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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)

 

“If the fearful mind does not come easily, the sincere mind cannot spring forth easily”


Recitation according to the Buddhas’ Intentions

As was said earlier, in those countries which follow Mahayana Buddhism, Pure Land practitioners are in the majority. Not only do many monks and laymen practice Buddha Recitation, even followers of various cults invoke the name of the Lord of the Western Paradise. Nevertheless, though many recite the Buddha’s name, very few truly understand the goal of recitation. Thus, their recitation is not in accordance with the true intention of the Buddhas.

There are those who, visiting Buddhist temples and monasteries and seeing people engaged in Buddhas Recitation, also join in, without a specific goal. This action, while garnering merits and virtues for the future, is not in accordance with the Buddhas’ true intention.

There are those who practice Buddha Recitation seeking escape from danger and calamities as well as health, happiness and tranquillity for their families and ever-growing success in their careers and business dealings. Such goals, although worthy, are not consonant with the Buddhas’ true intention.

There are those who, faced with hardships and the frustration of their wishes, become despondent. They recite Amitabha Buddha’s name, praying that they will be spared such adversity in their present and future lives, that they will be endowed with beauty and honor, and that everything will turn to their advantage and accord with their wishes. Such goals are of course worthy, but they are not consonant with the Buddhas’ true intention.

There are those who realize that life on earth does not bring any lasting happiness; even the noble, rich powerful and influential are beset by worry and suffering. They hope that through the merits and virtues of Buddha Recitation, they will be reborn in the celestial realms, endowed with longevity and leisure, joy and freedom. Such a goal, although worthy, is not consonant with the Buddhas’ true intention. There are those who, having committed many transgressions, think that they cannot easily be saved in this life. They therefore recite the Buddha’s name, praying that in their next life they will be reborn as a male, leave home to be a high-ranking monk, and become awakened to the Way. Such a goal, while exemplary, is still lacking in wisdom and faith, and is not consonant with the Buddhas’ true intention.

What, then, is the true intention of the Buddhas?

Buddha Sakyamuni clearly recognized that all conditioned dharmas are impermanent, and that all sentient beings have always possessed in full the virtues and wisdom of the Tathagatas (Buddhas). However, because of delusion about their Original Nature, they create evil karma and afflictions and revolve forever in the cycle of Birth and Death. Even if they were to be reborn in the Heavens, once their merits were exhausted, they would descend into the lower realms. For this reason, the real intention of Sakyamuni Buddha is that through the Pure Land method, sentient beings may realize an early escape from the sufferings of Birth and Death.

Throughout countless eons, all Buddhas have accumulated merits and wisdom. Anyone who recites their names will engender immeasurable virtues. Moreover, Buddha Amitabha has made this Vow: Any sentient being who singlemindedly recites His name and seeks rebirth in His Land will, at the final moment, be welcomed and guided to the Pure land, and attain non-retrogression.[7]To exchange the immeasurable virtues accumulated through Buddha Recitation for the small merits and blessings of the realm of gods and men — forfeiting liberation and rebirth in the Pure Land — would be no different from an innocent child bartering an invaluable diamond for a piece of candy. That would be a great waste indeed!

Moreover, the power of Amitabha Buddha’s Vows is so immense that no matter how heavy our karma may be, by reciting His name in all earnestness, we can, in this very lifetime, achieve rebirth in the Pure Land. To seek rebirth, for instance, as an enlightened, high-ranking monk is to lack wisdom and faith. It cannot ensure rebirth in the Pure Land in this very life or attainment of Bodhisattvahood at the stage of non-retrogression. Therefore, the real intention of the Buddhas is for sentient beings to practice Pure Land so that they can be liberated from Birth and Death — and this liberation is to be achieved in one lifetime.

But why do we need to escape the cycle of Birth and Death? It is because, in the wasteland of Birth and Death, we truly undergo immense pain and suffering. If students of Buddhism do not sincerely meditate on this truth of suffering, they cannot achieve results despite all their scholarship, as they do not experience fear and seek liberation. The sutras say:

If the fearful mind does not come easily, the sincere mind cannot spring forth easily.

