Giữ tâm thanh tịnh, ý chí vững bền thì có thể hiểu thấu lẽ đạo, như lau chùi tấm gương sạch hết dơ bẩn, tự nhiên được sáng trong.Kinh Bốn mươi hai chương
Học Phật trước hết phải học làm người. Làm người trước hết phải học làm người tốt. (學佛先要學做人,做人先要學做好人。)Hòa thượng Tinh Không
Hãy nhớ rằng hạnh phúc nhất không phải là những người có được nhiều hơn, mà chính là những người cho đi nhiều hơn. (Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more.)H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
Ai dùng các hạnh lành, làm xóa mờ nghiệp ác, chói sáng rực đời này, như trăng thoát mây che.Kinh Pháp cú (Kệ số 173)
Kẻ hung dữ hại người cũng như ngửa mặt lên trời mà phun nước bọt. Nước bọt ấy chẳng lên đến trời, lại rơi xuống chính mình.Kinh Bốn mươi hai chương
Bạn có thể trì hoãn, nhưng thời gian thì không. (You may delay, but time will not.)Benjamin Franklin
Giặc phiền não thường luôn rình rập giết hại người, độc hại hơn kẻ oán thù. Sao còn ham ngủ mà chẳng chịu tỉnh thức?Kinh Lời dạy cuối cùng
Sự kiên trì là bí quyết của mọi chiến thắng. (Perseverance, secret of all triumphs.)Victor Hugo
"Nó mắng tôi, đánh tôi, Nó thắng tôi, cướp tôi." Ai ôm hiềm hận ấy, hận thù không thể nguôi.Kinh Pháp cú (Kệ số 3)
Mất tiền không đáng gọi là mất; mất danh dự là mất một phần đời; chỉ có mất niềm tin là mất hết tất cả.Ngạn ngữ Nga

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Essential Summaries of Buddhist Teachings
»» Chapter 40 - Chapter 70

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Phật Giáo Yếu Lược - Chương 40 - Chương 70

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Chapter 40. Pragmatism of Buddhism

Buddhism addresses only pratical problems, not in academic questions and metaphysical theories. According to the Chulamalunkya Sutra, the Buddha expressed very clearly about the pragmatic approach of Buddhism in everything. The Buddha himself made use of the parable of a wounded man. In the story, a man wounded by an arrow wishes to know who shot the arrow, the direction from which it came, whether the arrowhead is made of bone or steel, and what kind of wood the shaft is made of before he will let the arrow be removed. The Buddha wanted to imply the man’s attitude with the attitude of those who want to know about the origin of the universe, whether it is eternal or not, finite in space or not, and so on, before they will undertake to practice a religion. According to the Buddha, these people are people of idle talks and pleasure discusions. Such people will die uselessly before they ever have the answers to all their irrelevant questions, just as the man in the parable will die before he has all the answers he seeks about the origin and nature of the arrow. Thus the Buddha taught: “Mankind’s most important priority is the reduction and elimination of suffering, and try not to waste the precious time on irrelevant inquiries.

According to Buddhism, a Buddhist cultivator is similar to a man who was trying to escape from a group of bandits came to a vast stretch of water that was in his way. He knew that this side of the shore was dangerous and the other side was safe. However, there was no boat going to the other shore, nor was there any bridge for crossing over. So he quickly gather wood, branches and leaves to make a raft, and with the help of the raft, he crossed over safely to the other shore. The Noble Eightfold Path taught by the Buddha is like the raft. It would take us from the suffering of this shore to the other shore of no suffering. In Mahayana Buddhism, the teaching is likened a raft; when the goal, the other shore, is reached, then the raft is left behind. The form of teaching is not final dogma but an expedient method. According to the Discourse on the Water Snake’s Parable, the Buddha taught: “My teaching is like a raft for crossing over, not for carrying.” Buddha’s teaching is like a raft, a means of crossing the river, the raft being left when the crossing has been made.

