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Pratyutpanna Sutra


佛說般舟三昧經
Buddha Pronounces the Sūtra of the Pratyutpanna Buddha Sammukhāvasthita Samādhi

Translated from Sanskrit into Chinese in the Eastern Han Dynasty
by
The Tripiṭaka Master Lokakṣema from the Yuezhi Land

Chapter 1
The Questions

Thus I have heard:
At one time the Bhagavān was in the Karaṇḍa Bamboo Garden of the city of Rājagṛha, together with an innumerable multitude of great Bodhisattvasbhikṣusbhikṣuṇīs,upāsakas, and upāsikās, as well as godsdragonsasurasyakṣasgaruḍaskiṁnaras, and mahoragas. All were seated in the huge assembly.
    At that time Bhadrapāla Bodhisattva1 rose from his seat, arranged his attire, and fell on his knees. He joined his palms and asked the Buddha, “I would like to ask some questions. May I have Your permission to ask them now?”
The Buddha replied, “Very good! Ask any questions as you wish. I will answer them to you.”
Bhadrapāla Bodhisattva asked the Buddha, “What dharmas should Bodhisattvas do in order to develop wisdom, like the immense ocean accepting myriad streams? What should they do in order to acquire broad knowledge and understand what they have heard without doubts? What should they do in order to know their past lives and whence they have come to reborn? What should they do in order to live a long life? What should they do in order to be reborn into a family with a great name and to be loved and respected by their parents, siblings, relatives, and friends? What should they do in order to be endowed with even, comely features? What should they do in order to acquire excellent talents, to be outstanding in the multitudes, and to develop superb, all-encompassing wisdom? What should they do in order to acquire the merit and wisdom required for Buddhahood, to achieve immeasurable awesome power, and to adorn their magnificent Buddha Lands? What should they do in order to subjugate hostile māras? What should they do in order to achieve command so that their vows will never fail? What should they do in order to enter the Door of Total Retention? What should they do in order to acquire the transcendental powers to travel to Buddha Lands everywhere? What should they do in order to acquire the bold valor of a lion, with nothing to fear, unmovable by māras? What should they do in order to realize their holy Buddha nature and to accept and uphold the Dharma in the sūtras with understanding, not forgetting anything? What should they do in order to achieve self-fulfillment, free from sycophancy and flattery and unattached to the Three Realms of Existence? What should they do in order to be free from hindrances and to acquire the overall wisdom-knowledge, never deviating from the Buddha’s intention? What should they do in order to win people’s trust? What should they do in order to acquire the eight tones [of a Buddha] and sound 10,000 koṭi tones? What should they do in order to acquire the sublime appearance [of a Buddha]? What should they do in order to acquire the power of all-hearing? What should they do in order to acquire the bodhi-eye to see into the future? What should they do in order to acquire the Ten Powers and true wisdom? What should they do in order to see, in a single thought, Buddhas from worlds in the ten directions all standing before them? What should they do in order to know that the four appearances of every dharma have no reality? What should they do in order to see in this world innumerable Buddha Lands in the ten directions and to know the good and evil life-journeys of the people, gods, dragons, spirits, and wriggly insects in those lands? These are my questions. I pray that the Buddha will explain to me and resolve all my doubts.”
The Buddha told Bhadrapāla, “Very good! Your questions are so comprehensive that they are beyond measure. You can ask these questions because you have acquired merit in your past lives under past Buddhas; because you have made offerings to Buddhas, delighted in the Dharma in the sūtras, observed your precepts, and lived in purity; because you have always begged for food, not accepting meal invitations, convened assemblies of Bodhisattvas, taught people to stop doing evil, and seen the equality of all; and because you have always had great lovingkindness and great compassion. Your merit is beyond measure.”
The Buddha told Bhadrapāla, “There is a samādhi called Buddhas from Worlds in the Ten Directions All Standing before One. If you can do this dharma, you will have the answers to all your questions.”
Bhadrapāla said to the Buddha, “I pray that You will pronounce it. What the Buddha will now pronounce is all-encompassing. It will give peace to [sentient beings in worlds in] the ten directions and provide great illumination to Bodhisattvas.”
The Buddha told Bhadrapāla, “There is a samādhi called Concentrated Mind. Bodhisattvas should constantly guard, learn, and uphold it, never to follow other ways. Of all virtuous ways, this is the foremost one.”

Chapter 2
The Training

The Buddha told Bhadrapāla, “If Bodhisattvas aspire to attain this samādhi quickly, they should stand in great faith. Those who train themselves in accordance with the Dharma can attain this samādhi. Do not raise any doubts, even as slight as a hair. This Dharma of Concentrated Mind is also called the Bodhisattva Way Surpassing All Other Ways.”
[Then the Buddha spoke in verse:]

With a single thought, believe in this Dharma.
Following the teachings heard, think only of one object.
Keep only one thought, ceasing all other thoughts.
Stand firm in your faith, without any doubts.
Progress energetically, never negligent or indolent.

Think of neither existence nor nonexistence, neither progress nor regress.
Think of neither front nor back, neither left nor right.
Think of neither nonexistence nor existence, neither far nor near.
Think of neither pain nor itch, neither hunger nor thirst.
Think of neither cold nor hot, neither pain nor pleasure.
Think of neither birth nor old age, neither illness nor death.
Think of neither body nor life, nor longevity.
Think of neither wealth nor poverty, neither nobility nor lowliness.
Think of neither sense objects nor desires.
Think of neither large nor small, neither long nor short.
Think of neither beauty nor ugliness.
Think of neither evil nor good, neither anger nor delight.
Think of neither rising nor sitting, neither proceeding nor stopping.
Think of neither the sūtras nor the Dharma.
Think of neither right nor wrong, neither grasping nor abandoning.
Think of neither perception nor consciousness.
Think of neither cessation nor continuation.
Think of neither emptiness nor true reality.
Think of neither heavy nor light, neither hard nor easy.
Think of neither deep nor shallow, neither broad nor narrow.
Think of neither father nor mother, neither wife nor children.
Think of neither friends nor acquaintances, neither love nor hatred.
Think of neither gain nor loss, neither success nor failure.
Think of neither clarity nor turbidity.

Cease all thoughts and be vigilant for a given period of time, never distracted.
Progress energetically, never negligent or indolent.
Do not count the years, nor feel tired in a single day.
Hold one thought, never losing it.
Avoid sleep and keep the mind alert.
Always live alone and avoid gatherings.
Shun evil ones but stay near beneficent friends.
Serve illuminated teachers, regarding them as Buddhas.
Hold firm your resolve, but always be gentle.
Meditate on the equality of all things.
Avoid your hometown and keep away from relatives.
Abandon love and desire and live in purity.
Meditate on that which is asaṁskṛta and cease desires.
Drop distracting thoughts and learn the way of concentration.
Gain wisdom from words in accord with dhyāna.
Remove the three afflictions and purify the six faculties.
Cease lustful pursuits and leave sensory pleasures behind.
Do not be greedy for wealth or accumulate things.
Know contentment in eating and do not covet flavors.
Take care never to eat any sentient being [dead or alive].
Dress in accordance with the Dharma, and do not be ornately adorned.
Do not tease others, nor be proud or arrogant.
Do not be conceited, nor elevate yourself.
Expound sūtras in accordance with the Dharma.
Understand that the body has always been like an illusion.
Do not be engrossed by the [five] aggregates, nor revel in the [twelve] sensory fields.
The five aggregates are like thieves, and the four domains are like snakes.
All are impermanent and all are unstable.
Recognize that there has never been an everlasting ruler in one,
Only convergence and divergence of causes and conditions.
Understand and know that nothing in existence is real.
Bestow lovingkindness and sympathy on all.
Give alms to the poor and relief to the unfortunate.

This is meditative concentration in the Bodhisattva Way, which
Will unfold the fundamental wisdom and elicit myriads of wisdom-knowledge.