This is the reason why Sakyamuni Buddha, when preaching the Four Noble Truths to the five monks led by Kaundinya, taught them first the Truth of Suffering. According to this truth, if we meditate on the suffering of the human condition, we will have a clearer idea as to why we must swiftly escape the cycle of Birth and Death.

From the book:

Buddhism of Wisdom & Faith: Pure Land Principles and Practice

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

Pure Land Links English and Chinese


Larger Amitābha Sutra (English)

Translation by Hisao Inagaki:

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

Translation by F. Max Mueller:

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

Shorter Amitābha Sutra (English)

Translation from Chinese into English by J.C. Cleary

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

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

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

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

Translation by Charles Patton:

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

Translation by Hisao Inagaki:

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

Larger Amitābha Sutra (Chinese)

佛說大乘無量壽莊嚴清淨平等覺經會集本,民國夏蓮居居士會集

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

Shorter Amitābha Sutra (Chinese)

佛說阿彌陀經,姚秦三藏鳩摩羅什譯

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

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

佛說觀無量壽佛經,宋西域三藏畺良耶舍譯

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

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

Selected Mahayana Buddhist Sutras (in both Chinese and English)

佛教經典

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

Shurangama Sutra (Chinese and English)

楞嚴經 – 大佛頂首楞嚴經 – 大勢至菩薩念佛圓通章

– 唐天竺沙門般剌密帝譯 – 

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

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

Full English Text (Text only)

English translation by Dharma Realm Buddhist Association:

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

English translation by Charles Luk (mantra omitted):

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

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

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

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

By Liao-Fan Yuan

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

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

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

Pureland Learning College (Chinese)

澳洲净宗学院

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

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

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

儒释道网路电视台

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

Amitabha Pureland (English)

Introduction to Pureland Buddhism & Daily Quotes

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

Animation Videos: Legend of Buddha Amitābha (English version)

on Google videos:

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

on YouTube Videos (4 Parts)

Part 1:

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

10 Doubts about Pureland (English version)

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

Pure Land, Pure Mind (English) 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

www.sinc.sunysb.edu

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

Translated by Dharma Master Lok To

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

Basic Concepts in Buddhism (English)

(karma, death and rebirth, etc.)

http://www.viewonbuddhism.org/

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

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

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

* * *

佛典妙供首頁

http://www.sutrapearls.org/

菩提树下 – 情回中国

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

國外空間總列表

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

一 花 一 世 界 一 佛 一 如 来 – 卍 红太阳 卍

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

一心念佛(净土 佛号 圣号 佛七)mp3下载

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

求佛,佛歌大全,佛教网站,

http://namofo.cn/

佛教日历

http://foli.goodweb.cn/

佛說無量壽經親聞記(上)

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

佛說無量壽經親聞記(下)

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

* * *

Some Pure Land videos and links:

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

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

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

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

Only One Heart -Master Hsu Yun


Only One Heart -Master Hsu Yun

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

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

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

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

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

Essentials Of Chan Practice Parts 1 & 2 -Master Hsu-Yun


Essentials Of Chan Practice part 1 & 2 -Master Hsu-Yun  (source)

PART 1

The Prerequisites and Understanding Necessary to Begin Chan Practice

1. The Objective of Chan Practice

The objective of Chan practice is to illuminate the mind by eradicating its impurities and seeing into one’s true self-nature. The mind’s impurities are wrong thoughts and attachments. Self nature is the wisdom and virtue of the Tathagata. The wisdom and virtue of Buddhas and sentient beings are not different from one another. To experience this wisdom and virtue, leave behind duality, discrimination, wrong thinking and attachment. This is Buddhahood. If one cannot do this, then one remains an ordinary sentient being.

