Tag Archives: Buddhist Conviction

Namo Earth Store Bodhisattva


 

Sutra of the Past Vows of EARTH STORE BODHISATTVA

with commentary on Sutra by Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua < click for entire Sutra

 

Namo Earth Store Bodhisattva

The Buddha told Empty Space Store Bodhisattva, “Listen attentively, listen attentively, I shall enumerate and describe them to you. If there are good men and women in the future who see Earth Store’s image, or who hear this sutra or read or recite it; who use incense, flowers, food and drink, clothing, or gems as offerings; or if they praise, behold, and worship him, they shall attain twenty-eight kinds of advantages:

“If I do not go to the hell to help the suffering beings there, who else will go? … if the hells are not empty I will not become a Buddha. Only when all living beings have been saved, will I attain Bodhi.” -Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha

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


From the most recognizable Buddhist World Leaders:

Myanmar Buddhists Muslim

To Our Brother and Sister Buddhists in Myanmar,

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

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

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

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

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

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

We stand with you in the Dharma,

Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh
Nobel Peace Prize Nominee
Vietnam

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

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

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

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

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

Ven. Shodo Harada Roshi
Abbot Sogenji Rinzai Zen Monastery
Japan

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

Ven. Ajahn Amaro Mahathera
Abbot Amaravati Vihara
England

Ven. Hozan A Senauke
International Network of Engaged Buddhists
Worldwide

Younge Khachab Rinpoche VIII
Abbot Younge Drodul Ling
Canada

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

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

Lama Surya Das
Dzogchen Foundation International
Vajrayana Tibet/USA

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

Tulku Sherdor Rinpoche
Director BI. Wisdom Institute
Canada

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

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

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

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

Food is Needed..


<3 ::PLEASE SHARE:: <3 

Bhante makes it easy to donate <3 Please share, donate, post on your blogs and pass this on.
Please see his blog here at WHAT BUDDHA SAID

One can advantageously donate funds for food, which is needed every month here.Whoever gives food later gains bodily strength, vitality, vigor and health.

FROM BHIKKHU SAMAHITA’S WEBSITE : Register a new account on Main City: kandy – 2 Suburb: Peradeniya 

When U have ordered then click “save cart”. Then U can easily order the same again.

Chose: Pickup delivery option at checkout and write in the notes: 

To: Bhikkhu Samahita. (Lay name: Jan Erik Hansen, Passport#: 203419711)

Pickup by: Venerable Bhikkhu Samahita.

They accept Sri Lankan bank transfers and credit cards and also international credit cards.

Then I can pick it up with the receipt U will get emailed from Keels if U forward it to me 

by email to: bhante.samahita@gmail.com

 

 

Mail Address:
Venerable Bhikkhu Samahita
Cypress Hermitage, Bambarella
20838 Tawalantenna
Kandy, Central Province.
SRI LANKA
Phone: (+94) 081 562 0553

 

 

Read more on his blog… follow link <3

A gift for 1 of 84,000 Dharma Doors friends and subscribers _/\_


I developed this app mainly for my 108 bows buddhist practice and meditation.
“I developed this app mainly for my 108 bows buddhist practice and meditation.”

Description

Dharma Timer Counter Lite is a very simple (yet), small (just 200KB, compared to several MB of other similar apps) and intuitive timer/counter app that is suitable for measuring time in timed activities. It rings a beautiful bell at every specified interval for the specified number of times.  I developed this app mainly for my 108 bows buddhist practice and meditation.  Currently only one bell and limited UI/features that will be definitely upgraded gradually. Practice your mind with this app and get closer to attaining more enlightened mind! One can also increase/decrease the number so it can be used as a manual counter app as well.
Developers webpage http://www.melcornsoft.com/

With Metta,

Changhui Upasika

1 of 84,000 Dharma Doors blog
<3

about Karma,Rebirth and Right View – Bhikkhu Bodhi


“It cannot be emphasized strongly enough that for Early Buddhism an understanding and acceptance of this principal of kamma and its fruit is an essential component of right view. Right view has two aspects, the world-bound or mundane aspect, which pertains to life within the world, and the supramundane or world-transcending aspect which pertains to the path to liberation. The world-transcending right view includes an understanding of the Four Noble Truths, dependent origination, and the three marks of impermanence, suffering and nonself. For Early Buddhism this world-transcending right view cannot be taken up in isolation from mundane right view.  Rather, it presupposes and depends upon the sound support of mundane right view, which means a firm conviction in the validity of the law of kamma and its unfolding through the process of rebirths. “

 

Excerpt from In The Buddha’s Words, An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon by Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi

Venerable Master Jen Chun’s Teachings QUICK LINKS


…. every belief represents a vision of the truth


“….According to the Hua-yen [Avatamasaka school] analysis, every belief represents a vision of the truth, as seen from a particular standpoint. Therefore it cannot contradict, or be contradicted by, any other belief—for that too is a vision of the truth, only seen from a different standpoint. Nor can a given standpoint be right or wrong in itself, since, on the one hand ( from the conventional point of view), being partial and limited by definition, it cannot be the whole truth; while on the other hand ( from the ultimate pint of view), it simultaneously includes all other standpoints, and so cannot be less than the whole truth. Beliefs are mistaken as long as they are supposed to be absolutely true, in contrast to other beliefs which are then considered false. They actually become absolutely true only when their relative nature is fully realized and there is no longer any question of true vs. false . ”
-A.J. Prince, “The World of Hua-yen Buddhism”

Thirty-Three Manifestations of Kuan Yin // Chinese and English


Thirty-Three Manifestations of Kuan Yin
Om Mani Peme Hum (5x)

In humble adoration, I kneel and touch my forehead to the ground
before beloved Kuan Yin in all her manifestations.
OM
Give prayers to Kuan Yin for intercession in personal and
planetary matters.

~May all beings benefit _/\_
Namo Da Bei Guan Shi Yin

01 楊柳觀音. 大悲楊柳觀世音 哀愍淪溺拔苦疾普入諸趣恆示現 令脫流轉超出塵右手持楊柳枝,以楊柳枝替人消弭病災,誓言拔濟眾生病苦,故亦稱「藥王觀音」,為三十三觀音菩薩的首尊.1. In humble adoration, I kneel and touch my forehead to the ground before Kuan Yin who holds a willow branch. (This image represents Kuan Yin’s ability to dispel illness with her healing powers. It teaches us of healing and compassion gained through inner flexibility and non-judgment.) Wo Xiang Yang Liu Guan Yin Kou Tou (WHA CHIANG YANG LEE-OH GWAN YIN KOE TOE) (3x) OM

02 龍頭觀音 聖德龍頭觀世音 照現光華澤物種開眾蒙悋啟慧光 普願有情悟覺明乘雲中之龍,以龍譬喻觀音之威德,是三十三身觀音中的天、龍身。2. In humble adoration, I kneel and touch my forehead to the ground before Dragon-Head Kuan Yin. (This image speaks of Kuan Yin’s unlimited powers to free us from lack and unnecessary suffering. It also teaches us how abundance and good fortune can be gained through gratitude.) Wo Xiang Long Tou Guan Yin Kou Tou (WHA CHIANG LOHNG TOE GWAN YIN KOE TOE) (3x) OM

03持經觀音聲聞持經觀世音 覺照內明光嚴飾最勝境界微妙智 不循根塵歸元真坐於岩石上,右手持經卷,是三十三身觀音中的聲聞身. 3. In humble adoration, I kneel and touch my forehead to the ground before Kuan Yin who holds the sutras. (This image represents the deeper insights of spiritual teachings. It teaches understanding of both the impermanence and eternity of this world and practical application of true spiritual wisdom.) Wo Xiang Chi Jing Guan Yin Kou Tou (WHA CHIANG TCHE JING GWAN YIN KOE TOE) (3x) OM

04 圓光觀音. 無垢圓光觀世音 性淨明露常寂光能伏眾生災風火 普明圓照遍十方. 身放光明,合掌而坐。「圓光」表觀世音菩薩的福德圓滿無缺。4. In humble adoration, I kneel and touch my forehead to the ground before Kuan Yin of complete light. (This image speaks of light dispelling all perceived darkness and misfortune. It teaches us to increase the light in our chakras and how intense fire can purge our lives and consciousness.) Wo Xiang Yuan Guang Guan Yin Kou Tou (WHA CHIANG YU-EN GWANG GWAN YIN KOE TOE) (3x) OM

05 遊戲觀音. 神通遊戲觀世音 自在幻化徧知海 千手千眼救倒懸 三十二應普現身 安坐雲端之上,表觀世音菩薩的教化圓通無礙,不拘時處,示現遊戲自在 5. In humble adoration, I kneel and touch my forehead to the ground before Kuan Yin of enjoyment. (This image of the playful, lighthearted KuanYin speaks of her assistance of those on the path of enlightenment. It teaches us to be compassionate toward both our shortcomings and victories.) Wo Xiang You Xi Guan Yin Kou Tou (WHA CHIANG YO SHIH GWAN YIN KOE TOE) (3x) OM

06白衣觀音. 大慈白衣觀世音 隨緣赴感應群機 三昧辯才善誘誨 妙德圓成證菩提 身穿白衣,左手持蓮花,右手作與願印。 白色意指純淨,象徵菩提心,表示觀音胸懷菩提之心, 是三十三身觀音中的比丘、比丘尼身.6. In humble adoration, I kneel and touch my forehead to the ground before White-Robed Kuan Yin. (This image represents the virtuous Kuan Yin, a perfect embodiment of purity. It teaches us fearlessness and helps us to see each other as Kuan Yin sees us.) Wo Xiang Bai Yi Guan Yin Kou Tou (WHA CHIANG BUY YEE GWAN YIN KOE TOE) (3x) OM