The Buddha told Bhadrapāla, “One who trains in this way will attain the samādhi in which present Buddhas all stand before one. If, among bhikṣus, bhikṣuṇīs, upāsakas, and upāsikās, there are those who want to train according to this Dharma, they should fully observe their precepts and live alone in a place to think of Amitābha Buddha, who now is in the west. According to the teachings heard, one should also think of His land called Sukhāvatī, which is ten million koṭi Buddha Lands away from here. One should single-mindedly contemplate for one day and one night, or even seven days and seven nights. After the seventh day, one will see Him. By analogy, one sees things in a dream, not knowing whether it is day or night, indoors or outdoors, and one’s sight is impervious to darkness or obstructions.
“Bhadrapāla, Bodhisattvas should do this contemplation. Then huge mountains, Sumeru Mountains, and dark places in the intervening Buddha Lands will all fall away, not posing any obstruction. These Bodhisattvas will see across without having the God-eye, hear across without having the God-ear, and travel to that Buddha Land without possessing transcendental powers. It is not that they have died here and been reborn there, but that they can sit here and see everything there.
“As an analogy, a man hears that in the kingdom of Vaiśālī lives a prostitute named Sumanā; a second man hears of a prostitute called Āmrapālī; and a third man hears that Utpalavarṇā has become a prostitute. These three men have never seen those three women, but they have heard of them and their lust is ignited. They all live in Rājagṛha, and they have lustful thoughts concurrently. Each of them goes, in a dream, to the woman he thinks of and spends the night with her. When they wake up, they all remember their own dreams.”
The Buddha told Bhadrapāla, “The three women I have mentioned serve as an analogy. You may use this story to expound the sūtras, enabling others to unfold their wisdom so that they will arrive at the Ground of No Regress on the unsurpassed true Way. When they eventually attain Buddhahood, they all will be called Superb Enlightenment.”
The Buddha said, “Bodhisattvas in this land can see Amitābha Buddha by thinking intently only of Him. When they see Him, they can ask, ‘What Dharma should I uphold in order to be reborn in Your land?’ Amitābha Buddha will reply, ‘Those who wish to be reborn in my land should think of my name. If they can continue without rest, they will succeed in being reborn here.’”
The Buddha said, “Because of intent thinking, one will be reborn there. One should always think of Amitābha Buddha’s body with the thirty-two physical marks and the eighty excellent characteristics, unequaled in its majesty, radiating vast bright light to illuminate everywhere. He teaches, in the assembly of Bodhisattvas and bhikṣus, that dharmas [in true reality] are empty and, therefore, indestructible. Why? Because indestructible are all dharmas, such as form, pain, itch, thinking, perception, birth, death, consciousness, spirit, earth, water, fire, wind, the human world, and the heaven world, including Great Brahma Heaven. By thinking of a Buddha, one attains the Samādhi of Emptiness.”
The Buddha told Bhadrapāla, “Who have attained this Bodhisattva samādhi? My disciple Mahākāśyapa, Indraguṇa Bodhisattva, the god-son Good Virtue, and those who already know this samādhi, have attained it through training. Hence, Bhadrapāla, those who wish to see present Buddhas [in worlds] in the ten directions should think of their lands single-mindedly, without other thoughts. Then they will be able to see them. As an analogy, one travels to a distant land and thinks of family and kin in one’s hometown. In a dream, one returns home, sees one’s family and relatives, and enjoys talking to them. After waking, one tells one’s dream to friends.”
The Buddha said, “If Bodhisattvas hear of a Buddha’s name and wish to see Him, they will be able to see Him by constantly thinking of Him and His land. For example, a bhikṣu visualizes before him the bones of a corpse, turning blue, white, red, or black. The colors are not brought by anyone, but are imagined by his mind. Likewise, by virtue of Buddhas’ awesome spiritual power, Bodhisattvas who skillfully abide in this samādhi can see, as they wish, a Buddha of any land. Why? Because they are able to see Him by virtue of three powers: the power of Buddhas, the power of the samādhi, and the power of their own merit.
“As an analogy, a handsome young man dressed in fine clothes wants to see his own face. He can see his reflection by looking into a hand mirror, pure oil, clear water, or a crystal. Does his reflection come from the outside into the mirror, oil, water, or crystal?”
Bhadrapāla replied, “No, it does not. God of Gods, it is because of the clarity of the mirror, oil, water, or crystal, that the man can see his reflection. His reflection comes from neither the inside [of the medium] nor the outside.”
The Buddha said, “Very good, Bhadrapāla. Because the medium is clear, the reflection is clear. Likewise, if one wishes to see a Buddha, one with a pure mind will be able to see. When one sees Him, one can ask questions, and He will give a reply. Having heard the teachings, one will be exultant and think: ‘Where does this Buddha come from and where am I going? As I think of this Buddha, He comes from nowhere and I am going nowhere. As I think of the desire realm, the form realm, and the formless realm, thesethree realms are formed by my mind. I can see what I think of. The mind forms a Buddha for itself to see; the mind is the Buddha mind. As my mind forms a Buddha, my mind is the Buddha; my mind is the Tathāgata; my mind is my body.’
“Although the mind sees a Buddha, the mind neither knows itself nor sees itself. The mind with perceptions is saṁsāra; the mind without perceptions is nirvāṇa. Dharmas as perceived are not something pleasurable. They are empty thoughts, nothing real. This is what Bodhisattvas see as they abide in this samādhi.”
Then the Buddha spoke in verse:

The mind does not know itself; the mind does not see itself.
The mind that fabricates perceptions is false; the mind without perceptions is nirvāṇa.
Dharmas are not firm, only founded upon thinking.
Those who see emptiness with this understanding are free from perceptions and expectations.

Chapter 3
Four Things to Do

The Buddha continued, “There are four things through which Bodhisattvas can quickly attain this samādhi. First, have faith that no one can destroy. Second, make energetic progress that nothing can deter. Third, have wisdom-knowledge with which no one else’s can compare. Fourth, always work under a beneficent teacher. These are the four things.
There are another four things which will enable one to attain this samādhi quickly. First, do not engage in worldly thinking for three months, not even during a finger snap. Second, do not sleep for three months, not even during a finger snap. Third, do walking meditation for three months without any rest, except when eating and so forth. Fourth, expound sūtras to others, not expecting their offerings. These are the four things.
There are another four things which will enable one to attain this samādhi quickly. First, take people to the Buddha. Second, gather people to have them hear the teachings. Third, have no jealousy. Fourth, have people learn the Buddha Way. These are the four things.
There are another four things which will enable one to attain this samādhi quickly. First, construct Buddhas’ images. Second, copy this sūtra on fine fabric. Third, teach the conceited ones to enter the Buddha Way. Fourth, always protect and uphold the Buddha Dharma. These are the four things.”
Then the Buddha spoke in verse:

Always believe and delight in the Buddha Dharma.
Progress energetically to unfold profound wisdom.
Disseminate and pronounce the Dharma to others.
Guard against greed for offerings.
Discard desires with good understanding.
Always think of Buddhas, who have awesome virtue,
And see and know dharmas in limitless diversity.
Past Buddhas, future Buddhas,
And present Buddhas, revered among men,
With no more afflictions to discharge,
Are golden in color and have superb physical marks.
They give firm teachings with wisdom beyond the ultimate.
Listen to this Dharma with an undistracted mind.
Forever discard the way of negligence and indolence.
Never bear malice toward others.
Respect teachers as you do Buddhas.
Take care not to have doubts about this sūtra,
Which is praised by all Buddhas.
Always construct and enshrine Buddhas’ images.
Always persuade others to learn this Dharma
And practice it to attain this samādhi.

The Buddha told Bhadrapāla, “Those who want to learn this samādhi should respect their teachers, serve them, and make offerings to them, regarding them as Buddhas. Those who see their teachers as less than Buddhas will have difficulty attaining this samādhi. Bodhisattvas who respect beneficent teachers from whom they have learned this samādhi can advance. By virtue of Buddhas’ awesome spiritual power, when they face the east, they will see a billion koṭi Buddhas. In the same way, they will see Buddhas [in worlds] in the ten directions. By analogy, one observes the night sky and sees myriads of stars. Bodhisattvas who wish to see present Buddhas all standing before them should respect beneficent teachers, not looking for their faults. Never negligent or indolent, they should fully train in giving alms, observing precepts, enduring adversity, and making energetic progress single-mindedly.”