The prerequisite for Chan practice is to eradicate wrong thinking. Sakyamuni Buddha taught much on this subject. His simplest and most direct teaching is the word “stop” from the expression “stopping is Bodhi.” From the time when Bodhidharma transmitted Chan teachings to today, the winds of Chan have blown far and wide, shaking and illuminating the world. Among the many things that Bodhidharma and the Sixth Patriarch taught to those who came to study with them, none is more valuable than the saying, “Put down all entangling conditions, let not one thought arise.”

This expression is truly the prerequisite of Chan. If you cannot fulfil this requirement, then not only will you fail to attain the ultimate goal of Chan practice, but you will not even be able to enter the door of Chan. How can you talk of practicing Chan if you are entangled by worldly phenomena with thought after thought arising and passing away?

2. Put Down All Entangling Conditions

“Put down all entangling conditions, let not one thought arise” is a prerequisite for the practice of Chan. Now that we know this, how do we accomplish it? The best practitioner, one of superior abilities, can stop all thoughts forever, arrive directly at the condition of non-arising, and instantly experience Bodhi. Such a person is not entangled by anything.The next best kind of practitioner uses principle to cut off phenomena and realises that self-nature is originally pure. Vexation and Bodhi, Samsara and Nirvana – all are false names which have nothing to do with one’s self-nature. All things are dreams and illusions, like bubbles or reflections.

Within self-nature, my body, made up of the four great elements, as well as the mountains, rivers and great earth itself are like bubbles in the sea, arising and disappearing, yet never obstructing the original surface. Do not be captivated by the arising, abiding, changing and passing away of illusory phenomena, which give rise to pleasure and aversion, grasping and rejecting. Give up your whole body, as if you were dead, and the six sense organs, the six sense objects and six sense conciousnesses will naturally disperse. Greed, hatred, ignorance and love will be destroyed. All the sensations of pain, suffering and pleasure which attend the body – hunger, cold, satiation, warmth, glory, insult, birth and death, calamity, prosperity, good and bad luck, praise, blame, gain and loss, safety and danger – will no longer be your concern. Only this can be considered true renunciation – when you put everything down forever. This is what is meant by renouncing all phenomena.

When all phenomena are renounced, wrong thoughts disappear, discrimination does not arise, and attachment is left behind. When thoughts no longer arise, the brightness of self-nature manifests itself completely. At this time you will have fulfilled the necessary conditions for Chan practice. Then, further hard work and sincere practice will enable you to illuminate the mind and see into your true nature.

3. Everyone Can Instantly Become a Buddha

Many Chan practitioners ask questions about the Dharma. The Dharma that is spoken is not the true Dharma. As soon as you try to explain things, the true meaning is lost. When you realize that “one mind” is the Buddha, from that point on there is nothing more to do. Everything is already complete. All talk about practice or attainment is demonic deception.

Bodhidharma’s “Direct pointing at the mind, seeing into one’s nature and attaining Buddhahood” clearly states that all sentient beings are Buddhas. Once pure self-nature is recognized, one can harmonize with the environment yet remain undefiled. The mind will remain unified throughout the day, whether walking, standing, sitting or lying down. This is to already be a Buddha. At this point there is no need to put forth effort and be diligent. Any action is superfluous. No need to bother with the slightest thought or word. Therefore, to become a Buddha is the easiest, most unobstructed task. Do it by yourself. Do not seek outside yourself for it.

The vow to deliver all sentient beings, made by all the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and patriarchs, is not a boast nor is it a baseless, empty vow. The Dharma is exactly that. It has been elucidated again and again by the Buddha and the patriarchs. They have exhorted us with the truth. They do not deceive us.

4. Investigating Chan and Contemplating Mind

Our sect focuses on investigating Chan. The purpose of practising Chan is to “Illuminate the mind and see into one’s true nature.” This investigation is also called “Clearly realizing one’s self-mind and completely perceiving one’s original nature.”

Since the time when Buddha held up a flower and Bodhidharma came from the East, the methods for entry into this Dharma door have continually evolved. Most Chan practitioners, before the T’ang and Sung dynasties, became enlightened after hearing a word or half a sentence of the Dharma. The transmission from master to disciple was the sealing of Mind with Mind. There was no fixed Dharma. Everyday questions and answers untied the bonds. It was nothing more than prescribing the right medicine for the right illness.

