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A request to my fellow Bloggers : Join me and Buddhist Global Relief in our 4th Annual Walk to Feed the Hungry


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I am asking my blog followers, friends, fellow Buddhist and fellow bloggers on my blog roll, to join BGR and me in raising funds and awareness on the serious issues of hunger, worldwide. I am blessed with the most wonderful friends, new and old, all across this world, lets come together and work in harmony and solidarity to make an huge impact on world hunger. If not you, then who? We can do it!
Amituofo

With Metta,

Melissa Schaid / Changhui Upasika

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, feed just one.” -Mother Theresa 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vtDRMPq5En8

 

What we do

We combat hunger

For close to a billion people around the world, hunger is a real, terrible, and ever-present fate that hounds their every step. According to the World Food Program, each year ten million people, many of them children, die of hunger and hunger-related diseases.  Each day over a hundred million people wonder where their next meal will come from.  Because it is so commonplace, chronic hunger seldom makes the headlines, seldom whips up massive waves of public sympathy.  Its victims suffer in silence, almost forgotten by those with assured livelihoods and comfortably filled stomachs.

The Buddha, however, clearly recognized the frightful toll that hunger takes on human life.  In the Dhammapada, he said “Hunger is the worst illness.” When people go hungry each day, for months and years on end, every aspect of their life is degraded.  The body loses mass and withers away; the pangs of hunger remain constant; one thinks only about food, dreams only about food.  And the ultimate prognosis for chronic hunger is grim: debilitating illness, perhaps an early death.

It is in response to the cries of those afflicted with chronic hunger that Buddhist Global Relief came into being, and it is to redress this condition that its programs are formulated.  Our primary purpose is to combat hunger.  We address our efforts both to assist victims of sudden disaster who need emergency food aid, and to enable those crippled by chronic food shortages to develop stable, long-term strategies of improved food security.  Our endeavor is to ensure that the world’s poorest people are provided with adequate nutrition, and provided with it long into the future.  Our hope is that, when their nutritional needs are met, they will be able to unfold and actualize their fullest potential for goodness and meaning in their lives.

“In giving food, one gives five things to the recipients: one gives life, beauty, happiness, strength, and mental clarity.  In giving these five things, one in turn partakes of life, beauty, happiness, strength, and mental clarity, whether in this world or in the heavenly realm.”

– Anguttara Nikaya 5:37

Our programs

  • BGR fights hunger and poverty in the developing world. BGR raises funds for food relief from both private donors and philanthropic organizations.  We provide grants to relief organizations, primarily local ones, working in third world communities to provide emergency food relief and to meet the need for clean water, education, and supporting infrastructure.
  • BGR seeks to develop local capacity. BGR works in partnership with agencies, temples, and relief organizations already operating on the ground to provide the needed relief to victims of natural disaster, violent conflict, and drought.  It also supports projects aimed at developing better long-term methods of food production and management in countries stricken by poverty and under-development.  In each instance, our goal is to enable local communities to develop long-term sustainable solutions to the problem of hunger.
  • BGR does not proselytize. Our guiding purpose is to provide aid, not to convert others to Buddhism.  Although our initial projects are being launched in countries with largely Buddhist populations, we do not restrict our aid to Buddhists or expect those who receive aid from us to embrace Buddhism.  BGR respects the religious beliefs and practices of the people whom it serves and seeks to work in harmony with those of all faiths to alleviate the plight of the poor.
  • BGR seeks to educate and involve fellow Buddhists and other Buddhist groups in the effort to eliminate hunger. BGR seeks to make the elimination of hunger an integral part of our contemporary Buddhist identity.  We bring Buddhist perspectives to bear on many dimensions of global poverty through teaching and publishing materials from our Buddhist tradition that are responsive to the unique challenges of the 21st century.

Where we work

As a newly established organization with limited means, we are focusing initially upon countries in Asia with predominantly Buddhist populations.  However, we fully understand that hunger knows no religion, nor does the universal ethic of the Buddha’s teaching permit us to limit our help to any one group of people.  As our resources and abilities grow, we will expand our work to include other people in other lands who suffer due to malnourishment and starvation.

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Registration administered throughFirstGiving website
For further information, visit ourWalks and FAQ pages

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” -Mother Teresa 

Small ways you can help, that make a big difference: 

1.) Walk with us at our  many locations. http://www.firstgiving.com/BuddhistGlobalRelief

2.) Create your own walk with your Sangha, Church, Club, Community and please let me know you are creating a walk, We’d like to promote and share your posts and walks on our social media also.Contact me at NYCsocialmedia@buddhistglobalrelief.org

3.) Donate directly to Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi’s FirstGiving Page http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/bhikkhubodhi/new-york

4.) Walk in solidarity with us all, in a virtual walk which you can create online through FIrstGiving http://www.firstgiving.com/BuddhistGlobalRelief

5.) Join, post and repost BGR’s various social media formats and content.

An Invitation from Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi http://files.meetup.com/10146472/2013%20Walk%20Appeal%20Message-Open-rev.-2%20%281%29.pdf

BGR 2013 Walk to Feed the Hungry flier for your use at your event https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10202048194472137&set=gm.662092343803629&type=1&theater  

Buddhist Global Relief website http://www.buddhistglobalrelief.org/index.html

Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi’s personal BGR blog http://buddhistglobalrelief.wordpress.com/

BGR Facebook Fan Page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Buddhist-Global-Relief/140908022597845

BGR Twitter https://twitter.com/BuddhistGblRlf

BGR Compassionate Action Community NYC  Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/BGR.NYC.CompassionateActionCommunity/

BGR Compassionate Action Community NYC Twitter https://twitter.com/BGR_CAC_NYC

BGR Compassionate Action Community NYC MeetUp     http://www.meetup.com/BGR-Compassionate-Action-Community-NYC/

BGR on YOUTUBE http://www.youtube.com/user/BGRelief#p/a

6.) Become a  BGR volunteer: please contact Deena Scherer deenascherer@verizon.net

7.) Simply share this entire blog post.

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“At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done.We will be judged by “I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in.” -Mother Teresa

 

 

THE DISCOURSE OF THE TEACHING BEQUEATHED BY THE BUDDHA


THE DISCOURSE OF THE TEACHING
BEQUEATHED BY THE BUDDHA(just before His Parinibbana)

Translated into Chinese by the Indian Acarya Kumarajiva sometime prior to the year 956 Buddhist Era.[1]

I. OCCASION

WHEN LORD BUDDHA, Sage of the Sakyas, first turned the Wheel of the Dhamma, Venerable Annakondanna crossed over (the ocean of birth and death); while as a result of his last Discourse Venerable Subhadda crossed over likewise. All those who were (ready) to cross over, them he (helped) to cross over. When about to attain Final Nibbana, he was lying between the twin sala trees in the middle watch of the night. No sound disturbed the calm and silence; then, for the sake of the disciples (savaka), he spoke briefly on the essentials of Dhamma:
II. ON THE CULTIVATION OF VIRTUE IN THIS WORLD

1. Exhortation on keeping the Precepts

O bhikkhus, after my Parinibbana you should reverence and honor the Precepts of the Patimokkha. Treat them as a light which you have discovered in the dark, or as a poor man would treat a treasure found by him. You should know that they are your chief guide and there should be no difference (in your observance of them) from when I yet remained in the world. If you would maintain in purity the Precepts, you should not give yourselves over to buying, selling or barter. You should not covet fields or buildings, nor accumulate servants, attendants or animals. You should flee from all sorts of property and wealth as you would avoid a fire or a pit. You should not cut down grass or trees, neither break new soil nor plough the earth. Nor may you compound medicines, practice divination or sorcery according to the position of the stars, cast horoscopes by the waxing and waning of the moon, nor reckon days of good fortune. All these are things which are improper (for a bhikkhu).

Conduct yourselves in purity, eating only at the proper times and living your lives in purity and solitude. You should not concern yourselves with worldly affairs, nor yet circulate rumors. You should not mumble incantations, mix magic potions, nor bind yourselves in friendship to powerful persons, showing to them and the rich (special) friend-liness while treating with contempt those lacking (in worldly wealth, power and so forth). All such things are not to be done!

You should seek, with a steadfast mind, and with Right Mindfulness (samma sati), for Enlightenment. Neither conceal your faults (within), nor work wonders (without), thereby leading (yourself and) other people astray. As to the four offerings, be content with them, knowing what is sufficient. Receive them when offered but do not hoard them. This, briefly, is what is meant by observing the Precepts. These Precepts are fundamental (to a life based on Dhamma-Vinaya) and accord exactly with freedom (mokkha), and so are called the Patimokkha. By relying on them you may attain all levels of collectedness (samadhi) and likewise the knowledge of the extinction of dukkha (unsatisfactoriness). It is for this reason, bhikkhus, that you should always maintain the Precepts in purity and never break them. If you can keep these Precepts pure you possess an excellent (method for the attainment of Enlightenment), but if you do not do so, no merit of any kind will accrue to you. You ought to know for this reason that the Precepts are the chief dwelling-place of the merit which results in both body and mind (citta) being at rest.

