represents the continuity of the transmission of the Dharma. No one can take refuge without a master; you cannot do it by yourself. In this sense, the ceremony is a testimony to the unity of the Three Jewels. In taking refuge in the Three Jewels,we recognize the Buddha for discovering the Dharma and our own Buddha within—our potential to liberation. We also recognize the transmitters of Dharma, the Sangha members throughout the ages. Through them we realize the Dharma. Therefore, I would urge everyone to take refuge in the Three Jewels in a formal ceremony. Whether you already consider yourself a Buddhist, are planning to become Buddhist, are exploring Buddhism, or following another religion. There is no harm in putting aside your preconceived ideas so that you may take refuge. You will gain genuine benefit with no loss of freedom. If you take refuge wholeheartedly, it is highly unlikely that you will abandon the Three Jewels.

Donation Approved Letter for IBS // Update Aug.2011 « Buddhist Causes


Donation Approved Letter for IBS // Update Aug.2011 « Buddhist Causes.

Donation Approved Letter for IBS // Update Aug.2011

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Dear IBS Prison Program Supporters,The Chuckawalla State Prison has graciously grant approval to permit the distribution of all of our Buddhist practice materials including books, CD’s, DVD’s, statues of the Buddha, Gong, Dharma bell, etc, to the Buddhist follower inmates.  For that, I would like to confer my sincere gratitude for all the prayers and support to allow this auspicious outcome to come into fruition in such an expeditious manner. Hundreds of our dharma inmates will greatly benefit by being able to learn about the teachings and striving for genuine repentance to acknowledge their past misdeeds in hopes of becoming better societal members.  IBS is honored and extremely grateful to be able to provide all of the materials that are conducive to a diligent spiritual practice and livelihood.On behalf of all of the other prison Sanghas, I would like to once again express our utmost appreciation for your continual support and encouragement without which many of the results could not have happened. IBS also would also like to thank all the supporters in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, as well as those from different states in the US.  As always, IBS vows to continue to do its very best to lead all the prison Sanghas on the path of Buddahood.  May all sentient beings be blessed by the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.Amitofo,
Xianzhong Shi

ABOUT IBS
International Bodhisattva Sangha (IBS) has been doing prison visitation programs in California for many years. There are hundreds of inmates in the prisons willing to learn and practice the Buddha Dharma. IBS only visits once a month to help and offer the Dharma, but once a month is not sufficient to teach enough information about Buddhism for their daily practice. We did some research about their practices, and it brought us more insight about how to benefit the practitioners. They desperately need library materials.Therefore IBS trying to set up a library in each yard of different state prisons that will be beneficial for those practitioners. If you have any Buddhist books, CDs, DVDs or Buddhist magazines and would like to donate them for the prison library, please contact us.
Thank You,International Bodhisattva Sangha
12584 Sora Way
San Diego CA 92129
Phone: 1+619-450-3699
Fax: 1+858-484-1889
E-mail: zhongibs@hotmail.com
_________________________________________________________________________________________

“There are two kinds of gifts: a gift of material things and a gift of the Dharma. Of the two, the gift of Dharma is supreme.”                                                                                                     Itivuttaka 98

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Buddhist Devotion


*please note: I really like this, but please when reading the word ‘guru’ change it to Great Masters of the Dharma or The Buddha, ‘guru’ just sounds so ‘outside yourself’ just MHO 🙂
hahah I don’t have a guru, I have a Great Dharma Teacher that points the way

-Upasika 

 

 

Devotion is the essence of the path, and if we have in mind nothing but the guru and feel nothing but fervent devotion, whatever occurs is perceived as his blessing. If we simply practice with this constantly present devotion, this is prayer itself.
When all thoughts are imbued with devotion to the guru, there is a natural confidence that this will take care of whatever may happen. All forms are the guru, all sounds are prayer, and all gross and subtle thoughts arise as devotion. Everything is spontaneously liberated in the absolute nature, like knots untied in the sky.

There are different levels of faith. First, clear faith refers to the joy and clarity and change in our perceptions that we experience when we hear about the qualities of the Three Jewels and the lives of the Buddha and the great teachers. Longing faith is experienced when we think about the latter and are filled with a great desire to know more about their qualities and to acquire these ourselves. Confident faith comes through practicing the Dharma, when we acquire complete confidence in the truth of the teachings and the enlightenment of the Buddha. Finally, when faith has become so much a part of ourselves that even if our lives were at risk we could never give it up, it has become irreversible faith.

The Excellent Path to Enlightenment

-Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

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

Three Bows (Why do Buddhists bow or prostrate?)


 

Why do Buddhists bow or prostrate?

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

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

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

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

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

Master Chao Chou said:

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

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

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

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

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

The Precepts

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

So what are the training rules?

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Devotion in Buddhism by Nyanaponika Thera


Devotion in Buddhism by Nyanaponika Thera

The Buddha repeatedly discouraged any excessive veneration paid to him personally. He knew that an excess of purely emotional devotion can obstruct or disturb the development of a balanced character, and thus may become a serious obstacle to progress on the path to deliverance. The history of religion has since proved him right, as illustrated by the extravagancies of emotional mysticism in East and West.

The suttas relate the story of the monk Vakkali, who full of devotion and love for the Buddha, was ever desirous to behold him bodily. To him the Buddha said: “What shall it profit you to see this impure body? He who sees the Dhamma, sees me.”

Shortly before the Buddha passed away, he said: “If a monk or a nun, a devout man or a devout woman, lives in accordance with the Dhamma, is correct in his life, walks in conformity with the Dhamma — it is he who rightly honors, reverences, venerates, holds sacred and reveres the Perfect One (tathagata) with the worthiest homage.”

A true and deep understanding of the Dhamma, together with a conduct that is in conformity with that understanding — these are vastly superior to any external homage or mere emotional devotion. That is the instruction conveyed by these two teachings of the Master.

It would be a mistake, however, to conclude that the Buddha disparaged a reverential and devotional attitude of mind when it is the natural outflow of a true understanding and a deep admiration of what is great and noble. It would also be a grievous error to believe that the “seeing of the Dhamma” (spoken of in the first saying) is identical with a mere intellectual appreciation and purely conceptual grasp of the doctrine. Such a one-sided abstract approach to the very concrete message of the Buddha all too often leads to intellectual smugness. In its barrenness it will certainly not be a substitute for the strong and enlivening impulse imparted by a deep-felt devotion to what is known as great, noble and exemplary. Devotion, being a facet and natural accompaniment of confidence (saddha), is a necessary factor in the “balance of faculties” (indriya-samata) required for final deliverance. Confidence, in all its aspects, including the devotional, is needed to resolve any stagnation and other shortcomings resulting from a one-sided development of the intellectual faculties. Such development often tends to turn around in circles endlessly, without being able to effect a break-through. Here, devotion, confidence and faith — all aspects of the Pali term saddha — may be able to give quick and effective help.

Though the Buddha refused to be made the object of an emotional “personality cult,” he also knew that “respect and homage paid to those who are worthy of it, is a great blessing.” The Buddha made this statement in the very first stanza of one of his principal ethical injunctions, the Discourse on Blessings (Maha-Mangala Sutta [1]). Mentioning the value of a respectful, reverential attitude together with the blessings “avoiding fools and associating with the wise,” the Buddha obviously regarded such an attitude as fundamental for individual and social progress and for the acquisition of any further higher benefits. One who is incapable of a reverential attitude will also be incapable of spiritual progress beyond the narrow limits of his present mental condition. One who is so blind as not to see or recognize anything higher and better than the little mud-pool of his petty self and environment will suffer for a long time from retarded growth. And one who, out of a demonstrative self-assertion, scorns a reverential attitude in himself and in others will remain imprisoned in his self-conceit — a most formidable bar to a true maturity of character and to spiritual growth. It is by recognizing and honoring someone or something higher that one honors and enhances one’s own inner potentialities.

When the high heart we magnify, And the sure vision celebrate, And worship greatness passing by, Ourselves are great.

Since respect, reverence and devotion are partial aspects of the Buddhist concept of confidence, one will now understand why confidence has been called the seed of all other beneficial qualities.

The nobler the object of reverence or devotion, the higher is the blessing bestowed by it. “Those who have joyous confidence in the highest, the highest fruit will be theirs” (AN 4.34). The supreme objects of a Buddhist’s reverence and devotion are his Three Refuges, also called the Three Jewels or Ideals: the Buddha, his Teaching (Dhamma) and the Community of saintly monks and nuns (Sangha). [2] Here, too, the Buddha is revered not as a personality of such a name, nor as a deity, but as the embodiment of Enlightenment.

A text often recurring in the Buddhist scriptures says that a devout lay disciple “has confidence, he believes in the Enlightenment of the Perfect One.” This confidence, however, is not the outcome of blind faith based on hearsay, but is derived from the devotee’s reasoned conviction based on his own understanding of the Buddha Word which speaks to him clearly with a voice of unmistakable Enlightenment. This derivation of his assurance is emphasized by the fact that, along with confidence, wisdom also is mentioned among the qualities of an ideal lay follower.

We may now ask: Is it not quite natural that feelings of love, gratitude, reverence and devotion seek expression through the entire personality, through acts of body and speech as well as through our thoughts and unexpressed sentiments? Will one, for instance, hide one’s feelings towards parents and other loved ones? Will one not rather express them by loving words and deeds? Will one not cherish their memory in suitable ways, as for instance, by preserving their pictures in one’s home, by placing flowers on their graves, by recalling their noble qualities? In such a way, one who has become critical of the devotional aspects of religion may seek to understand the outward acts of homage customary in Buddhist lands when, with reverential gesture, flowers and incense are placed before a Buddha image and devotional texts are recited not as prayers but as meditation. Provided that such practice does not deteriorate into a thoughtless routine, a follower of the Dhamma will derive benefit if he takes up some form of a devotional practice, adapting it to his personal temperament and to the social customs of his environment. Buddhism however, does not in the least impose upon its followers a demand to observe any outward form of devotion or worship. This is entirely left to the choice of individuals whose emotional, devotional and intellectual needs are bound to differ greatly. No Buddhist should feel himself forced into an iron-cast mould, be it of a devotional or a rationalistic shape. As a follower of the middle way, he should, however, also avoid one-sided judgment of others, and try to appreciate that their individual needs and preferences may differ from his own.

More important and of greater general validity than outward forms of devotion is the basic capacity for respect and reverence discussed at the beginning of this essay, and also the practice of meditations or contemplations of a devotional character. Many benefits accrue from these and hence it was for good reasons that the Enlightened One strongly and repeatedly recommended the meditative recollection of the Buddha (buddhanussati), along with other kindred devotional recollections. [3] Here again, the reference is to the embodied ideal; thus the Buddha, as a being freed from all traces of vanity and egotism, could venture to recommend to his disciples a meditation on the Buddha.

What, then, are the benefits of such devotional meditations? Their first benefit is mental purification. They have been called by the Buddha “efficacious procedures for purifying a defiled mind” (AN 3.71). “When a noble disciple contemplates upon the Enlightened One, at that time his mind is not enwrapped in lust, nor in hatred, nor in delusion. At such a time his mind is rightly directed: it has got rid of lust, is aloof from it, is freed from it. Lust is here a name for the five sense desires. By cultivating this contemplation, many beings become purified” (AN 6.25).

If, by practicing that devotional meditation, one endeavors to live, as it were, “in the Master’s presence” (sattha sammukhibhuta), one will feel ashamed to do, speak or think anything unworthy; one will shrink back from evil; and as a positive reaction, one will feel inspired to high endeavor in emulation of the Master’s great example.

Images, and not abstract concepts, are the language of the subconscious. If, therefore, the image of the Enlightened One is often created within one’s mind as the embodiment of man perfected, it will penetrate deeply into the subconscious, and if sufficiently strong, will act as an automatic brake against evil impulses. In such a way the subconscious, normally so often the hidden enemy in gaining self-mastery, may become a powerful ally of such an endeavor. For that purpose of educating the subconscious, it will be helpful to use a Buddha image or picture as an aid in visualization. In that way concentration of mind may be attained fairly soon. For evoking and deeply absorbing some features of the Buddha’s personality, his qualities should be contemplated, for instance in the way described in the Visuddhimagga.

The recollection of the Buddha, being productive of joy (piti), is an effective way ofinvigorating the mind, of lifting it up from the states of listlessness, tension, fatigue, and frustration, which occur during meditation as well as in ordinary life. The Buddha himself advised: “If (in the strenuous practice of meditation, for instance) in contemplation of the body, bodily agitation, including sense desires, or mental lassitude or distraction should arise, then the meditator should turn his mind to a gladdening, elevating subject” (SN 47.10). And here the teachers of old recommend especially the recollection of the Buddha. When those hindrances to concentration vanish under its influence, the meditator will be able to return to his original meditation subject.

For a beginner especially, attempts at gaining concentration are often frustrated by an uneasy self-consciousness; the meditator, as it were, squints back upon himself. He becomes disturbingly aware of his body with its little discomforts, and of his mind struggling against obstacles which only grow stronger the more he struggles. This may happen when the subject of meditation is one’s one physical or mental processes, but it may also occur with other subjects. In such a situation, it will be profitable to follow the advice given earlier and to turn one’s attention from one’s own personality to the inspiring visualization of the Buddha and the contemplation of his qualities. The joyful interest thus produced may bring about that self-forgetfulness which is such an important factor for gaining concentration. Joy produces calm (passadhi), calm leads to ease (sukha), and ease to concentration (samadhi). Thus devotional meditation can serve as a valuable aid in attaining mental concentrationwhich is the basis of liberating insight. This function of devotional meditation cannot be better described than in the words of the Master:

“When a noble disciple contemplates upon the Enlightened One, at that time his mind is not enwrapped in lust, nor in hatred, nor in delusion. At such a time his mind is rightly directed towards the Perfect One (Tathagata). And with a rightly directed mind the noble disciple gains enthusiasm for the goal, enthusiasm for the Dhamma, gains the delight derived from the Dhamma. In him thus delighted, joy arises; to one who is joyful, body and mind become calm; calmed in body and mind, he feels at ease; and if at ease, the mind finds concentration. Such a one is called a noble disciple who among humanity gone wrong, has attained to what is right; who among a humanity beset by troubles, dwells free of troubles.”

— AN 6.10

source 

The Daily Enlightenment | Buddhist Inspirations & News » Why Copy Sutras?


The Daily Enlightenment | Buddhist Inspirations & News » Why Copy Sutras?.

Posted by Shen Shi’an on March 7, 2011

Question: Why do Buddhists copy sutras when they are already available in books?

Answer: The practice of sutra-copying originated in the ancient days, when the printing press was not yet invented. The only way of reproducing and sharing the Buddha’s teachings on paper was by manual copying. In our modern day, this is still practised as mindful and repeated sutra-copying aids familiarisation and deeper contemplation of the profound teachings.

Sutra-copying also aids memorisation and internalisation of the teachings, as we learn to align our thoughts, words and deeds with what is written to purify ourselves. The more we practise sutra-copying, the more the compassion and wisdom expressed in the sutras should overflow into our everyday lives, as we actualise them to benefit one and all. As many sutras state that the devotional practice of sharing sutra verses is highly meritorious, it is good to dedicate the merits of sutra-copying with others.

Sutra of the Past Vows of EARTH STORE BODHISATTVA with commentary on Sutra by Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua


Namo Earth Store Bodhisattva

Namo Ti Tsang Wang P’u Sa

Namo Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva

Follow link for new WordPress of  entire

with commentary on Sutra by Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua



FOREWARD

FROM ANCIENT TIMES, the Sutra of the Past Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva has been one of the most popular Chinese Buddhist sutras.  “Earth Store” is a literal rendering of the bodhisattva’s original Sanskrit name, Ksitigarbha.  In the Buddhist pantheon, he is one of the most highly celebrated bodhisattva, along with Manjusri, Avalokitesvara, and Samantabhadra.  These four represent the four basic Mahayana qualities:  Manjusri represents great wisdom; Avalokitesvara, great compassion; Samantabhadra, great meritorious deeds; and Ksitigarbha, the great vow – the vow to help and to cross over all sentient beings.  “If I do not go to hell (to help them there), who else will go?” is the famous pronouncement of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha.

In the seventh century A.D., this sutra was translated by Siksananda from the Sanskrit into Chinese, but not until this publication has it ever been translated into English.  Dharma Master Heng Ching’s work is not a critical study in the traditional Western scholarly sense.  However, it bears special importance, as it is accompanied by the comprehensive commentary of Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua.  Without such an accompaniment, it would be very difficult, if not impossible, for Western readers to understand the significance and applications of this sutra.

One of the aims of the Institute for Advanced Studies of World Religions is to make available religious teachings that were previously inaccessible to the English-speaking student of religion.  In this light, the Institute is honored to publish this invaluable source of learning and awareness.

The Institute for Advanced Studies of World Religions

APRIL 1974

Sutra of the Past Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva // about rebirth and belief // Master Hsuan Hun


About: rebirth and belief
Excerpt from : Sutra of the Past Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva
The collected lectures of  Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hun
Translated by American Bhiksu Heng Ching

“…..after I had discussed this matter, a young officer asked if I really believe that people could become animals after death. I replied, “If you believe that people can become animals, that is fine, and if you don’t believe, that is also fine. If you are due to become an animal in your next life, and you believe that people can be reborn as animals, then you will end up as an animal; if you don’t believe that you can become an animal, and you are due to become one, then, your disbelief notwithstanding, you will become an animal all the same. If you do the deeds of a Bodhisattva, you will become a Bodhisattva; if you do the deeds of a human, you will be born among men; and if you do ghostly deeds you will end up among the ghosts. You are what you do.  It is not a case of your belief making a situation go one way, and your disbelief making it  go another. Believe it or not, you will be what you ought to be and you will certainly not be what you should not be.”

At this pint everyone should ask himself , “When am I going to die? The sutra says that the life of the Brahman woman’s mother ended before long. When will mine end? Will I, like her, fall into the hells?” When studying the sutras the important point is to reverse one’s illumination; in other words, study yourself a little. Simply to study books and let it go at that is useless.

Everyone, without exception, is going to die. Don’t worry weather death is a good thing or not; if you do good, your death will be good, and if you do bad, your death will be horrible. If you plant deeds you will reap good fruits; if you plant bad deeds you will reap bad fruits. An ancient author said,
When I see another’s death,
my heart burns like fire;
It burns, nut not for him;
for death rolls on toward me.

Sutra of the Past Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva // Ghost Kings and karma commentary // Master Hsuan Hun


Commentary on Ghost Kings:
Excerpt from : Sutra of the Past Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva
The collected lectures of Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hun
Translated by American Bhiksu Heng Ching

The great ghost kings mentioned previously are called kings because they lead  the ghosts, and, regardless of whether they seem beneficial or malevolent, they are all transformations of great Bodhisattvas. In the past these ghost kings vowed to use expedient devices to benefit living beings. Some use compassion to protect their followers while others manifest a fierce appearance to subdue them. These two methods , protection and subduing, are the two major divisions in the methodology of teaching beings. Since some resolve their thoughts on enlightenment when they see a ghost of great compassion, the method of compassionate  protection is practiced to teach them; because others will resolve their thoughts on enlightenment only after meeting a terrifying ghost, the method of subduing is also used.