In Buddhism, dharma refers to all the methods of cultivation taught by the Buddha which lead to ultimate enlightenment. They are means that lead to an end, not an end themselves. The Buddha’s teaching is likened a raft for going the other shore. All of us depend on the raft of Dharma to cross the river of birth and death. We strive with our hands, feet, and wisdom to reach the other shore. When the goal, the other shore, is reached, then the raft is left behind. The form of teaching is not final dogma but an expedient method. According to the Discourse on the Water Snake’s Parable, the Buddha taught: “My teaching is like a raft for crossing over, not for carrying.” Also according to the Middle Length Saying, the Buddha taught: “The dharma that I teach is like a raft. Even Dharma should be relinquished, how much the more that which is not Dharma? The Raft of Dharma is for crossing over, not for retaining.”

Chapter 41. Buddhist Concept on Fate

Buddhism has no concern with either determinism or determinateness because it is a religion of self-creation. It holds the theory of free will within the sphere of human beings. Buddhism, therefore, has nothing to do with fatalism, for it does not admit the existence of anything like destiny or the decree of fate. According to Buddhism, all living beings have assumed the present life as the result of self-creation, and are, even at present, in the midst of creating themselves. Birth and death are not the predestined fate of a living being but only a corollary of action or karma. One who acts must sooner or later reap the result of such action. Nobody can determine the fate of anybody else in this universe. In the Dharmapada Sutra, the Buddha taught: “All that we are is the result of what we have thought; it is founded on our thoughts; it is made up of our thoughts.” Thus, there is no room for the idea of “Creation” in Buddhism.

According to fatalism, each of us has a fate which we cannot change and about which we can do nothing. As they says “Whatever will be will be.” In this philosophy the agent that determine destiny is not, as in the theistic position, a personal God, but rather a mysterious impersonal power called “Fate” which transcends our understanding and hence our ability to persuade or manipulate. In Buddhism, there exists no such “destiny.” In fact, Buddhism consider this as a way or a path of going. Our destiny issues from our character, our character from our habits, our habits from our acts, and our acts from our thoughts. And since thoughts issue from the mind the ultimate determinant of our destiny. In fact, the mind is the only creator Buddhism recognizes, and the power of the mind the only significant power in the world. As Milton, an English poet in the seventeenth century, says: “The mind can make a heaven of hell, and a hell of heaven.” If we think good thoughts, our acts cannot be bad. By thinking good thoughts, we will produce better actions, develop better habits, mold better characters and inherit better destiny.

Chapter 42. Buddhism and Epistemology

This insight into one’s own nature is not an intellectual one, standing outside, but an experiential one, being inside, as it were. This difference between intellectual and experiential knowledge is of central important for Zen and, at the same time, constitutes one of the basic difficulties the Western student has in trying to understand Zen. The West, for two thousand years has believed that a final answer to the problem of existence can be given in thought; the right answer in religion and in philosophy is of paramount importance. By this insistence the way was prepared for the flourishing of the natural sciences. Here is the right thought, while not giving a final answer to the problem of existence, is inherent in the method and necessary for the application of the thought to practice, that is, for technique. Zen on the other hand, is based on the premise that the ultimate answer to life cannot be given in thought. The intellectual groove of “yes” and “no” is quite accommodating when things run their course; but as soon as the ultimate question of life comes up, the intellect fails to answer satisfactorily. In Buddhism worldly knowledge is regarded as an obstacle for understanding. If we take someting to be the truth, we may cling to it so much that even if the truth comes and knocks at our door, we won’t want to let it in. We have to be able to transcend our previous knowledge the way we climb up a ladder. If we are on the fifth rung and think that we are very high, there is no hope for us to step up to the sixth. We must learn to transcend our own views. Understanding, like water, can flow, can penetrate. Views, knowledge, and even wisdom are solid, and can block the way of understanding. For these reasons, the Buddha taught: “Ignorance accumulated over and over again owing to imperfect intellection since the infinite past is the origin of the mind.”