2. Exhortation on the control of Mind and Body.

O bhikkus, if you are able already to keep within the Precepts, you must next control the five senses, not permitting the entry of the five sense desires by your unrestraint, just as a cowherd by taking and showing his stick prevents cows from entering another’s field, ripe for the harvest. In an evil-doer indulging the five senses, his five desires will not only exceed all bounds but will become uncontrollable, just as a wild horse unchecked by the bridle must soon drag the man leading it into a pit. If a man be robbed, his sorrow does not extend beyond the period of his life but the evil of that robber (sense-desires) and the depredations caused by him bring calamities extending over many lives, creating very great dukkha. You should control yourselves!

Hence, wise men control themselves and do not indulge their senses but guard them like robbers who must not be allowed freedom from restraint. If you do allow them freedom from restraint, before long you will be destroyed by Mara. The mind is the lord of the five senses and for this reason you should well control the mind. Indeed, you ought to fear indulgence of the mind’s (desires) more than poisonous snakes, savage beasts, dangerous robbers or fierce conflagrations. No simile is strong enough to illustrate (this danger). But think of a man carrying a jar of honey who, as he goes, heeds only the honey and is unaware of a deep pit (in his path)! Or think of a mad elephant unrestrained by shackles! Again, consider a monkey who after climbing into a tree, cannot, except with difficulty, be controlled! Such as these would be difficult to check; therefore hasten to control your desires and do not let them go unrestrained! Indulge the mind (with its desires) and you lose the benefit of being born a man; check it completely and there is nothing you will be unable to accomplish. That is the reason, O bhikkhus, why should strive hard to subdue your minds.

3. Exhortation on the moderate use of food.

O bhikkhus, in receiving all sorts of food and drinks, you should regard them as if taking medicine. Whether they be good or bad, do not accept or reject according to your likes and dislikes; just use them to support your bodies, thereby staying hunger and thirst. As bees while foraging among the flowers extract only the nectar, without harming their color and scent, just so, O bhikkhus, should you do (when collecting alms-food). Accept just enough of what people offer to you for the avoidance of distress. But do not ask for much and thereby spoil the goodness of their hearts, just as the wise man, having estimated the strength of his ox, does not wear out its strength by overloading.

4. Exhortation on sleeping.

O bhikkhus, by day you should practice good Dhamma and not allow yourselves to waste time. In the early evening and late at night do not cease to make an effort, while in the middle of the night you should chant the Suttas to make yourselves better informed. Do not allow yourselves to pass your lives vainly and fruitlessly on account of sleep. You should envisage the world as being consumed by a great fire and quickly determine to save yourselves from it. Do not (spend much time in) sleep! The robbers of the three afflictions forever lie in wait to kill men so that (your danger) is even greater than in a household rent by hatred. So, fearful, how can you sleep and not arouse yourselves? These afflictions are a poisonous snake asleep in your own hearts. They are like a black cobra sleeping in your room. Destroy the snake quickly with the sharp spear of keeping to Precepts! Only when that dormant snake has been driven away will you be able to rest peacefully. If you sleep, not having driven it away, you are men without shame (hiri). The clothing of shame (hiri) among all ornaments, is the very best. Shame can also be compared to an iron goad that can control all human wrong-doing; for which reason, O bhikkhus, you should always feel ashamed of unskillful actions (akusalakamma). You should not be without it even for a moment, for if you are parted from shame, all merits will be lost to you. He who has fear of blame (ottappa) has that which is good, while he who has no fear of blame (anottappa) is not different from the birds and beasts.

5. Exhortation on refraining from anger and ill will.

O bhikkhus, if there were one who came and dismembered you joint by joint, you should not hate him but rather include him in your heart (of friendliness — metta). Besides, you should guard your speech and refrain from reviling him. If you succumb to thoughts of hatred you block your own (progress in) Dhamma and lose the benefits of (accumulated) merits. Patience (khanti) is a virtue which cannot be equaled even by keeping the Precepts and (undertaking) the Austere Practices. Whosoever is able to practice patience can be truly called a great and strong man, but he who is unable to endure abuse as happily as though he were drinking ambrosia, cannot be called one attained to knowledge of Dhamma. Why is this? The harm caused by anger and resentment shatters all your goodness and so (greatly) spoils your good name that neither present nor future generations of men will wish to hear it. You should know that angry thoughts are more terrible than a great fire, so continually guard yourselves against them and do not let them gain entrance. Among the three robbers (the afflictions), none steals merit more than anger and resentment: Those householders dressed in white who have desires and practice little Dhamma, in them, having no way to control themselves, anger may still be excusable; but among those become homeless (pabbajjita) because they wish to practice Dhamma and to abandon desire, the harboring of anger and resentment is scarcely to be expected, just as one does not look for thunder or lightning from a translucent, filmy cloud.

6. Exhortation on refraining from arrogance and contempt.

O bhikkhus, rubbing your heads you should deeply consider yourselves in this way: ‘It is good that I have discarded personal adornment. I wear the russet robe of patches and carry a bowl with which to sustain life.’ When thoughts of arrogance or contempt arise, you must quickly destroy them by regarding yourselves in this way. The growth of arrogance and contempt is not proper among those wearing white and living the household life: how much less so for you, gone forth to homelessness! You should subdue your bodies, collecting food (in your bowls) for the sake of Dhamma-practice to realize Enlightenment.

7. Exhortation on flattery.

O bhikkhus, a mind inclined to flattery is incompatible with Dhamma, therefore it is right to examine and correct such a mind. You should know that flattery is nothing but deception, so that those who have entered the way of Dhamma-practice have no use for it. For this reason, be certain to examine and correct the errors of the mind, for to do so is fundamental.
III. ON THE ADVANTAGES FOR GREAT MEN GONE FORTH TO HOMELESSNESS.

1. The virtue of few wishes.

O bhikkhus, you should know that those having many desires, by reason of their desire for selfish profit, experience much dukkha. Those with few desires, neither desiring nor seeking anything, do not therefore experience such dukkha. Straight-away lessen your desires! Further, in order to obtain all kinds of merit you should practice the fewness of desires. Those who desire little do not indulge in flattery so as to away another’s mind, nor are they led by their desires. Those who practice the diminishing of desires thus achieve a mind of contentment having no cause for either grief or fear and, finding the things they receive are sufficient, never suffer from want. From this cause indeed, (comes) Nibbana. Such is the meaning of ‘having few wishes.’

2. The virtue of contentment.

O bhikkhus, if you wish to escape from all kinds of dukkha, you must see that you are contented. The virtue of contentment is the basis of abundance, happiness, peace and seclusion. Those who are contented are happy even though they have to sleep on the ground. Those who are not contented would not be so though they lived in celestial mansions. Such people feel poor even though they are rich, while those who are contented are rich even in poverty. The former are constantly led by their five desires and are greatly pitied by the contented Such is the meaning of ‘contentment’.

3. The virtue of seclusion.

O bhikkhus, seek the joy of quietness and passivity. Avoid confusion and noise and dwell alone in secluded places. Those who dwell in solitude are worshipped with reverence by Sakka and all celestials. This is why you should leave your own and other clans to live alone in quiet places, reflecting (to devdop insight) upon dukkha, its arising and its cessation. Those who rejoice in the pleasures of company must bear as well the pains of company, as when many birds flock to a great tree it may wither and collapse. Attachment to worldly things immerses one in the dukkha experienced by all men, like an old elephant bogged down in a swamp from which he cannot extricate himself. Such is the meaning of ‘secluding oneself.’

4. The virtue of energetic striving.

O bhikkhus, if you strive diligently, nothing will be difficult for you. As a little water constantly trickling can bore a hole through a rock, so must you always strive energetically. If the mind of a disciple (savaka) becomes idle and inattentive, he will resemble one who tries to make fire by friction but rests before the heat is sufficient. However much he desires fire, he cannot (make even a spark). Such is the meaning of ‘energetic striving’.

5. The virtue of attentiveness.

O bhikkhus, seek for a Noble Friend (kalyanamitta). Seek him who will best (be able to) aid you (in developing) the unexcelled and unbroken attention. If you are attentive, none of the (three) robbers, the afflictions, can enter your mind. That is why you must keep your mind in a state of constant attention, for by loss of attention you lose all merits. If your power of attention is very great, though you fall among (conditions favoring) the five robbers of sense-desire, you will not be harmed by them, just as a warrior entering a battle well covered by armor has nothing to fear. Such is the meaning of ‘unbroken attention.’

6. The virtue of collectedness (samadhi).

O bhikkhus, if you guard your mind, so guarded the mind will remain in a state of steady collectedness. If your minds are in a state of collectedness, you will be able to understand the arising and passing away of the impermanent world. For this reason you should strive constantly to practice the various stages of absorption (jhana). When one of these states of collectedness is reached, the mind no longer wanders. A disciple who practices (to attain collectedness) is just like an irrigator who properly regulates his dykes. As he guards water, even a small amount, so should you guard the water of wisdom, thereby preventing it from leaking away. Such is the meaning of ‘collectedness’.