In either case , the method used is not a question of good or evil on the part of the ghosts themselves, because good and evil come only from the karmic responses of living beings. When a living being’s bad karma ripens, it may encounter someone like Great King with Evil Eyes; when its good karma ripens, it may meet the Great Compassionate Ghost King. Any karma may, of course, be changed when it has ripened—bad karma may become good, and sometimes good karma turns bad. Students of the Buddhadharma should learn not to be affected by either good or bad karma, but should strive to turn bad into good and not allow themselves to go down the road which leads to the mountain of knives, the caldron of oil, and the tree of swords(*means wrong path and/or hell and lower realms). They should study Buddhadharma , upset heaven, and smash through earth. Heaven represents good causes, earth bad ones. Turn the bad to good and evil ghost kings will be of no use, while the good ones will be able to retire.

“What The Buddha Taught” by Rev.Dr. Walpola Rahula Q&A


“What The Buddha Taught” Book Study Group.

Welcome Dharma friends,

I hope you find this Q&A useful , beneficial  and worthy to share with others everywhere on the Path. I have enjoyed working on this project as I have wanted to write a Q&A based on this book for some time. I am convinced that this is the perfect book to learn the necessary fundamentals of Buddhism . I have added links to Suttas and Sutras mentioned in the book, as well as supplemental information that I have personally found particularly helpful. READ MORE>>>

SHARPENING MANJUSHRI’S SWORD The Jhanas in Theravadan Buddhist Meditation by Leigh Brasington


SHARPENING MANJUSHRI’S SWORD The Jhanas in Theravadan Buddhist Meditation by Leigh Brasington

All of us are familiar with the eightfold path — the Buddha’s prescription for attaining enlightenment. We have some idea what is meant by right speech, right action, right livelihood and so forth. And we know that these are very important. However, the one step in the path that is often short-changed is the eighth step: “Right Concentration.” This paper will seek to explain what right concentration is, how to practice it, and the role it plays in the road to enlightenment. Right Concentration, (Samma Samadhi) is explicitly defined in the Mahasatipatthana Sutta (Digha Nikaya #22) and in other suttas (for example, Saccavibhanga Sutta – Majjhima Nikaya #141 andMagga-vibhanga Sutta Samyutta Nikaya XLV.8) as Jhanic meditation: And what, monks, is right concentration? There is the case where a monk — quite secluded from sensuality, secluded from unskillful (mental) qualities — enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & happiness born of seclusion, accompanied byinitial & sustained attention [to the object of meditation]. With the stilling of initial & sustained attention, he enters & remains in the second jhana: rapture & happiness born of concentration, unification of awareness free from initial attention & sustained attention — internal tranquility. With the fading of rapture, he remains in equanimity, mindful & clearly aware, and physically sensitive of pleasure. He enters & remains in the third jhana, of which the Noble Ones declare, ‘Equanimous& mindful, he has a pleasurable abiding.’ With the abandoning of pleasure & pain — as with the earlier disappearance of elation & distress — he enters & remains in the fourth jhana: purity of equanimity & mindfulness, neither pleasure nor pain. This, monks, is called right concentration. Thus the Jhanas are at the very heart of the Buddha’s teaching as presented in these suttas. [You can see the corresponding Pali in the above quote by placing your mouse cursor on an English word and waiting a second.] Before he became the Buddha, at the beginning of his spiritual quest, Siddhattha Gotma studied with two teachers. The first teacher taught him the seventh Jhanas (and we assume the first 6 as well); the other teacher taught him the eighth Jhana. Both teachers told him they had taught him all there was to learn. But Siddhattha still didn’t know what to do about dukkha (unsatisfactoriness, suffering), so he left each of these teachers and wound up doing six years of austerity practices. Those too did not provide the answer to his question and he abandoned those for what has come to be known as the Middle Way. The suttas indicate that on the night of his enlightenment, he sat down under the Bohdi Tree and began his meditation by practicing the Jhanas (e.g. see the Mahasaccaka Sutta – Majjhima Nikaya #36). When his mind was “concentrated, purified, bright, unblemished, rid of imperfection, malleable, wieldy, steady and attained to imperturbability” he direct it to the “true knowledges” that gave rise to his breakthru in consciousness that we call Enlightenment. So we see that the Jhanas are not only at the heart of his teaching, but also were at the heart of his own practice. WHAT THEY ARE The Pali word Jhana is best translated as “meditative absorption state.” It is the same as the Sanskrit Dhyana, which derives from Dhayati, meaning to think or meditate. You know what an “absorption state” is — it’s when you get so involved in a TV show or video game or mystery novel that you are surprised when the phone rings and brings you back to reality. The Jhanas are eight altered states of consciousness which can arise during periods of strong concentration. The Jhanas are naturally occurring states of mind, but learning how to enter them at will and how to stay in them takes practice.

HOW TO ENTER THE JHANAS

There is very little actual instruction on how to “do” Jhana practice in the suttas. One probable reason for this is that the Jhanas were a well-known practice among serious spiritual seekers 2500 years ago. Just like today, when giving someone directions to your house, you don’t include information on how to start the car, shift gears, etc., so it wasn’t considered necessary to explain how to enter the Jhanas. Another probable reason is that the Jhanas are best learned in a one-on-one setting with a teacher — they do not lend themselves to what we call today “book learning.” Let us examine each Jhana and how one goes about “doing” them. Access Concentration You must have a certain amount of concentration for the first Jhana to arise. This is called access concentration. Access concentration has sila (morality) as a prerequisite. The description of the first Jhana starts “Secluded from sensuality, secluded from unwholesome states of mind…”. If you are not leading a morally upright life, you cannot expect to sit down on a little pillow and find yourself “secluded from sensuality, secluded from unwholesome states of mind.” If there is not sufficient sila, there is too much to desire, too much to hate or fear, too much to worry about, etc. We can also deduce that access concentration requires that you be in a physical posture that is both comfortable and alert; otherwise, you will be in a painful posture which will lead to aversion, or you will be too sleepy to meditate. Access concentration can be induced in a number of different ways. There are some forty different methods of meditation mentioned in the suttas, and about thirty of these are suitable for gaining entry to the first Jhana. As described in the suttas, the first Jhana has four factors, and the first two are Vittaka and Vichara. These two words often get translated as something like “thinking and pondering.” They do have these meanings in some contexts, but not in the context of the Jhanas. Here they are best translated as “initial and sustained attention to the object of meditation.” You keep putting your attention on the meditation object until you are concentrated enough that you can effortlessly leave it on the meditation object. For example, if you have chosen Anapanasati (mindfulness of breathing) as the meditation method, you keep bringing your attention to the breath until you can keep your attention on the breath. How do you know access concentration has been established? The mind is fully with the object of meditation and, if there are any thoughts, they are wispy and in the background; they do not draw you away from the meditation object. There may also be other signs — which vary for each method. For mindfulness of breathing, the breath becomes very fine, almost undetectable when you have established access concentration.

First Jhana

Once access concentration has been established, you now induce the next factor of the first Jhana. This third factor is called piti and is variously translated as delight, euphoria, rapture and ecstasy. By shifting your attention from the meditation object to a pleasant sensation, particularly a pleasant physical sensation, and doing nothing more than not becoming distracted from the pleasant sensation, you will “automatically” enter the first Jhana. The experience is that the pleasant sensation grows in intensity until it explodes into an unmistakable state of ecstasy. This is piti, which is primarily a physical experience. Physical pleasure this intense is accompanied by emotional pleasure, and this emotional pleasure is sukha (joy, happiness), which is the fourth factor of the first Jhana. The commentaries add a fifth factor to the first Jhana — ekaggata (one-pointedness of mind). Although this factor is occasionally mentioned in the suttas, it only appears in what are considered “late” or “conglomerate” suttas. The understanding of what constitutes the first jhana has definitely undergone an evolution since the days the Buddha walked the earth. The early suttas clearly state that “unification of mind” arrives with the second jhana — leaving the first jhana as a less stable, less absorbed state than is found in the later commentaries. As far as I have been able to determine, based on my own experience, the entry into the first Jhana from a physiological perspective proceeds something like this: 1. You quiet your mind with the initial and sustained attention to the meditation object. I suspect that brain wave activity shows a noticeable decrease during access concentration. 2. By shifting your attention to a pleasant sensation, you set up a positive reinforcement feedback loop within your quiet mind. For example, one of the most useful pleasant sensations to focus on is a smile. The act of smiling generates endorphins, which make you feel good, which makes you smile more, which generates more endorphins, etc. 3. The final and most difficult part of entering the first Jhana is to not do anything but observe the pleasure. Any attempt to increase the pleasure, even any thoughts of wanting to increase the pleasure, interrupt the feedback loop and drop you into a less quiet state of mind. But by doing nothing but focusing intently on the pleasure, you are propelled into an unmistakably altered state of consciousness. For more detailed discussion of entering the first jhana, see my paper Instruction for Entering Jhana.

Second Jhana

The second Jhana also has four factors. The initial (vitakka) and sustained attention (vicara) to the meditation object cease and are replaced by unification of mind (ekodi-bhavam) and inner tranquility (ajjhattam sampasadanam). The rapture (piti) and happiness (sukha) remain but are now more mature and calmer that what is found in the first jhana. They are said to now be born of concentration (from the first jhana) rather than born of seclusion (from the access concentration). You shift from the first to the second Jhana by shifting your attention from the physical pleasure to the emotional pleasure — from the piti to the sukha. This has the effect of pushing the physical pleasure into the background and also of greatly calming the mind. The first Jhana is a very intense, agitated state; the second Jhana is much more soothing. The emotional state of joy and happiness (sukha) is now in the foreground. The commentaries speak of three factors for the second Jhana: piti, sukha and ekaggata (the one-pointedness of mind). It is true that the suttas mention piti, sukha and ekodi-bhavam (unification of mind – not ekaggata), but they also mention the arising of ajjhattam sampasadanam (the inner tranquility). These latter two replace the immature vitakka and vicara of the first Jhana generating a calmer, more stable second Jhana.

Third Jhana

The descriptions of the third Jhana mention a number of factors: equanimity, mindfulness, clear awareness, and pleasure. The piti fades away upon entry to the third Jhana; the sukha remains as pleasure, although the experience is more one of contentment than pleasure. The unification of mind and inner tranquility evolve into clear awareness and equanimity & mindfulness. You shift from the second to the third by entirely letting go of the physical pleasure and changing the emotional pleasure from joy to contentment, almost like turning down the volume control on your emotional pleasure. The second Jhana has an upwelling quality to it as the joy seems to flow through you; the third Jhana is much more of a motionless, quiet contentment. The commentaries mention only two factors for the third jhana: sukha and ekaggata. Apparently, equanimity and pleasure are subsumed into the sukha, and mindfulness and clear awareness make up theekaggata. It seems a stretch to me.

Fourth Jhana

The transition to the fourth Jhana from the third takes a bit more effort and bit more letting go than any of the previous transitions. The contentment of the third Jhana is still a positive state of mind. This contentment is refined into a neutral equanimous, quiet, stillness. There is no positive or negative feeling in either mind or body. There is just an all-pervading, deep calmness, with of course, the unified awareness. The commentaries speak of two factors for the fourth Jhana: equanimity and one-pointedness. This is accurate — the experience is of a deep, neutral calmness (which can certainly be called equanimity) by an unwavering mind. The agitation of the first Jhana has been refined first into a mind unified on happiness, then on still contentment and finally on neutral calmness. The first four Jhanas are called the fine-material Jhanas. Intense pleasure, joy, contentment and stillness are all states we are familiar with in our normal, everyday lives. But the quality and intensity of these factors as experienced in the Jhanas is more sublime than we normally experience, thus they are called the fine-material Jhanas. follow link for the next four http://www.leighb.com/jhana2a.htm

CONCLUSION

The effects of this multi-millennium old debate still affect us today, not only in not knowing what the original suttas looked like, but also in understanding the role of the Jhanas. The Jhanas are sometimes considered a dangerous practice because they are not an insight practice. The primary factor of the first Jhana is piti, and piti is mentioned as a corruption of insight in the commentaries (see, for example, the Visuddhimagga). This has been taken to mean that piti is bad, when all that is meant is that piti should not be mistaken for a non-mundane state. Theravadan Buddhism in the West has primarily come down from the Mahasi Sayadaw tradition in Burma and this tradition is a “dry insight” (non-Jhanic) tradition. Thus the Jhanas are seldom mentioned, let alone taught, in Western Theravadan Buddhist teaching. The Jhanas are also difficult to teach. Not everyone has a temperament suited to concentration practice. Even for those who find concentration easy, the Jhanas require a long silent retreat setting for learning. Far from being “secluded from unwholesome states of mind,” people who wish to learn the Jhanas are immediately thrust INTO the state of desiring something. Finally, as mentioned above, the Jhanas do not lend themselves to “book learning”; you really need one-on-one, immediate feedback from a teacher in order to aim your mind in the correct direction. The Jhanas are natural states on mind, but the lives we lead here in the 21st century are so filled that it is difficult to find the quiet, natural mind. The Jhanas are states of concentration. How to do them was common knowledge at the time of the Buddha. He practiced them, and it is clear from the suttas that they comprise right concentration. We are left with the task of fitting the Jhanas into our present spiritual practices. Perhaps between the extremes of ignoring them completely and practicing them to excess, lies the middle way of using them as a tool to sharpen the mind for insight practice.

The “Maha Teacher’s Council” “Brad Warner””Rev.Danny Fisher” and my opinion


WARNING! My opinion to follow!  ;P As most of you know I do not think my opinion belongs on a blog aimed at promoting the true, pure Buddhadharma, however  being an American Buddhist , who has been very very lucky to have found wonderful, authentic teachers and didn’t have the burden of wadeing through “Neo-Buddhism” “Feel good Buddhism” “New age Buddhism” “Buddhism without conviction” “Self Serving Mindfulness  and Meditation without Right View ” and whatever else lends itself to this movement of “Feel good Buddhism” , I feel this whole Maha Teacher Council  is just as Brad Warner put it so accurately “Oh nice. A self-selected groüp of important Büddhists get together to decide what’s best for the rest of us.”

Is there really a such thing as “American Buddhism” anyway, or has a “Maha  Teacher Council” , materialism , and egotism created this thing called American Buddhism? Buddhism is Buddhism, the Doctrine is the Doctrine, any thing else falls short.

My only experience with Buddhism is in America, I do not know what it is like in other countries, but I do know when we have councils whose attendees ( where is the entire list of attendees anyway, still looking for it, won’t someone share?)  are less than authentic, ordained Masters of the Dharma what comes out of a council will be less then the entire complete Buddha’s Doctrine, in full, which is the same in Asia, India and America.  I am an American Buddhist, can you tell that from the content in my blog? The Doctrine is the same. Don’t get me wrong, I am sure there were some authentic Master’s there , and I am  certain there were non-Buddhist discussing … well discussing what actually ?!?!? O.0 It still isn’t clear to me , even after reading Rev. Danny Fisher’s    interview with Lama Surya Das .  ( I assume Rev. Danny didn’t attend, was he invited? If not that says alot in itself, he’s an authentic American Buddhist Reverend )

Did they discuss how to raise funds for Dharma propagation in the America ? Fund books, Sutras and Sutta’s for free distribution?

Did they discuss how to raise funds to build good noble Monasteries in the America?

I really can’t think of anything else more important.

 **if you would like to fund books inquire at any noble Monastery or contact the B.A.U.S. ( Buddhist Association of America, NY ,USA ) . IBS ( International Bodhisattva Sangha  CA, USA ) is also collecting Dharma materials so they can build Buddhist libraries in prisons. Or Dharma Friends Prison Outreach Project   So many good places to fund Dharma propagation. How about supporting a new Monastery, Dong Hung Temple Buddhist Education center is building a new Monastery in Virginia USA, is also collecting books for their new libray and the last I heard Dong Hung also needed a new van as their’s was in an accident , Soshimsa Zen-Center in NJ USA is also needing a new van to be able to continue the many outreach programs planned for the future , or help support Monastics in America such as Dhammadharini “Women Upholding the Dhamma CA USA” and Alliance for Bhikkhunis CA USA and last but not least how can we forget to give back to one of our most noble Masters of the Dharma of our time, Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi’s organization Buddhist Global Relief NY, USA &WORLDWIDE.  There are many noble efforts to donate to, I regret I can not post them all.


I invite anyone who was at the “Maha Teacher’s Council” to put to rest my concerns, please prove me wrong.

In the Dharma,

Melissa Upasika (just a plain old lay person devoted to the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha)

I sincerely thank Brad Warner and MADHUSHALA for blogging their thoughts, concerns and insights  and keeping the rest of us who really wouldn’t know about this great “Maha  Teacher’s Council”  informed. I personally would not have known because I don’t read, subscribe, or give any thought to any person or publication that would have mentioned this great “Maha  Teacher’s Council”

Click for Brad Warner’s and MADHUSHALA’s original blogs on this.

Buddhism In America: What Is The Future?. written by Jaweed Kaleen of the HUFFPOST RELIGION

Now for the intent and purpose of me humiliating myself by sharing such strong opinions  I ask serious American Buddhist practitioners please read Teaching Buddhism in Americaby Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi “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. “

Two styles of insight meditation by Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi “On the basis of this choice, we find that meditators divide into two broad camps. One consists of those who focus exclusively upon the immediately tangible benefits of the practice, suspending all concern with what lies beyond the horizons of their own experience. The other consists of those who recognize that the practice flows from a source of wisdom much deeper and broader than their own. In order to follow this wisdom in the direction to which it points, such meditators are ready to subordinate their own understanding of the world to the disclosures of the teaching and embrace the Dhamma as an organic whole. These are the ones who adopt Buddhism in its religious and doctrinal sense as the framework for their practice.” Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi 

if you are new to Buddhism I suggest reading

What The Buddha Taught by Dr Walpola Rahula and go from there.

Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi on The Kalama Sutta


A Look at the Kalama Sutta 

by Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi

The discourse has been described as “the Buddha’s Charter of Free Inquiry,” and though the discourse certainly does counter the decrees of dogmatism and blind faith with a vigorous call for free investigation, it is problematic whether the sutta can support all the positions that have been ascribed to it.  On the basis of a single passage, quoted out of context, the Buddha has been made out to be a pragmatic empiricist who dismisses all doctrine and faith, and whose Dhamma is simply a freethinker’s kit to truth which invites each one to accept and reject whatever he likes. 

But does the Kalama Sutta really justify such views? Or do we meet in these claims just another set of variations on that egregious old tendency to interpret the Dhamma according to whatever notions are congenial to oneself – or to those to whom one is preaching? Let us take as careful a look at the Kalama Sutta as the limited space allotted to this essay will allow, remembering that in order to understand the Buddha’s utterances correctly it is essential to take account of his own intentions in making them.

The passage that has been cited so often runs as follows: “Come, Kalamas. Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing, nor upon tradition, nor upon rumor, nor upon scripture, nor upon surmise, nor upon axiom, nor upon specious reasoning, nor upon bias towards a notion pondered over, nor upon another’s seeming ability, nor upon the consideration ‘The monk is our teacher.’ When you yourselves know: ‘These things are bad, blamable, censured by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to harm and ill,’ abandon them. When you yourselves know: ‘These things are good, blameless, praised by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness,’ enter on and abide in them.”

Now this passage, like everything else spoken by the Buddha, has been stated in a specific context – with a particular audience and situation in view – and thus must be understood in relation to that context. The Kalamas, citizens of the town ofKesaputta, had been visited by religious teachers of divergent views, each of whom would propound his own doctrines and tear down the doctrines of his predecessors. This left the Kalamas perplexed, and thus when “the recluse Gotama,” reputed to be an Awakened One, arrived in their township, they approached him in the hope that he might be able to dispel their confusion. From the subsequent development of the sutta, it is clear that the issues that perplexed them were the reality of rebirth and kammic retribution for good and evil deeds.