07 臥蓮觀音 合掌蓮臥觀世音 寂湛生光寶華開 悟心無際性常凝 圓明清淨大覺海 合掌坐在池中蓮花之上, 是三十三身觀音中的小王身。7. In humble adoration, I kneel and touch my forehead to the ground before Kuan Yin who sits on a lotus leaf. (This image shows Kuan Yin as having complete dominion over any perceived darkness. It teaches us what is real and what is not and how to rise above all suffering.) Wo Xiang Lian Wo Guan Yin Kou Tou (WHA CHIANG LEE-EN WHAO GWAN YIN KOE TOE) (3x) OM

08 瀧見觀音 莊嚴瀧見觀世音 妙香芬馥悅意常 般若真智施無畏 進趣真淨妙吉祥 倚於山崖,眺望瀑布。《普門品》云:「假使興害意,推落大火坑, 念彼觀音力,火坑變成池。」為其由來。8. In humble adoration, I bow and touch my forehead to the ground before Kuan Yin who views waterfalls. (This image protects us against fires and intense emotions. It teaches us to stay calm, not react to energies flung our way and to stay focused on the desired outcome.) Wo Xiang Long Jian Guan Yin Kou Tou (WHA CHIANG LOHNG JEN GWAN YIN KOE TOE) (3x) OM

09 施藥觀音 寂靜施藥觀世音 尋聲救苦難思議 諦觀圓照三千界 楊枝淨水洗凡塵 坐於池邊,右手托頰,倚於膝上,凝視著面前的蓮花。 施藥觀音因能施予良藥,除治眾生身心病苦而得名。9. In humble adoration, I kneel and touch my forehead to the ground before Kuan Yin who gives medicine. (This image helps to dispel disease and all other difficult circumstances. It teaches us about compassion and how to be free from anger.) Wo Xiang Shi Yao Guan Yin Kou Tou (WHA CHIANG SHUH YAO GWAN YIN KOE TOE) (3x) OM

10 魚籃觀音. 除障魚籃觀世音 慈無能勝演圓音 精真洞然眾業海 六道群迷蒙慈恩 乘於大魚背上,或一手提盛有大魚之籃。 表示排除羅剎、毒龍、惡鬼等障礙。 10. In humble adoration, I kneel and touch my forehead to the ground before Kuan Yin of the fish basket. (This image speaks of saving lives and souls. It teaches us to be kind to all forms of life and when to sacrifice for the benefit of others.) Wo Xiang Yu Lan Guan Yin Kou Tou (WHA CHIANG YU LAHN GWAN YIN KOE TOE) (3x) OM

11德王觀音赴感德王觀世音 性淨妙常香光嚴慧啟群萌觀自在 梵王身相應現來趺坐於岩上,右手持綠葉一枝。是三十三身觀音中的梵王身。梵王為色界之王,因德性高超故名「德王」11. In humble adoration, I kneel and touch my forehead to the ground before Kuan Yin as King of Merit. (This image is about accomplishments and a sense of spiritual worthiness. It teaches us of true virtues and how to become a person of integrity and spiritual refinement.) Wo Xiang De Wang Guan Yin Kou Tou (WHA CHIANG DUH WAHNG GWAN YIN KOE TOE) (3x) OM

12 水月觀音吉祥水月觀世音 寶光常寂照三途解結怨瞋八難苦 周徧寂湛大悲母月下乘蓮瓣,飄蕩海面觀看映照水上之月。是三十三身觀音中的辟支佛身。12. In humble adoration, I kneel and touch my forehead to the ground before Kuan Yin of moon and water. (This image speaks of cause and effect. It teaches us about reality, unreality and how our outer life is a reflection of some aspect of our own consciousness.) Wo Xiang Shui Yue Guan Yin Kou Tou (WHA CHIANG SHUE YEH GWAN YIN KOE TOE) (3x) OM

13 一葉觀音. 乘蓮一葉觀世音 解縈眾生煩惱結 法音常轉廣長舌 定慧等持契果覺13. In humble adoration, I kneel and touch my forehead to the ground before One-Leaf Kuan Yin. (Floating upon a single leaf, Kuan Yin protects us from perishing in the astral sea. It teaches us to remain centered and how to master our subconscious energies.) Wo Xiang Yi Ye Guan Yin Kou Tou (WHA CHIANG YEE YEH GWAN YIN KOE TOE) (3x) OM

14青頸觀音 勇健青頸觀世音 大悲示現威猛相 晦闇長夜為燈燭 苦海波翻作舟航 坐於斷崖上,右膝立起,右手置於膝上, 左手扶著岩壁,旁置一有柳枝之瓶, 是三十三身觀音中的佛身。14. In humble adoration, I kneel and touch my forehead to the ground before Blue-Throat Kuan Yin. (This image protects us from various poisons. It teaches us to be mindful of our speech and to always be in a vibration of loving-kindness.) Wo Xiang Qing Jing Guan Yin Kou Tou (WHA CHIANG CHIN JING GWAN YIN KOE TOE) (3x) OM

15 威德觀音 攝眾威德觀世音 摧破邪妖鎮魍魎 天大將軍度滄海 普門示現降吉祥 岩上觀水,左手持蓮花,右手著地。 是三十三身觀音中的天大將軍身。15. In humble adoration, I kneel and touch my forehead to the ground before Kuan Yin of power and virtue. (This image protects us from perceived oppressive authorities. It teaches us to focus our energies on expanding the good and pouring creative light into our goals.) Wo Xiang Wei De Guan Yin Kou Tou (WHA CHIANG WAY DUH GWAN YIN KOE TOE) (3x) OM

16 延命觀音 息災延命觀世音 滅諸咒詛毒怨害 懸示留礙輪迴種 紫金光照覺滄海 倚水邊岩上,悠然觀賞景物。 此尊能消除咒詛及毒藥,令眾生延命長壽故稱「延命」。 乘一葉蓮瓣浮於水面漂行。 是三十三身觀音中的宰官身。16. In humble adoration, I kneel and touch my forehead to the ground before Kuan Yin who extends life. (This image protects us from the fear of curses and poisons. It teaches us that light is our protection and that, by the law of attraction, harm always returns to its source.) Wo Xiang Yan Ming Guan Yin Kou Tou (WHA CHIANG YEN MING GWAN YIN KOE TOE) (3x) OM

17 眾寶觀音 妙嚴眾寶觀世音 般若光宣示真際 寂靜明心覺觀照 長者身相度群迷 坐在地上,右手向地,左手放在彎起的膝上, 是三十三身觀音中的長者身.17. In humble adoration, I kneel and touch my forehead to the ground before Kuan Yin of various treasures. (This image offers spiritual seekers inner fortification and protection. It teaches us to seek help when we have gone off course and that one person’s prayer can make a difference for the many.)Wo Xiang Zhong Bao Guan Yin Kou Tou (WHA CHIANG DJUHNG BAO GWAN YIN KOE TOE) (3x) OM

18 岩戶觀音 寂然岩戶觀世音 淨眼普觀周沙界 息滅三毒貪愛苦 蚖蛇蝮蝎出窟穴 端坐於岩窟內。 《普門品》云:「蚖蛇及蝮蠍,氣毒煙火燃,念彼觀音力,尋聲自迴去。」 因這些毒蟲多盤踞洞穴內,為免其出洞危害眾生,觀音因此坐鎮岩窟中保護眾生。18. In humble adoration, I kneel and touch my forehead to the ground before Kuan Yin of the rock cave. (This image offers protection from negative vibrations and negative perceptions. It teaches us how to properly care for our bodies and to guard the gate of consciousness.) Wo Xiang Yan Hu Guan Yin Kou Tou (WHA CHIANG YEN WHO GWAN YIN KOE TOE) (3x) OM

19 能靜觀音 安穩能靜觀世音 開示法藏戒定慧 三無漏學善護念 悲智雙運登覺岸 坐水邊岩上,雙手安置石上作靜寂相。 能靜觀音因能救護遭難者,使得平靜安穩而得名,為海路守護神。19. In humble adoration, I kneel and touch my forehead to the ground before Kuan Yin who calms. (This image helps us to be centered. It teaches us how to overcome anger and ignorance and not to be moved by any appearance or experience.) Wo Xiang Neng Jing Guan Yin Kou Tou (WHA CHIANG NUNG JING GWAN YIN KOE TOE) (3x) OM

20 阿耨觀音. 觀海阿耨觀世音 妙善圓明不思議 銷塵龍魚諸鬼難 度脫有情出淪溺立右膝坐於岩上,雙手抱膝觀望大海。20. In humble adoration, I kneel and touch my forehead to the ground before Anu Kuan Yin. (This image represents the sacred mountain lake Anu. The rivers flowing from the lake pour out heavenly blessings in every direction. It teaches us about the path of the Bodhisattva and bids us to spread the message of Kuan Yin’s transmuting powers of mercy and compassion to the world.) Wo Xiang Anu Guan Yin Kou Tou (WHA CHIANG AH-NOO GWAN YIN KOE TOE) (3x) OM