Even in the epistemological questions, Buddhism always bases on the truth of “Cause and Effect” or the truth of “Karma and Retribution” to solve most the world problems, not to utilize any blind faith in the epistemological questions. According to Buddhist literature, the Buddha ridiculed all deluded rituals of the Brahmans and accused the priests of fabricating them for no better reason than to make money from the wealthy and to manipulate the power. However, this ridicule of Brahman rituals led to challenging the authority of the Vedic literature that the Brahman priests considered sacred. These Brahman priests refused to accept the theory of causation. They continued to follow perverted (wrong) views or opinions, not consistent with the dharma. This view arises from a misconception of the real characteristic of existence. There were at least sixty-two heretical views (views of the externalist or non-Buddhist views) in the Buddha’s time. On the contrary, Buddhism emphasizes on theory of causation. Understanding the theory of causation means to solve most of the question of the causes of sufferings and afflictions. Not understanding or refuse of understanding of the theory of causation means a kind of wrong view in Buddhism. According to the Buddha, sentient beings suffer from sufferings and afflictions because of dersires, aversions, and delusion, and the causes of these harmful actions are not only from ignorance, but also from wrong views. Later Dharmakirti criticized the Brahmanical doctrine of the special authority of the Veda, which the Brahmans supposed had been revealed to human beings by God, which no one can confirm. On the other hand, the Buddha taught nothing but principles that every human being could confirm. However, a full confirmation of the Buddha’s teachings was said to be impossible for a person whose vision was still clouded by delusions. Concerning epistemological questions, Buddhism has much more to say than any other philosophy. As sources of cognition Buddhism recognizes the world of sensation (Pratyaksa-pramana), the world of inference (anumana) and the world of pure intuition (dhyana). Thus sense-data, reason and inner experience resulting from intuition will all provide the content of knowledge. Besides these we can appeal in every case to the Word that has been uttered from the world of perfect enlightenment (Bodhi), i.e., the Buddha (the Enlightened).

Chapter 43. Buddhism and A So-Called Creator

In Buddhism, there is no distinction between a divine or supreme being and common mortals. The highest form of being is the Buddha. All people have the inherent ability and potential to become Buddhas if they follow and cultivate the teachings set forth by Shakyamuni Buddha. By following the Buddha’s teachings and Buddhist practices, anyone can eventually become Buddhas. A Buddha is also a human being, but one who comes to a realization and thoroughly understands the workings and meaning of life and the universe. When one comes to that realization and truly knows and understands oneself and everything, he is called “Buddha” or he is said to have attained enlightenment. He is also called “the Enlightened One.”

Externalists believe that there exists a so-call “Creator” or “Almighty God” who makes (creates) and transforms all being at his will. The Buddha taught that there is no so-called “Creator God.” Human beings were not created by a creator god, nor are they the result of a long process of evolution, as suggested by Darwinian and Neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory. According to the Digha Nikaya sutra, both physical world and beings are not the products of any creator, but merely the products of an evolutionary process. In other words, everything in this world whether good or bad, lucky or unlucky, happy or sad, all come from the power of a supreme Creator, the only Ruler to have the power of reward and punishment. Buddhism, in the contrary, is not a system of blind faith and worship. In Buddhism, there is no such thing as belief in a body of dogmas which have to be taken on faith, or such belief in a Supreme Being. As a matter of fact, Buddhism does not believe that there exists a so-called Absolute God that is essentially transcendent to human beings. So the Buddha teaches “Dependent Co-origination” or “Conditional Co-production” as the dharma or the truth. This teaching emphasizes that everything is temporally and ontologically interdependent, co-arising and co-ceasing with everything else. Nothing exists independently, or can be said to be self-existing. Buddhism does not believe the notion of ‘one enduring reality underlying the universe’; nor does Buddhism accept the monotheistic notion of One Absolute God as the ultimate reality. According to the Buddha’s teaching, there have always been people, though not necessarily on our planet. The appearance of physical human bodies in anywhere begins with the mental generation of human karma. Mind, not physical body, is the primary factor in this process. Human beings are not a special product of a so-called God and are not independent of the other forms of sentient life in the universe and can be reborn in others of the six paths of rebirth. Likewise, other sentient beings can be reborn as human beings.