The Buddha begins by assuring the Kalamas that under such circumstances it is proper for them to doubt, an assurance which encourages free inquiry. He next speaks the passage quoted above, advising the Kalamas to abandon those things they know for themselves to be bad and to undertake those things they know for themselves to be good. This advice can be dangerous if given to those whose ethical sense is undeveloped, and we can thus assume that the Buddha regarded the Kalamas as people of refined moral sensitivity. In any case he did not leave them wholly to their own resources, but by questioning them led them to see that greed, hate and delusion, being conducive to harm and suffering for oneself and others, are to be abandoned, and their opposites, being beneficial to all, are to be developed.

The Buddha next explains that a “noble disciple, devoid of covetousness and ill will, undeluded” dwells pervading the world with boundless loving-kindness, compassion, appreciative joy and equanimity. Thus purified of hate and malice, he enjoys here and now four “solaces”: If there is an afterlife and kammic result, then he will undergo a pleasant rebirth, while if there is none he still lives happily here and now; if evil results befall an evil-doer, then no evil will befall him, and if evil results do not befall an evil-doer, then he is purified anyway. With this the Kalamas express their appreciation of the Buddha’s discourse and go for refuge to the Triple Gem.

Now does the Kalama Sutta suggest, as is often held, that a follower of the Buddhist path can dispense with all faith and doctrine, that he should make his own personal experience the criterion for judging the Buddha’s utterances and for rejecting what cannot be squared with it? It is true the Buddha does not ask the Kalamas to accept anything he says out of confidence in himself, but let us note one important point: the Kalamas, at the start of the discourse, were not the Buddha’s disciples. They approached him merely as a counselor who might help dispel their doubts, but they did not come to him as the Tathagata, the Truth-finder, who might show them the way to spiritual progress and to final liberation.

Thus, because the Kalamas had not yet come to accept the Buddha in terms of his unique mission, as the discloser of the liberating truth, it would not have been in place for him to expound to them the Dhamma unique to his own Dispensation: such teachings as the Four Noble Truths, the three characteristics, and the methods of contemplation based upon them. These teachings are specifically intended for those who have accepted the Buddha as their guide to deliverance, and in the suttas he expounds them only to those who “have gained faith in the Tathagata” and who possess the perspective necessary to grasp them and apply them. The Kalamas, however, at the start of the discourse are not yet fertile soil for him to sow the seeds of his liberating message. Still confused by the conflicting claims to which they have been exposed, they are not yet clear even about the groundwork of morality.

Nevertheless, after advising the Kalamas not to rely upon established tradition, abstract reasoning, and charismatic gurus, the Buddha proposes to them a teaching that is immediately verifiable and capable of laying a firm foundation for a life of moral discipline and mental purification . He shows that whether or not there be another life after death, a life of moral restraint and of love and compassion for all beings brings its own intrinsic rewards here and now, a happiness and sense of inward security far superior to the fragile pleasures that can be won by violating moral principles and indulging the mind’s desires. For those who are not concerned to look further, who are not prepared to adopt any convictions about a future life and worlds beyond the present one, such a teaching will ensure their present welfare and their safe passage to a pleasant rebirth – provided they do not fall into the wrong view of denying an afterlife and kammic causation.

However, for those whose vision is capable of widening to encompass the broader horizons of our existence. this teaching given to the Kalamas points beyond its immediate implications to the very core of the Dhamma. For the three states brought forth for examination by the Buddha – greed, hate and delusion – are not merely grounds of wrong conduct or moral stains upon the mind. Within his teaching’s own framework they are the root defilements — the primary causes of all bondage and suffering – and the entire practice of the Dhamma can be viewed as the task of eradicating these evil roots by developing to perfection their antidotes — dispassion, kindness and wisdom.

Thus the discourse to the Kalamas offers an acid test for gaining confidence in the Dhamma as a viable doctrine of deliverance. We begin with an immediately verifiable teaching whose validity can be attested by anyone with the moral integrity to follow it through to its conclusions, namely, that the defilements cause harm and suffering both personal and social, that their removal brings peace and happiness, and that the practices taught by the Buddha are effective means for achieving their removal. By putting this teaching to a personal test, with only a provisional trust in the Buddha as one’s collateral, one eventually arrives at a firmer, experientially grounded confidence in the liberating and purifying power of the Dhamma. This increased confidence in the teaching brings along a deepened faith in the Buddha as teacher, and thus disposes one to accept on trust those principles he enunciates that are relevant to the quest for awakening, even when they lie beyond one’s own capacity for verification. This, in fact, marks the acquisition of right view, in its preliminary role as the forerunner of the entire Noble Eightfold Path.

Partly in reaction to dogmatic religion, partly in subservience to the reigning paradigm of objective scientific knowledge, it has become fashionable to hold, by appeal to the Kalama Sutta, that the Buddha’s teaching dispenses with faith and formulated doctrine and asks us to accept only what we can personally verify. This interpretation of the sutta, however, forgets that the advice the Buddha gave the Kalamas was contingent upon the understanding that they were not yet prepared to place faith in him and his doctrine; it also forgets that the sutta omits, for that very reason, all mention of right view and of the entire perspective that opens up when right view is acquired. It offers instead the most reasonable counsel on wholesome living possible when the issue of ultimate beliefs has been

put into brackets.

What can be justly maintained is that those aspects of the Buddha’s teaching that come within the purview of our ordinary experience can be personally confirmed within experience, and that this confirmation provides a sound basis for placing faith in those aspects of the teaching that necessarily transcend ordinary experience. Faith in the Buddha’s teaching is never regarded as an end in itself nor as a sufficient guarantee of liberation, but only as the starting point for an evolving process of inner transformation that comes to fulfillment in personal insight. But in order for this insight to exercise a truly liberative function, it must unfold in the context of an accurate grasp of the essential truths concerning our situation in the world and the domain where deliverance is to be sought. These truths have been imparted to us by the Buddha out of his own profound comprehension of the human condition. To accept them in trust after careful consideration is to set foot on a journey which transforms faith into wisdom, confidence into certainty, and culminates in liberation from suffering.

source   

link to The Kalama Sutta translated from the Pali byThanissaro Bhikkhu

link to The Kalama Sutta Translated from the Pali by Ven. Soma Thera 

PRELIMINARIES TO THE METHOD OF CH’AN TRAINING Master Hsu Yun


PRELIMINARIES TO THE METHOD OF TRAINING

Master Hsu Yun

Master Hsu Yun

There are many kinds of method but I will deal briefly with them.

PREREQUISITES OF THE PERFORMANCE OF RELIGIOUS DUTY

(1) Firm belief in the (law of) causality

Whoever One may be, especially if striving to perform one’s religious duty, one should believe firmly in the law of causality. If one lacks this belief and does whatever one likes, not only will one fail in the performance of religious duty, but also there will be no escape from this law (of causality) even in the three unhappy ways.[1] An ancient master said: ‘If one wishes to know the causes formed in a previous life, one can find them in how one fares in the present life; if one wishes to know the effects in the next life, one can find them in one’s deeds in the present life.’ He also said: ‘The karma of our deeds will never be wiped out even after hundreds and thousands of aeons (but) as soon as conditions become ripe, we will have to bear the effects ourselves.’ The Surangama Sutra says: ‘If the causal ground is not a true one, the ripening (fruit) will be distorted’ Therefore, when one sows a good cause, one will reap a good fruit (and) when one sows an evil cause, one will reap an evil fruit; when one sows melon (seeds) one will gather melons (and) when one sows beans, one will gather beans. This is the plain truth. As I am talking about the law of causality, I will tell you two stories to illustrate it.

The first story is about the massacre of the Sakya clansmen by the Crystal King (Virudhaka).[2] Before the advent of Sakyamuni Buddha, there was near Kapila town a village inhabited by fishermen, and in it was a big pond. It happened that because of a great drought, the pond ran dry and all the fish were caught and eaten by the villagers. The last fish taken was a big one and before it was killed, a boy who never ate fish, played with it and thrice knocked its head. Later, after Sakyamuni Buddha’s appearance in this world, King Prasenajit[3] who believed in the Buddha-dharma, married a Sakya girl who then gave birth to a prince called Crsytal. When he was young, Crystal had his schooling in Kapila which was then inhabited by the Sakya clansmen. One day while playing, the boy ascended to the Buddha’s seat and was reprimanded by others who dragged him down. The boy cherished a grudge against the men and when he became king, he led his soldiers to attack Kapila, killing all its inhabitants. At the same time, the Buddha suffered from a headache which lasted three days. When His disciples asked Him to rescue the poor inhabitants, the Buddha replied that a fixed Karma could not be changed. By means of his miraculous powers, Maudgalyayana[4] rescued five hundred Sakya clansmen and thought he could give them refuge in his own bowl which was raised up in the air. When the bowl was brought down, all the men had been turned into blood. When asked by His chief disciples, the Buddha related the story (kung an) of the villagers who in days gone by had killed all the fish (in their pond); King Crystal had been the big fish and his soldiers the other fish in the pond; the inhabitants of Kapila who were now killed had been those who ate the fish; and the Buddha Himself had been the boy who thrice knocked the head of the big fish. (Karma was) now causing Him to suffer from a headache for three days in retribution for his previous act. Since there colud be no escape from the effects of a fixed Karma, the five hundred Sakya clansmen, although rescued by Maudgalyayana, shared the same fate. Later, King Crystal was reborn in a hell. (As cause produces effect which in turn becomes a new cause) the retribution (theory) is inexhaustible. The law of causality is really very dreadful.

The second story is that of (Ch’an master) Pai Chang who liberated a wild fox.[5] One day, after a Ch’an meeting, although all his disciples had retired, the old master Pai Chang noticed an elderly man who remained behind. Pai Chang asked the man what he was doing and he replied: ‘I am not a human being but the spirit of a wild fox. In my previous life, I was the head-monk of this place. One day, a monk asked me, “Does a man practicing self-cultivation, still become involved in the (theory of) retribution?” I replied, “No, he is free from the (theory of) retribution.” For this (reply) alone, I got involved in retribution and have now been the spirit of a wild fox for five hundred years, and am still unable to get away from it. Will the master be compassionate enough to enlighten me on all this?’ Pai Chang said to the old man: ‘Ask me the same question (and I will explain it to you).’ The man then said to the master: ‘I wish to ask the master this: Does one who practices self cultivation still get involved in the (theory of) retribution?’ Pai Chang replied: ‘He is not blind to cause and effect.’ Thereupon, the old man was greatly awakened; he prostrated himself before the master to thank him and said: ‘I am indebted to you for your (appropriate) reply to the question and am now liberated from the fox’s body.[6] I live in a (small) grotto on the mountain behind and hope you will grant me the usual rites for a dead monk.’ The following day, Pai Chang went to a mountain behind (his monastery), where in a (small) grotto he probed the ground with his staff and discovered a dead fox for whom the usual funeral rites for a dead monk were held.

(Dear) friends, after listening to these two stories, you will realize that the law of causality is indeed a dreadful (thing). Even after His attainment of Buddhahood, the Buddha still suffered a headache in retribution (for His former act). Retribution is infallible and fixed karma is inescapable. So we should always be heedful of all this and should be very careful about creating (new) causes.

(2) Strict observance if the rules of discipline (commandment)

In striving to perform one’s religious duty, the first thing is to observe the rules of discipline. For discipline is the fundamental of the Supreme Bodhi; discipline begets immutability and immutability begets wisdom. There is no such thing as self-cultivation without observance of the rules of discipline. The Surangama Sutra which lists four kinds of purity, clearly teaches us that cultivation of Samadhi (-mind) without observance of the rules of discipline, will not wipe out the dust (impurities). Even if there be manifestation of much knowledge with dhyana, this also will cause a fall into (the realm of) maras (evil demons) and heretics. Therefore, we know that observance of the rules of discipline is very important. A man observing them is supported and protected by dragon-kings and devas, and respected and feared by maras and heretics. A man breaking the rules of discipline is called a big robber by the ghosts who make a clean sweep of even his footprints. Formerly, in Kubhana state (Kashmir), there was nearby a monastery a poisonous dragon which frequently played havoc in the region. (In the monastery) five hundred arhats gathered together but failed to drive away the dragon with their collective power of Dhyana-samadhi. Later, a monk came (to the monastery) where he did not enter into Dhyana-samadhi; he merely said to the poisonous dragon: ‘Will the wise and virtuous one leave this place and go to some distant one.’ Thereupon, the poisonous dragon fled to a distant place. When asked by the arhats what miraculous power he had used to drive away the dragon, the monk replied: ‘I did not use the power of Dhyana-samadhi; I am only very careful about keeping the rules of discipline and I observe a minor one with the same care as a major one.’ So, we can see that the collective power of five hundred arhats’ Dhyana–samadhi cannot compare with a monk’s strict observance of the rules of discipline.
If you (retort and) ask me (why) the Sixth Patriarch said:

‘Why should discipline be observed if the mind is (already) impartial?
Why should straightforward men practice Ch’an ?’[7]

I will ask you back this question: ‘Is your mind already impartial and straightforward; if the (lady) Ch’ang O came down from the moon[8] with her naked body and embraced you in her arms, would your heart remain undisturbed; and if someone without any reason insults and beats you, will you not give rise to feelings of anger and resentment? Can you refrain from differentiating between enmity and affection, between hate and love, between self and other, and between right and wrong? If you can do all this, then you can open your mouth widely to talk, otherwise it is useless to tell a deliberate lie.’

(3) A firm faith

A firm believing mind is the fundamental of one’s training for performing one’s religious duty, because faith is the mother (or begetter) of the beginning (or source) of right doctrine, and because without faith, no good will derive therefrom. If we want to be liberated from (the round of) births and deaths, we must first have a firm believing mind. The Buddha said that all living beings on earth had (inherent in them) the meritorious Tathagata wisdom which they could not realize solely because of their false thinking and grasping. He also expounded all kinds of Dharma doors (to enlightenment) to cure (all kinds of) ailments from which living beings suffered. We should, therefore, believe that his words are not false and that all living beings can attain Buddhahood. But why have we failed to attain Buddhahood? It is because we have not gone into training according to the (correct) method. For example, we believe and know that bean curd can be made with soybean but if we do not start making it, soybean cannot turn into bean curd (for us). Now assuming that soybean is used for making bean curd, we shall still fail to make it if we do not know how to mix it with gypsum. If we know the method, we will grind the soybean (put the powder in water), boil it, take out the bean grounds and add a suitable quantity of gypsum powder; thus we will certainly get bean curd. Likewise, in the performance of our religious duty, Buddhahood will be unattainable not only because of lack of training, but also because of training not in conformity with the (correct) method. If our self-cultivation is practiced according to the (correct) method, without either backsliding or regret, we are bound to attain Buddhahood.

Therefore, we should firmly believe that fundamentally we are Buddhas, we should also firmly believe that self-cultivation performed according to the (correct) method is bound to result in the attainment of Buddha-hood. Master Yung Chia said (in his Song of Enlightenment):

‘When the real is attained, neither ego nor dharma exist,
And in a moment the avici karma[9] is eradicated.
If knowingly I lie to deceive living beings, my tongue
Will be pulled out for aeons uncountable as dust and sand.’[10]

The old master was very compassionate and took this boundless vow to urge those coming after him to develop a firm believing mind.

(4) Adoption of the method of training

After one has developed a firm faith, one should choose a Dharma door (to enlightenment) for one’s training. One should never change it, and when one’s choice has been made, either for repetition of the Buddha’s name, or for holding a mantra, or for Ch’an training, one should stick to it for ever without backsliding and regret. If today the method does not prove successful, tomorrow it shall be continued; if this year it does not prove successful, next year it shall be continued; and if in the present lifetime it does not prove successful, it shall be continued in the next life. The old master Kuei Shan said: ‘If one practices it in each succeeding reincarnation, the Buddha-stage can be expected.’ There are some people who are irresolute in their decisions; today after hearing a learned man praise the repetition of Buddha’s name, they decide to repeat it for a couple of days and tomorrow, after hearing another learned man praise Ch’an training, they will try it for another two days. If they like to play in this manner, they will go on doing so until their death without succeeding in getting any result. Is it not a pity?

METHOD OF CH’AN TRAINING

Athough there are many Dharma doors (to enlightenment), the Buddha, Patriarchs and Ancestors[11] were agreed that the Ch’an training was the unsurpassed wonderful door. In the Surangama assembly, the Buddha ordered Manjusri to choose between the (various modes of) complete enlightenment, and (he chose) Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva’s (method) of using the faculty of hearing, as the best. When we turn back the hearing to hear our self-nature, this is (one of the methods of) Ch’an training. This place is a Ch’an hall in which we should discuss this Ch’an training.

ESSENTIALS OF CH’AN TRAINING

Our daily activities are performed within the truth itself. Is there a place that is not a Bodhimandala?[12] Fundamentally a Ch’an hall is out of place; moreover Ch’an does not mean sitting (in meditation). The so-called Ch’an hall and the so-called Ch’an sitting are only provided for people (who encounter) insurmountable obstructions (of their own) and who are of shallow wisdom in this period of decadence (of the Dharma).

When one sits in this training, one’s body and mind should be well controlled. If they are not well controlled a small harm will be illness and a great harm will be entanglement with the demon, which is most regrettable. In the Ch’an hall, when incense sticks are burned for your walking or sitting, the aim is to ensure the control of body and mind. Besides this, there are many ways to control body and mind, but I will deal briefly with the essential ones.

When sitting in Ch’an meditation, the correct position is the natural one. The waist should not be pushed forward, for to do so is to pull upward the inner heat with the result that after the sitting, there will be tears, bad breath, uneasy respiration, loss of appetite and even vomiting of blood. Neither should the waist be drawn backward with dropped head, for this can easily cause dullness. As soon as dullness is felt, the meditator should open his eyes wide, pull up his waist and gently shake his buttocks, and dullness will disappear automatically.

If the training is undergone in hot haste, one will feel a certain annoying dryness in the chest. In this case, it will be advisable to stop the training for the time a half-inch of the incense stick takes to burn, and resume when one feels at ease again. If one does not proceed in this manner, one will, as time goes on, develop a hot and excitable character, and in the worst case, one may thereby become insane or get entangled with demons.

When the Ch’an sitting (in meditation) becomes effective, there will be (mental) states which are too many to enumerate, but if you do not cling to them, they will not hinder you. This is just what the proverb says: ‘Don’t wonder at the wonderful and the wonderful will be in full retreat.’ Even if you see evil spirits of all kinds coming to disturb you, you should take no notice of them and you should not be afraid of them. Even if Sakyamuni Buddha comes to lay His hand on your head[13] and prophesies (your future Buddhahood) you should not take any notice of all this and should not be delighted by it. The Surangama Sutra says: ‘A perfect state is that in which the mind is undisturbed by the saintly; an interpretation of the saintly is entanglement with all demons.’

The Ch’an Training
From the Hsu Yun Ho Shang Fa Hui
Tr. Lu K’uan Yu (Charles Luk)

[1]By going to (a) the hell of fire, (b) the hell of blood, where the inhabitants devour each other like animals and (c) the Asipattra hell of swords, where the leaves and grass are sharp-edged swords.

[2]This story was related by the Buddha himself.

[3]King of Sravasti and a contemporary of the Buddha. He was killed by his son, Virudhaka, known as the Crystal King and the Evil Born King, who supplanted him.