21阿摩提觀音 無畏觀音阿摩提 毘沙門天威神力 顧盼微塵目雄毅 智慧照見離苦際 雙手置膝上,遍身有光焰坐在岩上, 是三十三身觀音中的毘沙門身。21. In humble adoration, I kneel and touch my forehead to the ground before Kuan Yin of fearlessness. (This image bestows fearlessness when in challenging circumstances. It teaches us to be filled with love and guard against judging reality by what is perceived through the five senses.) Wo Xiang A Mo Ti Guan Yin Kou Tou (WHA CHIANG AH-MO-TEE GWAN YIN KOE TOE) (3x) OM

22葉衣觀音 圓明葉衣觀世音 三千威儀妙慈容 神光內凝覺真澄 心光發宣帝釋身 坐於敷草的岩上,是三十三身觀音中的帝釋身22. In humble adoration, I kneel and touch my forehead to the ground before Leaves-Robe Kuan Yin. (This image protects against disease and ensures longevity. It teaches us how to work with the forces of nature and to gain wisdom through observing the manifestations of cosmic law.) Wo Xiang Ye Yi Guan Yin Kou Tou (WHA CHIANG YEH YEE GWAN YIN KOE TOE) (3x) OM

23 琉璃觀音. 淨妙琉璃觀世音 旋湛清瑩熙怡相 息諸災厄成虛淨 銷滅三毒證菩提 觀音雙手捧琉璃香爐(或缽),乘蓮瓣浮於水面, 是三十三身觀音中的自在天身。23. In humble adoration, I kneel and touch my forehead to the ground before Vaidurya Kuan Yin. (This image is for healing. It teaches us to use lapis lazuli for healing and to bless and pray for all suffering life.) Wo Xiang Liu Li Guan Yin Kou Tou (WHA CHIANG LEE-OH LEE GWAN YIN KOE TOE) (3x) OM

24 多羅觀音 救苦多羅觀世音 與樂拔苦現剎塵 甘露徧灑十方界 遍應六趣普現身 直立乘雲,合掌,手持青蓮花。 梵名「多羅」亦為救度,故又名「救度母觀音」。 《普門品》云:「或值怨賊繞,各執刀加害, 念彼觀音力,咸即起慈心。」為此尊由來。24. In humble adoration, I kneel and touch my forehead to the ground before Tara Kuan Yin. (This image is of the Mother of Salvation. It teaches us about the feminine aspect of God and how to always view others with healing compassion.) Wo Xiang Duo Luo Guan Yin Kou Tou (WHA CHIANG DOH LOE GWAN YIN KOE TOE) (3x) OM

25 蛤蜊觀音 啟悟蛤蜊觀世音 慈誨愛語殷玄示 無礙神變覺有情 歷劫熏修應微塵 自蛤蜊貝殼中示現,是三十三身觀音中的菩薩身 25. In humble adoration, I kneel and touch my forehead to the ground before Kuan Yin of the clam. (This image protects us from perceived harm. It teaches us how to overcome certain states of consciousness and how to open closed, unmoving hearts and situations.) Wo Xiang Ge Li Guan Yin Kou Tou (WHA CHIANG GUH LEE GWAN YIN KOE TOE) (3x) OM

26 六時觀音. 淨光六時觀世音 晝夜開敷慈音揚 普願輪迴諸眾生 咸令安樂超出相 右手持梵篋的立像,此篋是六字章句陀羅尼, 誦之得脫六道苦果得六妙門,證六根相應。 為三十三身觀音中的居士身。 26. In humble adoration, I kneel and touch my forehead to the ground before Kuan Yin of six hours. (This image reminds us of Kuan Yin’s omnipresence and omniscience. It teaches us mastery over time and about being present in the Now.)Wo Xiang Liu Shi Guan Yin Kou Tou (WHA CHIANG LEE-OH SHIH GWAN YIN KOE TOE) (3x) OM

27 普悲觀音. 寶光普悲觀世音 妙相慈顏淨端嚴 圓明照徹三有海 大自在天聖威神 雙手披衣,立於山嶽之上。 「普慈」意即普遍施給眾生慈悲。 是三十三身觀音中的大自在天身。27. In humble adoration, I kneel and touch my forehead to the ground before Kuan Yin of universal compassion. (This image brings promises of an end to all suffering. It teaches us about compassion as the nexus between heaven and earth, and how to attain enlightenment by actively practicing compassion.) Wo Xiang Pu Bei Guan Yin Kou Tou (WHA CHIANG POO BAY GWAN YIN KOE TOE) (3x) OM

28 馬郎觀音. 善德觀音馬郎婦 寂妙湛然淨明露 夢幻泡影示出離 光照癡闇煩惱除 民間婦女形象。 即在「魚籃觀音」故事中化身為少女嫁給馬郎的觀音。 是三十三身觀音中的婦女身。28. In humble adoration, I kneel and touch my forehead to the ground before Kuan Yin, called the wife of Ma-Lang. (This image bids us to demonstrate the path to higher consciousness. It teaches discernment of spirits and prepares us to share our insights with others.) Wo Xiang Ma Lang Fu Guan Yin Kou Tou (WHA CHIANG MA LANG FOO GWAN YIN KOE TOE) (3x) OM

29 合掌觀音. 禮敬合掌觀世音 耳根圓通法門開 清淨寶覺徧含容 普令解脫越苦海 合掌立於蓮華臺上,乃三十三身觀音中的婆羅門身。29. In humble adoration, I kneel and touch my forehead to the ground before Kuan Yin of prayer. (This image represents dedication of one’s life to a spiritual path. It teaches us about devotion and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.) Wo Xiang He Zhang Guan Yin Kou Tou (WHA CHIANG HERH JAHNG GWAN YIN KOE TOE) (3x) OM

30 一如觀音. 法性一如觀世音 大悲如海性圓澄 慈音無遮開沉惑 直趣覺海不二門 觀音坐在雲中蓮華座上立左膝,現征伏雷電之姿, 為《普門品》云:「雲雷鼓掣電,降雹澍大雨, 念彼觀音力,應時得消散。」之表徵。30. In humble adoration, I kneel and touch my forehead to the ground before Kuan Yin of oneness. (This image represents harmony. It teaches us to rise above the vibrations of this world and to remain centered when experiencing the appearance of negative energy.) Wo Xiang Yi Ru Guan Yin Kou Tou (WHA CHIANG YEE ROO GWAN YIN KOE TOE) (3x) OM

31 不二觀音 圓融不二觀世音 普救眾生施無畏 金剛教化覺岸回 無上妙淨蓮池會 兩手低垂,乘一片蓮葉浮於水面, 是三十三身觀音中的執金剛神身。31. In humble adoration, I kneel and touch my forehead to the ground before Kuan Yin of non-duality. (This image promises protection from perceived negative energies. It teaches us how to suspend judgment and conquer our belief in any internal or external division.) Wo Xiang Bu Er Guan Yin Kou Tou (WHA CHIANG BOO-AHR GWAN YIN KOE TOE) (3x) OM

32 持蓮觀音. 妙哉持蓮觀世音 缽頭摩華淨妙香 十四無畏功德藏 六道眾生同悲仰 雙手執持一莖蓮華,是三十三身觀音中的童男童女身。32. In humble adoration, I kneel and touch my forehead to the ground before Kuan Yin holding a lotus. (This image represents the vow of the bodhisattva. It teaches us to correctly perceive the requirement of the hour and how to consciously work with the energies of our chakras.) Wo Xiang Chi Lian Hua Guan Yin Kou Tou (WHA CHIANG TCHE LEE-EN HWA GWAN YIN KOE TOE) (3x) OM

33 灑水觀音. 清淨灑水觀世音 妙湛慈母化閻浮 如海印現悉平等 普濟含識出三途 又名滴水觀音,左手持缽,右手執楊枝作灑水狀。33. In humble adoration, I kneel and touch my forehead to the ground before Kuan Yin who sprinkles pure water. (This image represents the many blessings of Kuan Yin. It teaches us about the healing, transforming powers of forgiveness, mercy and compassion.) Wo Xiang Sa Shui Guan Yin Kou Tou (WHA CHIANG SAH SHUE GWAN YIN KOE TOE) (3x) OM

Quietly give thanks to Kuan Yin for always hearing our prayers

MAY ALL BEINGS BENEFIT
_/\_ AMITUOFO

 

English Translation source

“That which understands error is not itself in error”


“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

The “poise of a dying man”, teachings of Master Hsu-Yun


The “poise of a dying man”

teachings of Master Hsu-Yun

“Beyond meditation practice, there is attitude. A beginner must learn to cultivate what is called, “the poise of a dying man”. What is this poise? It is the poise of knowing what is important and what is not, and of being accepting and forgiving. Anyone who has ever been at the bedside of a dying man will understand this poise. What would the dying man do if someone were to insult him? Nothing. What would the dying man do if someone were to strike him? Nothing. As he lay there, would he scheme to become famous or wealthy? No. If someone who had once offended him were to ask him for his forgiveness would he not give it? Of course he would. A dying man knows the pointlessness of enmity. Hatred is always such a wretched feeling. Who wishes to die feeling hatred in his heart? No one. The dying seek love and peace.”

Master Chinul Poem 1


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

Zen (2009) Part 1 Dogen Zenji


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

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

Buddhist Conviction


行善不難,難於發心。
“Practicing wholesome deeds is not difficult.
Rather, the difficulty lies in the cultivation of
a mindset to make and uphold solemn vows.”