After the Sung dynasty, however, people did not have such good karmic roots as their predecessors. They could not carry out what had been said. For example, practitioners were taught to “Put down everything” and “Not think about good or evil,” but they could not do it. They could not put down everything, and if they weren’t thinking about good, they were thinking about evil. Under these circumstances, the patriarchs had no choice but to use poison to fight poison, so they taught the method of investigating gongans (ie. Koans) and hua-t’ous.1

When one begins looking into a hua-t’ou, one must grasp it tightly, never letting go. It is like a mouse trying to chew its way out of a coffin. It concentrates on one point. The mouse doesn’t try different places and it doesn’t stop until it gets through. Thus, in terms of hua-t’ou, the objective is to use one thought to eradicate innumerable other thoughts. This method is a last resort, just as if someone had been pierced by a poison arrow, drastic measures must be taken to cure the patient.

The ancients used gongans, but later on practitioners started using hua-t’ou. Some hua-t’ous are: “Who is dragging this corpse around?” “Before you were born what was your original face?” and “Who is reciting the Buddha’s name?”

In fact, all hua-t’ous are the same. There is nothing uncommon, strange or special about them. If you wanted to, you could say: “Who is reciting the sutras?” “Who is reciting the mantras?” “Who is prostrating to the Buddha?” “Who is eating?” “Who is wearing these clothes?” “Who is walking?” “Who is sleeping?” They are all the same. The answer to the question “who” is derived from one’s Mind. Mind is the origin of all words. Thoughts come out of Mind; Mind is the origin of all thoughts. Innumerable Dharmas generate from the Mind; Mind is the origin of all Dharmas. In fact, hua-t’ou is a thought. Before a thought arises, that is Mind. Before a thought arises there is the origin of words. Hence, looking into a hua-t’ou is contemplating Mind. There was Mind before your parents gave birth to you, so looking into your original face before you were born is contemplating Mind.

Self-nature is Mind. When one turns inward to hear one’s self-nature, one is turning inward to contemplate Mind. In the phrase, “Perfectly illuminating pure awareness,” pure awareness is Mind and illumination is contemplation. Mind is Buddha. When one recites Buddha’s name one contemplates Buddha. Contemplating Buddha is contemplating Mind.

Investigating hua-t’ou or “looking into who is reciting Buddha’s name ” is contemplating Mind. Hence contemplating Mind is contemplating pure awareness. It is also illuminating the Buddha-nature within oneself. Mind is nature, pure awareness, Buddha. Mind has no form, no characters, no directions; it cannot be found in any particular place. It cannot be grasped. Originally, Mind is purity, universally embracing all Dharma realms. No in or out, no coming or going. Originally, Mind is pure Dharmakaya.

When investigating hua-t’ou, the practitioner should first close down all six sense organs and seek where thoughts arise. Practitioners should concentrate on the hua-t’ou until they see the pure original mind which is apart from thoughts. If one does this without interruption, the mind becomes fine, quiet, tranquil, silently illuminating. At that moment the five skandas are empty, body and mind are extinguished, nothing remains. From that point, walking, standing, siting and lying down are all done motionlessly. In time the practice will deepen, and eventually practitioners will see their self-nature and become Buddhas and suffering will cease.

A past patriarch named Kao-feng (1238-1295) once said: “You must contemplate hua-t’ou like a falling roof tile sinking endlessly down into a pond ten thousand feet deep. If in seven days you are not enlightened, I will give you permission to chop off my head.” These are the words of an experienced person. He did not speak lightly. His words are true.

Although many modern day practitioners use hua-t’ou, few get enlightened. This is because compared to practitioners of the past, practitioners today have inferior karmic roots and less merit. Also, practitioners today are not clear about the purpose and path of hua-t’ou. Some practitioners search from east to west and from north to south until they die, but still do not penetrate even one hua-t’ou. They never understand or correctly approach the hua-t’ou. They only grasp the form and the words. They use their intellect and attach only to the tail of the words.