[4] Maha-Maudgalyayana, or Maudgalaputra, was one of the ten chief disciples of the Buddha, and was specially noted for his miraculous power; formerly an ascetic, he agreed with Sariputra that whichever first found the truth would reveal it to the other. Sariputra found the Buddha and brought Maudgalyayana to Him; the former is placed on His right, the latter on His left.

[5]This story is recorded in ‘The Transmission of the Lamp’ (Ching Te Ch’uan Teng Lu) and other Ch’an collections.

[6]In his previous life. the old monk had already succeeded in disentangling his mind (from its attachment to the phenomenal. However, he could not get away from Samsara because of the karma of misguiding his former disciple about retribution. In his present transmigration, he had realized a singleness of mind about leaving the world of animals and had thereby acquired the occult power of transforming his fox’s body into that of an old man. However, he still clung to the dual view of the existence of ego (subject) and fox (object) and could not free himself from this last bondage. Pai Chang’s words had a tremendous effect on the old man, releasing his mind from his doubt about his self-nature which fundamentally was pure and contained neither cause nor effect. Being free from this last bond, his self-nature now returned to normal and could function without further handicap; it could hear the master’s voice by means of its function. When function operated normally, its essence manifested itself; hence enlightenment.

[7]See ‘The Altar Sutra of the Six Patriarch,’ Chapter 3.

[8]The name of a very beautiflil lady who, according to a popular tale, stole the elixir of life and fled with it to the moon where she was changed into a frog.

[9]Avici is the last and deepest of the eight hells, where the culprits suffer, die, and are instantly reborn to suffering without interruption.

[10]As punishment for verbal sins.

[11]The Patriarchs are the six Patriarchs of China. The Ancestors are the great Ch’an Masters who came after the Patriarchs. Hsu Yun is now called an Ancestor.

[12]Bodhimandala: truth-plot, holy site, place of enlightenment.

[13]A custom of Buddha in teaching His disciples, from which the burning of spots on the head of a monk is said to have originated. The eventual vision of the Buddha is merely an impure creation of the deluded mind and does not really represent Him in His Dharmakaya which is inconceivable. Many meditators mistake such visions for the real and become involved with demons. (See Surangama Sutra.)

“Develop a skilful and progressive mind” Lecture, Master Hsu Yun ,Shanghai 1953


“Develop a skilful and progressive mind”

Master Hsu Yun 1840 - 1959

Lecture

Master Hsu Yun Shanghai 1953

If all of us develop a skilful and progressive mind in quest of the truth, we will all be awakened to it. The ancients said:

“It is easy for a worldly man to win Buddhahood,
(But) hard indeed is it to bring wrong thinking to an end.”

It is only because of our insatiable desires since the time without beginning that we now drift about in the sea of mortality, within which there are 84,000 passions and all sorts of habits which we cannot wipe out. (In consequence), we are unable to attain the truth and to be like Buddhas and Bodhisattvas who are permanently enlightened and are free from delusion. For this reason, (Master) Lien Ch’ih said:

It is easy to be caught up in the causes of pollution,[73]
(But) to earn truth producing karma is most hard.[74]
If you cannot see behind what can be seen,
Differentiated are (concurrent) causes,
(Around you) are but objects which, like gusts of wind,
Destroy the crop of merits (you have sown).[75]
The passions of the mind e’er burst in flames,
Destroying seeds of Bodhi (in the heart).
If recollection[76] of the truth be as (intense as) passion,
Buddhahood will quickly be attained.
If you treat others as you treat the self;
All will be settled (to your satisfaction).
If self is not right and others are not wrong,
Lords and their servants will respect each other.
If the Buddha-dharma’s constantly before one,
From all passions this is liberation.

How clear and how to the point are these lines! The (word) pollution means (the act of) making unclean. The realm of worldly men is tainted with desires of wealth, sensuality, fame and gain as well as anger and dispute. To them, the two words “religion” and “virtue” are only obstacles. Every day, they give way to pleasure, anger, sorrow and joy and long for wealth, honor, glory and prosperity. Because they cannot eliminate worldly passions, they are unable to give rise to a single thought of the truth. In consequence, the grove of merits is ruined and all seeds of Bodhi are destroyed. If they are indifferent to all worldly passions; if they give equal treatment to friends and foes; if they refrain from killing, stealing, committing adultery, lying and drinking intoxicating liquors; if they are impartial to all living beings; if they regard other people’s hunger as their own; if they regard other people’s drowning as if they get drowned themselves; and if they develop the Bodhi mind, they will be in agreement with the truth and will also be able to attain Buddhahood at a stroke. For this reason, it is said: “If recollection of the truth be (as intense) as passions, Buddhahood will quickly be attained.” All Buddhas and saints appear in the world to serve the living, by rescuing them from suffering, by bestowing happiness upon them and by aiding them out of pity.

We can practice self-denial as well as compassion for others, thus foregoing all sorts of enjoyment. (if we can do so), no one will have to endure suffering and there will remain nothing that cannot be accomplished. It will follow that we will be able to obtain the full fruit of our reward, in the same manner as a boat rises automatically with the tide. When dealing with others, if you have a compassionate and respectful mind, and are without self-importance, arrogance and deception, they will certainly receive you with respect and courtesy. On the other hand, if you rely on your abilities and are unreasonable, or if you are double-faced aiming only at (your own enjoyment of) sound, form, fame and wealth, the respect with which they may receive you, will not be real. For this reason, Confucius said: “If you respect others, they will always respect you. If you have sympathy for others, they will always have sympathy for you.

The Sixth Patriarch said:

Although their faults are theirs and are not ours, should we discriminate, we too are wrong. “[77]

Therefore, we should not develop a mind which discriminates between right and wrong and between self and others. If we serve other people in the same manner as Buddhas and Bodhisattvas did, we will be able to sow Bodhi seeds everywhere and will reap the most excellent fruits. Thus, passions will never be able to hold us in bondage.

The twelve divisions of the Mahayana’s Tripitaka were expounded by the World Honored One because of our three poisons, concupiscence, anger and stupidity. Therefore, the aims of the twelve divisions of this Tripitaka are: discipline (s’ila) imperturbability (samadhi) and wisdom (prajna). Their purpose is to enable us to wipe out our desires, to embrace (the four infinite Buddha states of mind): kindness (maitri), pity (karuna), joy (mudita)[78] and indifference (upeksa)[79] and all modes of salvation,[80] to eliminate the delusion of ignorance and the depravity of stupidity, to achieve the virtue of complete wisdom and to embellish the meritorious Dharmakarya. If we can take such a line of conduct, the Lotus treasury[81] will appear everywhere.

[73] Nidina or cause of pollution, which connects illusion with the karmic miseries of reincarnation.

[74] Good karma which leads to enlightenment.

[75] Accumulation of merits leading to realization of the truth.

[76] Smrti in Sanskrit.

[77] Quotation from a hymn chanted by the Sixth Patriarch-(Cf. Altar Sutra, Chapter II).

[78] Joy on seeing others rescued from suffering.

[79] Rising above these emotions, or giving up all things, e.g. distinctions of friend and foe, love and hatred, etc.

[80] The Six Paramitas are: dana (charity), sila (discipline), ksanti (patience or endurance), virya (zeal and progress), dhyana (meditation) and prajna (wisdom).

[81] Lotus treasury: Lotus store, or Lotus world, thePureLandof all Buddhas in their Sambhogakaya, or Reward bodies.

Passage taken from:

Daily Lectures at Two Ch’an Weeks – I
given at the Jade Buddha Monastery, Shanghai, in 1953
(From the Hsu Yun Ho Shang Nien P’u)
Tr. Lu K’uan Yu (Charles Luk)

Chapter X. His Final Instructions // Hui Neng


 

SUTRA SPOKEN BY THE SIXTH PATRIARCH ON THE HIGH SEAT OF “THE TREASURE OF THE LAW”  HUI NENG 

Chapter X. His Final Instructions

 

On the 1st day of the 7th Moon, the Patriarch assembled his disciples and addressed them as follows:–

 

“I am going to leave this world by the 8th Moon. Should you have any doubts (on the doctrine) please ask me in time, so that I can clear them up for you. You may find no one to teach you after my departure.”

 

The sad news moved Fa Hai and other disciples to tears. Shen Hui, on the other hand, remained unperturbed. Commending him, the Patriarch said, “Young Master Shen Hui is the only one here who has attained that state of mind which sees no difference in good or evil, knows neither sorrow nor happiness, and is unmoved by praise or blame. After so many years’ training in this mountain, what progress have you made? What are you crying for now? Are you worrying for me because I do not know whither I shall go? But I do know; otherwise I could not tell you beforehand what will happen. What makes you cry is that you don’t know whither I am going. If you did, there would be no occasion for you to cry. In Suchness (Tathata) there is neither coming nor going, neither becoming nor cessation. Sit down, all of you, and let me read you a stanza on reality and illusion, and on Motion and Quietude. Read it, and your opinion will accord with mine. Practice it, and you will grasp the aim and object of our School.”

 

The assembly made obeisance and asked the Patriarch to let them hear the stanza, which read as follows:–

 

In all things there is nothing real,And so we should free ourselves from the concept of the reality of objects.

He who believes in the reality of objects

Is bound by this very concept, which is entirely illusive.

He who realizes the ‘Reality’ (i.e.,Essence of Mind) within himself

Knows that the ‘True Mind’ is to be sought apart from false phenomena.

If one’s mind is bound by illusive phenomena

Where is Reality to be found, when all phenomena are unreal?

Sentient beings are mobile;

Inanimate objects are stationary.

He who trains himself by exercise to be motionless

(Gets no benefit) other than making himself as still as an inanimate object.

Should you the find true type Immobility

There is Immobility within Activity.

Immobility alone (like that of inanimate objects) is immobility (and not Dhyana),

And in inanimate objects the seed of Buddhahood is not to be found.

He who is adept in the discrimination of various Dharmalaksana

Abides immovably in the ‘First Principle’ (Nirvana).

Thus are all things to be perceived,

And this is the functioning of Tathata (Suchness).

Treaders of the Path,

Exert yourself and take heed

That as followers of the Mahayana School

You do not embrace that sort of knowledge

Which binds you to the wheel of birth and death.

With those who are sympathetic

Let us have discussion on Buddhism.

As for those whose point of view differs from ours

Let us treat them politely and thus make them happy.

(But) disputes are alien to our School,

For they are incompatible with its doctrine.

To be bigoted and to argue with others in disregard of this rule
Is to subjects one’s Essence of Mind to the bitterness of mundane existence.

Having heard this stanza, the assembly made obeisance in a body. In accordance with the wishes of the Patriarch, they concentrated their minds to put the stanza into actual practice, and refrained from religious controversy.

Seeing that the Patriarch would pass away in the near future, the head Monk, Fa Hai, after prostrating himself twice asked, “Sir, upon your entering Nirvana, who will be the inheritor of the robe and the Dharma?”

 

“All my sermons,” replied the Patriarch, “from the time I preached in Da Fan monastery, may be copied out for circulation in a volume to be entitled ‘Sutra Spoken on the High Seat of the Treasure of the Law’. (Dharmaratha) Take good care of it and hand it down from one generation to another for the salvation of all sentient beings. He who preaches in accordance with its teachings preaches the Orthodox Dharma.

 

“So much for the Dharma. As to transmission of the robe, this practice is to be discontinued. Why? Because you all have implicit faith in my teaching, and being free from all doubts you are able to carry out the lofty object of our School. Furthermore, according to the implied meaning of the stanza by Bodhidharma, the first Patriarch, on Dharma transmission, the robe need not be handed down to posterity. The stanza reads:–

 

The object of my coming to this land (i.e., China)Is to transmit the Dharma for the deliverance of those under delusion.

In five petals the flowers will be complete.

Thereafter, the fruit will come to bearing naturally.

The Patriarch added, “Learned Audience, purify your minds and listen to me. He who wishes to attain the All-knowing Knowledge of a Buddha should know the ‘Samadhi of Specific Object’ and the ‘Samadhi of Specific Mode’. In all circumstances we should free ourselves from attachment to objects, and our attitude towards them should be neutral and indifferent. Let neither success nor failure, neither profit nor loss, worry us. Let us be calm and serene, modest and accommodating, simple and dispassionate. Such is the ‘Samadhi of Specific Object’. On all occasions, whether we are standing, walking, sitting or reclining, let us be absolutely straightforward. Then, remaining in our sanctuary, and without the least movement, we shall virtually be in the Kingdom of Pure Land. Such is the ‘Samadhi of Specific Mode’.

“He who is complete with these two forms of Samadhi may be likened to the ground with seeds sown therein. Covered up in the mud, the seeds receive nourishment therefrom and grow until the fruit comes into bearing.

 

“My preaching to you now may be likened to the seasonable rain which brings moisture to a vast area of land. The Buddha-nature within you may be likened to the seed which, being moistened by the rain, will grow rapidly. He who carries out my instructions will certainly attain Bodhi. He who follows my teaching will certainly attain the superb fruit (of Buddhahood). Listen to my stanza:–

 

Buddha-seeds latent in our mindWill sprout upon the coming of the all-pervading rain.

The ‘flower’ of the doctrine having been intuitively grasped,

One is bound to reap the fruit of Enlightenment.

Then he added, “The Dharma is non-dual and so is the mind. The Path is pure and above all forms. I warn you not to use those exercises for meditation on quietude or for keeping the mind a blank. The mind is by nature pure, so there is nothing for us to crave for or give up. Do your best, each of you, and go wherever circumstances lead.”

Thereupon the disciples made obeisance and withdrew.


 

Buddhist Nun Arrested After Handing Out Prayer Beads on Canal Street | Tricycle


Buddhist Nun Arrested After Handing Out Prayer Beads on Canal Street | Tricycle.

‎”Li was issued a desk appearance ticket and ordered to appear in Midtown Community Court on July 7. If convicted, she could face up to three months in jail and a $3,000 fine.
Her attorney, Robert Brown, said he agreed to take Li’s case pro bono after hearing her story.”

Update:
“I am told that the temple Baojing Li is raising money for is the Pu Xian Temple. If you would like to support Baojing Li’s work and make a donation, checks payable to the Atlanta Pu Xian Buddhist Association, Inc, can be sent to 3140 Shallowford Pl, Atlanta, GA 30341. Their phone number is 678-436-3607.”-Tricycle

Update 2:
“I am also told her name isn’t Baojing Li! Her name is Venerable Hong Yuan.”-Tricycle

READ MORE

Children Buddhist Songs by Yeo Seng Poh


D-KIDZ

Please follow link for dear Yeo Seng Poh’s (Daniel’s) lovely Buddhist songs for children, sung by childern (English) at D-KIDZ 

His gift of musical talent is very useful, thoughtful and a beautiful way to spread the Dharma to our children.

The website also has a list of useful Dharma links for parents, children and teachers.

I wish my friend much success in his noble endeavor.
_/\_ Namo Buddhaya
Melissa Upasika

 “The gift of Dharma surpasses all gifts.” -Dhammapada 354

Chapter VI. On Repentance SUTRA SPOKEN BY THE SIXTH PATRIARCH ON THE HIGH SEAT OF “THE TREASURE OF THE LAW”


SUTRA SPOKEN BY THE SIXTH PATRIARCH ON THE HIGH SEAT OF “THE TREASURE OF THE LAW”
Chapter VI. On Repentance

Once there was a big gathering of scholars and commoners from Guangzhou, Shao Zhou, and other places to wait upon the Patriarch to preach to them. Seeing this, the Patriarch mounted the pulpit and delivered the following address:–
In Buddhism, we should start from our Essence of Mind. At all times let us purify our own mind from one Ksana to another, tread the Path by our own efforts, realize our own Dharmakaya, realize the Buddha in our own mind, and deliver ourselves by a personal observance of Silas; then your visit will not have been in vain. Since all of you have come from afar, the fact of our meeting here shows that there is a good affinity between us. Now let us sit down in the Indian fashion, and I will give you the ‘Formless’ Repentence.

When they had sat down, the Patriarch continued:– The first is the Sila Incense, which means that our mind is free from taints of misdeeds, evil jealousy, avarice, anger, spoliation, and hatred. The second is the Samadhi Incense, which means that our mind is unperturbed in all circumstances, favorable or unfavorable. The third is the Prajna Incense, which means that our mind is free from all impediments, that we constantly introspect our Essence of Mind with wisdom, that we refrain from doing all kinds of evil deeds, that although we do all kinds of good acts, yet we do not let our mind become attached to (the fruits) of such actions, and that we are respectful towards our superiors, considerate to our inferiors, and sympathetic to the destitute and the poor. The fourth is the Incense of Liberation, this means that our mind is in such an absolutely free state that it clings to nothing and concerns itself neither with good nor evil. The fifth is the Incense of ‘Knowledge obtained on the Attainment of Liberation.’ When our mind clings to neither good nor evil we should take care not to let it dwell upon vacuity, or remain in a state of inertia. Rather should we enlarge our study and broaden our knowledge, so that we can know our own mind, understand thoroughly the principles of Buddhism, be congenial to others in our dealings with them, get rid of the idea of ‘self’ and that of ‘being’, and realize that up to the time when we attain Bodhi the ‘true nature’ (or Essence of Mind) is always immutable. Such, then, is the Incense of ‘Knowledge obtained on the Attainment of Liberation.’ This five-fold Incense fumigates us from within, and we should not look for it from without.

Now I will give you the ‘Formless’ Repentance which will expiate our sins committed in our present, past, and future lives, and purify our Karmas of thought, word and deed.

Learned Audience, please follow me and repeat together what I say.

May we, disciples so and so, be always free from the taints of ignorance and delusion. We repent of all our sins and evil deeds committed under delusion or in ignorance. May they be expiated at once and may they never arise again.

May we be always free from the taints of arrogance and dishonesty (Sathya). We repent of all our arrogant behavior and dishonest dealings in the past. May they be expiated at once and may they never arise again.

May we be always free from the taints of envy and jealousy. We repent of all our sins and evil deeds committed in an envious or jealous spirit. May they be expiated at once and may they never arise again.

Learned Audience, this is what we call ‘Formless Chan Hui’ (repentance). Now what is the meaning of Chan and Hui (Ksamayati)? Chan refers to the repentance of past sins. To repent of all our past sins and evil deeds committed under delusion, ignorance, arrogance, dishonesty, jealousy, or envy, etc., so as to put an end to all of them is called Chan. Hui refers to that part of repentance concerning our future conduct. Having realized the nature of our transgression (we make a vow) that hereafter we will put an end to all kinds of evil committed under delusion, ignorance, arrogance, dishonesty, jealousy, or envy, and that we shall never sin again. This is Hui.

On account of ignorance and delusion, common people do not realize that in repentance they have not only to feel sorry for their past sins but also to refrain from sinning in the future. Since they take no heed of their future conduct they commit new sins before the past are expiated. How can we call this ‘repentance’?

Learned Audience, having repented of our sins we will take the following four All-embracing Vows:–

We vow to deliver an infinite number of sentient beings of our mind. 
We vow to get rid of the innumerable defilements in our own mind.
We vow to learn the countless systems in Dharma of our Essence of Mind.
We vow to attain the Supreme Buddhahood of our Essence of Mind.