Chapter 4
The Analogies

The Buddha told Bhadrapāla, “Bodhisattvas who have attained this samādhi but do not progress energetically are like those who are shipwrecked midway while crossing an immense ocean on a ship fully loaded with treasures. People in Jambudvīpa will all be in tremendous anguish, concerned about the loss of their treasures. If Bodhisattvas have heard this samādhi but do not learn it, gods will all sadly say, ‘Our sūtra treasure is lost.’”
The Buddha said, “This samādhi is taught and praised by all Buddhas. Those who have heard this profound samādhi sūtra but do not copy, study, recite, or uphold it in accordance with the Dharma, are foolish. As an analogy, someone gives sandalwood incense to a fool, but he refuses to accept it, saying that the incense is impure. The giver says, ‘This is sandalwood incense. Do not say that it is impure. If you smell it, you will know that it is fragrant. If you look at it, you will know that it is pure.’ That fool closes his eyes, refusing to see or smell it.”
The Buddha said, “Those who have heard this samādhi sūtra but refuse to accept it are as ignorant as that fool. They defiantly argue that everything in the world exists. Not having realized emptiness, they do not know nonexistence. Alleging that their views accord with the Dharma, they say in mockery, ‘Does the Buddha have profound sūtras, as well as awesome spiritual powers?’ They say these contradictory words: ‘Are there bhikṣus in the world who are like Ānanda?’”
The Buddha said, “Those people walk away from the ones who uphold this samādhi sūtra. In twos and threes, they say to one another, ‘What do these words mean? Where did they get these words? They must have gathered together to forge this sūtra. It is not pronounced by the Buddha.’”
The Buddha told Bhadrapāla, “As an analogy, a merchant shows a precious gem to a foolish farm boy. The boy asks, ‘How much is it worth?’ The merchant replies, ‘If you place this gem in the dark, its light shines on the treasures that fill up that area.’”
The Buddha said, “The foolish boy still does not know that this gem is precious. He asks, ‘Can its value be compared with that of a cow? I would rather trade it for a cow. If you agree, it is fine. If you disagree, forget it.’ Bhadrapāla, Bodhisattvas who, having heard this samādhi, do not believe it and make contradictory remarks are like that foolish boy.”
The Buddha said, “Bodhisattvas who, having heard this samādhi sūtra, believe, accept, and uphold it, and train accordingly, are supported by those around them, and have nothing to fear. Fully observing their precepts, they are brilliant, and their wisdom is profound. They disseminate the Dharma and tell people to teach others, who in turn teach others, enabling this samādhi sūtra to remain in the world for a long time.”
The Buddha said, “Those fools have not made offerings or acquired merits in their past lives. They have instead elevated themselves, carrying on their slanderous and jealous ways. Greedy for wealth and benefits, they seek fame and reputation. They only want to make noisy remarks because they do not believe in profound sūtras. Having heard this samādhi sūtra, they neither believe nor appreciate it, nor learn it. Instead, they malign this sūtra, alleging that it is not pronounced by the Buddha.”
The Buddha told Bhadrapāla, “Now I tell you this. If good men and good women give, as alms, treasures that fill up the Three-Thousand Large Thousandfold World, their merit is less than that of those who hear this samādhi sūtra and believe and delight in it. Their merit surpasses that of the almsgivers.”
The Buddha told Bhadrapāla, “I now say these words, which will never change. Setting aside those who in future lives will follow evil teachers, if there are those who now have doubts about this samādhi I have pronounced, their merit is not worth mentioning even if in future lives they follow good teachers. These people will nevertheless defect [from good teachers] to work under evil teachers. Why is that they, having heard this samādhi, neither believe nor appreciate it, and choose not to learn it? They disbelieve because they have seen few Buddhas in the past and have little wisdom.”
The Buddha told Bhadrapāla, “I have the foresight and foreknowledge of those who, having heard this samādhi sūtra, will not laugh in contempt, malign, doubt, or suddenly believe and suddenly disbelieve, but will delight in copying, learning, reciting, and upholding it. They not only have accumulated merit under one or two Buddhas, but have heard this samādhi sūtra from one hundred Buddhas. When they hear this samādhi sūtra in their future lives, if they copy, learn, recite, and uphold it even for only one day and one night, their merit will be beyond calculation. They will arrive at the spiritual level of avinivartanīya on their own as they wish.”
The Buddha told Bhadrapāla, “Hear this analogy. Suppose someone crushes a Buddha Land into dust, then further pulverizes each dust particle into more particles. Is the number of dust particles produced from a Buddha Land very huge?”
Bhadrapāla replied, “Very huge, God of Gods.”
The Buddha said, “Suppose a Bodhisattva takes all these dust particles and places each in a Buddha Land. He then takes treasures that fill up all these Buddha Lands to make an offering to Buddhas. His merit is very little in comparison with that of those who have heard this samādhi sūtra and have learned, copied, recited, and upheld it. Even if they explain this sūtra to others only for a short while, this merit is beyond calculation. Even greater is the merit of those who have fully attained this samādhi.”
Then the Buddha spoke in verse:

If there are Bodhisattvas who seek merit,
They should pronounce and train in this samādhi.
Those who believe, delight in, and recite [this sūtra] without doubts
Have immeasurable merit.
Crushing one Buddha Land
Into dust particles,
One can give, as alms, treasures filling Buddha Lands that are
As numerous as dust particles.
Those who have heard this samādhi
Have merit greater than that of the almsgiver.
Their merit is beyond analogy.

I entrust you all to teach others
To progress energetically without negligence or indolence.
Those who recite and uphold this samādhi sūtra
Have already beheld 100,000 Buddhas.
As for the huge dread at the final moment of life,
Those abiding in this samādhi will have no fear.
Bhikṣus who train in this way have already seen me.
They will always follow the Buddha, never far from Him.
As the Buddha’s words never change,
Bodhisattvas should always follow His teachings
To attain quickly samyak-saṁbodhi, the ocean of wisdom.

Chapter 5
The Four Groups of Disciples

Bhadrapāla asked the Buddha, “Unrivaled God of Gods, if there are those who, after abandoning loves and desires to become bhikṣus, have heard of this samādhi, how should they learn, uphold, and practice it?”
The Buddha replied, “Those who, having abandoned loves and desires and become bhikṣus, aspire to learn this samādhi should observe their precepts with purity, without any flaw even as slight as a hair. To remain pure, they should dread the suffering of hell and refrain from sycophancy.”
“What is a flaw in observing the precepts?”
The Buddha replied, “Seeking form.”
“What is meant by seeking form?”
The Buddha replied, “If a person’s motive of observing the precepts for self-restraint is to be reborn in the next life as a god or a Wheel-Turning King, such a wish for pleasures, loves, and desires is called a flaw in observing the precepts.”
The Buddha told Bhadrapāla, “Those who protect their purity, fully observe their precepts, and do not adulate others, are always praised by the wise. They should give alms and progress energetically in accordance with the sūtras. Their resolve should be strong, and they should have great faith and sympathetic joy. Those who serve their teachers as they do Buddhas will attain this samādhi quickly. Those who are disrespectful and readily deceitful to their teachers will quickly lose this samādhi, though they have been training for a long time.”
The Buddha told Bhadrapāla, “Bodhisattvas who have heard this samādhi from bhikṣus, bhikṣuṇīs, upāsakas, or upāsikās should regard them as Buddhas and respect them without intending sycophancy. Bodhisattvas should never be sycophantic but always be earnest. They should always delight in living alone. Though not begrudging even their lives, they should not hope for others to make requests of them. They should always beg for food, not accepting meal invitations. They should guard their moral integrity and be content with what they have. They should do walking meditation, not lying down to relax. Those who are learning this samādhi should abide by the teachings in the sūtras.”
Bhadrapāla said to the Buddha, “Unrivaled God of Gods, it cannot be helped that, in future times, there will be negligent and indolent Bodhisattvas who, after hearing this samādhi, will not learn it diligently. However, there will be Bodhisattvas who aspire to learn this samādhi and progress energetically, and we will teach them to follow the Dharma in this sūtra.”
    The Buddha said, “Very good, Bhadrapāla, as I express my sympathetic joy,2 so too Buddhas of the past, future, and present all express their sympathetic joy.”
Then the Buddha spoke in verse:

Accept and uphold all that I say.
Always live alone and accumulate merit.
Guarding your moral integrity, do not join crowds.
Always beg for food, not accepting meal invitations.
Respect Dharma masters and regard them as Buddhas.
Avoid sleep and strengthen willpower.
Always progress energetically, without negligence or indolence.
Those who train in this way will attain this samādhi.