Hua-t’ou is One Mind. This mind is not inside, outside or in the middle. On the other hand, it is inside, outside and in the middle. It is like the stillness of empty space prevailing everywhere.

Hua-t’ou should not be picked up. Neither should it be pressed down. If you pick it up, your mind will waver and become unstable. If you press it down you will become drowsy. These approaches are contrary to the nature of the original mind and are not in accordance with the Middle Path.

Practitioners are distressed by wandering thoughts. They think it is difficult to tame them. Don’t be afraid of wandering thoughts. Do not waste your energy trying to repress them. All you have to do is recognize them. Do not attach to any wandering thoughts, do not follow them, and do not try to get rid of them. As long as you don’t string thoughts together, wandering thoughts will depart by themselves.

1 A classic hua-t’ou is a brief pithy sentence or question which is the main point or “punchline” of a koan story. (JHC)

PART 2

Methods of Practice in the Chan Hall

By Master Hsu Yun.

This is part two of a translation of a text by the great Chan master of the early part of the 20th century, Hsu Yun (1839-1 959). It is reprinted by permission of the Institute of Chung Hwa Buddhist Culture, New York, from Chan Newsletter 87, August 1991. The first part of this talk appeared in New Chan Forum No.4. Spring 1992.

1. Introduction:

Many people come to ask me for guidance. This makes me feel ashamed. Everyone works so hard – splitting firewood, hoeing the fields, carrying soil, moving bricks – and yet from morning to night not putting down the thought of practising the Path. Such determination for the Path is touching. I, Hsu-Yun, repent my inadequacy on the Path and my lack of virtue. I am unable to instruct you and can use only a few sayings from the ancients in response to your questions. There are four prerequisites concerning methods of practice:

  1. Deep faith in the law of cause and consequence
  2. Strict observance of precepts
  3. Immovable faith
  4. Choosing a Dharma door method of practice

2. The Essentials of Chan Practice:

Our everyday activities are executed within the Path itself Is there anywhere that is not a place for practising the Path? A Chan Hall should not even be necessary. Furthermore, Chan practice is not just sitting meditation. The Chan Hall and Chan sitting meditation are for sentient beings with deep karmic obstructions and shallow wisdom.

When one sits in meditation, one must first know how to regulate the body and mind. If they are not well regulated, then a small harm will turn into an illness and a great harm will lead to demonic entanglements. This would be most pitiable. Walking and sitting meditation in the Chan Hall are for the regulation of body and mind. There are other ways to regulate the body and mind, but I will talk about these two fundamental methods.

When you sit in the lotus position, you should sit naturally straight. Do not push the waist forward purposely. Doing so will raise your inner heat, which later on could result in having sand in the comer of your eyes, bad breath, uneasy breathing, loss of appetite, and in the worst case, vomiting blood. If dullness or sleepiness occur, open your eyes wide, straighten your back and gently move your buttocks from side to side. Dullness will naturally vanish. If you practice with an anxious attitude, you will have a sense of annoyance. At that time you should put everything down, including your efforts to practice. Rest for a few minutes. Gradually, after you recuperate, continue to practice. If you don’t do this, as time goes on you will develop a hot-tempered character, or, in the worst case, you could go insane or fall into demonic entanglements.

There are many experiences you will encounter when sitting Chan, too many to speak of. However, if you do not attach to them, they will not interfere with you. This is why the proverb says: “See the extraordinary yet do not think of it as being extraordinary, and the extraordinary will retreat.” If you encounter or perceive an unpleasant experience, take no notice of it and have no fear. If you experience something pleasant, take no notice of it and don’t give rise to fondness. The “Surangama Sutra” says: “If one does not think he has attained a supramundane experience, then this is good. On the other hand, if one thinks he has attained something supramundane, then he will attract demons.”