Learned Audience, all of us have now declared that we vow to deliver an infinite number of sentient beings; but what does that mean? It does not mean that I, Hui Neng, am going to deliver them. And who are these sentient beings within our mind? They are the delusive mind, the deceitful mind, the evil mind, and such like minds — all these are sentient beings. Each of them has to deliver himself by means of his own Essence of Mind. Then the deliverance is genuine.
Now, what does it mean to deliver oneself by one’s own Essence of Mind? It means the deliverance of the ignorant, the delusive, and the vexatious beings within our own mind by means of Right Views. With the aid of Right Views and Prajna-Wisdom the barriers raised by these ignorant and delusive beings may be broken down; so that each of them is in a position to deliver himself by his own efforts. Let the fallacious be delivered by rightness; the deluded by enlightenment; the ignorant by wisdom; and the malevolent by benevolence. Such is genuine deliverance.

As to the vow, ‘We vow to get rid of the innumerable evil passions in the mind,’ it refers to the substitution of our unreliable and illusive thinking faculty by the Prajna-Wisdom of our Essence of Mind.

As to the vow, ‘We vow to learn countless systems of Dharmas,’ it may be remarked that there will be no true learning until we have seen face to face our Essence of Mind, and until we conform to the orthodox Dharma on all occasions.

As to the vow, ‘We vow to attain Supreme Buddhahood,’ when we are able to bend our mind to follow the true and orthodox Dharma on all occasions, and when Prajna always rises in our mind, so that we can hold aloof from enlightenment as well as from ignorance, and do away with truth as well as falsehood, then we may consider ourselves as having realized the Buddha-nature, or in other words, as having attained Buddhahood.

Learned Audience, we should always bear in mind that we are treading the Path; for thereby strength will be added to our vows. Now, since all of us have taken these four All-embracing Vows, let me teach you the ‘Formless Three-fold Guidance’:–

We take ‘Enlightenment’ as our Guide, because it is the culmination of both Punya (merit) and Prajna (wisdom).

We take ‘Orthodoxy’ (Dharma) as our Guide, because it is the best way to get rid of desire.

We take ‘Purity’ as our Guide, because it is the noblest quality of mankind.

Hereafter, let the Enlightened One be our teacher; on no account should we accept Mara (the personification of evil) or any heretic as our guide. This we should testify to ourselves by constantly appealing to the ‘Three Gems’ of our Essence of Mind, in which, Learned Audience, I advise you to take refuge. They are:–

Buddha, which stands for Enlightenment.
Dharma, which stands for Orthodoxy.
Sangha, (the Order) which stands for Purity.
To let our mind take refuge in ‘Enlightenment’, so that evil and delusive notions do not arise, desire decreases, discontent is unknown, and lust and greed no longer bind, this is the culmination of Punya and Prajna.
To let our mind take refuge in ‘Orthodoxy’ so that we are always free from wrong views (for without wrong views there would be no egotism, arrogance, or craving), this is the best way to get rid of desire.

To let our mind take refuge in ‘Purity’ so that no matter in what circumstances it may be it will not be contaminated by wearisome sense-objects, craving and desire, this is the noblest quality of mankind.

To practice the Threefold Guidance in the way above mentioned means to take refuge in oneself (i.e., in one’s own Essence of Mind). Ignorant persons take the Threefold Guidance day and night but do not understand it. If they say they take refuge in Buddha, do they know where He is? Yet if they cannot see Buddha, how can they take refuge in Him? Does not such an assertion amount to a lie?

Learned Audience, each of you should consider and examine this point for yourself, and let not your energy be misapplied. The Sutra distinctly says that we should take refuge in the Buddha within ourselves; it does not suggest that we should take refuge in other Buddhas. (Moreover), if we do not take refuge in the Buddha within ourselves, there is no other place for us to retreat.

Having cleared up this point, let each of us take refuge in the ‘Three Gems’ within our mind. Within, we should control our mind; without, we should be respectful towards others — this is the way to take refuge within ourselves.

Learned Audience, since all of you have taken the ‘Three-fold Guidance’ I am going to speak to you on the Trikaya (three ‘bodies’) of the Buddha of our Essence of Mind, so that you can see these three bodies and realize clearly the Essence of Mind. Please listen carefully and repeat this after me:–

With our physical body, we take refuge in the Pure Dharmakaya (Essence-body) of Buddha.
With our physical body, we take refuge in the Perfect Sambhogakaya (Manifestation body) of Buddha.
With our physical body, we take refuge in the Myriad Nirmanakaya (Incarnation-bodies) of Buddha.
Learned Audience, our physical body may be likened unto an inn (i.e., a temporary abode), so we cannot take refuge there. Within our Essence of Mind these Trikaya of Buddha are to be found, and they are common to everybody. Because the mind (of an ordinary man) labors under delusions, he knows not his own inner nature; and the result is that he ignores the Trikaya within himself, (erroneously believing) that they are to be sought from without. Please listen, and I will show you that within yourself you will find the Trikaya which, being the manifestation of the Essence of Mind, are not to be sought from without.
Now, what is the Pure Dharmakaya? Our Essence of Mind is intrinsically pure; all things are only its manifestations, and good deeds and evil deeds are only the result of good thoughts and evil thoughts respectively. Thus, within the Essence of Mind all things (are intrinsically pure), like the azure of the sky and the radiance of the sun and the moon which, when obscured by passing clouds, may appear as if their brightness has been dimmed; but as soon as the clouds are blown way, brightness reappears and all objects are fully illuminated. Learned Audience, our evil habits may be likened unto the clouds; while sagacity and wisdom (Prajna), are the sun and moon respectively. When we attach ourselves to outer objects, our Essence of Mind is clouded by wanton thoughts which prevent our Sagacity and Wisdom from sending forth their light. But should we be fortunate enough to find learned and pious teachers to make known to us the Orthodox Dharma, then we may with our own efforts do away with ignorance and delusion, so that we are enlightened both within and without, and the (true nature) of all things manifests itself within our Essence of Mind. This is what happens to those who have seen face to face the Essence of Mind, and this is what is called the Pure Dharmakaya of Buddha.

Learned Audience, to take refuge in a true Buddha is to take refuge in our own Essence of Mind. He who does so should remove from his Essence of Mind the evil mind, the jealous mind, the flattering and crooked mind, egotism, deceit and falsehood, contemptuousness, snobbishness, fallacious views, arrogance, and all other evils that may arise at any time. To take refuge in ourself is to be constantly on the alert for our own mistakes, and to refrain from criticism of others’ merits or faults. He who is humble and meek on all occasions and is polite to everybody has thoroughly realized his Essence of Mind, so thoroughly that his Path is free from further obstacles. This is the way to take refuge in ourself.

What is the Perfect Sambhogakaya? Let us take the illustration of a lamp. Even as the light of a lamp can break up darkness which has been there for a thousand years, so a spark of Wisdom can do away with ignorance which has lasted for ages. We need not bother about the past, for the past is gone and irrecoverable. What demands our attention is the future; so let our thoughts from Ksana to Ksana be clear and round, and let use see face to face our Essence of Mind. Good and evil are opposite to each other, but their quintessence cannot be dualistic. This non-dualistic nature is called the true nature (i.e., the absolute reality) which can neither be contaminated by evil nor affected by good. This is what is called the Sambhogakaya of Buddha.

One single evil thought from our Essence of Mind will spoil the good merits accumulated in aeons of time, while a good thought from that same source can expiate all our sins, though they are as many as the grains of sand in the Ganges. To realize our own Essence of Mind from Ksana to Ksana without intermission until we attain Supreme Enlightenment, so that we are perpetually in a state of Right Mindfulness, is the Sambhogakaya.

Now, what is the Myriad Nirmanakaya? When we subject ourselves to the least discrimination of particularization, transformation takes place; otherwise, all things remain as void as space, as they inherently are. By dwelling our mind on evil things, hell arises. By dwelling our mind on good acts, paradise appears. Dragons and snakes are the transformation of venomous hatred, while Bodhisattvas are mercy personified. The upper regions are Prajna crystallized, while the underworld is only another form assumed by ignorance and infatuation. Numerous indeed are the transformations of the Essence of Mind! People under delusion awake not and understand not; always they bend their minds on evil, and as a rule practice evil. But should they turn their minds from evil to righteousness, even for a moment, Prajna would instantly arise. This is what is called the Nirmanakaya of the Buddha of the Essence of Mind.

Learned Audience, the Dharmakaya is intrinsically self-sufficient. To see face to face from Ksana to Ksana our own Essence of Mind is the Sambhogakaya of Buddha. To dwell our mind on the Sambhogakaya (so that Wisdom or Prajna arises) is the Nirmanakaya. To attain enlightenment by our own efforts and to practice by ourself the goodness inherent in our Essence of Mind is a genuine case of ‘Taking Refuge’. Our physical body, consisting of flesh and skin, etc., is nothing more than a tenement, (for temporary use only), so we do not take refuge therein. But let us realize the Trikaya of our Essence of Mind, and we shall know the Buddha of our Essence of Mind.

I have a ‘Formless’ stanza, the reciting and practicing of which will at once dispel the delusions and expiate the sins accumulated in numerous Kalpas. This is the stanza:–

People under delusion accumulate tainted merits but do not tread the Path.
They are under the impression that to accumulate merits and to tread the Path are one and the same thing.

Though their merits for alms-giving and offerings are infinite,

(They do not realize that) the ultimate source of sin lies in the three poisonous elements (i.e., greed, anger and illusion) within their own mind.

They expect to expiate their sins by accumulating merit

Without knowing that felicities obtained in future lives have nothing to do with the expiation of sins.

Why not get rid of the sin within our own mind,

For this is true repentance (within our Essence of Mind)?

(A sinner) who realizes suddenly what constitutes true repentance according to the Mahayana School,

And who ceases from doing evil and practices righteousness is free from sin.

A treader of the Path who keeps a constant watch on his Essence of Mind

May be classified in the same group as the various Buddhas.

Our Patriarchs transmitted no other system of Law but this ‘Sudden’ one.

May all followers of it see face to face their Essence of Mind and be at once with the Buddhas.

If you are going to look for Dharmakaya

See it above Dharmalaksana (phenomena), and then your Mind will be pure.

Exert yourself in order to see face to face the Essence of Mind and relax not,

For death may come suddenly and put an abrupt end to your earthly existence.

Those who understand the Mahayana teaching and are thus able to realize the Essence of Mind

Should reverently put their palms together (as a sign of respect) and fervently seek for the Dharmakaya.

The Patriarch then added:–
practice. Should you realize your Essence of Mind after reciting it, you may consider yourself to be always in my presence, though actually you are a thousand miles away, but should you be unable to do so, then, though we are face to face, we are really a thousand miles apart. In that case, what is the use of taking the trouble to come here from so far away? Take good care of yourselves. Good-bye.

The whole assembly, after hearing what the Patriarch had said, became enlightened. In a very happy mood, they accepted his teaching and put it into practice.

The New Improved Buddhist Council [now with more enzymes, lather and added vitamins] written by MADHUSHALA // Another MUST READ for Western Practitioners


The author writes so well what my biggest gripe is within the American Buddhist community, which in my opinion *( and this is the first time ever my opinion is on my blog, I do not think MY OPINION belongs on a Blog aimed at promoting the BUDDHA’S DOCTRINE, opinions lead to such “committees” and erroneous thinking, such as “The New and Improved Buddhist Council”) This sort of ‘council’  adds to the commercialization of Buddhism,adds to the erroneous notion that the Buddhadharma as taught by The Blessed One is “a feel good philosophy” and the element of white/well to do/ elite shaping Buddhism in the West is disturbing and will only lead to the decline of the Buddha’s Doctrine as it should be practiced if one’s wishes is to break the cycle of birth and death**. I could go on and on, but won’t , just read her article , make your own judgement and check back often as I will post related links and updates.

Be well,

Melissa Upasika 
* Cycle of birth and death :I also must choose my words carefully as people love to debate that Buddhism is or isn’t a religion, that Buddhist practice can be practiced by any religion, philosophy and so forth, the answer is yes Buddhist concepts can be practiced by anyone, with or without the conviction of the truth that the Buddha expounds in his doctrine, HOWEVER, to break the cycle of birth and death, once must practice the Doctrine in it’s entirety, with conviction in the Triple Gem, anything else falls into the category of a “feel good, self help philosophy” and is not everlasting and will not lead the practitioner to Nirvana.

The New Improved Buddhist Council [now with more enzymes, lather and added vitamins] written by  MADHUSHALA

Just like in the old days…

From Buddhadharma News: Teachers gather to discuss the future of Western Buddhism:

The conference, known as the Maha Teacher Council, is by invitation only.

It also was not announced more than a week prior to the event and the participants are a secret.

How does that strike you?

It strikes me as very odd.

Why is this any of our business? Why not just ignore it?

Maha Teacher Council sounds like something official. Some of the most prominent Buddhist teachers and book authors are going to be present. It involves some of the big Buddhist magazines. They shape the message that the masses will receive regarding the Buddhadharma. They have authority in terms of lineage, Buddhist practice, ownership of Buddhist properties such as centers, mass production of English language Buddhist information and of course media reach.

This affects the atmosphere of Buddhist practice for many of us. It possibly affects the direction some future Buddhist endeavors take. It further consolidates a power base for a select group of individuals to determine the mainstream Buddhist message.

And there’s more.

Brad Warner wrote in the comments on a Facebook mention of this item:

Oh nice. A self-selected groüp of important Büddhists get together to decide what’s best for the rest of us.

Gatherings like this worry me a lot. It’s pretty obvious what their intentions are.

The intent is to create a unified sense of what Buddhism ought to be. It’s like trying to create a unified sense of what art ought to be. Very Soviet sounding to me.

And yes, I will even admit to being bothered at not being invited. Because someone needs to take a stand against that attitude, which is starting to take over Buddhism in the west and will, I believe, win in the end.

[a commenter pointed out that there was no list of attendees or agenda published] I can’t find a list either. Which is also intriguing.

But I do think someone needs to question this kind of thing openly. I’m only sorry (and annoyed) that has to be me.

[When Brad makes a blog post about this it will go here. 6.8.11 And here it is Brad Warner’s Hardcore Zen: Uninvited to the Buddhist Party on Suicide Girls][In case he doesn’t you can always read mine]

Well Brad isn’t the only one with concerns about these conferences and self-appointed decision makers. Several other commenters had some issues with this though many dismissed it as rather unimportant in a self-important sort of way. I want to go through some of the issues that were brought up as well as some of the dismissals. READ MORE
________________________________________________________________________

RELATED BLOGS and Discussions

Brad Warner vs. The Maha Teachers

Posted on June 9, 2011 by David Chapman

Brad Warner has just blogged about the Maha Teachers Council. He thinks it’s a problem that he was not invited—not because his ego’s offended, but because it means the conference organizers are actively excluding what he represents.

I think he’s right. In fact, I suspect the conference is all about what he represents, and that is why he wasn’t invited. But his piece doesn’t explain what that is and why they are excluding that. Here’s my theory. READ MORE HERE 

LATEST by MADHUSHALA

Brad’s Invitation was Lost in the Mail…or something like that.

Last update..maybe..  

APPOLOGIES TO THE GARRISON INSTITUTE

POSTED BY BRAD WARNER AT 7:46 PM

Last weekend I was contacted by Erin Koch of the Garrison Institute, the people who put on the Buddhist Maha Teacher Council I wrote about on Suicide Girls. She said:

“I respect and appreciate the teachers I have worked with for the past year I also respect difference and open communication. I am very sorry you did not receive your invitation. I have a record of your invitation (Dec. 9).

“I do wish you had corrected your blog and facebook page to reflect the truth. Criticism of the event aside, you were invited and your contributions would have been welcome. Noah Levine asked me to invite you which I did on Dec 9. I think of you as sangha and I want the dharma to be of benefit to us all.

“I feel that your post has given the Garrison Institute a negative appearance to many people who had not previously heard of us and this is upsetting to me. Critiquing the event would have been fair and interesting, but suggesting we are closed network that excluded you is just not correct. Even if you had not been invited, you could have contacted us. Many teachers that were unintentionally excluded from the invite list asked to come and none were turned down.

“I wish you and your students all the best and harbor no bad feeling.”

So first off, I apologize to Erin Koch and the Garrison Institute for unintentionally misrepresenting them. READ MORE HERE

 

While he apologizes we don’t forget the main reason why he and other’s posted in the first place.

 

 

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


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

 

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

 

translated by

C. Humphreys and Wong Mou-Lam

 


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

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

Foreword To New Edition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preface

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

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

 

Translator’s Preface

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Only One Heart -Master Hsu Yun