Bhadrapāla asked the Buddha, “If bhikṣuṇīs who seek the Bodhisattva Way aspire to learn this samādhi, what should they do?”
The Buddha replied, “Bhikṣuṇīs who seek this samādhi should not elevate themselves. They should be humble, neither self-dignifying nor self-aggrandizing. They should harbor neither jealousy nor anger, nor greed for wealth, benefits, or sense objects. They should protect their purity, even at the cost of their lives. They should always delight in the Dharma in the sūtras and learn as much as possible. They should discard greed, anger, and delusion, and they should not be greedy for fine clothing or adornments, such as necklaces of gems. Then they will be praised by the wise. They should respect beneficent teachers and regard them as Buddhas, without intending sycophancy.”
Then the Buddha spoke in verse:

If bhikṣuṇīs seek this samādhi,
They should progress energetically, never negligent or indolent.
Do not follow the mind of greed.
Remove anger and self-glorification.
Do not be arrogant, deceitful, or playful.
Always act in earnest, standing firm in the one faith.
Respect beneficent teachers and regard them as Buddhas.
Those who train in this way will attain this samādhi.

Bhadrapāla asked the Buddha, “If upāsakas who are training for bodhi have heard of this samādhi and aspire to learn it, what should they do?”
The Buddha replied, “Upāsakas who aspire to learn this samādhi should faithfully observe the five precepts. They should neither drink alcohol nor have others drink alcohol. They should not be intimate with women or advise others to be intimate with women. They should not be attached to their wives, nor to men or other women. They should not have greed for wealth. They should constantly think of renouncing family life to become śramaṇas. They should regularly observe the eight precepts in a Buddhist temple. They should always remember to give alms. Because alms are given to benefit others, after giving alms, they should not think: ‘I have gained merit.’ They should have great lovingkindness and respect for their beneficent teachers. When they see bhikṣus who observe their precepts, they should not readily talk about their faults. Having carried out these actions, they should learn to abide in this samādhi.”
Then the Buddha spoke in verse:

Upāsakas who aspire to learn this samādhi
Should observe the five precepts without breach or flaw.
They should always think of becoming śramaṇas,
Not greedy for wives, riches, or sense objects.
They should regularly observe the eight precepts in a Buddhist temple.
Neither conceited nor contemptuous of others,
Their minds do not expect glory, nor think of wants.
They should carry out the Dharma in the sūtras, without a sycophantic mind.
Abandoning stinginess and greed, they should give generous alms.
They should always respect bhikṣus and make offerings to them.
They should resolve to take the one training without being negligent or indolent.
Those who are learning this samādhi should act in this way.

Bhadrapāla asked the Buddha, “If upāsikās who have heard of this samādhi aspire to learn it, what should they do?”
The Buddha replied, “If upāsikās aspire to learn this samādhi, they should observe the five precepts and willingly take refuge in the Three Jewels. What are these three? They should take refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Saṅgha, never to follow other paths. They should not make obeisance to gods, nor worship spirits. They should not select auspicious dates. They should not be playful or indulgent, or think of sensory pleasures. Subjugating the mind of greed, they should remember to give alms. Delighting in hearing the sūtras, they should remember to study hard and respect beneficent teachers. Their minds should be vigilant, never negligent or indolent. They should offer a sitting-down meal to bhikṣus or bhikṣuṇīs who pass by.”
Then the Buddha spoke in verse:

Upāsikās who aspire to learn this samādhi
Should observe the five precepts without breach or flaw.
They should serve beneficent teachers and regard them as Buddhas.
They should not worship gods, nor idolize spirits.
They should stop killing, stealing, and feeling jealous.
They should never say divisive words to incite conflict among people.
They should be neither stingy nor greedy, but always remember to give alms.
They should not publicize the evil, but always praise the good.
They should refrain from sycophancy and sexual misconduct.
They should be humble, not self-aggrandizing.
They should respectfully serve bhikṣus and bhikṣuṇīs.
Those who train in this way will attain this samādhi.

Chapter 6
Support and Protection

The eight Bodhisattvas—Bhadrapāla, Ralinnāga, Gaujata, Naradatta, Suṣama, Mahāsusaha, Indrada, and Harandha—having heard the Buddha’s words, greatly rejoiced. They offered the Buddha 500 fine cotton garments and precious gems, and joyfully served the Buddha.
The Buddha told Ānanda, “Bhadrapāla and seven others are teachers to the 500 people who are with them. They will uphold the true Dharma, and teach and transform these people accordingly. Then these people will all be joyful, and their minds will be free from desires.”
At that time these 500 people joined their palms, standing before the Buddha. Bhadrapāla asked the Buddha, “How many things should Bodhisattvas do in order to attain this samādhi quickly?”
The Buddha replied, “There are four things. First, do not believe in other paths. Second, cease love and desire. Third, carry out the pure ways. Fourth, have no greed. These are the four. Those who do them will acquire 500 benefits in their present lives. For example, bhikṣus with the mind of lovingkindness will never be killed or harmed by poison, knives or other weapons, fire, or water. Even when a kalpa is ending with the world in flames, if they fall into that fire, it will extinguish, just like a small fire put out by a massive amount of water. Whether kings, thieves, water, or fire, whether dragons, yakṣas, serpents, lions, tigers, or wolves, whether forest phantoms, hungry ghosts, orkumbhāṇḍas, those who, targeting Bodhisattvas abiding in this samādhi, desire to bewitch them, kill them, rob them of their robes and bowls, or destroy their meditation and mindfulness, will never succeed. Unless such misfortune is brought about by their past karmas, things will be as I say, not different.”
The Buddha said, “Those who uphold this samādhi will not have ailments of the eye, ear, nose, mouth, or body, nor will they have anxiety in their minds, except for misfortune in response to karmas in their past lives.”
The Buddha said, “All gods, dragons, asuras, yakṣas, garuḍas, kiṁnaras, and mahoragas, as well as humans and nonhumans, will acclaim these Bodhisattvas. They all will support, protect, and serve these Bodhisattvas, and make offering to them. As they regard these Bodhisattvas with respect and wish to see them, so too will Buddha-Bhagavāns. If there are sūtras that these Bodhisattvas did not hear or uphold before, they will obtain them because of the awesome power of this samādhi. If they do not obtain them during the day, they will receive them in a night dream.”
The Buddha told Bhadrapāla, “I can describe, for one kalpa after another, the merit of those who abide in this samādhi, but still cannot cover them all. I have only briefly mentioned a few essential ones.”