-Ven  Xian Zhong Shi

AN 9:20


Even though generosity bears fruit, still to go in faith for refuge to the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha and determine the five moral precepts bears a greater fruit- Even though that bears fruit, to maintain kindness for the period of time that it takes to milk a cow bears a greater fruit- Even though that bears fruit, it is fruitful to maintain awareness of impermanence for only as long as a finger-snap bears greater fruit-
AN 9:20

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


Verses On the Faith Mind

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

Translated by Richard B. Clarke

至道無難  The Great Way is not difficult

唯嫌揀擇  for those who have no preferences.

但莫憎愛  When love and hate are both absent

洞然明白  everything becomes clear and undisguised.

毫釐有差  Make the smallest distinction, however

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

欲得現前  If you wish to see the truth

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

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

是爲心病   is the disease of the mind.

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

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

圓同太虚  The Way is perfect like vast space

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

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

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

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

勿住空忍  nor in inner feelings of emptiness.

一種平懷  Be serene in the oneness of things

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

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

止更彌動  your very effort fills you with activity.

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

寧知一種  you will never know Oneness.

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

兩處失功  fail in both activity and passivity,

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

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

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

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

絶言絶慮  Stop talking and thinking,

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

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

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

須臾返照  At the moment of inner enlightenment

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

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

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

不用求眞  Do not search for the truth;

唯須息見  only cease to cherish opinions.

二見不住  Do not remain in the dualistic state

慎莫追尋  avoid such pursuits carefully.

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

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

二由一有  Although all dualities come from the One,

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

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

萬法無咎  nothing in the world can offend,

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

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

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

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

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

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

欲知兩段  Understand the relativity of these two

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

一空同兩  In this Emptiness the two are indistinguishable

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

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

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

大道體寛  To live in theGreat Way

無易無難  is neither easy nor difficult,

小見狐疑  but those with limited views

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

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

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

放之自然  Just let things be in their own way

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

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

逍遙絶惱  and you will walk freely and undisturbed.

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

昏沈不好  for everything is murky and unclear,

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

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

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

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

六塵不惡  Indeed, to accept them fully

還同正覺  is identical with true Enlightenment.

智者無爲  The wise man strives to no goals

愚人自縛  but the foolish man fetters himself.

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

妄自愛著   from the clinging needs of the ignorant.

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

豈非大錯  is the greatest of all mistakes.

迷生寂亂  Rest and unrest derive from illusion;

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

一切二邊  All dualities come from

妄自斟酌   ignorant inference.

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

何勞把捉  foolish to try to grasp them.

得失是非  Gain and loss, right and wrong:

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

眼若不睡  If the eye never sleeps,

諸夢自除   all dreams will naturally cease.

心若不異  If the mind makes no discriminations,

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

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

兀爾忘虚  is to be release from all entanglements.

萬法齊觀  When all things are seen equally

歸復自然  the timeless Self-essence is reached.

泯其所以  No comparisons or analogies are possible

不可方比  in this causeless, relationless state.

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

動止無止  both movement and rest disappear.

兩既不成  When such dualities cease to exist

一何有爾  Oneness itself cannot exist.

究竟窮極  To this ultimate finality

不存軌則  no law or description applies.

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

所作倶息  all self-centered straining ceases.

狐疑盡淨  Doubts and irresolution’s vanish

正信調直  and life in true faith is possible.

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

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

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

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

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

識情難測  are of no value.

眞如法界  In this world of Suchness

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

要急相應  To come directly into harmony with this reality

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

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

無不包容  nothing excluded.

十方智者  No matter when or where,

皆入此宗  enlightenment means entering this truth.

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

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

無在不在  Emptiness here, Emptiness there,

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

極小同大  Infinitely large and infinitely small;

忘絶境界  no difference, for definitions have vanished

極大同小

不見邊表  and no boundaries are seen.

有即是無  So too with Being

無即是有  and non-Being.

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

必不相守  that have nothing to do with this.

一即一切  One thing, all things:

一切即一  move among and intermingle, without distinction.

但能如是  To live in this realization

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

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

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

言語道斷  Words! The Way is beyond language,

非去來今  for in it there is

no yesterday

no tomorrow

no today.

Great Compassion Dharani Sutra


Great Compassion Dharani Sutra

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They all came and gathered in the congregation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva said the Gatha:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The method of making a Secure Boundary is:

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

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

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

or make a boundary by mental visualisation;

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

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

All of these will do.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(* Lerng: a Chinese measurement)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(* Sami: Chinese wolfberry / medlar)

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

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

(* Lerng: A Chinese measurement)

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

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

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

The Mudras of Great Compassion Dharani

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

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

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

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

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

For taming all enemies, use the Vajra Pestle Mudra.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For great wisdom, use the Precious Mirror Mudra.

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

For underground precious deposits, use the Precious Box Mudra.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For eruditeness, use the Precious Sutra Mudra.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moonlight Bodhisattva also spoke a Dharani to protect practitioners:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

By Venerable Master Hsing Yun 

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

 

Source: Cloud and Water

An Interpretation of Ch’an Poems

By Venerable Master Hsing Yun

Translated by

FoGuangShanInternationalTranslationCenter

________________◊_______________

May all beings benefit

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

 

 

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


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

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Group cultivation enables us to enjoy steady growth in a safe environment.
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Sitting meditation is not only a method of Chan practice but also the be…   more
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TAKING REFUGE IN THE THREE TREASURES by Ven Master Yin-shun


Taking Refuge in the Three Treasures

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Enjoy  May all beings benefit

 

 

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


Why Take Refuges in Three Jewels

by Master Sheng Yen (聖嚴法師)

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

Introduction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Red Pine on “The Six Paramitas ”


Red Pine on “The Six Paramitas ”

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

Three Bows (Why do Buddhists bow or prostrate?)


 

Why do Buddhists bow or prostrate?

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

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

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

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

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

Master Chao Chou said:

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

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

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

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

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

The Precepts

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

So what are the training rules?

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Devotion in Buddhism by Nyanaponika Thera


Devotion in Buddhism by Nyanaponika Thera

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— AN 6.10

source 

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


Namo Earth Store Bodhisattva

Namo Ti Tsang Wang P’u Sa

Namo Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva

Follow link for new WordPress of  entire

with commentary on Sutra by Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua



FOREWARD

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

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

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

The Institute for Advanced Studies of World Religions

APRIL 1974

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


“What The Buddha Taught” Book Study Group.

Welcome Dharma friends,

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

In the Dharma,

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

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

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

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

Now for the intent and purpose of me humiliating myself by sharing such strong opinions  I ask serious American Buddhist practitioners please read Teaching Buddhism in Americaby Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi “In my view one of the major errors that is being made in the teaching of Buddhism here in the U.S. (and more broadly in the West) is the fl at identifi cation of Buddhadhamma (the teachings of the Buddha) with meditation, especially with insight meditation. I see the Dhamma as having a much more extensive range. It involves at least three essential components, which I would call right faith, right understanding, and right practice. Th e practical side is also extensive, and might be summed up in the famous verse of the Dhammapada (183): “To abstain from all evil, to cultivate the wholesome, and to purify one’s mind: that is the instruction of the Buddhas.” Th ese three principles, stated so simply, are quite compressed. Th ey can be elaborated in diverse ways at great length. At the very root of all proper Dhamma practice, in my view, is proper faith, which is expressed by the act of going for refuge to the Triple Gem. By going for refuge, one reposes faith in the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha as one’s supreme ideals. Th is expression of faith should be grounded in understanding what the Th ree Gems represent. Th us faith, understanding, and practice are intricately interwoven. “

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

if you are new to Buddhism I suggest reading

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

Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi on The Kalama Sutta


A Look at the Kalama Sutta 

by Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

put into brackets.

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

source   

link to The Kalama Sutta translated from the Pali byThanissaro Bhikkhu

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

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


PRELIMINARIES TO THE METHOD OF TRAINING

Master Hsu Yun

Master Hsu Yun

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

PREREQUISITES OF THE PERFORMANCE OF RELIGIOUS DUTY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(3) A firm faith

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

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

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

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

(4) Adoption of the method of training

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

METHOD OF CH’AN TRAINING

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

ESSENTIALS OF CH’AN TRAINING

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[10]As punishment for verbal sins.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They expect to expiate their sins by accumulating merit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you are going to look for Dharmakaya

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

When I said I was Buddhist…. // Poem


WHEN I SAID I WAS BUDDHIST…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

BUDDHIST REPENTENCE is NOT like Judeo/Christian Guilt/Confession


WHAT IS GUILT?

The use of guilt here is not referring to the mere fact of being guilty of something, but it refers toseeing or projecting one’s mistakes, while not knowing what to do about them or refusing to correct them.
In this definition, guilt is a negative, paralysing emotion, based on non-acceptance of oneself or the situation, and it leads to depression and frustration rather than change or improvement.
Guilt is usually a negative focus upon oneself: “I am an evil person. I can’t bear myself. I am unworthy.” While this response may appear in a religious guise, it often turns out to be a form of self-deprecating laziness. This can even lead to self-hatred, and certainly contributes to lack of self-confidence. Instead of recognising that ones actions are incorrect, one gets the feeling as if one is unworthy, as if “I” is intrinsically bad.
In Buddhism such type of guilt is categorised as a disturbing attitude: one doesn’t see the situation clearly and may well be a tricky form of self-centredness.

A personal opinion: within the Western mind, I believe that guilt has such a prominent place because of the Judeo/Christian background of our culture. The concept of being born onto the earth with an “original sin” – for which we personally are not even responsible – easily puts a feeling of guilt in our minds (I am bad, even without doing anything wrong). Furthermore, the presentations in several Christian traditions can give one the impression that one should feel guilty and ashamed even for simply having fun. I believe that this type of guilt is a learned, socially imposed emotion; for example, Tibetans do not even have a word for it! If that is correct, it is not even a basic human emotion, but a culturally  imposed type of mental frustration; which means that we can relatively easy overcome it by un-learning this artificial emotion.

