Tag Archives: Mahayana

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

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Pratyutpanna Sutra


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

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

Chapter 1
The Questions

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

Chapter 2
The Training

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter 3
Four Things to Do

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

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

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

Chapter 4
The Analogies

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

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

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

Chapter 5
The Four Groups of Disciples

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter 6
Support and Protection

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

Chapter 7
Sympathetic Joy

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

Chapter 8
Utmost Sincerity

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

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

Notes

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

 

For Mr. HE Jingtian, a Layman of Great Compassion By Master Hsu Yun


For Mr. HE Jingtian, a Layman of Great Compassion By Master Hsu Yun

Once, he competed for reputation,
And struggled for advantage in the world
As the Chu and the Han chased each other through the Gates of Qin.

Yet, in a nap, no longer than it takes to cook millet,
In a brief dream, he entered that peerless realm of emptiness.

This hero who solved the riddle of the world!
This man who sleeps as well on featherbed or grass!
Who copes with all the world’s events
And doesn’t calculate priorities.
With empty hand does he command the yin and yang of time.

It’s so hard for the Buddha to save us!
We take a wrong turn a thousand times.
Those who truly crave liberation
Must quickly take advantage of their time.

The Buddha’s words will shine like the white moon,
Illuminating the path that’s otherwise unlit.
The Temple Bell will awaken the sincere but sleeping…
Dong… Dong… again, again, it calls.

Think about the chances! Born as human beings!
Intelligent and strong! But our minds are seared with troubles
And we’re desperate for refuge from ourselves.

I’ve learned the teachings of the Dharma
And store that knowledge in my heart.
Guarding it keeps me safely here at home.

I know that what seems to exist came out of nowhere.
And what seems to disappear, never went away.
Appearing and vanishing – the illusions of coming and going.
Another illusion, a sadder one, is that we two human beings
Can ever stay together long.

…. 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”

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

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.

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


Taking Refuge in the Three Treasures

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Enjoy  May all beings benefit

 

 

The Six Paramitas (Perfections)


The Six Paramitas (Perfections)

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

1) The Perfection of Generosity (Dana Paramita)

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

2) The Perfection of Ethics (Sila Paramita)

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

3) The Perfection of Patience (Kshanti Paramita)

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

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

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

5) The Perfection of Concentration (Dhyana Paramita)

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

6) The Perfection of Wisdom (Prajna Paramita)

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

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


Why Take Refuges in Three Jewels

by Master Sheng Yen (聖嚴法師)

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

Introduction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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


“Develop a skilful and progressive mind”

Master Hsu Yun 1840 - 1959

Lecture

Master Hsu Yun Shanghai 1953

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Sixth Patriarch said:

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

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

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

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

[74] Good karma which leads to enlightenment.

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

[76] Smrti in Sanskrit.

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

[78] Joy on seeing others rescued from suffering.

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

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

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

Passage taken from:

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They expect to expiate their sins by accumulating merit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you are going to look for Dharmakaya

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

 

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

 

translated by

C. Humphreys and Wong Mou-Lam

 


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

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

Foreword To New Edition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preface

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

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

 

Translator’s Preface

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

Dependent Origination // Charts and Commentary


Following chart complied by a friend ❤

Dependent Origination (12-links of Dependent Arising)

(PaticcaSamuppada in Pali and Pratityasamutpada in Sanskrit)

A Twelve Links of Dependent Origination 十二因緣

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

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

1   Avijjā (Avidya)           Ignorance

無明 Ignorance is the condition for mental formation.

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

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

2   Sankhārā (Samskara)  Karma formations , Compositional action

Mental formation is the condition for consciousness

Wholesome or unwholesome thoughts, speech and bodily deeds.

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

3   Viññāna (Vijnana)       Consciousness

Consciousness is the condition for name and form

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

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

(1) the subjective differentiating mind (consciousness) and

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

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

Mental & physical existence.

名色 name – form is the condition for the six senses

Mental aggregates and one physical body.