Only One Heart -Master Hsu Yun

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

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

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

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

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

Avalokiteshvara’s Methods and Vows//from Surangama Sutra // PART 1 of 2


Meditation on the organ of hearing// Avalokiteshvara’s Methods

Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva

and Vows//from Surangama Sutra

Thereupon Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva rose from his seat,
prostrated himself with his head at the feet of the Buddha
and declared: .I still remember that long before numbers of
aeons countless as the sand grains in the Ganges, a Buddha
called Avalokiteshvara appeared in the world. When I was
with Him, I developed the Bodhi Mind and, for my entry into
Samàdhi, I was instructed by Him to practise meditation by
means of the organ of hearing.
.At first by directing the organ of hearing into the
stream of meditation, this organ was detached from its object,
and by wiping out (the concept of) both sound and
stream-entry, both disturbance and stillness became clearly
non-existent. Thus advancing step by step both hearing and
its object ceased completely, but I did not stop where they
ended. When the awareness of this state and this state itself
were realized as non-existent, both subject and object
merged into the void, the awareness of which became all embracing.
With further elimination of the void and its object
both creation and annihilation vanished giving way to the
state of Nirvàna which then manifested.
.Suddenly I leaped over both the mundane and
supramundane, thereby realizing an all-embracing brightness
pervading the ten directions, and acquired two unsurpassed
(merits). The first was in accord with the fundamental
Profound Enlightened Mind of all the Buddhas high up
in the ten directions and possessed the same merciful
power as the Tathàgata. The second was in sympathy with
all living beings in the six realms of existence here below in
the ten directions and shared with them the same plea for
compassion.
.World Honoured One, as I (followed and) made offerings
to the Tathàgata Avalokiteshvara, He taught me to use
my illusory hearing and sublimate it to realize the Diamond
(Vajra) Samàdhi which gave me the same power of mercy of
all Buddhas and enabled me to transform myself into thirtytwo
bodily forms for the. purpose of visiting all countries in
saüsàra (to convert and liberate living beings).
.World Honoured One, if there are Bodhisattvas who
practise Samàdhi to attain the transcendental (Mean), when
there is a chance for them to realize absolute Wisdom, I will
appear as a Buddha to teach them the Dharma to liberate
them.
.If there are solitary students seeking (only) self enlightenment,
who practise the stillness of Nirvana, when
there is a chance for them to realize it, I will appear as a
teacher of self-enlightenment to teach them the Dharma to
liberate them.
.If there are students of the Four Noble Truths who,
after realizing the unreality of suffering and its accumulation,
tread the Path leading to the extinction of passions, when
there is a chance for them to achieve this, I will appear as a
hearer (sràvaka) to teach them the Dharma to liberate them.
.If there are living beings who realize (the harmfulness
of) desire in the mind and abstain from all worldly cravings to
achieve purity of body, I will appear as Brahmà to teach
them the Dharma to liberate them.
.If there are living beings who desire to be lords of
devas to rule over the realms of the gods, I will appear as
Sakra to teach them the Dharma so that they reach their
goals.
.If there are living beings who wish to roam freely in the
ten directions, I will appear as Isvaradeva to teach them the
Dharma to that they reach their goals.
.If there are living beings who wish to fly freely in empty
space, I will appear as Mahesvara to teach them the Dharma
so that they reach their goals.
.If there are living beings who wish to be lords of ghosts
and spirits to protect their countries, I will appear as a great
warrior to teach them the Dharma so that they reach their
goals.
.If there are living beings who wish to rule over the
world to protect all its inhabitants, I will appear as a deva king
of the four quarters to teach them the Dharma so that they
reach their goals.
.If there are living beings who wish to be reborn in the
palace of devas to command ghosts and spirits, I will appear
as a son of the deva king of the four quarters to teach them
the Dharma so that they reach their goals.
.If there are living beings who wish to be kings of
human beings, I will appear as a king to teach them the
Dharma so that they reach their goals..
.If there are living beings who wish to be heads of clans
to enjoy the respects of their clansmen, I will appear as a respectable
elder (gçhapati) to teach them the Dharma so that
they reach their goals.
.If there are living beings who enjoy discussing wellknown
sayings and practise pure living, I will appear as a respectable
scholar to teach them the Dharma so that they
reach their goals.
.If there are living beings who wish to govern cities and
towns, I will appear as a magistrate to teach them the
Dharma so that they reach their goals.
.If there are living beings who delight in practising mysticism
for self-welfare, I will appear as a Brahmin to teach
them the Dharma so that they reach their goals.
.If there are men who are keen on study and learning
and leave home to practise the rules of morality and discipline,
I will appear as a bhikùu to teach them the Dharma so
that they reach their goals.
.If there are women who are eager to study and learn
and leave home to observe the precepts, I will appear as a
bhikùuõã to teach them the Dharma so that they reach their
goals.
.If there are men who observe the five precepts, I will
appear as a upàsaka to teach them the Dharma so that they
reach their goals.
.If there are women who observe the five precepts, I
will appear as a upàsikà to teach them the Dharma so that
they reach their goals.
.If there are women who are keen to fulfil their home
duties thereby setting a good example to other families and
the whole country, I will appear as a queen, a princess or a
noble lady to teach them the Dharma so that they reach their
goals.
.If there are young men who are chaste, I will appear as
a celibate youth to teach them the Dharma so that they reach
their goals.
.If there are young women who are keen to avoid carnality
in order to preserve their virginity, I will appear as a
maiden to teach them the Dharma so that they reach their
goals.
.If there are gods who wish to be freed from bondage
in their realms, I will appear as a deva to teach them the
Dharma so that they reach their goals.
.If there are dragons (nàgas) who wish to be freed from
bondage in their realms, I will appear, as a nàga to teach
them the Dharma so that they reach their goals.
.If there are yakùas who wish to be freed from bondage
in their realms, I will appear as a yakùa to teach them the
Dharma so that they reach their goals.
.If there are gandharvas who wish to be freed from
bondage in their realms, I will appear as a gandharva to teach
them the Dharma so that they reach their goals.
.If there are asuras who wish to be freed from bondage
in their realms, I will appear as an asura to teach them the
Dharma so that they reach their goals.
.If there are garuóas who wish to be freed from bondage
in their realms, I will appear as a garuóa to teach them
the Dharma so that they reach their goals.
.If there are kinnaras who wish to be freed from bondage
in their realms, I will appear as a kinnara to teach them
the Dharma so that they reach their goals.
.If there are mahoragas who wish to be freed from
bondage in their realms, I will appear as a mahoraga to teach
them the Dharma so that they reach their goals.
.If there are living beings who wish to be reborn as
human beings, I will appear in human form to teach them the
Dharma so that they reach their goals.
.If there are non-human beings with or without forms
and either thoughtful or thoughtless, who wish to be freed
from bondage in their realms, I will appear as one of them to
teach them the Dharma so that they reach their goals.
.These are my thirty-two transformation-bodies in
response to (the needs of) all countries in saüsàra,
achieved by means of the uncreated sovereign power of
Samàdhi realized in my practice of sublimating the faculty
of hearing.
.World Honoured One, I also use this uncreated sovereign
power of Diamond Samàdhi, derived from sublimating
hearing, to share with all living beings in the six realms in the
ten directions the same plea for compassion, and to bestow
upon them fourteen kinds of fearlessness which emanate
from my body and mind.
1. .Since I myself do not meditate on sound but on the
meditator, I cause all suffering beings to look into the sound
of their voices in order to obtain liberation.155
2. .By returning (discriminative) intellect to its (absolute)
source, I cause them to avoid being burned when they
find themselves in a great fire.
3. .By returning hearing to its source, I cause them to
avoid drowning when they are adrift on the sea.
4. .By stopping wrong thinking and thereby cleansing
their minds of harmfulness, I lead them to safety when they
wander in the realm of evil ghosts.
5. .By sublimating their (wrong) hearing to restore its
155. This is a very profound meditation which readers should not let pass without careful study if they
wish to know why Avalokite÷vara is so popular in Far Eastern countries where he is the merciful
patron saint. By discarding the sound to look into the meditator himself, that is into the nature of
hearing, he disengages himself from both organs and sense data and thereby realizes his allembracing
Buddha nature which contains all living beings. By developing their pure faith in him
and by calling his name, or concentrating on him, they achieve singleness of mind that mingles with
his Bodhi substance and become one with him; hence their liberation from sufferings which do not
exist in the absolute state.

absolute condition, thereby purifying all six organs and perfecting
their functions, I cause them, when in danger, to be
immune from sharp weapons which become blunt and useless
like water that cannot be cut and daylight that cannot be
blown away, because their (underlying) nature does not
change.
6. .By perfecting the sublimation of their hearing, its
bright light pervades the whole Dharma realm to destroy the
darkness (of ignorance) thereby dazzling evil beings such as
yakùa, rakùa, kuübhàõóa, pisàcã, påtana, etc., who cannot
see them when meeting them.
7. .When hearing is reversed so that sound vanishes
completely, all illusory objects of sense disappear so that
(practisers) are freed from fetters which can no longer restrain
them.
8: .The elimination of sound to perfect hearing results
in universal compassion so that they can pass through
regions infested with robbers and bandits who cannot plunder
them.
9. .The sublimation of hearing disengages them from
the objects of sense and makes them immune from (attractive)
forms, thereby enabling lustful beings to get rid of desires
and cravings.
10. .The sublimation of sound eliminates all sense
data and results in the perfect mingling of each organ with
its objects and the total eradication of subject and object,
thereby enabling all vindictive beings to bury anger and
hate.
11. .After the elimination of sense data and the return to
the bright (Reality), both inner body and mind and outer phenomena
become crystal dear and free from all hindrances, so
that dull and ignorant unbelievers (icchantika) can get rid of
the darkness of ignorance.
12. .When their bodies are in harmony with the nature
of hearing, they can, from their immutable state of enlightenment
(bodhimaõóala), re-enter the world (to liberate others)
without harming the worldly, and can go anywhere to make
offerings to Buddhas countless as dust, serving every Tathà-
gata in the capacity of a son of the King of the Law and
having the power to give male heirs with blessed virtues and
wisdom to childless people who want boys.
13. .The perfecting of the six organs unifies their divided
functions so that they become all-embracing, thus revealing
the Great Mirror (Wisdom) and immaterial Tathàgata
womb compatible with all Dharma doors taught by Buddhas
as uncountable as dust. They can bestow upright, blessed,
gracious, and respect-inspiring girls on childless parents who
want daughters.
14. .In this great chiliocosm which contains a hundred
lacs of suns and moons, there are now Bodhisattvas countless
as sand grains in sixty-two156 Ganges rivers. They practise
the Dharma to set a good example to all living beings by
befriending, teaching and converting them; in their wisdom
their expedient methods differ. Because I used one penetrat-
156. The digit 6 stands for the sixth consciousness, or mad mind, which creates the duality of ego and
dharma, symbolized by the digit 2. The duty of every Bodhisattva is to liberate living beings
deceived by the illusions thus created.
ing organ which led to my realization through the faculty of
hearing, my body and mind embrace the whole Dharmarealm
in which I teach all living beings to concentrate their
minds on calling my name. The merits that follow are the
same as those derived from calling on the names of all these
Bodhisattvas. World Honoured One, my single name does
not differ from those uncountable ones, because of my practice
and training which led to my true enlightenment. These
are the fourteen fearless (powers) which I bestow upon living
beings.
.World Honoured One, because of my Perfect Understanding
which led to my attainment of the Supreme Path, I
acquired four inconceivable absolute virtues.
1. .When I first realized the hearing mind which was
most profound, the Essence of Mind (i.e. the Tathàgata store)
disengaged itself from hearing and could no longer be divided
by seeing, hearing, feeling and knowing, and so became
one pure and clean all-pervading precious Bodhi. This is why
I can take on different wonderful forms and master a countless
number of esoteric mantras. I can appear with one,
three, five, seven, nine, eleven and up to 108, 1,000, 10,000
and 84,000 sovereign (cakra) faces; with two, four, six, eight,
ten, twelve, fourteen, sixteen, eighteen, twenty, twenty-four
and up to 108, 1,000, 10,000 and 84,000 arms making various
gestures (mudràs); and with two, three, four, nine up to
108, 1,000, 10,000 and 84,000 clean and pure precious
eyes, either merciful or wrathful, and in a state either of still
imperturbability (dhyàna-samàdhi) or of absolute wisdom
(praj¤à) to save and protect living beings so that they can
enjoy great freedom.
2. .Because of my meditation by means of the (organ
of) hearing, which resulted in my disengagement from the six
sense data, like a sound going through a wall without hindrance,
I can, with each appearance and with the aid of each
mantra, bestow fearlessness upon (suffering) beings in countries
as countless as dust in the ten directions in which I am
regarded as the Giver of Dauntlessness.
3. .Because of the perfection which I won by sublimating
the appropriate organ, living beings in countries which I
visit (lay down their desires and attachments and) offer their
bodies and treasures to implore my compassion.
4. .As 1 have realized the Buddha mind and attained
Ultimate (Reality) I can make offerings to the Tathàgatas in
ten directions and satisfy living beings in the six worlds who
seek (virtuous) wives, (good) sons, samàdhi, long life and
even parinirvàõa.
.As the Buddha now asks about the best means of perfection,
my method which consists in regulating the organ of
hearing so as to quiet the mind for its entry into the stream of
meditation leading to the state of Samàdhi and attainment of
Enlightenment is the best.
.World Honoured One, that Buddha praised my excellent
method of perfection and gave me, in the presence of
the assembly, the-name of Avalokiteshvara. Because of my
all-embracing (absolute function of) hearing, my name is
known everywhere..
Thereupon, the Buddha, from His lion-seat, sent out
from the five members of His body, rays of light which reached
and shone on the heads of the Tathàgatas and Bodhisattvas
countless as dust in the ten directions. In return countless
Tathàgatas sent back rays of light which shone on the heads of
the Buddha, great Bodhisattvas and Arhats in the assembly,
causing the groves and streams to intone the Dharma and uncountable
rays of light to interlace in precious nets, a spectacle
never seen before. As, a result, all (the Bodhisattvas and
Arhats in the assembly) realized the Diamond Samàdhi. At the
same time showers of green, yellow, red and white lotus blossoms
turned the whole of space into a seven coloured expanse
and caused mountains, rivers and the great earth to disappear
and all the countless other realms to merge into one universe
filled with songs and recitations.157
Thereupon, the Tathàgata said to Ma¤jusrã: .Son of the
Dharma king, these twenty-five Bodhisattvas and Arhats
who no longer need to study and learn, have related the expedient
methods used by them at the start of their practice
for their realization of Bodhi. In reality each of these methods
does not differ from, and is neither superior nor inferior to the
others. Tell me which one of them is suitable to ânanda so
that he can awaken to it and which one is easy of achievement,
for the benefit of living beings who, after my nirvàõa,
wish to practise with the Bodhisattva vehicle in their search
for Supreme Bodhi..
157. This reveals the blissful realm of Avalokiteshvara.s reward-body (sambhogakàya) wherein all
dualities and contraries are replaced by a uniform state of Sublime Majesty.

See also

Surangama Sutra 

PART 2 of 2 AVALOKITESHVARA’S MEDITATION ON HEARING FROM SURANGAMA SUTRA

Samantabhadra Bodhisattva’s answer to a question from the Buddha

AVALOKITESVARA’S MEDITATION ON HEARING FROM SURANGAMA SUTRA // PART 2 of 2


AVALOKITESVARA’S MEDITATION ON HEARING FROM SURANGAMA SUTRA
The Gathas by Bodhisattva Manjusri

Reverently I declare to the Tathagatha what Avalokitesvara said:

“When one dwells in silence, Rolls of drums in ten directions,

All can be simultaneously heard. Thus is hearing complete.

Seeing cannot penetrate a screen, Neither can taste nor smell;

Manjusri

Feeling comes only in contact, And thought in focus lack.

Avalokiteshvara

But sound whether near or far, At all times can be heard;

The other senses are imperfect, Only hearing is truly pervasive.

The presence and absence of sound, Perceived by the ear as existent or not;

Absence of sound means nothing heard, Not hearing devoid of its nature.

Absence of sound is not the end of hearing, And presence of sound is not its beginning.

The faculty of hearing is unborn, Undying and one with the Truth.

Even when thoughts stop, Hearing does not end.

For hearing is beyond all thought, Beyond both mind and body.

In this Saha world, One teaches by voice.

Sentient beings who know not true hearing, Follow false sounds to be reborn.

Though Ananda memorizes all he has heard, He is not freed from inverted thought.

By clinging to sound one falls into Samsara, By non-clinging one attains Nirvana.

Listen, Ananda, listen closely. 

In Buddha’s name do I declare, By the indestructible king of enlightenment;

The inconceivable wisdom of reality- The Samadhi of all Buddhas.

You may hear of esoteric teachings, from Buddhas as countless as dust;
But if you overcome not craving, Hearing only causes more errors.

To hear your true self, you must invert, What you use to hear the Buddha’s words.

Hearing has no nature; It owes its name to sound.

Freed from sound by inverting hearing, What to you call this thing?

When one sense return to its source, All other senses will be liberated.

Seeing and hearing are both illusions, Like falling flowers in the sky.

Hearing without sound, The illusionary sense vanishes.

When object is no more, the subject is no more. 

And pure is the Bodhi attained. Its pure, bright light pervades all. 

Its shining stillness filling the void.

All worldly things when examined, Are like illusions seen in dreams, 

So was the foolish maiden Matangi – How could she keep your body?

Like a clever artist, Presenting a puppet play, 

The movements may be many, But only one controller exists.

When that control stops, The puppets become lifeless.

Likewise are the senses, Derived from one Alaya (store consciousness).

If one return to the source, So will the other senses follow.

With all illusions ended, Bodhi is thereby attained.

Defilement represents sentient beings, Enlightenment represents the Tathagata.

Ananda and those listening, Invert your false hearing.

When one hears truly, That is true Bodhi.

Buddhas of all worlds, Many as Ganges sands,

Thus entered this Nirvana. 

All the past Tathagatas, Have this method perfected.

All the present Bodhisattvas, Have this teaching mastered.

All you future sentient beings, Should learn this dharma well.”

“Avalokitesvara did not practice alone; For I Manjusri was with him.

The Enlightened and World-honoured One, Asked me for the best expedient,

For those in the Dharma ending era, Who wish to escape from this Samsara;

In their search for Nirvana, It’s best to contemplate sound.

Other methods are only expedients, Used just for special cases,

To keep disciples from occasional difficulty.

They’re not for indiscriminate practice, By beings of varying minds.

I salute the Tathagatha’s treasure, Beyond all the worldly streams.

Blessed be future generations, If they can have faith,

In this excellent expedient.

It’s good for teaching Ananda, And those of future age,

Who should rely on hearing, Surpassing all the other senses –

For it is one with profound Reality.”

– END –

See also :
Surangama Sutra 

PART 1 of 2  Meditation on the organ of hearing// Avalokiteshvara’s Methods and Vows//from Surangama Sutra

Samantabhadra Bodhisattva’s answer to a question from the Buddha

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.

The King of Prayers


The King of Prayers


O lions amongst men,

Buddhas past, present, and future,

To as many of you as exist in the ten directions

I bow down with my body, speech, and mind.

 

On waves of strength of this king

Of prayers for exalted sublime ways,

With bodies as numerous as atoms of the world

I bow down to the buddhas pervading space.

 

On every atom is found a buddha

Sitting amongst countless buddha sons,

I look with eyes of faith to the victorious ones

Thus filling the entire dharmadhatu.

 

Of these with endless oceans of excellence

Endowed with an ocean of wondrous speech

I sing praises of the greatness of all buddhas,

A eulogy to those gone to bliss.

 

Garlands of flowers I offer them,

And beautiful sounds, supreme perfumes,

Butter lamps and sacred incense,

I offer to all the victorious ones.

 

Excellent food, supreme fragrances,

And a mound of mystic substances high as Mount Meru

I arrange in a special formation

And offer to those who have conquered themselves.

 

And all peerless offerings I hold up

In admiration of those gone to bliss;

With the strength of faith in sublime ways

I prostrate and make offerings to the conquerors.

 

Long overpowered by attachment, aversion, and ignorance

Countless evils I have committed

With acts of body, speech, and mind.

Each and every one of these I now confess.

 

In the perfections of the buddhas and bodhisattvas,

The arhats, training and beyond,

And in the latent goodness of every living being,

I lift up my heart and rejoice.

 

O lights into the ten directions,

Buddhas who have found the passionless stage of enlightenment,

To all of you I direct this request:

Turn the incomparable wheel of Dharma.

 

O masters wishing to show parinirvana,

Stay with us and teach, I pray,

For as many eons as there are specks of dust,

In order to bring goodness and joy to all beings.

 

May any small merits that I may have amassed

By thus prostrating, making offerings, confessing, rejoicing,

And asking the buddhas to remain and teach the Dharma,

Be dedicated now to supreme and perfect enlightenment.

 

May my offerings be received by all past buddhas

And by all those now abiding in the ten directions,

And may all the buddhas who have not yet come

Quickly perfect their minds and reach buddhahood, the state of supreme full awakening.

 

May all the buddha-realms of the ten directions

Remain forever vast and completely pure,

May the world be completely filled with buddhas who have attained illumination under sacred trees,

And may they all be surrounded by bodhisattvas.

 

May all living beings in the ten directions

Always abide in health and joy.

May they live in accord with the way of Dharma

And may their every wish become fulfilled.

 

By my living in the ways of enlightenment

May I remember my past lives in all my reincarnations,

And in all cycles of death, migration, and rebirth

May a sensitivity for truth be ever strong in me.

 

By my following in the footsteps of the buddhas

May I utterly perfect the sublime ways of the bodhisattvas,

And may I practice the faultless, undegenerating, stainless,

And pure ways of self-control.

 

May I master all languages that exist, including those of

The gods, yakshas, spirits, and varieties of men,

As well as all forms of communication of living beings,

That I may be able to show the Dharma in every way.

 

Striving thus and in the transcending perfections

May I never forget the bodhi mind,

And may I totally cleanse from within my mindstream

All negativities and mental veils.

 

May I gain freedom from karma, delusion, and karmic maras

To be able to live in the world unaffected by its stains

Like an unstained lotus grows in the mud,

And like the sun and moon shine without obstruction in the sky.

 

For as long as there are buddha-fields and directions

May I strive to quell the misery of the lower realms,

May I place all beings only in happiness

And bring them all only happiness and joy.

 

May I strive to complete the ways of enlightenment

And to abide in ways harmonious with the world;

May I expose to others the ways most sublime

And myself abide in them throughout all future eons.

 

May my ways and the ways of a bodhisattva

Always go together hand in hand.