7. The virtue of wisdom. (PRAJNA)

O bhikkhus, if you have wisdom, then do not hunger to make a display of it. Ever look within yourselves so that you do not fall into any fault. In this way you will be able to attain freedom from (the tangle of) the interior and exterior (spheres of senses and sense-objects–ayatana). If you do not accomplish this you cannot be called Dhamma practicers, nor yet are you common persons clad in white, so there will be no name to fit you! Wisdom is a firmly -bound raft which will ferry you across the ocean of birth, old age, sickness and death. Again, it is a brilliant light with which to dispel the black obscurity of ignorance. It is a good medicine for all who are ill. It is a sharp axe for cutting down the strangling fig–tree of the afflictions. That is why you should, by the hearing-, thinking- and development-wisdoms increase your benefits (from Dhamma). If you have Insight (vipassana) stemming from (development-wisdom), though your eyes are but fleshly organs you will be able to see clearly (into your own citta.) Such is the meaning of ‘wisdom’.

8. The virtue of restraint from idle talk.

O bhikkhus, if you indulge in all sorts of idle discussions then your mind will be full of chaotic thoughts, and though you have gone forth to homelessness you will be unable to attain Freedom. That is why, O bhikkhus, you should immediately cease from chaotic thoughts and idle discussions. If you want to attain the Happiness of Nibbana, you must eliminate completely the illness of idle discussion.
IV. SELF EXERTION

O bhikkhus, as regards all kinds of virtue, you should ever rid yourselves of laxity, as you would flee from a hateful robber. That Dhamma which the greatly-compassionate Lord has taught for your benefit is now concluded, but it is for you to strive diligently to practice this teaching. Whether you live in the mountains or on the great plains, whether you sojourn beneath a tree or in your own secluded dwellings, bear in mind the Dhamma you have received and let none of it be lost. You should always exert yourselves in practicing it diligently, lest you die after wasting a whole lifetime and come to regret it afterwards. I am like a good doctor who, having diagnosed the complaint, prescribes some medicine; but whether it is taken or not, does not depend on the doctor. Again, I am like a good guide who points out the best road; but if, having heard of it, (the enquirer) does not take it, the fault is not with the guide.
V. ON CLEARING UP ALL DOUBTS

O bhikkhus, if you have any doubts regarding the Four Noble Truths: of unsatis-factoriness (dukkha) and the rest, (its arising. its cessation and the Practice-path going to its cessation), you should ask about them at once. Do not harbor such doubts without seeking to resolve them.

On that occasion the Lord spoke thus three times, yet there were none who question-ed him. And why was that? Because there were none in that assembly (of bhikkhus) who harbored any doubts.

Then the venerable Anuruddha, seeing what was in the minds of those assembled, respectfully  addressed the Buddha thus: ‘Lord, the moon may grow hot and the sun may become cold, but the Four Noble Truths proclaimed by the Lord cannot be otherwise. The Truth of Dukkha taught by the Lord describes real dukkha which cannot become happiness. The accumulation of desires truly is the cause of the Arising of Dukkha; there can never be a different cause. If dukkha is destroyed (the Cessation of Dukkha), it is because the cause of dukkha has been destroyed, for if the cause is destroyed the result must also be destroyed. The Practice path going to the Cessation of Dukkha is the true path, nor can there be another. Lord, all these bhikkhus are certain and have no doubts about the Four Noble Truths.

In this assembly, those who have not yet done what should be done (i. e., attained to Enlightenment), will, on seeing the Lord attain Final Nibbana, certainly feel sorrowful. (Among them) those who have newly entered upon the Dhamma-way and who have heard what the Lord has (just said), they will all reach Enlightenment (in due course) seeing Dhamma as clearly as a flash of lightning in the dark of the night. But is there anyone who has done what should be done (being an Arahant), already having crossed over the ocean of dukkha who will think thus: “The Lord has attained Final Nibbana; why was this done so quickly?”

Although the Venerable Anuruddha had thus spoken these words, and the whole assembly had penetrated the meaning of the Four Noble Truths, still the Lord wished to strengthen all in that great assembly. With a mind of infinite compassion he spoke (again) for their benefit.

“O bhikkhus, do not feel grieved. If I were to live in the world for a whole aeon (kappa), my association with you would still come to an end, since a meeting with no parting is an impossibility. The Dhamma is now complete for each and every one, so even if I were to live longer it would be of no benefit at all. Those who were (ready) to cross over, both among the celestials and men, have all without exception attained Enlightenment, while those who have not yet completed their crossing (of the ocean of Samsara to the Further Shore or Nibbana) have already produced the necessary causes (to enable them to do so in course of time).

From now on, all my disciples must continue to practice (in this way) without ceasing, whereby the body of the Tathagata’s Dhamma will be ever lasting and indestructi-ble. But as to the world, nothing there is eternal, so that all meeting must be followed by partings. Hence, do not harbor grief, for such (impermanence) is the nature of worldly things. But do strive diligently and quickly seek for Freedom. With the light of Perfect Wisdom destroy the darkness of ignorance, for in this world is nothing strong or enduring.

Now that I am about to attain Final Nibbana, it is like being rid of a terrible sickness. This body is a thing of which we are indeed well rid, an evil thing falsely going by the name of self and sunk in the ocean of birth, disease, old age and death. Can a wise man do aught but rejoice when he is able to rid himself of it, as others might (be glad) when slaying a hateful robber?

O bhikkhus, you should always exert the mind, seeking the Way out (of the Wandering-on, or samsara). All forms in the world, without exception, whether moving or non-moving, are subject to decay and followed by destruction. All of you should stop. It is needless to speak again. Time is passing away. I wish to cross over to Freedom (from existence in this world). These are my very last instructions.”
Notes from the editor of the web edition
[1] Around 344-413 AD.

Print version published by The Buddhist Association of the United States (BAUS)

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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!
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With an open and broadened mind, one would not be disturbed by the environment. When you apply wisdom and make an effort to improve your environment—you will be at peace and every day will be a good day.   less

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

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

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

“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>>>

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 

“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.


 

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

 

 

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.

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

Words To Live By // The Gospel of Buddha


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

Ch. 58 The Buddha Replies to the Deva

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

The deva asked,

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

The Blessed One replied,

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

The deva said,

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

The Blessed One replied,

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

The deva said,

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

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

The Blessed One replied,

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

The deva asked,

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

The mind is everything. What you think you become.

The Buddha replied,

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

The deva asked,

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

The Blessed One replied,

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

The deva continued,

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

To conquer oneself is a greater task than conquering others.

The Buddha replied,

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

Hearing these answers,

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

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


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

Chapter IX

The Names of Buddhas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SOURCE

 

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


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

Daily and Periodic Rituals

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

 

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

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

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

Rites of Passage

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

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

Yearly Festivals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SOURCE Copyright © 1987 by Robert C. Lester

 

WISDOM, COMPASSION and EQUANIMITY




WISDOM, COMPASSION & EQUANIMITY

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

-Robert Pental

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

Namo Buddhaya

Stages of Mindfulness


Hwa Tsang Buddhist Monastery – Contents of Page.

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

BODHIDHARMA’S TEACHING By Venerable John Eshin


BODHIDHARMA’S TEACHING

By Venerable John Eshin

Bodhidharma was born around the year 440 in Kanchi, the capital of the southern Indian kingdom of Pallava. He was a Brahman by birth and the third son of King Simhavarman. When he was young he was converted to Buddhism and later received instruction in the Dharma from Prajnatara, whom his father had invited from the ancient Buddhist heartland of Magadha. Prajnatara was a master in the Dhyana school of Buddhism which was later transliterated to Ch’an in Chinese, Zen in Japanese and Son in Korean. It was Prajnatara who told Bodhidharma to go to China. Bodhidharma arrived in China about 475, traveled around for a few years and finally settled at Shaolin temple.

Bodhidharma had only a few disciples, including laypeople, both men and women. His was the first teaching of the Dhyana school outside of India. It was in China, Korea and Japan that this school would flourish. Bodhidharma’s teachings were recorded. Seventh and eighth century copies have been discovered earlier this century in the TunHuang caves. His best known sermon is ‘Outline of Practice’.

‘Many roads lead to the Way, but basically there are only two: reason and practice. To enter by reason means to realize the essence through instruction and to believe all living things share the same true nature, which isn’t apparent because it’s shrouded by sensation and delusion. Those who turn from delusion back to reality, who meditate on walls, the absence of self and other, the oneness of mortal and sage, and who remain unmoved even by sutras are completely in accord and unspoken agreement with reason. Without moving, without effort, they enter, we say, by reason’.

‘Way’ or Tao is used to translate Dharma and Bodhi when Buddhism was introduced to China.

“Reason and practice’ complement each other. One must practice what one understands and learns, and one must understand one’s practice otherwise it may become misguided.

‘Same true nature’ is Buddha Nature or True Self. We all know our individual selves, our ‘me’ self. This is a limited and unclear self, one that we have developed unknowingly through our upbringing and conditioning. Buddhism points out that we can access or develop our realized self, called Buddha Nature.

‘Isn’t apparent’ refers to the inherent Buddha Nature that is hidden by our mistaken functioning of mind. We sense objects through our sense organs. Our mind then separates from these objects, becomes dualistic, and all sorts of dualistic comparing, liking and disliking, attachment and avoidance, love and hate, arise. Buddhism strongly points out it is the dualistic separating of inside/outside, subject and object, man and woman, person and surroundings, that is the root of all our suffering. It is not simply the polarities, man and woman, person and surrounding, or subject and object, in themselves. It is when the two polarities are taken as fundamentally separate and dualistic that suffering begins.