Chapter 7
Sympathetic Joy

The Buddha told Bhadrapāla, “Bodhisattvas can think four thoughts to kindle their sympathetic joy in order to attain this samādhi. First, past Buddhas [when they were Bodhisattvas] attained this samādhi because of their sympathetic joy, who then attained, through self-realization, anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi, with full wisdom-knowledge. Second, innumerable present Buddhas [in worlds] in the ten directions [when they were Bodhisattvas] have attained this samādhi because of their sympathetic joy kindled by thinking these four thoughts. Third, future Buddhas [as present Bodhisattvas] will attain this samādhi because they also think these four thoughts to kindle their sympathetic joy. Fourth, I too have sympathetic joy.3
The Buddha told Bhadrapāla, “In regard to the four thoughts to kindle one’s sympathetic joy, I will use a few analogies. A person walks during his 100-year lifespan without rest, and he walks faster than the wind. Can you figure out the area he has covered?”
Bhadrapāla replied, “No one can calculate this. Only the Buddha’s disciple Śāriputra and Bodhisattvas at the spiritual level of avinivartanīya can figure this out.”
The Buddha said, “Therefore, as I say to Bodhisattvas, if there are good men and good women who give away, as alms, treasures that fill up the area traversed by that person, their merit is less than that from hearing this samādhi and thinking the four thoughts to kindle sympathetic joy. This merit is a billion koṭi times more than that from giving alms. Know that the merit acquired from having sympathetic joy is great.”
The Buddha told Bhadrapāla, “Far back, incalculable asaṁkhyeya kalpas ago, in a remote place lived a Buddha called Siṁhamati, the Tathāgata, Arhat, Samyak-Saṁbuddha, Unsurpassed One, Tamer of Men, Teacher to Gods and Men, Buddha the World-Honored One. At that time the continent of Jambudvīpa was 180,000 koṭi lis in length and width. There were 6,400,000 kingdoms, prosperous and densely populated. There was a great kingdom called Bhadrakara, ruled by a Wheel-Turning King named Vaiścin. He went to that Buddha, made obeisance, and stepped back to sit on one side. That Buddha knew his intention and pronounced this samādhi sūtra to him. Having heard it, the king, with sympathetic joy, showered jewels upon that Buddha as he thought to himself: ‘I should transfer this merit to people [in worlds] in the ten directions to give them peace.’
“After Siṁhamati Buddha entered parinirvāṇa, the king Vaiścin died. He was reborn in his own family and became the crown prince called Brahmada. At that time there was a bhikṣu called Jewel, who was pronouncing this samādhi sūtra to his four groups of disciples. Brahmada heard of it, and sympathetic joy arose in him. Exuberantly he took jewels worth hundreds of koṭis of great price and showered them upon that bhikṣu, and also offered him fine clothing. Resolved to seek the Buddha Way, together with 1,000 people, Brahmada became a śramaṇa under that bhikṣu. To hear this samādhi sūtra, he and the 1,000 people served their teacher tirelessly for 8,000 years. Because of hearing this samādhi sūtra, though only once, and thinking the four thoughts that kindled his sympathetic joy, he acquired excellent knowledge. For this reason, he subsequently saw 68,000 Buddhas. From each of these Buddhas, he heard this samādhi sūtra again. Through self-realization, he has become a Buddha called Tilavida, the Samyak-Saṁbuddha, Unsurpassed One, Tamer of Men, Teacher to Gods and Humans, Buddha the World-Honored One. Those 1,000 bhikṣus have also attained samyak-saṁbodhi, and all of them are called Tilajuṣa. They have taught innumerable people to seek Buddha bodhi.”
The Buddha asked Bhadrapāla, “After hearing this samādhi sūtra, who would not have sympathetic joy? Who would rather not learn, uphold, and recite it, and explain it to others?”
The Buddha said, “Those who abide in this samādhi will quickly attain Buddhahood. The merit acquired from only hearing it is incalculable. Much greater is the merit acquired from learning and upholding it. One should seek this samādhi teaching even if it is 100 or 1,000 lis away. How can one not seek to learn it when it is close by? Those who, having heard of this samādhi, aspire to learn and uphold it, should serve their teachers for ten years, paying visits and making offerings, which they dare not use for themselves. They should follow their teachers’ teachings and always remember their kindness.”
The Buddha said, “Therefore, I tell you this. If one travels 4,000 lis to hear this samādhi sūtra, one’s merit is incalculable even if one fails to hear it. Why? Because, with such motivation to make energetic progress, one will attain Buddhahood through self-realization.”

Chapter 8
Utmost Sincerity

The Buddha said, “In the distant past, there was a Buddha called Sacanama, the Samyak-Saṁbuddha, Unsurpassed One, Teacher to Gods and Men, Buddha the World-Honored One. At that time there lived a bhikṣu named Halan. After that Buddha entered parinirvāṇa, that bhikṣu upheld this samādhi sūtra. At that time I was a king, in the kṣatriyacaste, and I heard of this samādhi sūtra in a dream. Upon waking, I immediately went to that bhikṣu and became a śramaṇa under him. For the sake of hearing this samādhi sūtra, I served that teacher for 36,000 years. However, I was unable to hear it because time and again māra matters arose.”
The Buddha told the bhikṣus, bhikṣuṇīs, upāsakas, and upāsikās: “Hence I tell you all to learn this samādhi as soon as possible, never to lose it. You should properly serve your teacher and uphold this samādhi sūtra for one kalpa, 100 kalpas, or even 100,000 kalpas, never negligent or indolent. You should stay with a beneficent teacher and never leave him. Do not begrudge food, drink, life-supporting goods, clothing, bedding, beds, or precious jewels. If you do not have any, you should beg for food and offer it to your teacher. Work tirelessly to attain this samādhi. You should even cut off your own flesh to offer to your beneficent teacher, not to mention giving precious things. Serve your beneficent teacher, like a slave serving a great family. Those who seek this samādhi should act in this way.
“Having attained this samādhi, one should abide in it and always remember the kindness of one’s teacher. This samādhi sūtra is hard to encounter. There are those who seek for 100,000 kalpas but cannot even hear the name of this samādhi. How could anyone who has learned it not progress diligently? If there are those who give, as alms, treasures filling Buddha Lands as numerous as the sands of the Ganges, they cannot be compared with one who is learning this samādhi or one who has attained it, is progressing energetically, and is teaching it to others.”
The Buddha told Bhadrapāla, “If there are those who aspire to learn this samādhi, they need to have sympathetic joy in order to succeed. Students are enabled to learn it by virtue of Buddhas’ awesome spiritual power. They should copy this samādhi sūtra on fine fabric, consecrate the copies with the Buddha Seal, and make offerings. What is the Buddha Seal? It refers to freedom from deluded states—no greed, no quest, no perception, no attachment, no wish for rebirth, no intended life form for rebirth, no grasping, no concern, no abiding, no obstruction, no bondage, no existence, no desire, no birth, no death, no destruction, and no decay. This seal is the essence and the root of bodhi. It is beyond Arhats and Pratyekabuddhas, not to mention fools. This seal is the Buddha Seal.”
The Buddha said, “As I now pronounce this samādhi, 1,800 koṭi gods, asuras, spirits, dragons, and their retinues have entered the holy stream, becoming Srotāpannas, and 800 bhikṣus and 500 bhikṣuṇīs have become Arhats. Ten thousand Bodhisattvas have attained this samādhi, realizing that dharmas have no birth. Twelve thousand Bodhisattvas have attained the spiritual level of no regress.”
The Buddha told the bhikṣus Śāriputra and Maudgalyāyana, as well as Bhadrapāla Bodhisattva and others: “I sought bodhi for uncountable kalpas, and I now have attained Buddhahood. I uphold this sūtra and entrust it to you all. Study and recite it, uphold and guard it, and do not forget or lose it. If there are those who aspire to learn it, you should teach them completely in accordance with the Dharma. You should pronounce it fully to those who wish to hear it.”
After the Buddha pronounced this sūtra, Bhadrapāla Bodhisattva and the bhikṣus Śāriputra, Maudgalyāyana, and Ānanda, as well as gods, asuras, dragons, spirits, and their retinues, greatly rejoiced. They made obeisance to the Buddha and departed.