In body, speech, and mind

May I attune to their sublime ways.

 

May I never be separated from the good friends

Who reveal the path of the sublime ways

And who wish only to benefit me;

May I never disappoint them for even a moment.

 

May I constantly envision the perfect buddhas,

The protectors who are surrounded by bodhisattvas,

And in the future may I never weary

Of devoting myself to them with all my strength.

 

May I forever uphold the holy Dharma of the buddhas

And illumine the sublime way of enlightenment;

May I practice throughout all future ages

The ways of deeds of the sublime path.

 

Circling in the various realms of existence

May I amass inexhaustible goodness and wisdom,

And may I become an unending treasure of qualities

Such as methods, wisdom, samadhi, and the experience of a bodhisattva.

 

In every atom are buddha-fields numberless as atoms,

Each field is filled with buddhas beyond conception,

And each buddha is surrounded by myriad bodhisattvas:

To all these dwellers in sublime ways I turn my attention.

 

Thus, in all atoms within the directions

Abide within the space of a single hair

An ocean of buddhas within an ocean of buddha-fields

Performing enlightened activities for an ocean of eons.

 

Each buddha with his perfect speech releases

An ocean of sounds with every word he says

To satisfy the infinitely diverse tendencies of beings:

Thus does the speech of a buddha constantly flow.

 

All these conquerors past, present, and future

Continually turn the methods of Dharma wheels;

With all the powers of my mind I listen

For the inexhaustible sound of their words.

 

All future eons that could possibly be,

Manifest within me in a single instant;

And I myself in a fraction of a moment

Enter into all these eons of the three times.

 

All past, present, and future lions among men

I envision with the instantaneous wisdom

And by the power of the bodhisattvas’ examples

I focus upon the objects of their experience.

 

I manifest buddha-fields past, present, and future

Upon one single atom of existence,

And then I transform every single atom

Of existence into a buddha-field.

 

By this, when the future lights of the worlds

Eventually gain bodhi, turn the Dharma wheels,

And reveal the passing to nirvana’s supreme peace,

May I take rebirth in their very presence.

 

Then may I attain the ten powers:

The power of instant magical emanation,

The power which is a vehicle with every door,

The power of excellent activity,

The power of all-pervading love,

The power of constantly positive energy,

The power of passionless wisdom,

The powers of knowledge, method, and samadhi,

And the power of enlightenment itself.

 

May I purify the power of karma,

May I crush the powers of delusion,

May I render powerless the powerful maras,

And may I perfect the powers of sublime ways.

 

May I purify an ocean of realms,

May I liberate an ocean of sentient beings,

May I see an ocean of truths,

And may I realize an ocean of wisdom.

 

May I perform an ocean of perfect deeds,

May I perfect an ocean of prayers,

May I revere an ocean of buddhas,

And may I practice untiringly for an ocean of eons.

 

Through my practice of the sublime bodhisattva ways

May I gain the enlightenment of buddhahood

And then fulfill the enlightened and sublime aspiration

Of the buddhas past, present, and future.

 

In order to match the ways of the sage

Called Samantabhadra, the always-sublime one,

Chief amongst the awakened ones’ sons,

I now dedicate all virtues that I possess.

 

Just as the sublime sage Samantabhadra

Dedicated all pure practices of body, speech, and mind

To the attainment of a pure state and pure realms,

So do I now dedicate the fruit of all my efforts.

 

In order to engage in all sublime virtues

I offer the prayer of Manjushri;

In the future may I never become faint

In striving to perfect the exalted bodhisattvas’ way.

 

May my deeds never reach a limit,

May my qualities of excellence become boundless,

And by abiding in immeasurable activity

May I find buddhahood, the state of limitless manifestation.

 

Limitless is the extent of space,

Limitless is the number of sentient beings,

And limitless is the karma and delusions of beings

Such are the limits of my aspirations.

 

One may offer supreme ornaments of the buddha-fields

Of the ten directions to the conquerors,

And also offer the highest joys of men and gods

For eons numerous as atoms of the world.

 

But to read or hear the King of Prayers

With eyes looking toward supreme illumination

And faith shining in one’s heart for even an instant

Gives birth to a far more superior merit.

 

Should anyone recite this aspiration of sublime ways

They will pass beyond all states of sorrow,

Rise above all inferior beings, and gain

A vision of Amitabha, Buddha of Infinite Light.

 

Even in this very lifetime

All sublime joys will be theirs;

The experiences of the all-sublime Samantabhadra,

Without obstructions, will quickly be theirs.

 

Merely by giving voice to these aspirations

Of the sublime ways of a bodhisattva,

The effects can only be known by an omniscient buddha.

Therefore, doubt not that it leads to enlightenment.

 

In order to follow the excellent examples set

By the wisdom of the bodhisattva Manjushri

And the always-sublime Samantabhadra,

All virtues I dedicate to their peerless ideals.

 

All conquerors passed into the three times

Have praised as supreme this peerless dedication.

Therefore, I also surrender all roots of my activities

To the sublime goals of a bodhisattva.

 

When the moment of my death arrives,

May I remain free from the spiritual obscurations;

May I perceive the face of Amitabha

And transmigrate to Sukhavati, the pure land of joy.

 

Having arrived there, may I fulfill

All aims of this prayer of aspirations

And benefit the countless living beings

Residing throughout the ten directions.

 

In the joyous mandala of Amitabha Buddha

May I be reborn from a beautiful lotus,

And may I there have the pleasure of gaining

A pure prophecy from Amitabha himself.

 

Having won this word of prophecy,

By the power of mind may I fill all directions

With many millions of mystical emanations

And bring limitless benefits to the world.

 

If by reciting this prayer of the sublime ways

I have amassed a tiny fragment of goodness,

May it work immediately to fulfill

All Dharmic hopes of living beings.

 

 

Colophon: This is the complete Great King of Prayers, The Prayer of Ways Sublime.

Translated by Glenn H. Mullin with Thepo Tulku.

Medicine Buddha and Healing Prayer


I LIVE IN THIS WORLD

by Jason Espada

I live in this world
of joy, and sorrow
of comfort and ease,
and of struggle, and pain
of friendship, and community
and of loneliness and isolation
I live in this world of riches and poverty
of abundance and hunger
I live in this world where there is health
and illness
Where some people can only try to care for themselves,
while others are at the point where more and more they have thinking about
and caring for others as the aim of their life
Whatever sources of blessings there are in this world,
O, bless them all
There are people serving others in this world –
there are people taking joy in that
I live in this world
where many are in need of a protector,
where many are in need of an advocate
where many people do not have even a basic education
Today, in this world, there are many who are kept back from doing good
things because of some illness
Today there are many who are broken-hearted
Today there are many who have been hurt in relationships
There are many who have bad memories
There are many who have had their families broken
There are many who are grieving
Every day in this world there are people experiencing pain:
children, teenagers, adults, the middle-aged, the elderly;
those who are alone, those with problems of the mind
I live in this world where many people suffer from depression,
where many people are blocked by depression
I live in this world where many people don’t love themselves,
they don’t cherish their lives,
where people hate themselves,
and where people despair,
even to the point of wanting to end their own lives…
I live in this world where many people are in need of some form of human
contact,
I live in this world where many people are experiencing
the absence of love
and we can do something
I live in this world where many people use drugs,
or drink, or food, or sex, to self-medicate, to escape
where many are without peace,
without control, without any freedom of mind
The root of all these sufferings is self-grasping ignorance
and the afflictive emotions
Right now, there are people being trapped by their addictions, overwhelmed
by their delusions, lost
I live in this world where some people are in danger of falling,
where some are in danger of slipping – and the result can be severe for
them…
There are many people in need of strength,
light, and peace,
wisdom,
purity, ethics
transformation, release
I live in this world where we have all done wrong,
some worse than others
some, terrible things
out of ignorance, affliction,
or fear, desperation, despair;
out of weakness and limitation –
not seeing any other way
not being able to reach any other
I live in this world where people suffer because of regret
I live in this world where people experience misfortune, accidents…
I live in this world where many people are lonely, or numb,
self-absorbed, superficial, or greedy, distracted, afraid, or sad,
where there are those who are feeling ugly, or feeling hopeless
or who are caught in self-pity
I live in this world where selves arise again and again that are fragmented,
isolated
Where many people are experiencing stress
I live in this world where most people
are without any sense at all of the sacred dimension in life
I live in this world where the deluded the band together
and increase ignorance and suffering
I live in this world where, even though there are those with the motivation to
learn
many people are misled by false teachers,
themselves ignorant
In these times, especially,
wrong views are supported, in hundreds of ways,
and wisdom is not;
greed is encouraged, and non-attachment and generosity is not
aggression is supported, and peace,
sanity, respect, kindness, and being helpful is not
I live in this world where there are many people’s
experience is only that of a lower-realm being
(the hell realm, the hungry ghost realm, the animal realm)
I live in this world where there are people who don’t experience even a
moment of peace;
where there are those who don’t have any joy in their lives at all,
who don’t have any happiness,
not even a little bit
Every day in this world there are people with no perspective on their life,
coarse, dissatisfied, lacking in gratitude, indulgent
I live in this world where people don’t think about death
or haven’t integrated the truth of impermanence
Every day there are people wasting time, not seeing what they have, not
taking advantage of all the opportunities they have while
they still can
I live in this world where he vast majority of people are completely without
any Dharma
(Dharma: Buddhist teaching, or religious teaching; the result of Buddhist
practice or religious practice; and true medicine for the ills of the world)
I live in this world where few people have received instructions in
meditation, and, of these few, most are still unclear about the essential points
I live in this world, where, though we may do some good,
though we may improve our lives,
those who have listened to essential teachings, and understood,
many times don’t practice
and, of those who do practice, often they are not able
to overcome the obstacles to meditation,
and practice in a way that they progress…
I live in this world where even those people who have received, and
practiced, and accomplished a great deal of Dharma still suffer
they still fall into experiences that are like the lower realms
and I live in this world where some of the people who have become stable in
realization don’t share the Dharma as much as they could
I live in this world where though we can help others
too often we don’t
where though can remove others suffering and give them happiness, too
often we don’t
I live in this world
where people don’t live in the present
Where people don’t know their own worth, or the worth of others,
where people don’t know their own potential
– by Jason Espada

SUTRA OF THE MEDICINE BUDDHA   PDF

Tayata Om Bekanze

Bekanze Maha BeKanze

Radza Samudgate Soha

Happy Wesak 2011 ! Happy Vesak 2011 !


Celebration of Wesak by By Ven. Dr. K. Sri Dhammananda 

Birth of a Noble Prince.
Wesak Day holds special significance for the millions of Buddhist who comprise a fifth of the world’s total population. In thousands of temples across the world from Tokyo in the East to San Francisco in the West, Buddhists will pay homage to an Indian Prince who forsook the pleasures of a royal household to bring peace and happiness to mankind. The Buddha, or the Supremely Enlightened One was born in 623 B.C. on a Wesak Full-Moon day. The young Prince was named Siddhartha or “the one who has brought about all good.” His parents, King Suddhodana and Queen Mahamaya, ruled a small kingdom called Kapilavattu in Northern India.
It is said that when he was born an ancient sage called Asita came to visit him. The sage took the child in his arms and first smiled, then wept. Questioned about his extra-ordinary behaviour the sage explained that he smiled because the Child would one day become the Greatest Teacher the

world have ever known and he wept because he would not live long enough to see the boy grow up.

A Prince of Superior Intelligence
Siddharta Gautama was provided with all the worldly comforts that could be provided in a royal palace. His parents shielded him from the harsh realities of the outside world. He excelled in sports and showed a very superior intelligence but he was not satisfied with such fleeting pleasures.
He was usually a meditative person. One day he noticed a frog about to be swallowed by a snake. Just then an eagle swooped and flew away with the snake and the frog on its mouth. This set him thinking: that human life was the same whereby the stronger was constantly destroying the weaker in never ending succession. This made him realize the happiness could only be found when this battle for survival could be ended.
One day, when he was outside the palace gates, he sighted an old man bent with age, a sick man and a corpse. The young Prince was horrified when he learnt that the human body which was so well cared for in youth could be subjected to the ravages of age, disease and death. He started to contemplate deeply and was determined to seek a panacea for such sufferings.

The Prince also saw an ascetic, dressed in simple clothes but glowing with the inner peace of one who had given up his worldly passions. He was deeply impressed by the sense of happiness and calm that the ascetic radiated.

Upon his return to the palace, the young Siddarta, then aged 29 years, decided that he would give up all the temporal power that he was heir to and seek answers to the questions that troubled him. What was the cause of human sufferings? What was the path to happiness?
He went to many teachers but wise as they were, their wisdom was limited. They could not help him to gain the Enlightenment that he was searching. So he decided to seek the path on his own. The struggle for realization of the truth took him six long years. One of the first lessons he learnt was to seek the Middle Path: that is not to go extreme. He felt that we should not indulge too much in worldly pleasures or subject ourselves to extreme austerities. In order to calm the mind to gain purification one must be moderate in all aspects.

Realization of the Truths
He realized that man’s ignorance is the root of all misery. Man’s clinging to an illusion of the ego creates desire to satisfy the concept of self. The basis of his teaching is the Four Noble  Truths;  The  first is  the Noble  Truth of suffering. Life is filled with the miseries of old age, sickness,   death   and   unhappiness.   People   chase   after pleasure but only end up with more sufferings, pain and unsatisfactoriness. The second is the Noble Truth on the cause of suffering. The third is Noble Truth on the End of suffering. When desire is eliminated, suffering will cease. And the fourth Noble Truth is the PATH which leads to the end of suffering.
He then explained the Path which is the Noble Eightfold Path as:-

Buddha’s Enlightenment
Finally, on the 35th anniversary of his birth, again on the full-moon day of Wesak, and seated under a Bodhi tree* in Buddha Gaya the ascetic Siddarta become the Buddha, the Fully Enlightened One. For the next forty-five years the Buddha traveled around Northern India preaching His message of Loving-Kindness for all beings and realization of the nature of existence.

1. Right Understanding
2. Right Thought
3. Right Speech
4. Right Action
5. Right Livelihood
6. Right Effort
7. Right Mindfulness
8. Right Concentration

The Buddha’s Passing Away
As with all other great religious teachers the Buddha found opposition to his teachings. But many saw the truth of His Teachings and followed Him, learning how to lead a proper religious life and free themselves from misery of existence. Finally, after forty-five years of preaching, lying under two beautiful sala trees, before a large assembly of monks, the Buddha passed away at Kusinara. This passing away is also known as Mahaparinibbana or the attainment of ultimate peace and bliss. This great event also occurred on the full-moon day of Wesak. The Buddhist Era begins from the Mahaparinibbana – Passing away of the Buddha.

A Thrice Sacred Day
Hence on Wesak Day, Buddhists all over the world commemorate three events: The Birth, Enlightenment and the Passing Away of Gautama the Buddha. As Buddhism spread from India to all parts of the world, the teachings were readily assimilated with the cultures of the people who accepted the teachings. As a result, Buddhist art and culture took on a rich variety of forms with profound gentleness and kindness as the Buddha expressly forbade the use of force. The practice of Buddhism was adapted in many ways to suit the nature of the various cultures that accepted it.
As a result of this, Wesak is celebrated in many different ways all over the world. But in essence many practices have become universal. It is most important to remember that this sacred day is purely and simply a religious festival

and not a festive occasion for feasting, drinking and dancing. On this day all Buddhists are expected to reaffirm their faith in the Buddha Dhamma and to lead a noble religious life. It is a day for meditation and for radiating Loving-Kindness.

How to celebrate Wesak
On Wesak day, devout Buddhists are expected to assemble in various temples before dawn for the ceremonial hoisting of the Buddhist Flag and the singing of hymns in praise of the holy triple GEM: The Buddha, The Dhamma (His Teaching), and The Sangha (His disciples).
Devotees may bring simple offerings of flowers, candles and joss-sticks to lay at the feet of their great teacher. These symbolic offerings are to remind one that just as the beautiful flowers would wither away after a short while and the candles and joss-sticks would soon burn out, life is subject to decay and destruction in similar manner as the flowers, candles and joss-sticks. Devotees are advised to make a special effort to refrain from killing of any kind. They are encouraged to partake of vegetarian food for the day. In some countries notably Sri Lanka, two days are set aside for celebration of Wesak and all liquor shops and slaughter houses are closed by government decree during the two days. Birds and animals are also released by the thousands in a symbolic act of liberation, of giving freedom to those who are in captivity. However, it is not recommended that birds be released in the heart of crowded cities, because by doing so we may cause harm to the poor bewildered birds which are unable to fly far after a long period of captivity. Unscrupulous bird dealers would recapture such birds for resale to well meaning devotees. If birds are to be released it is recommended that this to be done in rural areas where the birds can achieve real freedom. Some devout Buddhist will wear simple white dress and spend the whole day in the temples with renewed determination to observe the Precepts. Wesak is a day for meditation and observance of the Eight Precepts.
Devout Buddhists understand how to lead a noble life according to the Teaching by making daily affirmation to observe the five Precepts. However, on special days, notably new moon and full moon days, they observe additional disciplines to train themselves to practice morality, simplicity and humility.

The Eight Precepts to be observed only on full moon days are:

1.   Not to kill
2.   Not to steal
3.   To observe celibacy
4.   Not to indulge in wrong speech
5.   Not to take intoxicating drinks and drugs
6.   To abstain from taking food at unreasonable time
7.   To refrain from immoral and illicit pleasures
8.   To refrain from using high seats in order to practice humility.

Devotees are expected to listen to talks given by monks well versed in the deepest philosophies of the religion. On this day monks will recite verses uttered by the Buddha twenty-five centuries ago, to invoke peace and happiness for the Government and the people. Buddhists are reminded to live in harmony with people of other faiths and to respect the beliefs of other people as the Buddha had taught.

Bringing Happiness to Others
Celebrating Wesak also means making special efforts to bring happiness to the unfortunate like the aged, the handicapped and the sick. To this end, Buddhists will distribute gifts in cash and kind to various charitable homes throughout the country. Wesak is also a time for great joy and happiness. But this joy is expressed not by pandering to one’s appetites only but by concentrating on useful activities such as decorating and illuminating temples, painting and creating exquisite scenes from the life of the Buddha for public dissemination. Devout Buddhists also vie with one another to provide refreshments and vegetarian food to devotees who visit the temple to pay homage to the Blessed One.

Proper Way To Pay Homage To The Buddha
The Buddha himself has given invaluable advice on how to pay homage to Him. Just before He passed away, he saw his faithful attendant Ananda, weeping. The Buddha advised him not to weep but to understand the universal law that all compounded things (including even His own body) must disintegrate. He advised everyone not to cry over the disintegration of the physical body but to regard His teachings (The Dhamma) as their Teacher from then on, because only the Dhamma TRUTH is eternal and not subject to the law of change. He also stressed that the way to pay homage to him was not merely by offering flowers, incense, and lights, but by truly and sincerely striving to follow his teachings.

This is how we should celebrate Wesak: use this opportunity to reiterate our determination to lead noble lives, to develop our minds, to practice loving-kindness and to bring peace and harmony to all mankind.

MAY WESAK, THE THRICE SACRED DAY BRING PEACE AND HAPPINESS TO EACH AND EVERYONE.

source

Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Samma Sambudhassa

NAMO TASSA BHAGAVATO ARAHATO SAMMA SAMBUDHASSA

NAMO TASSA BHAGAVATO ARAHATO SAMMA SAMBUDHASSA

see also The Sutra on the Merit of bathing The Buddha 

In heaven and on earth none resembles 

Buddha,
In all worlds everywhere none is comparable.