‘Turn back to reality’ is Bodhidharma clear instruction to regain our original Buddha Nature, before our mind became dualistic, when we are at home with ourselves and our life and everything/one in it. ‘Turn back’ is certainly true expression. We can remember or see in babies a mind that is very non-dualistic and with a small sense of ‘my’ self. As children ‘our’ selves became stronger and more autonomic yet still have the original pure, clear mind. Somehow, as we became adults, we became unbalanced towards ‘my’ self and the original mind became forgotten. ‘Turn back’ is acknowledging that our true self has always been with us, it’s just that we have lost touch with it.

‘Meditate’ is the way of Dhyana. Today meditate often means to gain a subjective sense of peace or happiness. However, Dhyana is more like contemplation, the clear contemplation of the workings of our mind. The contemplative process is described in a very detailed way in Buddhism. Buddhism describes the many stages, styles and levels in the contemplation process that leads to, and in fact is, the realization of our true selves.

‘Absence of self and other’ is the first and third of Buddhism’s Three Marks of Existence. These are Anitya or impermanence and Anatman or no-fixed-self. This phrase also indicates the lack of dualistic separation between ourselves and others. This is the basis of compassion. Others are equally worthy of respect and concern because fundamentally others are ourselves, strange as it may seem at first.

‘Oneness of mortal and sage’ is Bodhidharma pointing to the fact that even Shakyamuni was a human, he was not divine. The potential of enlightenment is within all of us. Through practice and understanding we can also progress through the stages of Bodhisattvahood, right to Buddhahood.

‘Unmoved even by sutras’ is to abide in samadhi or the mind of oneness and non-duality. In samadhi we are ‘at one with’ and not reacting to the sutras. To be ‘at one with’ is the mind of compassion and here we are closely in accord with the sutras.

‘Without moving, without effort, they enter, we say, by reason’. Here Bodhidharma is summarizing his comments on the way of reason. The way or state of Buddha Nature is entered by becoming one with the instructions and teachings. We do not have to go to another place or time to gain our Buddha Nature. It has always been with us, we cannot fundamentally lose it, it is losing touch with it that happens. To realize the teachings is to be enlightened by reason.

Next time Bodhidharma’s comments on practice will be investigated. He starts by stating ‘To enter by practice refers to four all-inclusive practices: suffering in justice, adapting to conditions, seeking nothing, and practicing the Dharma’. These reflect the Four Noble Truths and Bodhidharma goes into just how to practice these.

‘Many roads lead to the Way, but basically there are only two: reason and practice.

To enter by practise refers to four all-inclusive practices: suffering injustice, adapting to conditions, seeking nothing, and practising the Dharma.’

Bodhidharma is referring to Shakyamuni’s first teaching, which is the Four Noble Truths. Namely, all existence is marked by suffering; suffering has a cause; the cause can be bought to an end; the way to bring it to an end is the Eightfold Noble Path of right views, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort/devotion, right mindfulness, right Zen.

‘First, suffering injustice. When those who search for a path encounteradversity, they should think to themselves ‘In countless ages gone by I’ve turned from the essential to the trivial and wandered through all manner of existences, often angry without cause and guilty of numberless transgressions. Now, though I do no wrong, I’m punished by my past. Neither gods nor men can foresee when an evil deed will bear it’s fruit. I accept it with an open heart and without complaint of injustice’. The sutra says ‘When you meet with adversity don’t be upset, because it makes sense’. With such understanding you’re in harmony with reason. And by suffering injustice you enter the path.’

The first Noble Truth is often explained by enumerating all the types of suffering that occur. However, Bodhidharma indicates how not to be bent out of shape by them. First he points out that these sufferings appear as adversities. Secondly he emphasizes how to accept and embrace them, thus ceasing any resistance to them. This is done by understanding that it is our karma that gives rise to our circumstances and state of being. By patiently accepting these results from the past we are no longer emotionally reacting to them. We come to accept injustices as part of life. This provides a calmer state of being, one that is more able to practise the Dharma.

‘Second, adapting to conditions. As mortals we’re ruled by conditions not by ourselves. All the suffering and joy we experience depend on conditions. If we should be blessed by some great reward, such as fame or fortune, it’s the fruit of a seed planted by us in the past. When conditions change, it ends. Why delight in its existence? But while success and failure depend on conditions, the mind neither waxes nor wanes. Those who remain unmoved by the wind of joy silently follow the path.’

Before meeting the Dharma people live by reacting to circumstances. Grasping what seems pleasurable, avoiding what seems unpleasant, people strive to hold on to dependent pleasure and happiness. However, circumstances are impermanent and there is no way people can make circumstances always, eternally, provide their happiness.

Bodhidharma asks people to keep a steady mind, one that are not swayed by circumstances. This way one remains centred no matter what is occurring.

‘Third, seeking nothing. People of this world are deluded. They’re always longing for something – always, in a word, seeking. But the wise wake up. They choose reason over custom. They fix their minds on the sublime and let their bodies change with the seasons. All phenomena are empty. They contain nothing worth desiring. ‘Calamity forever alternates with Prosperity’. To dwell in the three realms is to dwell in a burning house. To have a body is to suffer. Does anyone with a body know peace? Those who understand this detach themselves from all that exists and stop imaging or seeking anything. The sutra says ‘To seek is to suffer. To seek nothing is bliss’. When you seek nothing, you’re on the path.’

One starts by seeking. Looking for enlightenment, peace, happiness, etc. Bodhidharma says it is only when we stop seeking outside that we can find the treasures of our mind and life. When we get attached to phenomena then our mind is buffeted by bad and good fortune. Bodhidharma uses the phrase ‘Calamity forever alternates with Prosperity’ referring to the two goddesses responsible for these in the Nirvana sutra. The three realms, with many sub realms, are states of confusion. These states are likened to a ‘burning house’ in the Lotus sutra. Confused attachment to phenomena is what Bodhidharma calls ‘custom’ and today we may say conditioning.

Seeking appears worthwhile at first. As we seek and gain insights we come to realize that by not looking outside for satisfaction we become open to true peace and steadiness.

‘Fourth, practising the Dharma. The Dharma is the truth that all natures are pure. By this truth, all appearances are empty. Defilement and attachment, subject and object don’t exist. The sutra says ‘ The Dharma includes no being because it’s free from the impurity of being, and the Dharma includes no self because it’s free from the impurity of self’. Those wise enough to believe and understand these truth are bound to practise according to the Dharma. And since that which is real includes nothing that is worth begrudging, they give their body, life, and property in charity, without regret, without the vanity of the giver, gift, or recipient, and without bias or attachment. And to eliminate impurity they teach others, but without being attached to form. Thus, through their own practise they’re able to help others and glorify the Way of Enlightenment. And as with charity, they also practise the other virtues to eliminate delusion, they practise nothing at all. This is what’s meant by practising the Dharma.’

Bodhidharma is showing the essence of Zen. When the mind is no longer dualistic it is in accord with circumstances. The mind that is apart from things is the mind that likes and dislikes, grasps or rejects, loves and hates, goes this way and that looking for peace. This is the mind that suffers. This is the mind that is self-centred.

By practising ‘at one with’ the suffering mind is gone. Our self and our life are still there but there is a harmony between inside and outside, self and other, subject and object. In fact, the sense of being separate has gone. Thus Bodhidharma can say there is no (impure) being, no (separate) self. This state is often called true self or Buddha Nature.

Buddha Nature naturally and spontaneously practices the Sila or Purities. Sila are not external precepts but the wholesome outpourings of an awakened being. For example, an awakened being is not caught up with thoughts of stealing or not stealing, but effortlessly leads a life of spotless integrity. Giving and charity are done without any thought of ‘myself’ that is giving. Awakened beings help others but without any concept of helping, thus there is the natural arising of compassion.

Bodhidharma ends by referring to the virtues or Paramitas. The practise of charity or generosity, morality or discipline, patience, energy or devotion, concentration or meditation, and wisdom are done without any concept of ‘myself’ doing them. Without any sense of ‘myself’ practising the Paramitas Bodhidharma can say ‘they practise nothing at all. This is what’s meant by practising the Dharma.’ It is the natural and spontaneous outpouring of Bohhicitta.


 

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


Attending to the Dharma to Enter the Path

Ven. Master Yin-Shun

 

( How to HEAR/Listen to the Dharma)

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

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

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



Investigating The Mind -Ajahn Sumedho


Chapter 1 from the book The Way It Is

Ajahn Sumedho

INVESTIGATING
THE MIND

The root of suffering is what we call avijja — not knowing, or ignorance of the way things really are. This basic ignorance is one of not understanding our true nature. We suffer because of views and opinions, habits and conditions which we do not understand. We live our lives in a state of ignorance, not understanding the way things are.

If you listen to yourself very much you can sometimes hear such statements as, I should do this but I shouldn’t do that, I should be this way, I shouldn’t be that way,’ or that the, world should be other than it is, our parents should be this way or that way, and shouldn’t be the way they are. So we have this particular verb tense ringing through our minds because we have an idea of what shouldn’t be or should be. In meditation listen to that opinion within yourself of what should be and what shouldn’t be, just listen to it.