According to the Buddha, human beings have not created by a creator god, nor have they been the result of a long process of evolution, as suggested by Darwinian and Neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory. According to the Buddha’s teachings, , there have always been people, though not necessarily on this planet. The appearance of physical human bodies in any particular location begins with the mental generation of “human karma.” Mind, not physical body, is primary in that process. Human beings are not independent of the other forms of sentient life in the universe and can be reborn in others of the Six Paths of Rebirth. Likewise, other sentient beings can be reborn as human beings. What is ultimately real about all living beings is their Buddha-Nature and that cannot be created or destroyed. At the very beginning, before heaven and earth came into being, there were not any people. There was no earth, no living beings, nor anything called a world. Basically, none of those things existed at all. And then, at the outset of the kalpa, when things were coming into being, people gradually came to exist. Ultimately, where do they come from? Some say that people evolved from monkeys. But what do the monkeys evolve from? If people evolved from monkeys, then why are there no people evolving from monkeys right now? This is really strange. People who propagate this kind of theory basically do not have any understanding. They are just trying to set up some special theory. Why could it not be the case that people evolved from other living beings?

Other religions believe that God gives his doctrine in the form of a message to one man who then spread it to others, so they must believe what the man has said even though the so-called “Creator” he has claimed is always invisible to them. The Buddha on the other hand, whenever the Buddha spoke anything, it was because he had personally experimented the validity of the saying for himself as an ordinary human being. He claimed no divinity. He never claimed anything like receiving knowledge from outside sources. Throughout His ministry He always asserted that His listeners were free to question Him and challenge His Teachings so that they could personally realize the truth. Therefore He said: “Come and see, not come and believe.” Sincere Buddhists should ask ourselves which is more to reliable, the testimony of one who speaks from personal experience, or that of one who claims to have heard it from someone else who is always invisible.

Chapter 44. Dead Buddhism

Buddhism is a philosophy, a way of life or a religion. The religion of the awakened one. One of the three great world religions. If was founded by the historical Buddha Sakyamuni over 25 centuries ago. Sakyamuni expounded the four Noble Truths as the core of his teaching, which he had recognized in the moment of his enlightenment. He had shown people how to live wisely and happily and his teachings soon spread from India throughout Asia, and beyond. The Buddha did not claim that he was a god, the child of god or even the messenger from a god. He was simply a man who perfected himself and taught that if we followed his example, we could perfect ourselves also. He never asked his followers to worship him as a god. In fact, He prohibited his followers to praise him as a god. He told his followers that he could not give favors to those who worship him with personal expectations or calamities to those who don’t worship him. He asked his followers to respect him as students respect their teacher. He also reminded his followers to worship a statue of the Buddha to remind ourselves to try to develop peace and love within ourselves. The perfume of incense reminds us of the pervading influence of virtue, the lamp reminds us of the light of knowledge and the followers which soon fade and die, remind us of impermanence. When we bow, we express our gratitude to the Buddha for what his teachings have given us. This is the core nature of Buddhist worship. A lot of people have misunderstood the meaning of “worship” in Buddhism, even sincere Buddhists. Buddhists do not believe that the Buddha is a god, so in no way they could possibly believe that a piece of wood or metal is a god. In Buddhism, the statue of the Buddha is used to symbolize human perfection. The statue of the Buddha also reminds us of the human dimension in Buddhist teaching, the fact that Buddhism is man-centered, not god-centered, that we must look within not without to find perfection and understanding. We, devout Buddhists should always bear in mind that if the Way that is not man-centered, it’s a dead or dead-end Way. So in no way one can say that Buddhists worship god or idols.