REPENTENCE


Although guilt is not seen as a very positive emotion, repentence is seen as very important factor to improve our ways of thinking and behaving. The positive/transforming aspect of guilt can be that we admit our mistakes, ponder over them and motivate ourselves to not repeat negative actions – repentence.

For all the evil deeds I have done in the past,
Created by my body, speech and mind,
From beginningless greed, hatred and delusion,
I now know shame and repent them all.

Traditional Repentance Verse from 

“The Practices & Vows of Samantabadra Bodhisattva”

(Avatamsaka Sutra, Chapter 40)

“The above is perhaps the simplest but most widely practised verse of repentance. The practice of Buddhist repentance is not so much the asking for divine forgiveness. It is the clear recognition of our unskilful actions done intentionally or unmindfully through our body, speech and mind, which are the results of our lack of compassion and wisdom, originating from our attachment, aversion and delusion. After recognising our misgivings, we make resolutions to be as mindful as we can, so as to never repeat them under any circumstances. In this sense, repentance is about forgiving oneself through expressing regret and turning over a new leaf, absolving oneself of unhealthy guilt while renewing determination to further avoid evil, do good and purify the mind with greater diligence.

Traditionally, the practice of repentance is done through chanting relevant sutra verses and bowing before a Buddha image, which represents the presence of the Buddha bearing witness to our sincerity. However, if one has done wrong to someone who is contactable, one should apologise to him or her personally, or the practice of repentance before the Buddha would be rendered a hollow practice lacking in sincerity. Even if the other party is unlikely to forgive us, we should do our part in seeking forgiveness – this is also the practice of humility. Actual remedial action of making up for any physical or psychological damage caused to others is also important – or repentance would literally be merely saying “sorry”.

Repentance should ideally be practised at the end of each day, as we try to recall best we can, any misgivings we have done in the day. For repentance to be more effective, misdeeds should be recalled as specifically as possible, instead of vaguely generalising. Doing this practice daily reduces our repetitive mistakes as it increases our mindfulness the next day. Repentance should also be practised immediately in the moment, without procrastination, when we realise we have just made a mistake. If one’s pride is too strong, one should still make a point to repent later, as soon as possible.

The stronger our sincerity is, the more powerful our repentance becomes. While repentance does not erases our negative karma, it can dissolve its future effects, much like the addition of abundant pure water onto salt, which dissolves the otherwise unbearable saltiness we have to taste. Interestingly, repentance practised well can become meritorious, as it prevents the creation of fresh negative karma which can lead to future suffering, while offering peace of mind to better learn, practise and share the Dharma, thus clearing much of the path to the attainment of Enlightenment.”
Shen Shi’an

“If guilt means extending worry about what you have done, then it does not help. Buddhism stresses not guilt but contrition followed by developing an intention of restraint in the future. Simply put, you decide that you have done something wrong and then promise not to do it again. Sometimes, some tangible restituition is possible; for example, you can pay for damages or return stolen property. But often, the action is over and done with. For instance, if you buy something that does not work, you can return it to the store. But, if you misuse time itself, no matter how much you may regret doing so, you cannot return it.
All that is left is an intelligent decision to face what has been done and make a commitment to break the cycle. In meditation, contemplate: “This action was motivated by desire (or hatred) and ignorance; it was wrong, and I do not want to do it again in the future. May I not do it again in the future! I will make sure not to do it again in the future.” It’s a great relief to feel: “Ten years ago I quarreled with so-and-so. It seemed to be the only thing I could do at the time, but with what I know now, I would not do the same today. I will try never to do that again!”
From A Truthful Heart: Buddhist Practices for Connecting with Others by Jeffrey Hopkins

SOURCE

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

 

Pu Xian Pusa / Samantabhadra Bodhisattva


Pu Xian Pusa

Pu Xian Pusa

The Vows Of Bodhisattva Samantabhadra Sutra PDF

 

 

 

 

 

Samantabhadra Bodhisattva, also known as the Universally Worthy Bodhisattva, is one of the Three Venerables of Shakyamuni. This bodhisattva is always on the right of Shakyamuni Buddha, representing the guardian of the Law, the lord of the Law and the practice of all Buddhas.
Samantabhadra usually reposes with dignity on a six-tusked white elephant while Manjusri rides on a lion. He holds a sword indicating that the Law is the basis of wisdom.
Samantabhadra is the patron of the Lotus Sutra and its devotees, and has close connection with the Avatamsaka Sutra.
Like Manjusri Bodhisattva, Samantabhadra is also assigned his universe in the east. In China, people worship Samantabhadra as the object of pilgrimage in Emei Shan (Mountain), which is regarded as his dwelling place.
Samantabhadra is also a great Bodhisattva of the Tenth Stage, with the particular quality representing cultivation and practice. He is one of the Four Great Bodhisattva, The Bodhisattva of Great Conduct.
Samantabhadra may be shown with a docile elephant lying down or standing. Sometimes, in place of six tusks, the elephant has three heads. It is also common to see Samantabhadra holding a lotus, a wish-fulfilling jewel, or a scroll bearing his sutra (scripture). Also, like Avalokitesvara, Samantabhadra is often portrayed as female. In Chapter 10 of the Lotus Sutra, the Buddha promises Enlightenment to both men and women; as Samantabhadra is the Patron of devotees of the Lotus (having the final say in the last chapter), and as he has attracted many female devotees, he/she has taken on a feminine form.

___________________________________________________________________________________________

The Ten Great Vows of Samantabhadra Bodhisattva

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

__________________________________________________________________________________


REFLECTIONS ON METTA by Ajahn Sumedho


Reflections On Metta

by Ajahn Sumedho

“Metta is not blinding; it means that you are willing to admit weaknesses, faultswithin your experience of life, without making that into anything. It’s a clarity: the mind is clear, radiant, bright and reflective, rather than just a pink cloud that we blot out every ugly thing with. That’s not metta, that’s projecting a pink cloud from your mind”

WHEN WE USE THE REFLECTIVE CAPACITY, we can see the way things are – even in the most ordinary things. If we forget and get caught up in our desires and fears, we don’t really notice the obvious; we’re just caught up in a world of our own creation. Things can be wonderful on a conditioned plane sometimes, but if we’re too lost in fear or desire, we’re not even aware of it. I see that in many people; everything’s perfectly all right, nothing wrong, but they’re completely caught in a mood, lost in some kind of desire or fear. So they’re not aware any more, not mindful of the way things are; they’re lost in proliferations which they create. Because our tendency is to do this, we need to keep reminding ourselves, establishing mindfulness around the way things are right now.

Reflection allows us to see that all our hopes or fears for the future are merely what they are in the present: they’re perceptions that go through the mind. They’re not anything to give any great importance to. Some things seem more significant than others, but that’s just the way it is; it’s not anything we need to grasp. So our way is always being fully with the way it is now, with the body the way it is now, with the world the way it is now; the mood, the conditions of the mind, to know them as they are now, for what they are. Anger is just anger, it’s no longer a person, it’s just what it is. If there’s anger in the present, then it’s just that.

In your meditation, as you feel calm and your mind starts feeling very peaceful and serene, then maybe nasty thoughts, or angry, irritable thoughts enter your mind; and of course, in contrast to the more exalted feelings that one might be having, these are not wanted, are they? Especially if you’ve been abiding in rather peaceful and serene mental states, then these rather selfish, unkind, irritable, unpleasant thoughts are unwanted. But ‘reflection’ means that we see them as just what they are, whether it’s an exalted thought – some lovely, altruistic thought – or some selfish, petty thought. When we reflect on it, it’s just what it is: it arises and it ceases. So we can bear with the pettiness and the irritations. We can be patient and reflect on it rather than suppress it or react to it.

As we begin to understand the mind more and more, and abide in the purity of being in the present, we can feel a kind of goodwill, or metta, towards all creatures. I like this word ‘goodwill’, because metta is a very positive radiance of mind where you’re radiating goodwill outwards, you’re wishing people well and what is good. It’s a generous act, a giving forth – willing that which is good towards people. We have this power to will things, don’t we? We have the will-power, and this can be used as a radiance from the mind, from the heart, towards all beings. When our life isn’t a reaction any more to pleasure and pain, when it’s not conditioned by indulgence and suppression, then we find we can use our will-power, not for any personal gain, but for the welfare of all others – compassion. The radiant heart radiates outwards because there’s no personal interest in it any more, it’s all-encompassing, it goes towards everything, the whole, rather than just to selfish interests. It’s like praying, isn’t it? Willing good, the best and the kindest, the finest, the most beautiful wishes and feelings, to those we feel gratitude towards. If we want to offer something to those that we feel grateful to, then metta is radiating from our hearts, a radiant quality.

The universe is energy. The sun is energy and it radiates. It’s a radiant star that is the focal point for our solar system; the sun itself is a symbol of this for us. Its warmth, its brilliance, its radiant quality is what keeps things alive and growing, and if the sun went out, it would all fall apart.