3. How to Start the Practice: Distinction between Host and Guest

How should one begin to practice? In the Surangama assembly, Kaundinya the Honoured One mentioned the two words “guest” and “dust”. This is where beginners should begin their practice. He said, “A traveller who stops at an inn may stay overnight or get something to eat. When he is finished or rested, he packs and continues his journey, for he does not have time to stay longer. If he were the host, he would have no place to go. Thus I reason: he who does not stay is called a guest because not staying is the essence of being a guest. He who stays is called a host. Again, on a clear day, when the sun rises and the sunlight enters a dark room through an opening, one can see dust in empty space. The dust is moving but the space is still. That which is clear and still is called space; that which is moving is called dust because moving is the essence of being dust.” Guest and dust refer to illusory thoughts, whereas host and space refer to self-nature. That the permanent host does not follow the guest in his comings and goings illustrates that permanent self-nature does not follow illusory thoughts in their fleeting rise and fall. Therefore it was said, “If one is unaffected by all things, then there will be no obstructions even when one is constantly surrounded by things.” The moving dust does not block the clear, still empty space; illusory thoughts which rise and fall by themselves do not hinder the self-nature of Suchness. Thus it was said, “If my mind does not arise, all things are blameless.” In such a state of mind, even the guest does not drift with illusory thoughts. If he understands space and dust, illusory thoughts will no longer be hindrances. It is said that when one recognizes an enemy, there will be no more enemy in your mind. if one can investigate and understand all this before starting to practice, it is unlikely that one will make serious mistakes.

4. Hua-t’ou and Doubt:

The ancient patriarchs pointed directly at Mind. When one sees self-nature, one attains Buddhahood. This was the case when Bodhidharma helped his disciple to calm his mind and when the Sixth Patriarch spoke only about seeing self-nature. All that was necessary was the direct understanding and acceptance of Mind and nothing else. There was no such thing as investigating hua-t’ou. More recent patriarchs, however, saw that practitioners could not throw themselves into practice with total dedication and could not instantaneously see their self-nature. Instead, these people played games and imitated words of wisdom, showing off other people’s treasure and patriarchs were compelled to set up schools and devise specific ways to help practitioners, hence the method of investigating hua-t’ou.

There are many hua-t’ous, such as “All dharmas return to one, where does this one return to?” “What was my original face before I was born?” and so on. The most common one, however, is “Who is reciting the Buddha’s name?”.

What is meant by hua-t’ou? Hua means the spoken word; t’ou means the head or beginning, so hua-t’ou means that which is before the spoken word. For example, reciting Amitabha Buddha is a hua, and hua-t’ou is that which precedes one’s reciting the Buddha’s name. The hua-t’ou is that moment before the thought arises. Once the thought arises, it is already the tail of the hua. The moment before that thought has arisen is called non-arising. When one’s mind is not distracted, is not dull, is not attached to quiescence, or has not fallen into a state of nothingness, it is called non-perishing. Singlemindedly and uninterruptedly, turning inward and illuminating the state of non-arising and non-perishing is called investigating the hua-t’ou or taking care of the hua-t’ou.

To investigate the hua-t’ou, one must first generate doubt. Doubt is like a walking cane for the method of investigating hua-t’ou. What is meant by doubt? For example, one may ask, “Who is reciting the Buddha’s name?” Everyone knows that it is he himself who is reciting the name, but is he using his mouth or mind? If it is his mouth, then after the person dies and the mouth still exists, how come the dead person is unable to recite Buddha’s name? If it is the mind, then what is the mind like? It cannot be known. Thus there is something one does not understand, and this gives rise to a slight doubt regarding the question of “who”.

This doubt should never be coarse. The finer it is the better one should singlemindedly watch and keep this doubt, and keep it going like a fine stream of water. Do not get distracted by any other thought. When the doubt is there, do not disturb it. When the doubt is no longer there, gently give rise to it again. Beginners will find that it is more effective to use this method when stationary rather than when moving; but you should not have a discriminating attitude. Regardless of whether your practice is effective or not or whether you are stationary or moving, just singlemindedly use the method and practice.