Everywhere in the world I have seen without exception,
There is nothing whatsoever like Buddha.

Homage to the Guidance of this Saha
World and three realms,

Benevolent Father to all beings,
Founder of the religion,

Our Original teacher, in three categories of transformation,
Shakyamuni Buddha.

_/\_ NA MO BEN SHI SHI JIA MOU NI FO!

Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi, Wesak 2010

I now bathe the Tathagata

His pure wisdom adorns the sea of virtue

May all living beings of this period of the five

Impurities be rid of all defilements!

Together, may we all witness the pure Dharma body of the Tathagata!

2011 Vesak / 2011 Wesak Celebration
In Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Thailand, Cambodia, Taiwan, Vietnam, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and India

Vesak is an annual public holiday observed traditionally by practicing Buddhists in South Asian and South East Asian countries like Nepal, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Indonesia, Pakistan and India. Sometimes informally called “Buddha’s birthday,” it actually encompasses the birth, enlightenment Nirvana, and passing (Parinirvana) of Gautama Buddha.

When Is Vesak 2011 / Wesak 2011?

Vesak Day 2011
When is Vesak 2011? Vesak 2011 falls on Tuesday, 17 May 2011, which is the 15th day in the 4th month of Chinese lunar calendar. However, some countries observes the Vesak Day 2011 on different dates.

Vesak Day 2012
When is Vesak 2012? Vesak 2012 falls on Saturday, 5 May 2012, which is the 15th day in the 4th month of Chinese lunar calendar. However, some countries observes the Vesak Day 2012 on different dates.

Date Of Vesak Day
Vesak 2011 is celebrated by Buddhist around the world, and in different manners all over the world. Though some countries occasionally use different date for this festival, many would fall on the same day.

The exact date of Vesak Day varies according to the various lunar calendars used in different countries and traditions. In Theravada countries following the Buddhist calendar, it falls on the full moon Uposatha day (typically the 5th or 6th lunar month). Vesak Day in China, Hong Kong and Macau is on the eighth of the fourth month in the Chinese lunar calendar.

Thus the date varies from year to year, but as general consensus in many countries, falls on the full-month day in May.

The decision to agree to celebrate the Vesak as the Buddha’s birthday was formalized at the first Conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhists held in Sri Lanka in 1950, although festivals at this time in the Buddhist world are a centuries-old tradition. The Resolution that was adopted at the World Conference reads as follows:

“That this Conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhists, while recording its appreciation of the gracious act of His Majesty, the Maharaja of Nepal in making the full-moon day of Vesak a Public Holiday in Nepal, earnestly requests the Heads of Governments of all countries in which large or small number of Buddhists are to be found, to take steps to make the full-moon day in the month of May a Public Holiday in honour of the Buddha, who is universally acclaimed as one of the greatest benefactors of Humanity.”

Vesak Day Around The World

My son, Wesak 2010, USA

Vesak Day is often referred to with other names in each country. Official names of Vesak Day are Vesākha, Vesak, Wesak, Waisak, Visakah Puja, Vaishaka, Buddha Purnima, Visakha Bucha, Saga Dawa, 佛誕 (fó dàn), Phật Đản, and วิสาขบูชา

In Mahayana Buddhist traditions, the holiday is known by its Sanskrit name, वैशाख Vaiśākha, and derived variants of it. Vesākha is known as Vesak or Wesak (衛塞節) in the Sinhalese language.

It is also known as:

* बुद्ध पुर्णिमा/বুদ্ধ পূর্ণিমা Buddha Purnima or बुद्ध जयंती/বুদ্ধ জয়ন্তী Buddha Jayanti in India, Bangladesh and Nepal
* 花祭 (Hanamatsuri) in Japan,
* 석가 탄신일 Seokka Tanshin-il (Hanja: 釋迦誕身日) in Korean (Korea),
* 佛誕 (Mandarin: Fódàn, Cantonese: Fātdàahn) in Chinese-speaking communities in China, Singapore, Taiwan.
* Phật Đản in Vietnamese (Vietnam),
* ས་ག་ཟླ་བ། Saga Dawa (sa ga zla ba) in Tibetan (Tibet),
* (Kasone la-pyae Boda nei), lit. “Full Moon Day of Kason,” the second month of the traditional Burmese calendar (Burma)
* វិសាខបូជា Visak Bochéa in Khmer (Cambodia),
* ວິຊຂບູຊ Vixakha Bouxa in Laotian (Laos)
* วันวิสาขบูชา Visakah Puja, Vesakha Puja, or Visakha Bucha in Thai (Thailand),
* Waisak in Indonesia,
* වෙසක් පසළොස්වක පෝය Vesak / Wesak in Sri Lanka and Malaysia

Singapore Vesak 2011
The Vesak Day is an extremely important occasion observed in Singapore. Huge crowds will usually assemble at various Buddhist temples around the city. Inside the Buddha temples the monks chant sacred hymns and a large number of devotees set caged-birds free. Setting the imprisoned birds free is considered as a graceful gesture which serves as a mark of respect to all living creatures in the world. On this day, Singapore Buddhist youths organize blood donation camps and distribute gifts to the poor people. During the evenings, candlelit processions are found walking across the streets of Singapore and this is how the festival is ended.

You can observe the Vesak Day festival in Singapore for free as people can enter the temples free of charge. Some of the best points in the city for observing the festivities of Vesak Day in Singapore are the Buddhist Lodge at River Valley Road, The Thai Buddhist Temple at Jalan Bukit Merah and Lian Shan Shuang Lin Temple at Jalan Toa Payoh.

The Singapore Vesak Day is always celebrated in the month of May and is a yearly event. Vesak 2011 is celebrated on 17 May 2011 in Singapore.

Hari Waisak 2011 In Indonesia
Hari Waisak celebrations in Indonesia generally follows the decision of The World Fellowship of Buddhists. Hari Waisak 2011 in Indonesia will be celebrated on Tuesday, 17 May 2011. Traditionally, the celebration is focused nationally on the complex of Borobudur Temple in Central Java.

Rituals of national Waisak (Vesak) celebration in Indonesia usually observe following ceremonies:
1. Taking blessed water from the spring of Jumprit in Temanggung Country and torch ignition with the eternal flame of Mrapen, Grobogan County.
2. “Pindatapa” ritual, a ritual of giving food to the monks by the congregation to remind that the monks had devoted his life without livelihoods.
3. Meditation on the peak of the full moon. Determination of the full moon is based on the calculation of astronomy, so that the peak of the full moon can also occur during the daytime.

Besides the three main ceremonies, other Waisak ceremonies that were also conducted are pradaksina, parades, and art events.

2011 Wesak Day in Malaysia
Wesak Day is the most important festivals of the Buddhists in Malaysia and fall in the month of May. In Malaysia, 2011 Wesak (Vesak) Day will be celebrated on Tuesday, May 17th 2011.

Vesak is celebrated to commemorate the birth, enlightenment and death of Lord Buddha because according to Buddhists, all the three events took place on the same lunar date.

The Wesak day celebrations begins much before the dawn when the Malaysian Buddhist devotees gather in Buddhist temples for worship all over Malaysia. The Buddhists will then hoist the Buddhist flag and sing hymns in praise of the holy triple gem namely; The Buddha, The Dharma (his teachings) and The Sangha (his disciples). The celebration is done with prayers, chants, offerings and giving alms. Simple offerings are also brought to the temple such as flowers while prayers using candles and joss-sticks are used.

The Buddhist eat a vegetarian diet prior to the festival in order to cleanse and purify themselves. Animals such as doves and tortoises are released by the Malaysian Buddhist devotees on the Wesak Day as a symbolic gesture of releasing the soul and giving up the past sins. Besides that, this particular act is also seen as a way of giving freedom for those that are held against their will or being tortured. Free meals are also given to the needy on the Wesak Day.

Wesak 2011 in Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka the Wesak Festival is celebrated as a religious and a cultural festival in Sri Lanka on the full moon of the month of May, for two days. In Sri Lanka, Wesak 2011 will be celebrated from Tuesday, May 17th 2011 to Wednesday, May 18th 2011.

During these two days, the selling of alcohol and flesh is prohibited by government decree. As a symbolic act of liberation, birds, insects and animals are released in huge numbers.

Celebrations include various religious and alms giving activities. Electrically lit pandols called toranas are erected in various locations in Colombo and elsewhere, most sponsored by donors, religious societies and welfare groups. Each pandol illustrates a story from the 550 Jataka Katha or the 550 Past Life Stories of the Buddha.

In addition, colourful lanterns called Vesak koodu are hung along streets and in front of homes. They signify the light of the Buddha, Dharma and the Sangha. Many devout Buddhists wear simple white dresses on Vesak Day and spend the whole day in temples with renewed determination to observe the observance of the Eight Precepts of Buddhism.

Vesak celebration also means making special efforts to bring happiness to the people in more straightened circumstances. Food stalls set up by Buddhist devotees called dansälas provide free food and drinks to passersby. Groups of people from various community organisations, businesses and government departments sing bhakti gee or Buddhist devotional songs. Colombo experiences a massive influx of public from all parts of the country during this week.

2011 Buddha Purnima in India

In India, Vesak Day is known as Buddha Purnima. On this day, Buddhists do not eat meat. This is considered an act of compassion towards animals. People are encouraged to perform other acts of kindness such as sharing food with the poor. Some people even set up road stalls providing free, clean drinking water. Buddha Purnima 2011 will be celebrated on Tuesday, 17 May 2011 in India.

Birth of Buddha or Tathagata is celebrated in India, especially in Sikkim, Ladakh , Arunachal Pradesh, Bodh Gaya and Maharashtra (where 6% of total population are Buddhists) and other parts of India as per Indian calendar. Buddhist People go to common Viharas to observe a rather longer-than-usual, full-length Buddhist sutra, as something like a service. The usual dress is pure white. Non-vegetarian food is normally avoided. Kheer, a sweet rice porridge is commonly served to recall the story of Sujata, a maiden who, in Gautama Buddha’s life, offered the Buddha a bowl of milk porridge.

The Buddhists bathe and dress only in white clothes. They gather in their viharas (monasteries) before sunrise to worship Buddha, offer alms to the bhikshus (monks), hoist the Buddhist flag, and sing hymns admiring the sacred triple treasure: The Buddha, The Dharma (his teachings), and The Sangha (his disciples).

Many devotees offer flowers, candles, and joss sticks at the feet of the monks. Such a ritual allows a Buddhist to reflect on the truth that just as the magnificent flowers shrink and the candles and joss sticks burn out in short time, our life span is too short and will decay soon.

Several followers listen to the continuous speech on the life and preaching of the Buddha throughout the day or request monks to come to their homes. Buddhist monks recite 2500 years old verses obtained from Buddha and urge people to respect other religions.

2011 Hanamatsuri in Japan
In Japan, Vesākha or hanamatsuri (花祭) is also known as: Kanbutsu-e (灌仏会), Goutan-e (降誕会), Busshou-e (仏生会), Yokubutsu-e (浴仏会), Ryuge-e (龍華会), Hana-eshiki (花会式). It is not a public holiday. It is based on a legend that a dragon appeared in the sky on his birthday and poured soma over him.

It used to be celebrated on the 8th day of the fourth month in the Chinese Lunar Calendar, based on one of the legends that proclaims the day as Buddha’s birthday. At present, the celebration is observed on April 8 of the Solar Calendar since the Meiji government adopted the western solar calendar as the official calendar. Since the 8th day of the fourth month in the lunar calendar commonly falls in May of the current solar calendar, it is now celebrated about a month earlier. Thus in Japan, 2011 Vesak Day will be celebrated on Friday, 8th April 2011.

In Japan, the general populace are not practicing Buddhists (and may be called casual Buddhists), so most Buddhist temples provide a way to allow the general public to celebrate and participate in only the aspect of the day being Buddha’s birthday, providing the statue of baby Buddha and allowing the populace to worship or pay respect by pouring ama cha, a tea made of Hydrangea. In Buddhist temples, monasteries and nunneries, more involved ceremonies are conducted for practicing Buddhists, priests, monks and nuns. Also, there are public festivals made out of the day in some areas.

2011 Visakha Bucha in Thailand
In Thailand, where majority of the population are buddhists, ach year, the nationwide festival of Vesak Day is held to pay tribute to the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha. The Vesak Day will fall on Tuesday, May 17th 2011, however celebrations can be seen for more than a week.

In Thailand, people will congregate around the Buddhist temples to pray and give thanks to the deity on the Vesak Day. Monks dressed in their saffron robes will lead sermons and services throughout the day, with candlelit processions often taking place once night has fallen.

2011 Buddha Poornima in Nepal

The birth of the Buddha is often celebrated by Buddhists in Nepal for an entire month in the Buddhist calendar. The actual day is called Buddha Poornima (or Buddha Purnima), also traditionally known as Vaishakh Poornima. In 2011, the Buddha Poornima will fall on Tuesday, 17 May 2011.

The event is celebrated by gentle and serene fervour, keeping in mind the very nature of Buddhism. People, especially women, go to common Viharas to observe a rather longer-than-usual, full-length Buddhist sutra, as something like a service. The usual dress is pure white. Non-vegetarian food is normally avoided. Kheer, a sweet rice porridge is commonly served to recall the story of Sujata, a maiden who, in Gautama Buddha’s life, offered the Buddha a bowl of milk porridge after he had given up the path of asceticism following six years of extreme austerity. This event was one major link in his enlightenment.

It is said that the Buddha originally followed the way of asceticism to attain enlightenment sooner, as was thought by many at that time. He sat for a prolonged time with inadequate food and water, which caused his body to shrivel so as to be indistinguishable from the bark of the tree that he was sitting under. Seeing the weak Siddhartha Gautama, a girl named Sujata placed a bowl of milk in front of him as an offering. Realizing that without food one can do nothing, the Buddha refrained from harming his own body.

2011 Buddha Birthday in China, Hongkong and Taiwan
In the Chinese speaking countries of Hongkong, China, as well as Taiwan, the Vesak Day called Guanfo (bathing the Buddha) or Yufo (Buddha’s birthday celebration featuring washing Buddha image with perfumed water). The celebrations begin before sunrise and devotees throng the temples early at dawn to meditate. Chanshi (the ceremony of chanting the sutras and confession and prayer) is practiced by monks.

As the day progresses, Buddhist devotees visit orphanages, welfare homes, homes for the aged and charitable institutions to distribute cash donations and gifts to the needy. On this occasion, caged birds are freed to symbolize humanity and compassion.

The celebration is also marked with the devotees performing the “bathing Buddha” ritual where they held a wooden ladle and poured water over a small statue of the Buddha. Bathing a statue of the Buddha symbolizes a fresh start in life and the care given to newborn babies.

Legend has it that when the historical Buddha, Prince Siddhartha, was born, there were auspicious signs heralding his birth. They describe the sky as blue and clear on his birth, with dragons spurting purified water to bathe him. Since then, Buddhists have celebrated his birthday by using fragrant water to bathe the image of Buddha.

In these East Asia countries, Buddha’s birthday is celebrated in on the eighth day of the fourth month in the Chinese lunar calendar. Thus in 2011, the Buddha birthday falls on Tuesday, 10th May 2011.

2011 Buddha Birthday in South Korea

In Korea the birthday of Buddha is celebrated according to the Lunisolar calendar. This day is called 석가탄신일 (Seokga tansinil), meaning “the day of Buddha’s birthday” or 부처님 오신 날 (Bucheonim osin nal) meaning “the day when Buddha arrived”. Lotus lanterns cover the entire temple throughout the month which are often flooded down the street. On the day of Buddha’s birth, many temples provide free meals and tea to all visitors. The breakfast and lunch provided are often sanchae bibimbap.

In 2011, South Korea will celebrate the Buddha Birthday on Tuesday, 10th May 2011. source

Happy Wesak 2011 ! Happy Vesak 2011 !

“Enough, Ananda, do not weep and wail! Have I not already told you that all things that are pleasant and delightful are changeable, subject to separation and becoming other?” DN 16.5.14.

“Ananda, for what I have taught and explained to you as Dhamma and discipline will, at my passing, be your teacher.” DN 16.6.1.

The Buddha’s last words, “Now, monks, I declare to you: all conditioned things are of a nature to decay – strive on untiringly.” DN 16.6.7.

When I said I was Buddhist…. // Poem


WHEN I SAID I WAS BUDDHIST…

When I said I was Buddhist, I am not stating that I’m wiser than you, but a whisper, “I have a lot of inner darkness that must be eliminated, so I chose Buddhism.”

When I said I was Buddhist, not being exhibited good karma what I store up in the past, but in order that you can see, I’m doing bad karma in the past is very deep and heavy, so I begged on the Buddhas and Bodhisattva to add the power of compassionate light for me to pledge, repent and eliminate all the bad deeds
When I said I was Buddhist, it is not because I run away from worldly life

to pursue something that is empty, but fully realize that in life there is no place that is not the place resentatiom Dharma, practicing self is alive today.
When I said I was Buddhist, does not mean that since then my life will no longersee the drawback of obstacles, but with the Buddha Dharma as an accompanist, obstacle barriers one by one turned into a condition that helped me grow

When I said I was Buddhist, my heart is filled with infinite gratitude, remembering that in this time of life can be reborn as a human being who has the ability to practice themselves, also have the opportunity to meet with the person virtuous and able to listen to the Buddha Dharma, my conscience stirred, it was the law of karma is really amazing!

When I said I was Buddhist, I know, even though the tread Bodhi Road must fall up again and again, but to reach Buddhahood is the thing that I will continue to strive in every life.

(Translated from “Dang Wo Shi Wo Shuo Jiao Tu Shi Fo, author unknown)

Doing the best we can -Rev. Jisho Perry


Doing the best we can always entails seeing where we can do better. This is what is meant by “always being disturbed by the Truth.” As we view the imperfections of our actions, we are allowed to see with the eyes of the Buddha:

“That which understands error is not itself in error”

So one of the merits of our training is to be aware of the places where we need to purify our heart, and if we view this with the eyes of compassion, we will also see that what we have done in the past was the best that we could have done for that time. And now in the present moment, we may be able to do a bit better by acting with greater compassion, love and wisdom

.-Rev. Jisho Perry

Poem 1 by Hung Tzu-ch’eng


” Most people read a book with words but not one without words, and they can play a lyre with strings but not one without strings. How can they derive tranquil pleasure from a book or a lyre, when they exercise their intelligence only on the material, but not the spiritual, aspect of things ? ”

– Hung Tzu-ch’eng

Lessons On Justice As Is Reflected In Osama bin Laden’s Death


As Buddhists our task is to use the common sense and moral values we believe in to confront injustice and evil. Today’s lesson is that we live in the real world. In the service of freedom and liberty and of peace and justice, let us dampen our pride, anger and hatred we may feel toward this enemy, and, yes, maybe our lack of compassion, and seek a path of wisdom. In doing so, we may reflect Siddhartha’s heritage, in which remaining mindful of the lessons of our causal Universe is the price of liberty. In all things let us act in hope and compassion and not in hatred, so that we continue to live in a land where justice and mercy depend ultimately not upon law, but upon the deeper source of justice and mercy in the values that are nurtured when we our awakened to the interconnectiveness of all phenomena, and that the difference between us is but an illusion.” –Ven. David Xi-Ken Astor 曦 肯

READ MORE HERE Lessons On Justice As Is Reflected In Osama bin Laden’s Death


No-self, Impermanence, Nirvana

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