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

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

六入 six sense organs are the conditions for contact

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

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

6    Phassa (Sparsha)       Contact, Sense impression

contact is the condition for feeling

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

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

7    Vedanā Feeling, Sensation

feeling is the condition for craving

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

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

8    Tanhā (Trishna)        Craving, Attachment, Desire

desire is the condition for clinging

A mental factor that increases desire but without any satisfaction.

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

9    Upādana Clinging,  Grasping

grasping is the condition for becoming

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

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

10  Bhava (Bjava) Process of becoming, Existence

Existence is the condition for birth

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

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

11   Jāti Rebirth, Birth

Rebirth  is the condition for aging and death

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

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

老死 Old- age ,death is the condition for ignorance

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

________________________________________________________________

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.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

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.


 

CALL ME BY MY TRUE NAMES – THICH NHAT HANH //Poem & Video


This poem by Thich Nhat Hanh embodies the essence of what he calls “interbeing,” the innerconnectedness of all things.


Call Me by My True Names
by Thich Nhat Hanh

From: Peace is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life by Thich Nhat Hanh
In Plum Village, where I live in France, we receive many letters from the refugee camps in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines, hundreds each week. It is very painful to read them, but we have to do it, we have to be in contact. We try our best to help, but the suffering is enormous, and sometimes we are discouraged. It is said that half the boat people die in the ocean. Only half arrive at the shores in Southeast Asia, and even then they may not be safe.

There are many young girls, boat people, who are raped by sea pirates. Even though the United Nations and many countries try to help the government of Thailand prevent that kind of piracy, sea pirates continue to inflict much suffering on the refugees. One day we received a letter telling us about a young girl on a small boat who was raped by a Thai pirate. She was only twelve, and she jumped into the ocean and drowned herself.

When you first learn of something like that, you get angry at the pirate. You naturally take the side of the girl. As you look more deeply you will see it differently. If you take the side of the little girl, then it is easy. You only have to take a gun and shoot the pirate. But we cannot do that. In my meditation I saw that if I had been born in the village of the pirate and raised in the same conditions as he was, there is a great likelihood that I would become a pirate. I saw that many babies are born along the Gulf of Siam, hundreds every day, and if we educators, social workers, politicians, and others do not do something about the situation, in twenty-five years a number of them will become sea pirates. That is certain. If you or I were born today in those fishing villages, we may become sea pirates in twenty-five years. If you take a gun and shoot the pirate, all of us are to some extent responsible for this state of affairs.

After a long meditation, I wrote this poem. In it, there are three people: the twelve-year-old girl, the pirate, and me. Can we look at each other and recognize ourselves in each other? The tide of the poem is “Please Call Me by My True Names,” because I have so many names. When I hear one of the of these names, I have to say, “Yes.”

Call Me by My True Names

Do not say that I’ll depart tomorrow
because even today I still arrive.

Look deeply: I arrive in every second
to be a bud on a spring branch,
to be a tiny bird, with wings still fragile,
learning to sing in my new nest,
to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.

I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry,
in order to fear and to hope.
The rhythm of my heart is the birth and
death of all that are alive.

 

I am the mayfly metamorphosing on the surface of the river,
and I am the bird which, when spring comes, arrives in time
to eat the mayfly.

I am the frog swimming happily in the clear pond,
and I am also the grass-snake who, approaching in silence,
feeds itself on the frog.

I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,
my legs as thin as bamboo sticks,
and I am the arms merchant, selling deadly weapons to
Uganda.

I am the twelve-year-old girl, refugee on a small boat,
who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea
pirate,
and I am the pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and
loving.

I am a member of the politburo, with plenty of power in my
hands,
and I am the man who has to pay his “debt of blood” to, my
people,
dying slowly in a forced labor camp.

My joy is like spring, so warm it makes flowers bloom in all
walks of life.
My pain if like a river of tears, so full it fills the four oceans.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can hear all my cries and laughs at once,
so I can see that my joy and pain are one.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can wake up,
and so the door of my heart can be left open,
the door of compassion.