Buddha Pronounces the Sūtra of the Pratyutpanna Buddha Sammukhāvasthita Samādhi
Translated from the digital Chinese Canon (T13n0417)

Notes

    1. Bhadrapāla Bodhisattva, the interlocutor in this sūtra, is the first of the sixteen Upright Ones in Sūtra 25. He also appears in Sūtras 18 and 19, in which his Sanskrit name is translated by meaning as Worthy Protector. (Return to text)
    2. Here, the Chinese phrase is actually “zhuqi huanxi” (助其歡喜), which means “aid them to rejoice.” This phrase is found in another version of this sūtra (T13n0418), also translated by Lokakṣema (支婁迦讖, or 支讖, 147–?). However, in the later version of this sūtra (T13n0416), translated by Jñānagupta (闍那崛多, 523–600), used instead is the phrase “suixi” (隨喜), which means “express sympathetic joy.” This is the fifth of the ten great actions taught by Samantabhadra Bodhisattva (Sūtra 21), and it appears in many other sūtras. For consistency, all cases of “aid them to rejoice” are translated as “express sympathetic joy.” (Return to text)
    3. The corresponding passage in text 416, fascicle 5, chapter 15, better explains the fourth thought: “I now share the merit acquired from my sympathetic joy with all sentient beings so that we all have sympathetic joy and will acquire this samādhi, hear much of the Dharma, and attain anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi” (T13n0416, 0894b22–24). (Return to text)

 

Pure Land Links English and Chinese


Larger Amitābha Sutra (English)

Translation by Hisao Inagaki:

http://buddhistfaith.tripod.com/purelandscriptures/id2.html

Translation by F. Max Mueller:

http://web.mit.edu/~stclair/www/larger.html

Shorter Amitābha Sutra (English)

Translation from Chinese into English by J.C. Cleary

http://www.buddhistische-gesellschaft-berlin.de/downloads/amidabhasutra.pdf

The Sutra on the Visualization of the Buddha of Infinite Lifespan (English)

Translation by J. Takakusu; edited by Richard St. Clair:

http://web.mit.edu/stclair/www/meditationsutra.html

Translation by Charles Patton:

http://www2.fodian.net/old/English/comtemplationT0365-e.pdf

Translation by Hisao Inagaki:

http://www.fodian.net/English/Contemplation_Sutra.htm

Larger Amitābha Sutra (Chinese)

佛說大乘無量壽莊嚴清淨平等覺經會集本,民國夏蓮居居士會集

http://zh.wikisource.org/wiki/%E7%84%A1%E9%87%8F%E5%A3%BD%E7%B6%93

Shorter Amitābha Sutra (Chinese)

佛說阿彌陀經,姚秦三藏鳩摩羅什譯

http://zh.wikisource.org/wiki/%E9%98%BF%E5%BD%8C%E9%99%80%E7%B6%93

The Sutra on the Visualization of the Buddha of Infinite Lifespan (Chinese)

佛說觀無量壽佛經,宋西域三藏畺良耶舍譯

http://zh.wikisource.org/wiki/%E8%A7%80%E7%84%A1%E9%87%8F%E5%A3%BD%E4%BD%9B%E7%B6%93

http://book.bfnn.org/books/0031.htm

Selected Mahayana Buddhist Sutras (in both Chinese and English)

佛教經典

http://www4.bayarea.net/~mtlee/

Shurangama Sutra (Chinese and English)

楞嚴經 – 大佛頂首楞嚴經 – 大勢至菩薩念佛圓通章

– 唐天竺沙門般剌密帝譯 – 

Complete Shurangama Sutra in Chinese On-line (大佛頂首楞嚴經)

http://www.ucchusma.idv.tw/vajra/f1.htm#a01

Full English Text (Text only)

English translation by Dharma Realm Buddhist Association:

http://www.cttbusa.org/shurangama/shurangama_contents.asp

English translation by Charles Luk (mantra omitted):

http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/surangama.pdf

Full English Text with translated English Commentaries by Master Hsuan Hua:

http://online.sfsu.edu/~rone/Buddhism/Shurangama/Shurangama.htm

Liao-Fan’s Four Lessons for Changing Destiny (English)

By Liao-Fan Yuan

Liao-Fan Yuan originally wrote Liao-Fan’s Four Lessons in the sixteenth century in China. The book was intended to teach his son, Tian-Chi Yuan, how to recognize the true face of destiny, tell good from bad, correct one’s faults and practice kind deeds. It also provided living proof of the rewards and outcomes of people who practiced kind deeds and cultivated virtue and humility. Relating from his own experience at changing destiny, Mr. Yuan himself was a living embodiment of his teachings.

http://www.buddhistelibrary.org/library/view.php?adpath=46

http://www.amtb-m.org.my/english/aboutbudd/liaofan/original.htm

Pureland Learning College (Chinese)

澳洲净宗学院

Online talks and archives/collection of Master Chin Kung’s sharing
on Pureland Buddhism (Chinese)

http://new.amtb-aus.org/

24-Hr Telecast of Teachings on Buddhism and Confucianism (Chinese)

儒释道网路电视台

http://www.amtb.tw/tvchannel/play-1-revised.htm

Amitabha Pureland (English)

Introduction to Pureland Buddhism & Daily Quotes

http://www.amtbweb.org/tchem001.htm
http://www.amtbweb.org/tchquote.php

Animation Videos: Legend of Buddha Amitābha (English version)

on Google videos:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6701505242574583381

on YouTube Videos (4 Parts)

Part 1:

(Part 2-4, please click the “Video Responses” by YouTube member “terrycomic”)

10 Doubts about Pureland (English version)

http://www.purelandbuddhism.com/10Doubts.pdf

Pure Land, Pure Mind (English) 

by Master Chu-Hung
Translated by J.C. Cleary
Edited by Van Hien Study Group

http://www.geocities.com/amitabha48vows/chuhung1.htm

Buddhism of Wisdom & Faith (English)
Pure Land Principles and Practice

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

http://www.ymba.org/BWF/bwf0.htm

Mind-Seal of the Buddha (English)
Patriarch Ou-i’s Commentary on the Amitabha Sutra

Translated by J.C. Cleary
Foreword, Notes and Glossary by Van Hien Study Group

http://www.sinc.sunysb.edu/Clubs/buddhism/mindseal/content.html

www.sinc.sunysb.edu

Pure Land of the Patriarchs – (English)
Excerpts From Master Han-Shan Te-Ch’ing’s Dream Roamings

Translated by Dharma Master Lok To

http://www.ymba.org/pdf/HanShanPDF.pdf

Basic Concepts in Buddhism (English)

(karma, death and rebirth, etc.)

http://www.viewonbuddhism.org/

Five Sūtras of the Pure Land School (淨土五經) include (English)

(1) the Sūtra of Amitābha Buddha (Text 366),
(2) the Sūtra of Infinite Life Buddha (Text 360),
(3) the Sūtra of Visualization of Infinite Life Buddha (Text 365),
(4) the Actions and Vows of Samantabhadra Bodhisattva (Fascicle 40 of the 40-fascicle Mahāvaipulya Sūtra of Buddha Adornment (Text 293),
(5) Great Might Arrived Bodhisattva’s Thinking-of-Buddhas as the Perfect Passage (a subsection in the Śūraṅgama Sūtra (Text 945).

http://www.sutrasmantras.info/sutra0.html

* * *

佛典妙供首頁

http://www.sutrapearls.org/

菩提树下 – 情回中国

http://club.backchina.com/main/forumdisplay.php?fid=29

國外空間總列表

http://www.buddhist.idv.tw/J02.htm

一 花 一 世 界 一 佛 一 如 来 – 卍 红太阳 卍

http://blog.163.com/jxfy/

一心念佛(净土 佛号 圣号 佛七)mp3下载

http://www.goodweb.cn/music4.htm

求佛,佛歌大全,佛教网站,

http://namofo.cn/

佛教日历

http://foli.goodweb.cn/

佛說無量壽經親聞記(上)

http://book.bfnn.org/books2/1192.htm

佛說無量壽經親聞記(下)

http://book.bfnn.org/books2/1193.htm

* * *

Some Pure Land videos and links:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6701505242574583381