But when we’re introverted into selfish desires and fears, then of course we have no radiance, we turn sallow, our faces go flat and we become quite ugly. We become masks of desire and fear, because selfishness means the radiant quality can’t get out any more – it’s all locked up in miserable states of selfish desire and fear. You notice that selfish people, people who are caught into their desires, have no radiant quality to them, and they’re repulsive. They have more of a repelling quality than an attractive one. When you go to London you can see how people are so heedless with their bodies: in the way they try to make them attractive for lustful reasons, or for ego reinforcement. And that looks gross, doesn’t it? When you see the true radiance of the heart, then that other thing is quite repulsive, because it’s a mask, it’s low, it’s not truly generous, it’s still coming from the self view, sakkayaditthi.

As a spiritually developing being, one has to really contemplate in one’s own life how to develop the right relationship with people: with one’s parents and relatives, friends, and with society. This includes the willingness to forgive any wrongs done, the willingness to completely let go. Even though emotionally these things might still be painful, we accept the pain. With the heart, now, we’re willing to suffer, accept this unpleasant feeling in the heart. We learn how to bear with that, how to even welcome it, so it’s no longer something that we dread or resent but something that we fully accept and embrace. So then, on the conventional level – of mother and father, husband, wife, children, friends, enemies, all this – we practise metta. We can radiate this quite intentionally in the sense of actually sitting and concentrating at the heart to radiate outwards goodwill, good thoughts.

This isn’t clinical Buddhism. This is a practice, a devotional practice from the heart rather than from the intellect. But we need both: one doesn’t cancel out the other. Sometimes in religion we tend to think that either it’s all love or it’s all wisdom. ‘God is love, everything is love, the way is love’ – that’s the heartfelt form of religious experience. And then, the way of wisdom: that can seem like impersonal, cold-hearted analysis of the mind, and we feel a sense of loss in regards to the intuitive feelings of love, compassion. But remember that we’re transcending, we’re not attaching to love and compassion as ends in themselves, nor to wisdom. It’s the way of non-attachment, so that both are valid practices. If you have just a practice of love and compassion alone, without wisdom, there’s no way of understanding things as they are. You’re merely developing a way of loving-radiance. So when it comes to being able to explain, or to fully understand the truth of the way it is, you don’t know it. All you can do is practise your devotions, and that often tends towards to a sliding back into superstition, rites and rituals. If it’s not combined with wisdom, it becomes merely a series of rituals and rites, and one starts feeling guilty if one isn’t praying every day, or radiating metta throughout the universe. All these can become very fixed in the mind if you haven’t developed wisdom to understand the nature of the mind.

But then, wisdom without love: if we’re just looking analytically, then we can understand everything theoretically, but on the level of feeling we’ve repressed, we don’t have a radiance, we just have a brilliant understanding. You can figure it all out and come out with some really impressive theories, insights even. But on the level of everyday life, we can’t live in an abstract world. We have to relate to unknown things, to changing nature, the movement and flow and flux of being, to the infinite variety of the sensory world of changing conditions, and types of people and personalities, and qualities. You can’t spend your time trying to fit everything into rational terminology, thinking that that’s the way to understand.

The opening of the heart allows us to be in the flow and movement, and the change: to be with conditions as we perceive them. Conditions are impermanent, aren’t they? They arise and cease. So that to be fully open to the arising and cessation of the conditioned world, you have to be with it rather than trying to perceive it. Because you can perceive the beginning and the end, but most of what we are actually experiencing is beyond perception, it’s just as it is. Like the perceptions we have: they arise, and fix on a certain quality, a certain position; but mindfulness means that we can actually be with the changing-ness of the sensory world which has no perception. That’s why we have to use words like ‘suchness’ and ‘as-is-ness’ to remind ourselves to be with the flow and movement rather than to be attached to perceptions as reality.

Now, the rational mind tends to think: ‘Well, I’m spreading metta to my mother over in California, but is she really benefiting from that? If we could get some kind of electronic instrument, we could hook it up to my old mother, and then, while I’m spreading metta over here at Amaravati, see if there’s any visible qualitative effect upon her.’ The rational mind wants to measure, because if there’s nothing, if she’s not feeling it, then why bother, why delude ourselves, why pretend? The rational mind thinks in terms of quantity and quality – and if something doesn’t have a quantity or quality, then it’s worthless, useless! But I know this: that if I tell my mother I love her, I don’t have to keep telling her, calling her on the telephone three times a day – she’s not a stupid person – if I say, ‘I’ve spread metta to you every day, I send my goodwill to you every day.’ I know that makes her feel happy, I see it in her face when I visit her and I don’t have to have a special instrument to measure it.

It’s just good sense, isn’t it? Mothers like to be told that they’re loved. I like to be told I’m loved and I’m not even a mother! So, when I’m sending goodwill every morning to my mother in California and wondering if she’s really feeling it – that doesn’t matter, does it? That’s just the desire to have a result and to know for sure about something; it’s not the quality of faith (saddha) and trust. To me, it’s a lot better use of time to send metta to my mother, or to other beings, than to sit around thinking of myself. To spend all the time just thinking about me, and worrying about this and that . . . that really is the way towards depression and despair. And yet we might think it’s worth spending the whole day thinking about ourselves rather than radiating metta, because we find ourselves probably more significant than anyone else.

At first metta needs to be something we radiate to ourselves, willing good to this being here, because this creature is the most significant one for us. Maybe we’d rather have metta for our mothers, or for some inspiring figure. It’s easier sometimes to send goodwill to some wonderful person or to masses of people like Ethiopians or a billion Chinese. But we have to admit that, in this lifetime, this being is the most significant being for ourselves. This is the being that was born, that we are with all the time. So we admit that. It’s not a selfish practice, metta for oneself; it’s not for selfish gain, it’s just the willingness to respect and to learn how live in the right way with these conditions.

Metta has no limits: first it’s directed towards oneself, and then it radiates outwards to all beings. And so we can visualise in our minds: our parents, our teachers, the rulers of the country, friends, enemies, the sun and moon, the seen and the unseen. It has no limit – anything you can imagine: all the unfortunate beings in the world, the miserable, unwanted, unloved beings; the beautiful, loveable beings; the animal kingdom, the fish in the ocean, the birds in the sky; the heavenly beings and the devils. Using these terms is a way of expanding our consciousness to where the thoughts can’t reach. The Buddhist cosmology really takes thought to its limit in extremes, from the highest formless realm of ‘neither perception nor non-perception’ to the lowest, most miserable, painful realm of hell. And that’s about where your ability to perceive stops.

The Buddhist cosmology is a kind of scheme of perception, taking us to the extremes of positive and negative, of ultimate refinement, and ultimate coarseness. And because metta is using our ability to radiate thoughts of goodwill, then of course thoughts are what we’re using. We’re thinking of, say, the animal kingdom, of animals like cats and dogs, budgies and horses; the animals that we don’t eat, but that we love. We don’t eat cats, do we? We wouldn’t eat our favourite horse, it would be unthinkable! So it’s very easy to have metta for animals we love. Cats and dogs are easier to like than people: some people prefer cats to people! Then there are the animals that we eat and that we exploit, like sheep and cattle, goats and chickens. Just think of battery chickens, thousands of wretched hens caught in hell, unmitigated misery for their lifetime. But then these chickens are providing eggs, so we eat their eggs. And then there are sheep, we eat their meat and we use their wool; and the cows’ milk, and pigs – all these are animals that we use just for survival in the human community. So, metta for them – they give a lot to us, don’t they? But how many people really think of thanking them for it, of sending goodwill to them and expressing gratitude for all the good things we get and the benefits we have from these animals?

Gratitude is a beautiful quality to have in our mind, to really bring into consciousness what a benefit these animals are to us and how little we ever fully recognise or do anything for them. Well, we could get a kind of rebellious, revolutionary impulse and go over some night, raid the battery houses in the nearby farm and let all the hens out. Free them! Liberate them! That’s it, that’s real metta! But all those poor wretched creatures wouldn’t know what to do, they’d die if you just let them out. So it might be a seemingly kind act, this idea of liberating them, but those chickens are not ready for freedom because they wouldn’t know how to survive, they would just be terrified and lost. But we can reflect and send goodwill to them – nobody can stop us from doing that. And we can develop a way of life so that eventually this sort of unkind, exploitative activity will lessen. The more we are aware and compassionate, the more we realise there are all kinds of ways and means of letting go of those kinds of exploitative activities and unnecessary cruelty.

Here in Britain we can reflect that this country allows us to live as Buddhists; it’s a benevolent country. Even though we might have a lot of views and opinions about it on the negative side, overall it’s all right, there’s nothing terribly wrong with it, even if it’s not perfect. But now we’re no longer looking at it critically. We’re not saying what’s wrong with Mrs. Thatcher and the Conservative Party, or British politics, or the social problems of the country, the economics and all that – because that’s endlessly complicated and gets you nowhere, if that’s all you do. Thinking about all the political, economic, social problems of any country whatsoever will take you to despair, because they’re just endless. But an overall reflection isn’t denying what’s wrong, or the faults and flaws in the system. The government here tends towards being benevolent, and the majority of people would rather have goodwill for each other, they’d rather be fair to each other, they want justice and fairness, mercy. Whether they actually feel like that all the time under every situation is something else; but that’s the general ideal of the population as far as I can tell.