In the hua-t’ou, “Who is reciting the Buddha’s name?” The emphasis should be on the word “who”. The other words serve to provide a general idea, just like in asking, “Who is dressing?”, “Who is eating?”, “Who is moving their bowels?”, ”Who is urinating?”, ”Who is ignorantly fighting for an ego?”, ”Who is being aware?”. Regardless of whether one is walking, standing, sitting or reclining, the word “who” is direct and immediate. Not having to rely on repetitive thinking, conjecture, or attention, it is easy to give rise to a sense of doubt.

Hence, hua-t’ou’s involving the word “who” are wonderful methods for practising Chan. But the idea is not to repeat, “Who is reciting Buddha’s name?” like one might repeat the Buddha’s name itself; nor is it right to use reasoning to come up with an answer to the question, thinking that this is what is meant by having doubt. There are people who uninterruptedly repeat the phrase, “Who is reciting the Buddha’s name?” They would accumulate more merit and virtue if they repeatedly recited Amitabha Buddha’s name instead. There are others who let their minds wander, thinking that is the meaning of having doubt, and they end up more involved in illusory thoughts. This is like trying to ascend but descending instead. Be aware of this.

The doubt that is generated by a beginning practitioner tends to be coarse, intermittent and irregular. This does not truly qualify as a state of doubt. It can only be called thoughts. Gradually, after the wild thoughts settle and one has more control, the process can be called “ts’an” (ts’an means to investigate or look into). As one’s cultivation gets smoother, the doubt naturally arises without one’s actively inducing it to. At this point one is not aware of where one is sitting. One is not aware of the existence of a body or mind or environment. Only the doubt is there. This is a true state of doubt.

Realistically speaking, the initial stage cannot be considered cultivation. One is merely engaging in illusory thoughts. Only when true doubt arises by itself can it be called true cultivation. This moment is a crucial juncture, and it is easy for the practitioner to deviate from the right path:

  1. At this moment it is clear and pure and there is an unlimited sense of lightness and peace. However, if one fails to fully maintain one’s awareness and illumination (awareness is wisdom, not delusion; illumination is samadhi, not disorder), one will fall into a light state of mental dullness. If there is an open-eyed person around, he will be able to tell right away that the practitioner is in this mental state and hit him with the incense stick, dispersing all clouds and fog. Many people become enlightened this way.
  2. At this moment it is clear and pure, empty and vacuous. If it isn’t, then the doubt is lost. Then it is “no content”, meaning one is not making an effort to practice any more. This is what is meant by “the cliff with dry wood” or “the rock soaking in cold water”. In this situation the practitioner has to “bring up”. “Bring up” means to develop awareness and illumination. It is different from earlier times when the doubt was coarse. Now it has to be fine – one thought, uninterrupted and extremely subtle. With utter clarity, it is illuminating and quiescent, unmoving yet fully aware. Like the smoke from a fire that is about to go out, it is a narrow stream without interruption. When one’s practice reaches this point, it is necessary to have a diamond eye in the sense that one should not try to “bring up” any more. To “bring up” at this point would be like putting a head on top of one’s head.

Once a monk, asked Chan master Chao-chou, “What should one do when not one thing comes?” Chao-chou replied, “Put it down”. The monk, asked, “If not one thing comes, what does one put down?” Chao-chou replied, “If it cannot be put down, take it up”. This dialogue refers precisely to this kind of situation. The true flavour of this state cannot be described. Like someone drinking water, only he knows how cool or warm it is. If a person reaches this state, he will naturally understand. If he is not at this state, no explanation will be adequate. To a sword master you should offer a sword; do not bother showing your poetry to someone who is not a poet.