Our tendency is to try to become something, and so we set a goal, create an ideal of what we would like to become. Maybe we think society should be other than it is. People should be kind, generous, understanding, loving, there should be brotherhood and people shouldn’t be selfish. The government should have wise leaders, the world should be at peace and so forth. But the world is as it is at this moment in time and things are as they are. When we don’t understand this then we are struggling. So listen inwardly to yourselves, to the constant crying, ‘I am this way, I am not this way,’ and penetrate this ‘I am, I am not’ with awareness.

We tend to just react and take it for granted that all the ‘I am’ and ‘I am not’ is the truth. We create ourselves as a personality and attach to our memories. We remember the things we learned, we remember what we’ve done — generally the more extreme things; we tend to forget more ordinary things. So if we do unkind, cruel, foolish things then we have unpleasant memories in our lives, we feel ashamed or guilty. If we do good things, charitable things, kind things, then we have good memories in our lives. When you start reflecting on this, then you are going to be more careful about what you do and what you say, because if you have lived your life foolishly, acting on impulse out of desire for immediate gratification, or out of an intention to hurt or cause disharmony or exploit others, you are going to be faced with a mind filled with very unpleasant memories.

People who have led very selfish lives have to drink a lot, or take drugs, to keep themselves constantly occupied so that they don’t have to look at the memories that come up in the mind.

In the awakening process of meditation we are bringing awareness to the conditions of the mind here and now, just by being aware of this sense of ‘I am, I am not’. Contemplate the feelings of pain or pleasure the memories, thoughts and opinions as impermanent, anicca. The characteristic of transiency is common to all conditions. How many of you spent the day really investigating this in every possible way while sitting, standing or lying down? Investigate what you see with your eye, hear with your ear, taste with your tongue, smell with your nose, feel and experience with your body, think with your mind.

The thought ‘I am’ is an impermanent condition. The thought ‘I am not’ is an impermanent condition. Thoughts, memories, consciousness of thinking, the body itself, our emotions — all conditions change. In the practice of meditation you’ve got to be quite serious, brave and courageous. You’ve got to really investigate, dare to look at even the most unpleasant conditions in life, rather than try to escape to seek tranquillity, or to forget about everything. In vipassana the practice is one of looking into suffering; it’s a confrontation with ourselves, with what we think of ourselves, with our memories, and our emotions, pleasant, unpleasant or indifferent. In other words when these things arise and we are aware of suffering, rather than rejecting, repressing or ignoring this, we take the opportunity to examine it.

So suffering is our teacher. It’s teaching us, so we have to learn the lesson by studying suffering itself. It always amazes me how some people think they never suffer. They think, ‘I don’t suffer. I don’t know why Buddhists talk about suffering all the time. I feel wonderful, full of beauty and joy. I’m so happy all the time. I find life one fantastic experience, interesting, fascinating and never-ending delight.’ These people just tend to accept that side of life and reject the other because inevitably what delights us disappears and then we are sorry. Our desire to be in a constant state of delight leads us into all kinds of problems, difficulties and situations. Suffering is not just because of massive things like having terminal cancer, or losing someone you love; suffering can occur around what is very ordinary, like the four postures of sitting, standing, walking, lying down. Nothing extreme in that.

We contemplate the normal breath, and the ordinary consciousness. In order to understand, existence, we contemplate ordinary feelings, memories and thoughts rather than grasp hold of fantastic ideas and thoughts to understand the extremes of existence. So we’re not getting involved with speculation about the ultimate purpose of life, God, the devil, heaven and hell, what happens when we die or reincarnation. In Buddhist meditation you just observe the here and now. The birth and death that’s going on here and now is the beginning and ending of the most ordinary things.

Contemplate beginning. When you think of birth you think of ‘I was born’, but that is the great birth of the body, which we can’t remember. The ordinary birth of ‘me’ which we experience, in daily life is ‘I want, I don’t want, I like, I don’t like.’ That’s a birth, or seeking to be happy. We contemplate the ordinary hell of our own anger, the anger that arises, the heat of the body, the aversion, the hatred we feel in the mind. We contemplate the ordinary heaven we experience, the happy states, the bliss, the lightness, the beauty in the here and now. Or just the dull state of mind, that kind of limbo, neither happy nor unhappy, but dull, bored and indifferent. In Buddhist meditation we watch these within ourselves.

We contemplate our own desire for power and control, to be in control of someone else, to become famous, or to become someone who is on top. How many of you, when you find out someone is more gifted than you are, want to put them down? This is jealousy. What we have to do in our meditation practice is see the ordinary jealousies, or the hatred we might feel for someone who might take advantage of us, or annoys us; the greed or lust we might feel for someone who attracts us. Our own mind is like a mirror which reflects the universe and you watch the reflection. Before, we would take these reflections for reality so that we became entranced, repelled or indifferent to them. But in vipassana we just observe that all these reflections are just changing conditions. We begin to see them as an object rather than as a self, whereas when we’re ignorant we tend to seek identity with them.

So in practice we are looking at the universe as it is being reflected in our minds. It does not matter what anyone else happens to experience; one meditator will sit here and experience all sorts of brilliant lights, colours, fascinating images, Buddhas, celestial beings, even smell wonderful odours, and hear divine sounds, and think, ‘What a wonderful meditation, such brilliance came, “the radiance” — a divine being came like a radiant angel, touched me and I felt this ecstasy. The most wonderful ecstatic experience of my whole life…waited my whole life for this experience.’ Meanwhile the next one is thinking, ‘Why doesn’t something like that ever happen to me. I sat for a whole hour in pain with an aching back, depressed, wanting to run away, wondering why on earth I’d come to this retreat anyway.’ Another person might say, ‘I can’t stand all those people who have those silly ideas and fantasies, they disgust me, they just develop this terrible hatred and aversion in me. I hate the Buddha image sitting in the window, want to smash it. I hate Buddhism and meditation!’

Now which of these three people is the good meditator? Compare the one who sees devas dancing in heaven, the one that is bored, indifferent and dull, or the one full of hatred and aversion? Devas and angels dancing in the celestial realms are anicca, are impermanent. Boredom is anicca, impermanent. Hatred and aversion is anicca, impermanent. So the good meditator, the one who is practising in the right way is looking at the impermanent nature of these conditions.

When you talk to someone who sees devas and experiences bright lights, you start doubting your own practice and think, ‘But maybe I am not capable of enlightenment. Maybe I am not meditating right.’ Doubt itself is impermanent. Whatever arises passes away. So the good meditator is the one who sees the impermanent nature of bliss and ecstasy, or experiences dullness, experiences anger, hatred and aversion, and reflects on the impermanent nature of those qualities, when sitting, walking or lying down.

What is your tendency? Are you very positive about everything? ‘I like everybody here. I believe in the teachings of the Buddha, I believe in the Dhamma.’ — That’s a faith kind of mind. It believes, and that kind of mind can create and experience blissful things very quickly. You find that some of the farmers in Thailand, people who have hardly any worldly knowledge, who can hardly read and write, can sometimes experience blissful states, experience lights and see devas and all that, and who believe in them. When you believe in devas, you see them. When you believe in lights and celestial realms, you’ll see them. You believe that Buddha is going to save you, Buddha will come and save you. What you believe in happens to you. You believe in ghosts, fairies, elves, you don’t doubt those things, you find those things happening to you. But they are still anicca, impermanent, transient and not self.

Most people don’t believe in fairies and devas and think such things are silly. This is the negative kind of mind, the one that’s suspicious and doubtful, does not believe in anything. ‘I don’t believe in fairies and devas. I don’t believe in any of that kind of thing. Ridiculous! Show me a fairy.’ So the very suspicious and sceptical mind never sees such things.

There is faith, there is doubt. In Buddhist practice, we examine the belief and doubt that we experience in our mind, and we see that these are conditions changing.

I have contemplated doubt itself, as a sign. I’d ask myself a question like, ‘Who am I?’ and then I’d listen for the answer — something like,’Sumedho Bhikkhu’. Then I’d think, ‘That’s not the answer, who are you really?’ I’d see the struggle, the habitual reaction to find an answer to the question. But I would not accept any conceptual answer. ‘Who is it sitting here? What is this? What’s this here? Who is thinking anyway? What is it that thinks?’ When a state of uncertainty or doubt would arise I would just look at that uncertainty of doubt as a sign, because the mind stops there and goes blank, and then emptiness arises.

I found it a useful way of emptying the mind by asking myself unanswerable questions, which would cause doubt to arise. Doubt is an impermanent condition. Form, the known, is impermanent; not knowing is impermanent. Some days I would just go out and look at Nature, observe myself just standing here, looking at the ground. I’d ask myself, ‘Is the ground separate from myself?’ ‘ What is that, who is that who sees the ground?’ Is that ground with those leaves, are those leaves in my mind or outside my mind?’ ‘What is it that sees, is it the eyeball?’ If I took my eyeball out would it be separated from myself, taken out of the socket, would I still see those leaves? Or is that ground there when I’m not looking at it?,’ ‘Who is the one that’s conscious of this anyway?’ And sound. I did some experiments with sound because the objects of sight have a certain solidity like this room — it seems fairly permanent, you know, for today at least. But sound is truly anicca – try to get hold of sound and hold it.