So how can we help the government of this country? Metta is something we can spread every day: sending goodwill to the government, to Mrs. Thatcher, to the Members of Parliament, House of Commons, House of Lords; willing good to them so that as we approach each other with goodwill, then all the fears and anxieties and threats diminish. If we just look at Mrs. Thatcher with a critical eye and hate her because she doesn’t agree with our views, and want to get rid of her, and complain, then of course she reacts very strongly to that kind of treatment. Just as if I just criticise you and pick away at you all the time, then what happens? You dig in your heels and become more stubborn; unless you’re really mindful, you become more difficult. Because even if I’m right about it – even if you are doing things wrong – if I’m always on your back nagging away at you, it’s not providing you with any kind of opportunity to rise up to a situation. All you’re doing is feeling worse and worse, and then your rebelliousness is just a reaction, so you might do even worse things just to spite me! This tendency to dwell endlessly on what’s wrong and blame others, creates the very conditions for the increasing of misery. But when we regard people as intelligent, mature beings – even if they aren’t that way all the time – we give them the benefit of the doubt, and most people will rise to a situation if they have the opportunity to do so.

Metta is not a blinding kind of quality, it’s the willingness to admit the fault without dwelling on it, without being obsessed with what’s wrong. Like metta for yourself. It doesn’t mean that you say: ‘I’m all right and I’m perfect and there’s nothing wrong,’ it means that you are quite willing to admit weaknesses, faults within your experience of life, without making that into anything. It’s a clarity: the mind is clear, radiant, bright and reflective, rather than just a pink cloud that we blot out every ugly thing with. That’s not metta, that’s projecting a pink cloud from your mind!

In the course of your practice, you can start contemplating your relationship with your parents. It would really be good to let your parents know that you love them, which doesn’t mean that you agree with them or like everything that they do. Metta means that you’re not going to create a problem about the flaws and the weaknesses they have. You’re not going to say, ‘I love you, but I don’t like the way you do this and I don’t like the way you do that,’ because that’s just aggravating, isn’t it? ‘Yes, I love you. But you did this, and then you did that, and I didn’t approve of it, and it was terrible, and you’ve ruined so many things – but I still love you, yes!’ What does that do to your heart? Now this will release things within you, to be able to say these things quite openly and honestly. You’re not asking for them to even like it. You’re not saying, ‘I love you,’ and then expecting them to change suddenly overnight and be what you want, because that isn’t love, is it? That’s a deal! ‘I love you if you love me; if you don’t love me, I don’t love you.’ But this metta isn’t a kind of deal we’re making with anyone: we’re not expecting anything back from it, we’re not demanding any good result, even for ourselves. We’re not practising metta just to have a happy mind. There’s no radiance to that, because that kind of metta – although it’s better than nothing – still lacks the radiance of a mind which makes no demand. With that mind you’re not even asking to be happy or have any happy moments in your life whatsoever, because you’re willing to just work with life, to forgive, and give forth goodwill.

When we relate to each other like this, it has a good effect on our minds. But that’s not what we’re doing it for, it’s worth doing in its own right, just as it is. If we’re doing it for a good result, it will be disappointing, because immediately selfish thoughts come in (and that’s not a good result!); there will always be some form of suffering, or dukkha. We become discontented about it: ‘Well, I’ve been sending goodwill to that person for years now, and they still hate me. Haven’t got anything out of it, better stop!’ Then our goodwill is being sent with the idea of gaining something, of demand, expecting that they will appreciate it. That’s why it’s important to understand the nature of the mind, so that you begin to see the problem of selfish view (sakkayaditthi). That is going to put a damper on every experience; it’s always going to spoil every moment of your life as long as you’re deluded in this way. You could be with the Buddha himself, and yet, with sakkayaditthi, you wouldn’t even know it, you’d still be wretched. If Gotama Buddha came in here right now and sat down, and you were filled with selfish view, you’d be saying, ‘Venerable Sir, why aren’t there any Buddhas around?’

With people whom we have a lot or resentment of bitterness towards, metta is a way of forgiving and reminding ourselves to let go of it. It’s not dismissing or suppressing, but a reflection in forgiving and letting go of the perception. Start perceiving these people with metta, rather than just being overwhelmed with bitterness and resentment. Even if you can’t feel any real positive thing, metta needn’t be all that magnificent. It can be just being patient and not making any kind of problem about it. It doesn’t mean you like people who have been really rotten and unfair to you, or those whom you can’t like. Yet you can be kind to them; you can forgive, you can do what is right and generous to them – even if you don’t like them.

‘Liking’ is something else. To like somebody, you have to feel attracted. You don’t like your enemies. If somebody wants to do you in, you’re not going to want to be with them. If somebody wants to stab you, that perception isn’t one that makes you like them. If somebody wants to do me in, I’d rather keep a distance; that’s only natural. But then we can rise above the sensory reaction, towards metta, which is a way of being patient, forgiving, doing what is right to do, what is appropriate to that situation. If somebody whom I don’t like comes in, and I start thinking, ‘I don’t like you, and I don’t like this and I don’t like that,’ then I’m creating something onto the scene, I’m getting caught up in a mood of aversion to them and being carried away with it. But if somebody comes in and I feel this impulse of dislike, I can be fully aware of it, not denying it; I can accept it without adding anything to it. Then I can do what is appropriate, what is kind or generous in this circumstance. That’s from the cool mind, from the mind that is open, receptive, not caught up in selfish view. Sakkayaditthi will say, ‘You did this and you did that and you shouldn’t have, and you should have, and you don’t really like me, you never understood me . . .!’ When sakkayaditthi rants away, don’t trust that. Sakkayaditthi is totally untrustworthy.

It is important, in our lives, to straighten out any wrongs we’ve done. When I became a samanera (novice) in Thailand one Thai monk told me: ‘Before you take on the samanera training, you should try to straighten everything out. Anybody you’ve done any harm to, or any wrong to, you should write to them, or see them, and ask forgiveness.’ I thought, well, having had a very unhappy marriage in which I did a lot of unkind things, I’d better write to my former wife – so I did. I used to blame her a lot for everything, but I realised then that it wasn’t a matter of blaming her, because that would just end up in arguments, so I just wrote this letter and apologised for any wrongs that I did, and wished her well. I wasn’t expecting any kind of reply, or for her to respond in any positive way – which she didn’t, not for ten years, anyway. Ten years later I got a letter from her! She apologised to me – a very lovely letter.

In this way, even if we are one per cent wrong and they are ninety-nine per cent wrong, even if we are one per cent at fault and the other person is ninety-nine per cent definitely at fault, then we apologise. We take the attitude that we are totally at fault, and we apologise for that and say, ‘Please forgive me for being so stupid and selfish and foolish.’ Because if you say, ‘I apologise for my one per cent, can you forgive me for that? I was only one per cent at fault and you were ninety-nine per cent, but I want you to forgive me for that niggling, not-very-important one per cent.’ that would make them even angrier!

It’s not as if you’re lying about it, it’s not a matter of weighing how much, the quantity isn’t the important thing any more. It’s the way it’s done, the expression, the sincerity, the metta behind it; it’s a thing of the heart, not of the head. That usually helps to really change situations, and people will suddenly say, ‘Oh yes, well I wasn’t so good myself, I really did some pretty horrible things, I want you to forgive me.’ It gives them the opportunity to rise to the occasion.

You’re giving them the opportunity – whether they take it or not is up to them – but at least you’re not putting them in a corner by making any demands. You’re just asking for forgiveness, apologising. And that’s a relief for the heart, because if you don’t release its tensions, the body just gets more and more tense and miserable. It’s only through this going to the heart of the matter, this practice of metta, goodwill, of being able to forgive and ask for forgiveness in humility, that this whole formation is allowed to relax. Then we can really develop our spiritual life and not be caught in these terrible, unresolved, worldly problems.

There’s pride involved, isn’t there? You can see pride arising, and that’s not easy to admit, especially if you feel that someone else was at fault: ‘His fault mainly – of course I did a little bit, but it was really him, I mean, he was really . . .. I mean, why should I apologise to him . . .?’ That’s pride, isn’t it? That’s selfish view, sakkayaditthi. ‘Why should I apologise to her? What she did to me! She should be apologising to me, shouldn’t she?’ That is sakkayaditthi operating. Because in any relationship there’s no black and white. As long as we’re coming from ignorance, then even if we’re not the one who does the most wrong, we certainly do a lot of foolish things, a lot we can apologise for.

I was talking to my mother a couple of years ago; she’s in her eighties and a very calm and peaceful woman now, very clear in her mind, although she hasn’t always been this way. She told me that, about ten years ago when she was in her seventies, she decided that she would try to straighten out everything in her life; so that things she was feeling guilty about, or anything that she’d done wrong to anybody, no matter how long ago, she wrote to them and asked forgiveness. I remember when I was a child, I was aware of a lot of tension between my mother and the woman in the next house. And I knew that there was something that happened, and somehow it was one of those neighbourhood problems. Anyway, I’d forgotten all about it until my mother told me that she had written to this woman and asked forgiveness for her stupid behaviour. The woman wrote back and said she’d forgotten all about it, but was so glad to hear from my mother and would certainly forgive anything! You could see the effect on my mother was that she has a very easy mind now. She’ll probably die in a little while, but her mind is clear and there’s no bitterness in it. Her heart is peaceful.

And this is the result of really looking at one’s life and seeing what we need to do, how to set things right. Then, rather than having anxiety, guilt and remorse in our heart, there’s a fullness and peacefulness.

Two styles of insight meditation by Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi



Two styles of insight meditation

Bhikkhu Bodhi

Today the practice of insight meditation has become popular all around the

Bhante

world, yet to achieve this popularity it has undergone a subtle metamorphosis. Perhaps the most powerful pressure that has shaped the contemporary style of teaching insight meditation has been the need to transplant the practice into a largely secular environment remote from its traditional matrix of Buddhist faith and doctrine. Rather than being presented as an integral part of the Buddhist path to deliverance from samsàra, insight meditation is now taught as a self-contained discipline whose fruits pertain more to life within the world than to absolute release from the world. Many people who have taken up insight meditation eloquently testify to the tangible benefits they have gained, benefits that range from such relatively mundane goods as stress reduction and enhanced job performance to more spiritual ends like greater calm, deeper self-knowledge, and clearer awareness of the present.