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ESp5Mt7pidQ&feature=channel
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ESp5Mt7pidQ&feature=channel

http://purelandlotus.blogspot.com/
http://buddhistfaith.tripod.com/purelandscriptures/id2.html
http://web.mit.edu/~stclair/www/larger.html
http://www.buddhistische-gesellschaft-berlin.de/downloads/amidabhasutra.pdf
http://www.geocities.com/amitabha48vows/bwf0.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amit%C4%81bha
http://www4.bayarea.net/~mtlee/
http://www.amtb-aus.org/
http://www.amtb-m.org.my/
http://www.amtb.cn/
http://www.amtb.org.tw/
http://www.fa-in.org/film/jk/
http://www.dba-newsletter.org/index.htm
http://buddhaamitabha.blogspot.com/

Source : “Like”on Facebook “Buddha Amitabha ( Amitayus / Amituofo / 阿彌陀佛 ) & Western Paradise Pure Land”

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


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

Daily and Periodic Rituals

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

 

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

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

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

Rites of Passage

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

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

Yearly Festivals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SOURCE Copyright © 1987 by Robert C. Lester

 

Let Us Part Ways- Original Letter to Elder Master Yin Kuang


Letter 8

~Let Us Part Ways~

(Original Letter to Elder Master Yin Kuang)

It took some ten years of Buddha Recitation for me to know something of its

wonderful meaning. I venture to think that the Pure Land method, as taught in such

writings as your Pure Land letters, is, in general, an expedient for ordinary people

of limited capacities. However, if people like ourselves, who are fully literate and accustomed

to exercising our minds, follow this method, we certainly cannot be reborn

in the Pure Land! According to my limited understanding, those who recite the Buddha’s

name seeking rebirth in the Pure Land should first understand “who is reciting

the Buddha’s name,” because only when we discover the real Master will Buddha

Recitation have meaning and rebirth be assured. This does not apply only to Buddha

Recitation. Anyone who recites sutras or recites mantras should also follow this path.

Nowadays, those who teach Buddha Recitation say that we should recite in a

mature way with an utterly focussed, “as if dead” mind in order to achieve rebirth

in the Pure Land. Do they not realize that if we are not clear as to “who is reciting

the Buddha’s name,” we cannot recite in a mature way with an “as if dead” mind?

Even if we were to recite one hundred thousand times each day, such recitation

would have no relationship to the issue of Birth and Death.

Some people even add that “ancient Masters generally concentrate on oral

recitation rather than meditation on the Buddha’s name.” I, on the contrary, would

say: “ the ancients practiced oral recitation only after they had achieved success in

meditation – those of limited capacities should not try to emulate them.” It is really

too bad that, these days, nine out of ten practitioners fail to understand this point.

I always do my utmost to caution people about this, but some laymen even think

that I have wrong views. Understanding the subtle meaning of the Dharma has sunk

to such depths that we can only lament and deplore the situation!

I am baring my heart to you today, and would beg you, Master, to certify my

understanding and expand on this truth. This is for the benefit of everyone, and

certainly not this writer alone.

Answer:

I cannot exhaust my praise nor commend you and your friends enough for the

thoughts behind your letter! You have very good intentions, wishing everyone to see

his Original Nature so as to achieve rebirth in the upper lotus grades. The Meditation

Sutra teaches:

Recite the Mahayana sutras, understand the Supreme Meaning, develop the

Bodhi Mind, counsel and exhort others to cultivate.

This must certainly be your intention.

Nevertheless, the Dharma should be adapted to the level of the listener. If

through failure to examine his level, you administer the wrong remedy, you will be

no different from an incompetent physician who kills his patients with the wrong

medicine. You should know that although the two Dharma methods, Pure Land

and Zen, have the same root and the same source, their methods of cultivation are

different.

The main tenet of Zen is to see one’s Original Nature, while the teachings of

Pure Land are Faith, Vows and Reciting the Buddha’s name to achieve rebirth in

the Pure Land. If most people today were of high capacities, your words would indeed

be extremely beneficial. However, on close examination, those of high capacities

are few and far between, while those of moderate and low capacities form the vast

majority. This being the case, failing to teach people to develop Faith and Vows

seeking rebirth in the Pure Land, while advising them to meditate on the Buddha’s

name [as a koan] is utterly detrimental.

This is because, while awakening to the Way through meditation on the

Buddha’s name would be a fortunate development, an utterly sincere Vow for

rebirth in the Pure Land would still be necessary.

Meanwhile, if meditation is unsuccessful and the mind constantly grasps at

the koan “who is reciting the Buddha’s name,” correspondence between the

practitioner and the Buddha will be extremely difficult to realize and the benefit of

the “welcoming and escorting” Vow will be lost.

Those who really know “who is reciting the Buddha’s name” are precisely those

who have already awakened and clearly seen their True Nature. Nowadays, how

many practitioners can meditate to the point of awakening to the Way (Great

Awakening)?

However, let us not speak about others. Even you and your friends have not

reached that level. How do I know? It is because if you had, you would never have

dared to make such statements as these in your letter: “the Pure Land method is an

expedient for ordinary people of limited capacities …; not knowing who is reciting

the Buddha’s name is not reciting in a mature way with an as-if-dead mind …;

reciting a hundred thousand times a day has no relationship to the issue of Birth

and Death …; the ancients practiced oral recitation only after they had achieved

success in meditation – those of limited capacities should not try to emulate them …”

In truth, while your intention is to benefit yourself and others equally, through

your words you have not only erred yourself, you have led others astray as well.

From now on, please desist from such talk. Otherwise, you will slam the door on and

bury the all-embracing method of the Buddhas to rescue sentient beings everywhere

– preventing this method from being known far and wide. Such a transgression is

tantamount to vilifying the Buddhas, the Dharma and the Sangha. You should be

careful indeed!

Since your understanding of the Dharma is not skillfully adapted to people’s

capacities, in that you attempt to bring a high-level Dharma to everyone, it is, in

the end, a one-sided (biased) attachment – and a great mistake! Not realizing this,

you think that you have correctly understood the subtle meaning of the Dharma

and therefore seek my certification. This monk, although lowly and not erudite,

would not dare to commend, acquiesce in and support such a request, which would

cause all of us to fall into the error of vilifying the Three Treasures!

If you do not believe the words of this old monk, let us part ways once and for all.

I would not dare try forcing others to abandon their own ideas and understanding

to follow my lowly thoughts. It is only because of your letter that I have reluctantly

offered some frank though limited views.\

I hope that you will reflect deeply on this letter.

Do Not Concern Yourself – Master Chu-hung


Do Not Concern Yourself
To Wu Ta-chun from Master Chu-hung

“Do not concern yourself with whether or not you will become enlightened.
Do  not concern  yourself with existence and non-existence, with inside and outside and in-between.
Do  not  concern  yourself  with stopping”  [shammata/samatha]and “observing”  [vipashyana/vipasyana].
Do not concern yourself with whether [this method of reciting the buddha-name] is the same or not the same as  other Buddhist methods.
If the feeling of doubt does not arise, do not concern yourself with who it is or who it is not [who is reciting the buddha-name]. Simply go on reciting the buddha-name with unified mind and unified intent without a break, pure and unmixed.”

When the teachings ‘click’ -Sogyal Rinpoche


When the teachings “click” for you somewhere deep in your heart and mind, then you really have the View. Whatever difficulties you face, you will find you have some kind of serenity, stability, and understanding, and an internal mechanism- you could call it an “ inner transformer”- that works for you, to protect you from falling prey to wrong views. In that View, you will have discovered a “wisdom guide’ of your own, always at hand to advise you, support you, and remind you of the truth. Confusion will still arise, that’s only normal, but with a crucial difference: No longer will you focus on it in a blinded and obsessive way, but you will look on it with humor, perspective, and compassion.
~ Sogyal Rinpoche

The Way Of Faith ~ by Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai


The Way Of Faith ~ by Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai

Those who take refuge in the three treasures, the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha, are called the disciples of Buddha. The disciples of Buddha observe the four parts of mind-control—the precepts, faith, offering and wisdom.
The disciples of Buddha practise the five precepts: not to kill, not to steel, not to commit adultery, not to lie, and not to take intoxicants of any kind.
The disciples of Buddha have faith in the Buddha’s perfect wisdom. They try to keep away from greediness and selfishness and to practice offering. They understand the law of cause and effect, keeping in mind the transiency of life and conform to the norm of wisdom.