Dead Buddhism is a kind of Buddhism with its superfluous organizations, classical rituals, multi-level offerings, dangling and incomprehensible sutras written in strange languages which puzzle the young people. In their view the Buddhist pagoda is a nursing home, a place especially reserved for the elderly, those who lack self-confidence or who are superstituous. Furthermore, there exists a dead Buddhism when the Buddhadharma is only in talking, not in practice. It’s not enough to say that we believe in the Buddha; it’s better not to know the Buddhadharma than knowing it only for talking. Time flies really fast like a flying arrow, and days and months fly by like a shuttlecock. The water waves follow one after another. Life is passing quickly in the same manner. Impermanence avoids nobody, youth is followed by old age moment after moment, and we gradually return to the decay and extinction of old age and death, leaving no trace or shadow. Sincere Buddhists should always remember that if we merely believe in Buddhism without practicing, it’s no better than believing in a dead Buddhism. It’s like going into a restaurant and reading the menu to enjoy ourselves without ordering any food for eating. It does not benefit us in the least. Thus, we should always bear in mind that if the Way is not put in practice, it’s a dead or dead-end Way; if the virtue is not achieved by cultivating, it’s not a real virtue.

Chapter 45. Buddhism With Eschatological Questions

In Buddhism, there are no ordinary eschatological questions because all beings are in the eternal flux of becoming. One should note, however, that birth incurs death, and death again incurs birth. Birth and death are two inevitable phenomena of the cycle of life which ever repeats its course. The end of self-creation is simply the realization of the Life-Ideal, that is, the undoing of all life-conditions, in other words, the attainment of perfect freedom, never more to be conditioned by causation in space-time. Nirvana is the state of perfect freedom. Devout Buddhists should always remember that our mindstreams don’t cease when our physical bodies die. Our minds are formless entities, but when they leave our present bodies at the time of death, they will be reborn in other bodies. What rebirth we’ll take depends on our present actions. Therefore, one purpose of our lives can be to prepare for death and future lives. In that way, we can die peacefully, knowing our minds will be propelled towards good rebirths. The other way that we can utilize our lives is to attain liberation or enlightenment. We can become arhats, beings liberated from cyclic existence, or we can go on to become fully enlightened Buddhas, able to benefit others most effectively. Attaining liberation, our minds will be completely cleansed of all disturbing attitudes. Thus we’ll never become angry, jealous or proud again. We no longer feel guilty, anxious or depressed, and all our bad habits will be gone. In addition, if we aspire to attain enlightenment for the benefit of everyone, we’ll have spontaneous affection for all beings, and will know the most appropriate ways to help them. Also another way to take advantage of our precious human lives is to live life to the fullest, moment by moment.

Chapter 46. Buddhism and Art

According to extant records of the earliest Buddhist community, iconographic representation was discouraged by Sakyamuni Buddha and his followers, who wanted to prevent the development of cults that focus on the figure of the Buddha, rather than on the doctrines and practices he taught. In addition, the central focus of the monastic community was introspective meditation, rather than external symbolism. As Buddhism grew and attracted more followers, artistic representations began to appear. There was, however, an initial reclutance to represent the Buddha directly, and so he was often depicted in aniconic motifs, such as his footsprints (buddha-pada) or the Bodhi Tree (Bodhi-Vrksa). The most widespread aniconic representation of the Buddha was in the form of reliquaries called “Stupas.” These continue to be popular throughout the Buddhist world, and a plethora of styles has developed. In Indian Buddhism it was commonly thought that they physically represented the Buddha, and some texts indicate that it was widely believed that venerating a stupa was equivalent to venerating the Buddha himself. Iconic representations began to appear on stupas some time after the reign of Asoka (272- 236 B.C.), and a number of figures are found on stupas at Bharhut, Sanci, and Amaravati. These monuments have carved depicting scenes from the life of the Buddha. Around the end of the first century, artists began to fashion representations of the Buddha, and the Buddha dispersed symbol in Buddhist art all over the world. The earliest known examples of the Buddha image borrowed motifs from non-Buddhist traditions, since there was at that time no accepted notion regarding how he should be represented. Artists in Mathura, present-day north central India, for example, adopted imagery from the depiction of Yaksas, and in Gandhara, present-day Afghanistan, artists appear to have been influenced by Greek art. As Buddhism spread to other parts of the world this trend continued, and the Buddha image has acquired the characteristics and artistic motifs of the local populations of every Buddhist society. Despite Buddhism’s initial rejection of artistic representation, Buddhist art flourished both in India and throughout Asia. With the development of tantric Buddhism in India, art and imagery also became integrated into meditative practice. As tantric Buddhism spread to Tibet, Mongolia, China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam, elaborate use of imagery became widespread in many quarters.