While such benefits are certainly admirable in their own right, it must nevertheless be stressed that, taken by themselves, they do not constitute the final goal that the Buddha himself holds up as the end point of his training. That goal, in the terminology of the texts, is the attainment of Nibbàna, understood as the destruction of all defilements here and now and ultimate release from the beginningless round of rebirths. While the concrete results brought forth by the secularized practice of insight meditation will also permeate the experience of one who takes up the practice within a classical Buddhist framework, success in reaping these benefits is not necessarily an indication that one is drawing close to the final goal.

Given the sceptical climate of the present age and the stress on personal experience as a guide to truth, it is quite appropriate that newcomers to the Dhamma be invited to explore the potential inherent in the practice for themselves, without having the full agenda of Buddhist doctrine thrust upon them from the start as if it were another system of dogma. However, though we may initially take up the practice of meditation with an open and undogmatic attitude, at a certain point in our practice we inevitably arrive at a crossroads where we find ourselves faced with a choice. We can either continue with the meditation based upon the initial premises from which we started, generally a purely naturalistic worldview, or we can set off along a different track that leads to full actualization of the potential inherent in the practice. If we choose the first route, we might still deepen our meditation and reap more abundantly the same type of benefits we have obtained so far — deeper calm, more equanimity, greater openness to the present. Nevertheless, as worthwhile as these benefits might be in their own right, from the standpoint of the Dhamma they remain incomplete. For the practice of insight meditation to achieve its full potential as intended by the Buddha himself, it must be encompassed by several other qualities that rivet it to the framework of the teaching.

Foremost among such qualities are the complimentary pair of faith and right view. As a component of the Buddhist path, faith (saddhà) does not mean blind belief but a willingness to accept on trust certain propositions that we cannot, at our present stage of development, personally verify for ourselves. These propositions concern both the nature of reality and the higher reaches of the path. In the traditional map of the Buddhist path, faith is placed at the beginning of the training, as the prerequisite for the later stages comprised in the triad of virtue, concentration, and wisdom. The canonical texts do not seem to envisage the possibility that a person lacking faith in the specifically Buddhist sense could take up the practice of insight meditation and reap positive results from it. Yet today such a phenomenon has become extremely widespread, as many present-day meditators make their initial contact with the Dhamma through intensive insight meditation and use their experience as a touchstone for deciding exactly how to incorporate the Dhamma into the pattern of their lives.

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.

The fact that insight meditation can be earnestly practised even without the sustaining role of faith raises an interesting question never explicitly posed within the canon and commentaries. If insight meditation can be pursued solely for the sake of its immediately visible benefits, what role does faith play in the development of the path? Certainly faith, in the sense of a full acceptance of Buddhist doctrine, is not a necessary condition for the undertaking of the precepts or the practice of meditation. As we have seen, those who lack faith in the distinctively Buddhistic tenets of the Dhamma might still accept the Buddhist precepts as guidelines to right conduct and practise meditation as a way to inner happiness and peace. Thus faith must play a different role than that of a simple spur to action.

Perhaps an answer to our question will emerge if we ask, “What exactly does faith mean in the context of Buddhist practice?” It should be clear at once that faith cannot be adequately explained simply as reverence for the Buddha as a great spiritual teacher, or as some alloy of devotion, admiration, and gratitude. For while these qualities often exist alongside faith, they may all be present even when faith is absent. If we look at faith more closely, we would see that besides its emotional constituents, faith also involves an indispensable cognitive component. This component consists in a readiness to accept the Buddha as the unique discoverer and proclaimed of liberating truth. From this angle, faith is seen to involve a decision. As the word “decision” implies (“to decide” = to cut off), to place faith in something is to exercise an act of discrimination. Thus Buddhist faith entails, at least implicitly, a rejection of the claims of other spiritual teachers to be bearers of the liberating message on a par with the Buddha himself. As a decision, faith also entails acceptance, that is, a willingness to open oneself to the principles made known by the Enlightened One and accept them on trust as reliable presentations of the real nature of things and of the proper way of life.

It is this decision that marks the distinction between one who takes up the practice of insight meditation as a purely naturalistic discipline and one who takes it up within the framework of Buddhist faith. The former, by suspending any judgment about the picture of the human condition imparted by the Buddha, limits the fruits of the practice to those that are compatible with a purely naturalistic worldview. The latter, by accepting the Buddha’s own picture of the human condition, gains access to the goal held up by the Buddha as the final fruit of the practice, complete deliverance of mind and the realization of Nibbàna.

The second pillar that supports the practice of insight meditation is the cognitive counterpart of faith, namely, right view (sammà ditthi). Though the word “view” might suggest that the practitioner actually sees the principles considered to be “right,” at the outset of the training this is seldom the case. For all but a few exceptionally gifted disciples, “right view” initially means right belief, the acceptance of principles and doctrines out of confidence in the enlightenment of the Buddha. Though Buddhist modernists often claim that the Buddha said that one should believe only what one can see and verify for oneself, no such statement is found in the Pali Canon. What the Buddha does say is that one should not accept his teachings blindly but should inquire into their meaning and attempt to realize their truth for oneself. There are, however, many principles taught by the Buddha as essential to right understanding that we cannot, at the outset of training, ascertain for ourselves. These are by no means unimportant, but define the entire framework of the Buddha’s programmed of deliverance. They delineate the deeper dimensions of the suffering from which we need release, point in the direction where true liberation lies, and prescribe with pinpoint precision the steps to be followed to arrive at the liberating wisdom.

These principles include the tenets of both “mundane” and “transcendent” right view. Mundane right view is the type of correct understanding that leads to a fortunate destination within the round of rebirths. It involves an acceptance of the principles of kamma and its fruit; of the distinction between meritorious and evil actions; of the vast expanse and multiple domains of samsàra within which rebirth may occur. Transcendent right view is the view leading to liberation from samsàra in its entirety. It entails understanding the Four Noble Truths in their deeper dimensions, as offering not merely a diagnosis of psychological distress but a description of samsàric bondage and a programme for final release. It also involves understanding dependent origination as an account of the causal dynamism of samsàra; recognizing the inadequacy in all conditioned modes of being; and accepting Nibbàna as the sphere that offers final deliverance from suffering.

While the actual techniques for practising insight meditation may be identical whether it be pursued as a purely naturalistic discipline or taken up as an integral part of the Buddha’s path, the two styles of practice will nevertheless differ profoundly with respect to the results those techniques are capable of yielding. When practised conscientiously within the framework of a naturalistic understanding, insight meditation will bring greater calm, understanding, and equanimity. It will purify the mind of the coarser layers of defilements and can culminate in a tranquil acceptance of life’s vicissitudes coupled with a capacity for compassionate action. Thus this style of practice should not be disparaged. However, practice in this style will still remain confined to the sphere of the conditioned; it will still be tied to the round of wholesome kamma and its fruit. It is only when insight meditation is buttressed from below by deep faith in the Buddha as the perfectly enlightened teacher, and illuminated from above by the wisdom of the Buddha’s teachings, that it acquires the power to cut away all the fetters that have kept us in bondage through beginningless time. It then becomes the key to open the doors to the Deathless, to winning a freedom that can never be lost. With this, insight meditation transcends the limits of the conditioned, transcends even itself, and arrives at its proper goal: the unconditioned truth of Nibbàna, final release from all fetters and from the round of birth,aging, and death.

Bhikkhu Bodhi
BPS Newsletter, No. 45, 2000,

Dependent Origination // Charts and Commentary


Following chart complied by a friend <3

Dependent Origination (12-links of Dependent Arising)

(PaticcaSamuppada in Pali and Pratityasamutpada in Sanskrit)

A Twelve Links of Dependent Origination 十二因緣

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

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

1   Avijjā (Avidya)           Ignorance

無明 Ignorance is the condition for mental formation.

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

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

2   Sankhārā (Samskara)  Karma formations , Compositional action

Mental formation is the condition for consciousness

Wholesome or unwholesome thoughts, speech and bodily deeds.

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

3   Viññāna (Vijnana)       Consciousness

Consciousness is the condition for name and form

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

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

(1) the subjective differentiating mind (consciousness) and

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

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

Mental & physical existence.

名色 name – form is the condition for the six senses

Mental aggregates and one physical body.

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

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

六入 six sense organs are the conditions for contact

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

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

6    Phassa (Sparsha)       Contact, Sense impression

contact is the condition for feeling

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

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

7    Vedanā Feeling, Sensation

feeling is the condition for craving

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

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

8    Tanhā (Trishna)        Craving, Attachment, Desire

desire is the condition for clinging

A mental factor that increases desire but without any satisfaction.

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

9    Upādana Clinging,  Grasping

grasping is the condition for becoming

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

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

10  Bhava (Bjava) Process of becoming, Existence

Existence is the condition for birth

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

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

11   Jāti Rebirth, Birth

Rebirth  is the condition for aging and death

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

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

老死 Old- age ,death is the condition for ignorance

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

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COMMENTARY ON DEPENDENT ORIGINATION

DEPENDENT ORIGINATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes:
 

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

This doctrine is interpreted in various ways and levels:

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

Sources of compilation:

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


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.