Thich Nhat Hanh

 

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


Letter 8

~Let Us Part Ways~

(Original Letter to Elder Master Yin Kuang)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

certainly not this writer alone.

Answer:

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

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

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

Sutra teaches:

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

Bodhi Mind, counsel and exhort others to cultivate.

This must certainly be your intention.

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

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

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

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

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

different.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

name [as a koan] is utterly detrimental.

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

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

rebirth in the Pure Land would still be necessary.

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

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

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

the “welcoming and escorting” Vow will be lost.

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

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

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

Awakening)?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

careful indeed!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

offered some frank though limited views.\

I hope that you will reflect deeply on this letter.

Do Not Concern Yourself – Master Chu-hung


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

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

Repentance


Repentance

By Master Yin-Shun

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Master Yin-Shun

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

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

____________________________________________________________________________

Discourse on Repentance 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

p. 261

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

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

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

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

We take “Orthodoxy” as our Guide, because it is the best way to get rid of desire.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*

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

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

A BUDDHIST BIBLE by BY DWIGHT GODDARD 1932

Total Immersion -Unknown


Total Immersion – Unknown

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

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

Samadhi quote – Hui Neng


 

 

 

“When our mind works freely without any hindrance, and is at liberty to ‘come’ or to ‘go’, we attain Samadhi of Prajna, or liberation. Such a state is called the function of ‘thoughtlessness’. But to refrain from thinking of anything, so that all thoughts are suppressed, is to be Dharma-ridden, and this is an erroneous view.”

— Hui-Neng

The Way Of Faith ~ by Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai


The Way Of Faith ~ by Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bodhidharma and Hui Neng


Bodhidharma was a great master from suthern India. He first arrived in China by sea in the Song Dynasty. Later, in the Liang Dyansaty, he crossed the Yangtze River and arived in Loyang, the capital of Bei Wei Dyansty. He went to the Shao Lin Monastery in Songshan. There is a lengend that he meditated and contemplated in front of a wall there for nine years. As a result, he became known as the “Brahmana (Holy One) who gazes at the wall.”

He taught the Mahayana way of meditation and did not emphasis on the studies of doctrines and sutras. He did not show much interest in Buddhist rituals or ceremonies. His emphasis was to practice meditation. His teachings were based on the Lankavatara Sutra, which emphasises on the “Direct exploration of the human mind, penetration of the truth and attainment of Buddhahood.”

However , this method is very deep and profound. It is not easy to practice. Only a few people, such as Venerable Hui Ke, managed to learn the method from him.

In the Tang Dynasty, Bodhidharma’s method of meditation had passed down to its fifth generation. It was mastered by Venerable Hong Ren of the Dong Shan Monastery in Huangmei. By that time, the meditatin method was reasonably well develooped.

Chan Master Hui Neng

Lu Hui Neng from Lingnan came to the Dong Shan Monastery. There he worked and practiced at the same time. He was illiterate and had not studied the doctrines. However, he practised meditation and contemplated whole heartedly. During one examination, he created the following poem:

There is no true Bodhi tree,

Nor is there a true mirror stand

Since all is empty in nature,

Where is there for dust to land?

This poem gained the praise of Venerable Hong Ren. He felt that Hui Neng has mastered the principle of Bodhidharma’s teaching. After Hui Neng returned to the south, he resided at the Nab Hua Monastery in Caoxi Shan and propagated the meditation method of Bodhidharma and the method of “Sudden Enlightenment”. From then on, the School of Chan became popular. It became the most powerful and most influential school in Chinese Buddhism. Hui Neng gained the title of the Sixth Patriarch. He is regarded as a great Master who exerted the most significant influence on Chinese Buddhism and culture.

Source: From Selected Translations of Miao Yun Part 4 ( Revised Edition) Venerable Yin-shun
see Hwa Tsang Buddhist Monastery for more information on Miao Yun publications.

Words from Ven. Ji Xing


Words from Ven. Ji Xing on Anger

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

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

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

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

Remembering Buddha



Remembering Buddha


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

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

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

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

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

Namo Amituofo


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

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

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

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