Investigating my senses in this way — can my eyes hear sound? If I cut off my ears and ear drums, will there be any sound? Can I see and hear in exactly the same moment? All sense organs and their objects are impermanent, changing conditions. Think right now, ‘Where is your mother? Where is my mother right now?’ If I think of her in her flat in California it’s a concept in the mind. Even if I think ‘California is over there’, that’s still the mind thinking over there’. Mother is a concept isn’t it? So where is the mother right now? She is in the mind: when the word ‘mother’ comes up, you hear the word as a sound and it brings up a mental image or a memory or a feeling of like or dislike or indifference.

All concepts in the mind which we take for reality are to be investigated: know what concepts do to the mind. Notice the pleasure you get from thinking about certain concepts and the displeasure that other concepts bring. You have prejudices, biases, about race, nationality — these are all concepts, or conceptional proliferations. Men have certain attitudes and biases about women, and women have certain attitudes and biases about men: this is just inherent in those identities. But in meditation, ‘female’ is a concept, and ‘male’ is a concept, a feeling, a perception in the mind. So in this practice of vipassana you are penetrating with insight into the nature of all conditions, coarse or refined. Insight breaks down the illusions that these concepts give us, the illusions that they are real.

Now talking like this, people might question: ‘How do you live in this society then, if it’s all unreal?’ The Buddha made a very clear distinction between conventional reality and ultimate reality. On the conventional level of existence you use conventions that bring harmony to yourself and to the society you live in. What kind of conventions bring harmony? Well, things like being good, being mindful, not doing things that cause disharmony, such as stealing, cheating others, exploiting others. Having respect for other beings, having compassion, being observant, trying to help: all these conventions bring harmony.

So in the Buddhist teaching on the conventional level we live in a way that is to do good and refrain from doing evil with the body and speech. So it’s not as if we are rejecting the conventional world ‘I want nothing to do with it because its an illusion’- that’s another illusion. Thinking that the conventional world is an illusion is another thought.

In our practice, we see that thought is thought, ‘the world is an illusion’ is a thought. ‘ the world is not an illusion,’ ia a thught. But here and now, be aware that all we are conscious of is changing. Live mindfully, put effort and concentration into what you do, whether you’re sitting, walking, laying down or working. Whether yu’re a man or a woman, a secretary. housewife of labourer or executive or whatever, apply effort and concentration. Do good and refrain from doing evil. This is how a Buddhist lives within the conventional forms of society. But they are no longer deluded by the body or the society, or the things that go on in society, because a Buddhist is one who examines and investagates the universe by investigating their own body.

Ajahn Sumedho


Repentance


Repentance

By Master Yin-Shun

The non-Buddhist or free thinkers always feel that it is an act of superstition when they see Buddhists repent or chant. To repent is to admit one’s mistake. Everyone of us, from the past until the present, have committed countless wrong and evil deeds. We have left behind the karma that brings us sufferings and obstructs our progress towards enlightenment and freedom. In order to reduce and get rid of this karma that is obstructing and bringing suffering to us, we should repent in front of the Buddha or the Sangha and admit our mistakes, so that the past evil karma can be reduced. There are methods of repentance in Buddhism and these are equivalent to the confession’ in Christianity.

This practice is very important for us to progress further along the path of Buddhahood. One must repent for oneself with great sincerity. Then this repentance can be beneficial and comply with the teaching of the Buddha.

People generally do not know how to repent. So, what should we do? The great masters in the past thus compiled some procedures and observances that one could follow if one wants to repent. They taught us to chant word by word, contemplate and understand the teaching behind it. The services of repentance teaches us how to pay respect to the Buddha, seeking for the Buddha and the Bodhisattvas, loving kindness and compassionate protection. We should admit our own mistakes, knowing that killing, stealing and adultery are evil deeds, sincerely repenting our past evil deeds and be determined to practice for a better future. These are the procedures of repentance taught by the great masters in the past. However, the most important aim of these services is to develop one’s mind to correcting oneself and repent sincerely for one’s past evil deeds.

Some people cannot even read the readily written procedures, hence, they invite the monks or nuns to lead them during the repentance. As time passes, it gradually turns out to be that these people do not even know that they should repent, and only employ the monks and nuns to repent for them. Some, when their parents or family members pass away, in order to release the past evil karma of the parents and the other family members, invite the monks or nuns to do a repentance service for them. They hope that relying on the merits of the Triple Gem, the death may be relieved from the realms of suffering. However, sometimes they do not understand the real purpose of the teaching and only emphasise on how big the ceremony should be; or do it for the sake of tradition, and spend money to employ the monks or nuns to do the services for them. They do not have faith in Buddhism, and do not show any sincerity in repenting themselves. In this case the purpose of these repentance services will not be achieved.

Gradually, the purpose of the services for repentance becomes vague. The Buddhist devotees do not repent and request the monks or nuns to do everything for them, As a result, the monks and nuns are busy with all these services all day; to do the service for this family today, and the next family tomorrow. And these services become the only activity in some of the monasteries, with the main task of the monks and nuns being neglected. This is one of the causes of lack of faith in Buddhism nowadays.

Repentance has to come from within. If one repents sincerely, even for just an hour, it has better merits than inviting a lot of people and conducting a few days services but not repenting oneself. If one understands this theory, and would like to show one’s filial piety to the one’s parents, the best merit will be to do the repentance oneself. It is not right to regard the services of repentance or other services as the occupation of the monks or nuns, as this will not bring any good to the society, but creates more misunderstanding and defamation for Buddhism.

By Master Yin-Shun

https://amitabhabuddha.wordpress.com/miao-yun-by-ven-master-yin-shun/common-buddhist-misunderstandings/

Chapter 6 Common Buddhist Misunderstandings ( Suffering/Emptiness/Out Wordly ‘Supra-mundane’ and other misunderstandings) from the Selected Translations of Miao Yun ,Book 1
(Master Yin Shun’s English translations)

____________________________________________________________________________

Discourse on Repentance 1

AT ONE TIME there was a large gathering of literary men and commoners gathered from Kwong-chow, Shiu-chow and other places, to listen to the Patriarch’s words at his monastery of Tso-kai. The Patriarch ascended his platform and delivered the following address:–

Come, good people. In Buddhism we should start from our Essence of Mind. Let us purify our minds always and from one momentary sensation to another. Let us follow the Path by our own effort, recognise our own Essence-body, realise that our own mind is Buddha, and free ourselves by a voluntary observance of the disciplinary rules,–then this gathering will not be in vain. You have all come from distant places: and your gathering here shows the affinity that exists among us. Let us now sit down together in the Indian fashion for Dhyana, while I first lead you in the ritual of Repentance (Ksamayati).

p. 258

When they were seated the Patriarch continued:–The first is the Sila Incense (Behavior), which symbolises that our minds are free from all taint of misdeeds, evil, jealousy, avarice, anger, spoilation and hatred. The second is Samadhi Incense, which symbolises that our mind is serene under all circumstances–favorable or unfavorable. The third is Prajna Incense, which means that our minds are free from all impediments; that we constantly seek to realise our Mind-essence with wisdom; that we refrain from all evil; that we do all kinds of good acts with no attachment to the fruit of such action; and that we are respectful toward our superiors, considerate of our inferiors, and sympathetic for the destitute and those in trouble. The fourth is the Incense of Liberation, which means that our minds are in such a perfectly free state that they cling to nothing and bother themselves neither with good nor evil. The fifth is the Incense of “Knowledge gained because of the attainment of Liberation.” When our minds cling to neither good nor evil, we should take care not to let them go to the other extreme of vacuity and remain in a state of inertia. At this point we should study and seek to broaden our knowledge so that we can understand our own minds, thoroughly understand the principles of Buddhism, be considerate of others in our dealings with them, get rid of the idea of “self” and “existence,” and realise that up to the time when we obtain enlightenment (Bodhi) our true nature (Tathata) is immutable.

Learned Audience:–This five-fold Incense perfumes us from within; we should not seek it without. Now I want to explain to you this Ritual of Repentance

p. 259

which is designed to expiate our sins whether committed in the present, the past or future lives; and whether physical, or by word, or by thought. (In Buddhist thought, sin is considered not in a legal sense as something to be punished, or forgiven, or atoned for by sacrifice, but in its cause-and-effect aspect of Karma and its maturing.)

Please follow me carefully and repeat together what I am going to say. May we, disciples (from such and such a village), be always free from the taint of ignorance and delusion. We repent of all our past, present and future sins and evil deeds committed under delusion or in ignorance. May their karma be expiated at once and may they never rise again.

May we, disciples (from such and such a village), be always free from taint of arrogance and dishonesty. We repent of all our past, present and future evil deeds done in an arrogant or dishonest spirit. May their karma be expiated at once and may they never rise again.

May we, disciples (from such and such a village), be always free from taint of envy and jealousy. We repent of all our past, present and future evil deeds done in an envious or jealous spirit. May their karma be expiated at once and may they never rise again.