5. Taking Care of Hua-t’ou and Turning Inward to Hear One’s Self-Nature:

Someone might ask, “How is Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara’s method of turning inward to hear self-nature considered investigating Chan?”. I have previously explained that taking care of hua-t’ou is being, moment after moment, with only one thought, singlemindedly shining the light inward on “that which is not born and not destroyed”. Inward illumination is reflection. Self-nature is that which is not born and not destroyed. When “hearing” and “illuminating” follow sound and form in the worldly stream, hearing does not go beyond sound and seeing does not go beyond form. However, when one turns inward and contemplates self-nature against the worldly steam, and does not pursue sound and form, then he becomes pure and transparent. At that time, “hearing” and “illuminating” are not two different things.

Thus we should know that taking care of the hua-t’ou and turning inward to hear self-nature does not mean using our eyes to see and our ears to hear. If we use our ears to hear or our eyes to see, then we are chasing sound and form. As a result we will be affected by them. This is called submission to the worldly stream. If one practices with one thought only, singlemindedly abiding in that which is not born and not destroyed, not chasing after sound and form, with no wandering thoughts, then one is going against the stream. This is also called taking care of the hua-t’ou or turning inward to hear one’s self-nature. This is not to say you should close your eyes tightly or cover your ears. Just do not generate a mind of seeking after sound and form.

6. Determined to Leave Samsara and Generating a Persevering Mind:

In Chan training the most important thing is to have an earnestness to leave birth and death and to generate a persevering mind. If there is no earnestness to leave birth and death, then one cannot generate the “great doubt” and practice will not be effective. if there is no perseverance in one’s mind, the result will be laziness, like a man who practices for one day and rests for ten. The practice will be incomplete and fragmented. Just develop a persevering mind and when great doubt arises, vexations will come to an end by themselves. When the time comes, the melon will naturally depart from the vine.

I will tell you a story. During the Ch’ing dynasty in the year of K’eng Tse (1900) when the eight world powers sent their armies to Peking, the Emperor Kuang-hsu fled westward from Peking to Shen Hsi province. Everyday he walked tens of miles. For several days he had no food to eat. On the road, a peasant offered him sweet potato stems. After he had eaten them, he asked the peasant what they were because they tasted so good. Think about the Emperor’s usual awe-inspiring demeanour and his arrogance! How long do you think he could continue to maintain his imperial attitude after so long a journey on foot? Do you think he had ever gone hungry? Do you think he ever had to eat sweet potato stems? At that time he gave up all of his airs. After all, he had walked quite a distance and had eaten stems to keep from starving. Why was he able to put down everything at that time? Because the allied armies wanted his life and his only thought was to save himself But when peace prevailed and he returned to Peking, once again he became proud and arrogant. He didn’t have to run any more. He no longer had to eat any food that might displease him. Why was he unable to put down everything at that time? Because the allied armies no longer wanted his life. If the Emperor always had an attitude of running for his life and if he could turn such an attitude toward the path of practice, there would be nothing he could not accomplish. It’s a pity he did not have a persevering mind. When favourable circumstances returned, so did his former habits.

Fellow practitioners! Time is passing, never to return. It is constantly looking for our lives. It is more frightening than the allied armies. Time will never compromise or make peace with us. Let us generate a mind of perseverance immediately in order to escape from birth and death! Master Kao-fung (1238-1295) once said, “Concerning the practice, one should act like a stone dropping into the deepest part of the pool – ten thousand feet deep – continuously and persistently dropping without interruption toward the bottom. If one can practice like this without stopping, continuously for seven days, and still be unable to cut off one’s wandering, illusory thoughts and vexations, I, Kao-fung, will have my tongue pulled out for cows to plough on forever”. He continued by saying, “When one practices Chan, one should set out a certain time for success, like a man who has fallen into a pit a thousand feet deep. All his tens of thousands of thoughts are reduced to one – escape from the pit. If one can really practice from morning to dusk and from night to day without a second thought, and if he does not attain complete enlightenment within three, five or seven days, I shall be committing a great lie for which I shall have my tongue pulled out for cows to plough on forever”. This old master had great compassion.

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.

Karma


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

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

What is Karma?

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

The Buddha says:

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

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

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

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

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

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


Do Not Concern Yourself


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

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

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.”