Chapter 47. Position of Human Beings in Buddhism

The Eastern ancient said: “Man is the most sacred and superior being,” however, to Buddhism, any living being’s life is precious and of the same value. That is to say no being’s life is more precious than the other’s. According to the Upasaka Sutra, Buddhism agrees that in all living beings, man is endowed with all necessary faculties, intelligence. Buddhism also agrees that conditions of human beings are not too miserable as those beings in the hell or the hungry ghosts. To Buddhism, human life is difficult to obtain. If we are born as human beings with many qualities, difficult to attain. We should try to make our lives meaningful ones. Besides, human beings have intelligence. This precious quality enables us to investigate the true meaning of life and to practice the path to enlightenment. Devout Buddhists should always remember that what rebirth we will take depends on our present actions and habits. Thus, our purpose in this very life is to attain liberation or enlightenment, either becoming liberated from cyclic existence (Arhats), or becoming fully enlightened Buddhas. Most of all, we should be able to take advantage of our precious human lives to live to the fullest, moment by moment. To achieve this, we must be mindful of each moment, not being in the here-and-now when we act. According to Buddhist point of view, we have precious human lives, endowed with many qualities to attain. Because of this, we can make our lives highly meaningful. We often take our lives for granted and dwell on the things that aren’t going the way we would like them to. Thinking this way is unrealistic and makes us depressed. However, if we think about the qualities we do have and everything that is going well, we’ll have a different and more joyful perspective on life. One of our greatest endowments is our human intelligence. This precious quality enables us to investigate the meaning of life and to practice to advance on the path to enlightenment. If all of our senses, eyes, ears, mental... are intact, we are able to hear the Dharma, read books on it, and think about its meaning. We’re so lucky to be born in an historical era when the Buddha has appeared and taught the Dharma. These teachings have been transmitted in a pure from teacher to student in lineages steming back to the Buddha. We have the opportunity to have qualified spiritual masters who can teach us, and there are communities of ordained people and Dharma friends who share our interest and encourage us on the path. Those of us who are fortunate to live in countries that cherish religious freedom aren’t restricted from learning and practicing the path. In addition, most of us don’t live in desperate poverty and thus have enough food, clothing and shelter to engage in spiritual practice without worrying about basic material needs. Our minds aren’t heavily obscured with wrong views and we are interested in self-development. We have the potential to do great things with our present opportunity. But to appreciate this, we must develop a long-term vision for our cultivation because our present lives are only a short one.

Today there is ceaseless work going on in all directions to improve the world. Scientists are pursuing their methods and experiments with undiminished vigor and determination. Modern discoveries and methods of communication and contact have produced startling results. All these improvements, though they have their advantages and rewards, are entirely material and external. Within this conflux of mind and body of man, however, there are unexplored marvels to occpy men of science for many years. Really, the world, which the scientists are trying to improve, is, according to the ideas of Buddhism, subject to so much change at all points on its circumference and radii, that it is not capable of being made sorrowfree. Our life is so dark with aging, so smothered with death, so bound with change, and these qualities are so inherent in it, even as greenness is to grass, and bitterness to quinine, that not all the magic and power of science can ever transform it. The immortal splendor of an eternal sunlight awaits only those who can use the light of understanding and the culture of conduct to illuminate and guard their path through life’s tunnel of darkness and dismay. The people of the world today mark the changing nature of life. Although they see it, they do not keep it in mind and act with dispassionate discernment. Though change again and again speaks to them and makes them unhappy, they pursue their mad career of whirling round the wheel of existence and are twisted and torn between the spokes of agony.