As you will notice, there are two aspects to this repentance ritual: One refers to repentance for past sin; we ought to repent for all our past sins and evil deeds committed under delusion or ignorance, arrogance or dishonesty, jealousy or envy, so as to put an end to all of them. This is one aspect of repentance. The other aspect refers to future conduct. Having realised the

p. 260

evil nature of our transgression we make a vow that hereafter we will put an end to all evil deeds committed under delusion or ignorance, arrogance or dishonesty, envy or jealousy, and that we will never sin again. This is the second aspect of repentance. On account of ignorance and delusion, common people do not always appreciate that in repentance they must not only feel sorry for their past sins, but must also refrain from sinning in the future. Since they often take no heed as to their future conduct, they commit the same sins over again almost before the past ones are expiated. How can we call that repentance?

Learned Audience: Having repented of our sins, we should take the following all-embracing vows: Listen very carefully:–

Our Mind-essence is potential of an infinite number of sentient beings. We vow to bring them all unto deliverance.

We vow to get rid of the evil passions of our minds, inexhaustible though they seem.

We vow to learn the countless systems of Dharma in our Mind-essence.

We vow to attain the Supreme Buddhahood of our Mind-essence.

We have now vowed to deliver an infinite number of sentient beings; but what does that mean? It does not mean that I, Hui-neng is going to deliver them. And who are these sentient beings, potential within our minds? They are the delusive mind, the deceitful mind, the evil mind, and such like–all these are sentient beings. Each of them has to be delivered by oneself by means of his own Essence of Mind; only by his own deliverance, is it genuine.

p. 261

Now, what does it mean, “delivering oneself by one’s own Essence of Mind?’ It means the deliverance of the ignorant, delusive, and the vexatious beings that spring up within our own mind, by means of Right Views. With the aid of Right Views and Prajna, the barriers thrown up by these delusive and ignorant beings may be broken down; so that each of us will be in a position to deliver himself by his own efforts. The false will be delivered by truthfulness; the delusive by enlightenment; the ignorant by wisdom; and the malevolent by benevolence; such is genuine deliverance.

As to the vow; “to get rid of the inexhaustible evil passions,” that refers to the transcendence of our unreliable and illusive thinking faculty by the transcendental Wisdom (Prajna) of our Mind-essence. As to the vow: “to learn the countless systems of Dharma”; there will be no true knowledge until we have been brought face to face with our Essence of Mind, by our conforming to the orthodox Dharma on all occasions. As to the vow, “to attain Supreme Buddahood”; I wish to point out that when we are able to control our mind to follow the true and orthodox Dharma on all occasions, and when Prajna always rises in our minds, so that we can hold aloof from both ignorance and enlightenment, and can do away with falsehood as well as truth, then we may consider ourselves as having realised our Buddha-nature, or, in other words, having attained Buddhahood.

Learned Audience: we should always bear in mind that we are following the Path for thereby strength is added to our vows. Now, since we have all taken the four-fold vows, I will teach you the Ritual of the threefold Guidance.

p. 262

We take “Enlightenment” as our Guide, because it is the fruit of both merit (Punya) and Wisdom (Prajna).

We take “Orthodoxy” 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 Shakyamuni, the Enlightened One, be our guide and on no account should we listen to the suggestions of Mara, the evil one, of any heretic. We should testify to ourselves by constantly appealing to the “Three Gems” or our Essence of Mind, in which I advise you to take refuge. They are:

Buddha, which stands for Enlightenment;
Dharma, which stands for Orthodoxy;
Sangha, which stands for Purity
.

To take refuge in Enlightenment so that evil and delusive notions do not arise, so that desire decreases, discontent becomes unknown, and lust and greed no longer bind us–this is the fruitage of Punya and Prajna. To take refuge in Orthodoxy so that from momentary sensation to another we will be free from wrong views–this is the best means of getting rid of desires. To take refuge in Purity so that no matter under what circumstance we may be, we will not become contaminated by wearisome sense objects, by craving nor by desire–this is the noblest quality of mankind. To practise the “Three-fold Guidance” as thus outlined means to take refuge in one’s Mind-essence. Ignorant people often take the “Three-fold Guidance” without understanding it. They say that they take

p. 263

refuge in Buddha: do they know where he is? If they cannot conceive Buddha, how can they take refuge in him? Would not such an assertion amount to self-deception? Each of you should examine this point for himself, so that his energy may not be misapplied through ignorance. The Sutra distinctly says that each should take refuge in the Buddha within himself. It does not refer to any other Buddhas, hence if we do not take refuge in the Buddha of our own Mind-essence, there is nowhere else for us to go. Having cleared this point, let each of us take refuge in the “Three jewels” of his own mind. Within, each should control his own mind; without, each should be respectful toward others–this is the way to take refuge within ourselves.

I have a stanza, the reciting and practising of which will at once dispel the delusions and expiate the sins accumulated during many kalpas. This is the stanza:–

People under delusion accumulate tainted merit but tread not the Path.
They are under the illusion that to accumulate merit and to tread the Path are one and the same thing.
Their merit for alms-giving and offerings may be infinite,
But they fail to realise that the ultimate source of sin lies in the greed, hatred and infatuation within their own mind.
They expect to expiate their sin by the accumulation of merit,
Without knowing that the felicities to be gained thereby in future lives
, p. 264
Have nothing to do with expiation of sin.
If we get rid of the sin within our own mind
Then it is a case of true repentance.
One who realises suddenly what constitutes true repentance in the Mahayana sense,
And who ceases to do evil and practises righteousness, is free from sin
.

*

Essence of Mind (Tathata) is the real Buddha,
While heretical views and the three poisonous elements are Mara.
Enlightened by Right Views, we call forth the Buddha within us.
When our nature is dominated by the three poisonous elements, as the result of heretical views,
We are said to be possessed by Mara;
But when Right Views free our minds of these poison elements,
Mara will, be transformed into a real Buddha.
A follower of the Path who keeps constant watch on his Mind-essence
Is in the same class with the many Buddhas.
Our Patriarchs transmitted no other system but this of “Sudden Enlightenment.”
If you are seeking Dharmakaya,
Search for it apart from the world of things and phenomena,
Then your mind will be pure and free.
Exert yourself in order to come face to face with Mind-essence and relax not;
For death may come suddenly and put an end to your earthly existence
.

p. 265

Learned Audience:–All of you should recite this stanza and put it into practice. If you succeed in realising Essence of Mind, then you may think of yourselves as being in my presence though you may be a thousand miles away. But should you be unable to do so, though we were face to face with each other, we would really be thousands of miles apart. In that case what is the use of your taking the trouble to come here from such a long distance? Take good care of yourselves. I bid you good-bye.

A BUDDHIST BIBLE by BY DWIGHT GODDARD 1932

Entrance to the Way -Master Hsu Yun


Entrance to the Way – Master Hsu Yun

So many people enter the hall to practice.
How many of them carry that long sword
The sword of Heavenly Reliance?

Everything has to be hacked to pieces.
Saints, demons, everything!
Blood has to be splattered all over the mansions of heaven.

That’s the Direct Teaching!
Pull down those golden locked gates to the Profound
That guard the Entrance to the Way.

Be fierce when you sit! Make your sitting a blade that hacks through the
wilderness of incomprehension.
Let your eye pierce the Emptiness!
Expose that True Face
The One that was yours before your mother gave birth.

 

Total Immersion -Unknown


Total Immersion – Unknown

A Master once described the journey to Enlightenment as “ like filling a sieve with water”. When a woman questioned this Master on his meaning, he gave her a sieve and a cup, and they went to the sea, where he asked her to fill the sieve with water. She poured a cupful of water into the sieve . It was instantly gone . “Spiritual practice is the same,” the Master explained, “ if we stand on the rock of ‘I’ , and try to ladle the divine realization in. That’s not the way to fill the sieve with water, nor the self with divine life.” He took the sieve and threw it into the sea, where it sank. “Now it’s full of water, and will remain so. That’s spiritual practice. It is not ladling cupfuls into the individuality, but becoming totally immersed in the sea of divine life. “

~Unknown, from the book 1001 Pearls of Buddhist Wisdom /Selected by the Buddhist Society/

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.


Words from Ven. Ji Xing


Words from Ven. Ji Xing on Anger

Posted on January 19, 2010 written by bychancebuddhism
Ven. Ji-Xing
Venerable Ji-Xing

When I last saw the Venerable Ji Xing speak (in 2009), he uttered a well-known quotation that caught my attention. It is simple; “Don’t let someone you hate ‘rent a room’ for free in your mind!” When you let that occur, someone can ‘remote control you’ from wherever they happen to be.

The Venerable also told an interesting story about a blustery person who came to visit him to seek advice, who quickly became angry with the questions he asked. To this the Venerable replied, “A child in primary school knows how to be happy . . . “. At this, the person visiting him became even angrier, until they finally understood.

In short, be free of hatred and anger, as they part of the root of all suffering. In one final comment one the subject, he had everyone in the room do a simple exercise; “Look to your right, and pat the person next to you. Tell them, it is okay, you should not suffer anymore. Then look to your left, and do the same thing. Finally, take both your hands and pat yourself on your shoulders, ‘It is okay, you should not suffer anymore’.”

Do Not Concern Yourself


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.”

The Heart Sutra ( English)


The Heart Sutra is very popular among Mahayana Buddhists both for its brevity and depth of meaning.

The Maha
Prajna Paramita
Hrdaya Sutra

Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva
when practicing deeply the Prajna Paramita
perceives that all five skandhas are empty
and is saved from all suffering and distress.