A tree leaning toward the east will naturally fall eastward and so those who listen to the Buddha’s teaching and maintain faith in it will surely be born in the Buddha’s Pure Land.
It had rightly been said that those who believe in the three treasures of the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha are called the disciples of Buddha.

The Buddha is the one who attained perfect Enlightenment and used his attainment to emancipate and bless all mankind. The Dharma is the truth, the spirit of Enlightenment and the teaching that explains it. The Sangha is the perfect brotherhood of believers in the Buddha and Dharma.
We speak of Buddhahood, the Dharma and the Brotherhood as though they are three different things, but they are really one. Buddha is manifested in His Dharma and is realized by the Brotherhood. Therefore, to believe in the Dharma and to cherish the Brotherhood is to have faith in the Buddha, and to have faith in the Buddha means to believe in the Dharma and to cherish the Brotherhood.
Therefore, people are emancipated and enlightened simply by having faith in the Buddha. Buddha is the perfectly Enlightened One and He loves everyone as though each were His only child. So if anyone regards Buddha as his own parent, he identifies himself with Buddha and attains Enlightenment.
Those who thus regard Buddha will be supported by His wisdom and perfumed by His grace.

Nothing in the world brings greater benefit than to believe in Buddha. Just hearing Buddha’s name, believing and being pleased even for a moment, is incomparably rewarding.
Therefore, one must please oneself by seeking the teaching of Buddha in spite of the conflagration that fills all the world.

It will be hard to meet a teacher who can explain the Dharma; it will be harder to meet a Buddha; but it will be hardest to believe in His teachings.
But now that you have met the Buddha, who is hard to meet, and have had it explained to you what is hard to hear, you ought to rejoice and believe and have faith in Buddha.
On the long journey of human life, faith is the best of companions; it is the best refreshment on the journey and it is the greatest possession.

Click here for a free copy of The Teachings of Buddha by Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai

Karma


“ How people treat me is their Karma, how I respond is mine.” –truthful Buddhist quote

photo: WN / Yeshe Choesang A Tibetan monk with his national flag sit with mouths covered to symbolize Chinese silencing in Dharamshala, India

What is Karma?

The Pali term Karma literally means action or doing. Any kind of intentional action whether mental, verbal, or physical, is regarded as Karma. It covers all that is included in the phrase “thought, word and deed”. Generally speaking, all good and bad action constitutes Karma. In its ultimate sense Karma means all moral and immoral volition. Involuntary, unintentional or unconscious actions, though technically deeds, do not constitute Karma, because volition, the most important factor in determining Karma, is absent.

The Buddha says:

“I declare, O Bhikkhus, that volition is Karma. Having willed one acts by body, speech, and thought.” (Anguttara Nikaya)

Every volitional action of individuals, save those of Buddhas and Arahants, is called Karma. The exception made in their case is because they are delivered from both good and evil; they have eradicated ignorance and craving, the roots of Karma.

“Destroyed are their germinal seeds (Khina bija); selfish desires no longer grow,” states the Ratana Sutta of Sutta nipata.

This does not mean that the Buddha and Arahantas are passive. They are tirelessly active in working for the real well being and happiness of all. Their deeds ordinarily accepted as good or moral, lack creative power as regards themselves. Understanding things as they truly are, they have finally shattered their cosmic fetters – the chain of cause and effect.

Karma does not necessarily mean past actions. It embraces both past and present deeds. Hence in one sense, we are the result of what we were; we will be the result of what we are. In another sense, it should be added, we are not totally the result of what we were; we will not absolutely be the result of what we are. The present is no doubt the offspring of the past and is the present of the future, but the present is not always a true index of either the past or the future; so complex is the working of Karma.

It is this doctrine of Karma that the mother teaches her child when she says “Be good and you will be happy and we will love you; but if you are bad, you will be unhappy and we will not love you.” In short, Karma is the law of cause and effect in the ethical realm.


Remembering Buddha



Remembering Buddha


The Pure Land teaching began with the World Honored One Shakyamuni Buddha, and has been disseminated through the generations of sage worthies.
They have divided the one gate of buddha-remembrance into four types: buddha-remembrance through reciting the name [of Amitabha Buddha], buddha-remembrance through contemplating the image [of Amitabha  Buddha],  buddha-remembrance  through contemplating the concept [of Buddha], and reality-aspect (real mark) buddha-remembrance.
Though there are differences among the four types, ultimately  they  all  go  back  to  reality-aspect buddha-remembrance. Moreover, the first three types can be grouped as two:  contemplating the concept, and reciting the name.   [Buddha-remembrance through] contemplating the concept is explained in detail in the Sixteen Contemplations Sutra (Meditation Sutra).Here I will discuss reciting the name. The Amitabha Sutrasays:

If a person recites the name of Amitabha Buddha singlemindedly for [a period of from] one or two up to seven days without allowing anything to confuse the mind, at the end of that person’s life Amitabha Buddha and a multitude of holy ones will appear before him. As the person dies, his mind will not be deluded, and he will attain rebirth in Amitabha Buddha’s land of ultimate bliss.

This is the great [scriptural] source from which for myriad  generations  has  come  [the  practice  of] buddha-remembrance by reciting the name, the wondrous teaching personally communicated from the golden mouth [of Buddha]. An ancient worthy said:

As they contemplate the subtleties of the inner truth of phenomena, the minds of sentient beings are mixed [with other concerns than truth]. Since they practice contemplation with mixed minds, the contemplative state of mind is hard to achieve.  The Great Sage [Buddha] took pity on them, and encouraged them to concentrate on the recitation of the buddha-name. Because it is easy to invoke the buddha-name, there starts  to  be  some  continuity  [to  their buddha-remembrance].

This teaches that the work of buddha-remembrance through reciting the name is most essential for being born in the Pure Land. If by reciting the name one arrives at the reality-aspect, then this has the same efficacy as subtle contemplation. Beings of the highest caliber must not doubt this.
All you children of Buddha here today, [I tell you this]: in the gate of repentance, everyone must repent — even the sages of the vehicles of the disciples [sravakas] and the solitary [pratyeka] buddhas, even the great beings of complete  mind  [bodhisattvas],  even  those  of enlightenment equal to the buddhas, all must still repent. Since they all must equally repent, don’t they all have to be born in the Pure Land? How much the more so for those at the stage of ordinary mortals and those in the stages of study!
To all of you here today, disciples and others, whatever plane of existence you are in, I respectfully offer [this teaching] to you: all of you must wholeheartedly invoke the buddha-name, and seek birth in the Pure Land. I hope that Buddha’s compassion will extend down specially to you, and gather you in and save you.

Namo Amituofo


Amitabha Sutra is the popular colloquial name for the Shorter Sukhavativyuha Sutra or the Buddha’s Discourse of the Amitabha Sutra, is a Mahayana Buddhist text. It is one of the primary sutras recited and upheld in the Pure Land Buddhist schools.

It was translated from Sanskrit into Chinese by the Tripitaka Master Kumarajiva in 402, but may have existed in India as early as year 100, and composed in Prakrit language. The bulk of the text, considerably shorter than other Pure Land sutras, consists of a discourse which the Buddha gave at Jeta Grove in Sravasti to his disciple Shariputra. The talk concerned the wondrous adornments that await the righteous in the Western Pure Land, as well as the beings that reside there, including the buddha Amitabha. The text also describes what one must do to be reborn there.

In Pure Land and Chan Buddhism, the sutra is often recited as part of the evening service, and is also recited as practice for practitioners. It is also frequently recited at Buddhist funeral services, in the hope that the merit generated by reciting the sutra may be transmitted to the departed.

Amitabha is the principal buddha in the Pure Land sect, a branch of Buddhism practiced mainly in East Asia. According to these scriptures, Amitābha possesses infinite merits resulting from good deeds over countless past lives as a bodhisattva named Dharmakaya. “Amitabha” is translatable as “Infinite Light,” hence Amitabha is often called “The Buddha of Infinite Light.”