Most of us are agreed to the fact that among all living beings, human beings are unique beings who can understand what we are and what we should be. Compared to other beings, man is most complete and superior not only in the mentality and thinking, but also in the ability of organization of social life. Human beings’ life cannot be substituted nor repeated nor determined by someone else. Once we are born in this world, we have to live our own life, a meaningful and worth living life. The Buddha taught in the Upasaka Sutra: “In all beings, man is endowed with all necessary faculties, intelligence. Besides man’s conditions are not too miserable as those beings in hell, not too much pleasure as those beings in heaven. And above all, man’s mind is not so ignorant as that of the animals.” So man has the ability to build and improve his own life to the degree of perfection.

Chapter 48. Marriage According to the Buddhist Point of View

According to the dictionary, marriage means a mutual relationship of a man and a woman. They are joined in a special kind of social legal dependence for the purpose of founding and maintaining a family. In a true marriage, husband and wife think more of the partnership or of their family than they do of themselves. They sacrifice for the sake of their family more than for themselves. In Buddhism, if you don’t have the great opportunity to renounce the world, there is nothing wrong with getting marriage; however, marriage should be considered as a process of life and should be treated as a good opportunity for a lay Buddhists to put his or her cultivation into practice. Many people turn their marriage life a miserable one due to lack of understanding, tolerance and patience. Poverty is not really the main cause of an unhappy life, for thousands of years ago people still had a happy married life without that much materials of nowadays society. Husband and wife need to respect each other at all times; they also need to learn to share the pleasure and pain of everything in their daily life. Mutual respect and understanding are extremely important for a happy family life.

There are no canonical Buddhist marriage ceremonies, and Buddhist monks have traditionally avoided participation in the process of marriage, which is not surprising for the Buddha’s emphasis was on a monastic community whose members should dissociate themselves from worldly life and its concerns. Marriage is generally seen in Buddhism as part of a process that leads to birth, aging, and death, and the household life is commonly characterized in Buddhist texts as involving people in a web of entanglements that inevitably lead to sufferings and afflictions. Moreover, the Pratimoksa contains a passage stating: “If some of this Samgha acts as an intermediary, bringing a man and a woman together, whether for the purpose of marriage or for a single act of intercourse, there is an offence of wrong-doing and that monk person should repent before the assembly of monks.” Despite this, it is common for monks to be invited to wedding ceremonies. If they choose to attend any wedding ceremonies, they should selected Buddhist texts that pray for peace and happiness in that new family. They do not however, play any role in the ritual joining of the bride and groom in marriage. Monks and nuns should always remember that wedding ceremonies as secular affairs of lay community and should be performed by lay people. Nowadays a number of Buddhist orders prepare wedding rituals in order to meet the needs and belief of their laypeople and when monks are invited to attend such wedding ceremonies, they usually provide blessing prayers and give lectures to help the new couple. Despite these recent innovations, however, most Buddhist monks and nuns tend to see participation in weddings as inappropriate for monks and as a violation of the rules of the Vinaya.

In Buddhism, there is no encouragement in worldly marriage, but the Buddha praised for happy couples. The Buddha also gave instructions as to how lay disciples could live happily in marriage. The discourses of fundamentals of Buddhist social ethic in the Sigalovada Sutra generally lays down the basic pattern of relationships between husband and wife, parents and children, and emphasizing the most essential aspects of their common life. According to the Buddha, cultural compatibility between husband and wife was considered as one of the factors of a successful married life. Marriage is not simply lust and romance. Many of marriage problems arise from the inability to sacrifice from both the husband and wife. Thus, Buddhist teachings also promote enjoyment in life, moralization of biological needs, psychological satisfaction and material well being of both husband and wife.

At the time of the Buddha, He didn’t speak specifically about premaritial sex, and there is no rule to prohibit premaritial sex for lay people. We can infer that both parties are consenting adults, then they’re completely responsible for their own actions, so long as what they do doesn’t harm others. However, if one of the people involved is under the age (still under the control of his or her parents), and if having sexual intercourse with that person would upset the parents and the family, then it’s prohibited. The Buddha taught: “Conjugal love between husband and wife is, of course, an important factor in forming the individual home and society. However, people have a tendency to become attached too much to such love and become selfish in their affections. They are apt to ignore the much larger love they should have for all human beings.” Even though according to the Buddhist laws, monks or nuns must live a celibate life. They may be at one time married before they renounce their worldly life, but after they become monks or nuns, they must renounce the worldly life.