Shariputra,
form does not differ from emptiness,
emptiness does not differ from form.
That which is form is emptiness,
that which is emptiness form.

The same is true of feelings,
perceptions, impulses, consciousness.

Shariputra,
all dharmas are marked with emptiness;
they do not appear or disappear,
are not tainted or pure,
do not increase or decrease.

Therefore, in emptiness no form, no feelings,
perceptions, impulses, consciousness.

No eyes, no ears, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind;
no color, no sound, no smell, no taste, no touch,
no object of mind;
no realm of eyes
and so forth until no realm of mind consciousness.

No ignorance and also no extinction of it,
and so forth until no old age and death
and also no extinction of them.

No suffering, no origination,
no stopping, no path, no cognition,
also no attainment with nothing to attain.

The Bodhisattva depends on Prajna Paramita
and the mind is no hindrance;
without any hindrance no fears exist.
Far apart from every perverted view one dwells in Nirvana.

In the three worlds
all Buddhas depend on Prajna Paramita
and attain Anuttara Samyak Sambodhi.

Therefore know that Prajna Paramita
is the great transcendent mantra,
is the great bright mantra,
is the utmost mantra,
is the supreme mantra
which is able to relieve all suffering
and is true, not false.
So proclaim the Prajna Paramita mantra,
proclaim the mantra which says:

gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha
gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha
gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha.

Planting Flowers on a Rock


Planting Flowers on a Rock

Dharma Discourse by John Daido Loori Roshi True Dharma Eye, Case 232

Originally posted by my most beloved, T. Mujin _/\_

The Commentary

Keeping silent and refraining from discussing the Way is a truly extraordinary practice. This is hearing what is impossible to hear, encountering what is impossible to encounter. Yet, even if all contrivances are cut off, there is still the pit of liberation called “dharma attachment.” Even if we try to establish classes or stages, we should understand that fundamentally there are no boundaries or edges to be found. Yaoshan understands that the ineffable truth that Shitou is pointing to is not to be discerned by conscious cognition of sound and form, nor is it to be found by going beyond sound and form. This being the case, you tell me, where is it to be found? If you wish to understand these great adepts, you must first see into the place where “even a needle cannot enter” and then realize the place that’s “just like planting flowers on a rock.” Without relying on seeing and hearing, and without trying to know objects, we should observe and realize that which is underneath it all.

The Capping Verse

Cease from following after sound and form,

refrain from going beyond sound and form.

The spring breeze unknowingly rousts out the hibernating tree frogs—

cherry blossoms, wordlessly, open a path.

One day, Yaoshan was sitting on a rock when Shitou asked him, “What are you doing here?” and Yaoshan said, “I’m not doing a thing.” Shitou said, “Then you’re just sitting leisurely.” Yaoshan responded, “If I was sitting leisurely, I’d be doing something.” “You say you’re not doing anything, what is it that you’re not doing?” Shitou insisted. Yaoshan said, “A thousand sages don’t know.” Shitou then praised Yaoshan with a verse:

Long abiding together,

Not knowing its name.

Just going on practicing like this.

Since ancient times, the sages don’t know.

Will searching everywhere now make it known?

But that was not the end of the story, for out of this dialogue evolved the koan that we are dealing with here. Yaoshan was an eighth century Chinese master who succeeded Shitou, the author of the Identity of Relative and Absolute. In this dialogue, Shitou is testing Yaoshan by saying, “Words and actions have nothing to do with the truth.” The commentary picks up on this line with: “Keeping silent and refraining from discussing the Way is a truly extraordinary practice. This is hearing what is impossible to hear, encountering what is impossible to encounter.”

A few years ago, I was deeply struck by this practice of keeping silent and refraining from discussing the Way when I visited the Abbey of Gethsemani, the Trappist community where Thomas Merton lived and practiced. The vow of silence is very much present at Gethsemani. I went there as part of a group of fifty monastics from various traditions who were getting together as part of an interreligious encounter. And although we did not speak to the monks of the Abbey, I got a sense of the incredible power of their practice, simply as I passed them silently in the hall.

I must admit that I had gone to this conference prepared to be bored senseless, but instead what happened was that I had my heart ripped open by the participants: Buddhist, Christian, Theravadin, Chan Buddhist, Zen Buddhist, Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Protestant. It was clear to me that all of them had spent years in deep study and practice. It was evident in the way they spoke, the way they interacted with one another, and it was especially evident in the questions they asked of themselves and each other—questions that really needed to be asked. I was especially impressed by a Tibetan Buddhist nun who has launched a battle to start a women’s lineage. It doesn’t exist. It hasn’t existed for hundreds of years, but she is determined to make it happen. She also told me that twenty years earlier she’d made a vow when she put on her robes that she would never take them off to get a job, to support herself; that if the dharma didn’t take care of her, then she would just starve to death or rot wherever she was. And she’s kept that vow for all these years. She practices constantly.

Some of the hard questions we asked each other about spiritual practice in the 21st century were things like, What good is a monastery? What good is a monastic? What good is a practitioner? What do they do? What’s their role or responsibility in society? Indeed, the question we should ask ourselves is, What should Zen Mountain Monastery be doing in relationship to society? How should we address war, peace, the environment, poverty, media violence, personal and structural violence, suffering, alienation, greed, and consumerism?

One of the monks I met had been ordained for thirty years, but before that he’d gotten a degree in law. He said when he first arrived, the abbot of his monastery looked at his application, looked at him and said, “Now, what would a monk want with a law degree?” But as it turns out, they’ve used his skills numerous times. One of the things he did was defend our friend, Joan Chittister, who was called to an inquisition in Rome. I don’t know what the charges were, but evidently she’s very liberal and Rome nailed her, so this lawyer monk was called to defend her. They won.

Later, that very same lawyer spoke up during a discussion about the causes of structural violence and how institutions help to create it. He said, “It’s not about greed, it’s not about consumerism. It’s about patriarchy.” Suddenly, all these quiet nuns were up and talking. It was a very lively discussion. Later, I did worry that once this encounter got published as a book half of my friends were going to end up excommunicated. I’m not sure how they handled that.

So, on one hand, we have “keeping silent and refraining from discussing the Way is truly an extraordinary practice. This is hearing what is impossible to hear, encountering what’s impossible to encounter.” If our minds are filled with noise, how will we be able to hear what is impossible to hear? Obviously, we won’t. The definition of the term “mystical” says: “Having a spiritual meaning that is neither apparent to the senses nor obvious to the intellect. It is direct subjective communication with ultimate reality.” It’s the kind of communication that we can’t process intellectually. We can’t see it, hear it, smell it, taste it, touch it, or think it. It is very subtle and slippery, impossible to nail down or explain. Yet we’re somehow aware of its presence, and it has a real impact on us. And in order to perceive it, we need to make room for it. We need to be quiet, open, and receptive. That’s the only way we’ll ever access the mystery of this human life.

“Yet, if even all contrivances are cut off, there is still the pit of liberation called ‘dharma attachment.’” That’s the other extreme—complete renunciation, cutting ourselves off from the world, from communication, from any kind of activity. This is what Yunmen called one of the two sicknesses of our practice. Needless to say, in order to function in the world we have to get ourselves out of the pit of liberation. As I have said countless times, it’s not enough to get to the top of the mountain. You have to keep going down the other side and back into the marketplace, where your life takes place.

“Even if we try to establish classes or stages, we should understand that fundamentally there are no boundaries or edges to be found.” There’s the rub. We love to establish classes or stages, but the fact is that there are none. But then people ask, why do we have a hierarchy? Why do we have seniority and the different colored robes and the ten stages of practice and on and on? Call it upaya, skillful means. But ultimately, there is no distinction between buddhas and ordinary beings, between a rank beginner and the person who’s completed her training. In terms of the precepts, the tenth grave precept explicitly says that to even give rise to the thought that there’s a distinction between buddhas and ordinary beings violates the precept.

The commentary continues: “Yaoshan understands that the ineffable truth that Shitou is pointing to is not to be discerned by conscious cognition of sound and form, nor is it to be found by going beyond sound and form.” That’s what we try to do, we try to grasp the teachings with our minds. In the realm of the mystery, there is neither inside nor outside. There’s no way to approach the truth, to grasp it or understand it. It exists thus! But if it’s not discerned by conscious cognition of sound and form and it is not found by going beyond sound and form, then where is it to be found? How is it to be found?

Master Dogen says, “Seeing forms with the whole body and mind, hearing sounds with the whole body and mind, one understands them intimately.” When we practice this wholehearted way of attending and experiencing as we move through our daily lives—when we make direct contact with reality—we go beyond an ordinary way of seeing, of being, and touch the sacred dimension of our lives. At the turn of the nineteenth century, Evelyn Underhill wrote in her book Mysticism:

Contemplation is the mystic’s medium. It is an extreme form of that withdrawal of attention from the external world and total dedication of the mind which also, in various degrees and ways, conditions the creative activity of musician, painter and poet: releasing the faculty by which he can apprehend the good and beautiful and enter into communion with the real.

“Entering into communion with the real” does not mean entering some kind of esoteric state of mind. It is your mind, right here, right now. To contemplate is to use your ability to see directly, intimately, and to express through the creative process and your life what you see—not what you think you see, but what actually is.

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.”