In Japan, during the Meiji Restoration in the mid nineteenth century, the government wanted the ordained ones to marry. Thus in Japan, there are now both married and unmarried lineages of both sexes, and the precepts they keep are enumerated differently from those of other Buddhist traditions. In Japan, the monks’ and nuns’ precepts were altered during Meiji Restoration in the mid-19th century, because the government wanted the ordained ones to marry. Thus in Japan, there are now both married and unmarried temple monks and nuns, and the precepts they keep enumerated differently from those of other Buddhist traditions. Except for the eight precepts that are taken for one day, all other precepts are taken for the duration of the life. It may happen that due to unforeseen circumstances, a monk or a nun may not be able to keep the ordination any longer or may not wish to have it. In that case, he or she can go before a spiritual master, or even tell another person who can hear and understand, and return the precepts.

Chapter 49. Noble Silence

Buddha Sakyamuni refrained from giving a definitive answer to many metaphysical questions of his time. This is often referred to as the silence of the Buddha. He always remained silent when the students asked him if the self exists or not, if an enlightened one continues to exist after his death, if the world is eternal and unending or not. The Buddha explained that he was silent on these questions because answers to them would in no way further progress on the path; these answers would not contribute to overcoming of the passions nor to the attainment of wisdom. Thus the Buddha speaks only when necessary: Buddha Sakyamuni refrained from giving a definitive answer to many metaphysical questions of his time (questions of self-exists, not self-exists, if the world is eternal, or unending or no, etc). According to the Buddha, a silent person is very often a wise person because he or she avoids wasting energy or negative verbiage.

The Buddha always remains silent toward irrelevant questions. One day a certain man said to the Buddha that he would join the band of his disciples if the Buddha would give clear answer to the questions: Would the Buddha ever die, and, if so, what would become of him after death? What was the first cause of the universe, and what was the universe going to be like in the future? Why do men live and what becomes of them after death? If the person asks because he wants to cause troubles for the Buddha, the Buddha will remain silent. If the person asks because he wants to study, the Buddha’s answer was to the following effect: “Suppose you were shot by a poison arrow and a physician came to draw the arrow from your body and to dress the wound, would you first ask him questions as to what the arrow was made of, what the composition of the poison was, and who shot the arrow, and, if the physician did not dress the wound, what was going to happen, and such blissful questions, and refuse the treatment until the physician answered all the questions to your satisfaction? You would be dead before you obtained the answers.” In this parable the Buddha advised the questioner to become his disciple without wasting his time on problems which were too profound to be understood by an ordinary man, probably a long cultivation as a disciple of the Buddha he might come to understand.

According to the Madhyamaka Philosophy, the mysterious silence of the Buddha on most fundamental questions of Metaphysics led him to probe into the reason of that silence. Was the Buddha agnostic as some of the European writers on Buddhism believe him to be? If not, what was the reason of his silence? Through a searching inquiry into this silence was the dialectic born. There are well-known questions which the Buddha declared to be avyakrta or the answers to which were inexpressible, Cadrakirti enumerates them in his commentary on the Madhyamaka Sastra that the Buddha announced fourteen things to be inexpressible: Whether the world is…eternal, not eternal, both eternal and not eternal, neither eternal nor not eternal. Whether the world is…finite, infinite, both finite and infinite, neither finite nor infinite. Whether the Tathagata…exists after death, does not exist after death, either exists or does not exist after death, neither exists nor does not exist after death. Whether the soul is...identical with the body, or different with the body.

According to Majjhima Nikaya II, Cula Malunkyaputta Sutta, the Buddha reminded Malunkyaputta: “Malunkyaputta, there are problems unexplained, put aside and ignored by the Tathagata; namely: ‘The world is eternal, or it’s not eternal. The universe is finite, or it is infinite. Life is the same as body, or life is one thing and body another. The Tathagata exists after death, or the Tathagata does not exist after death. The Tathagata both exists and does not exist after death. The Tathagata neither exists nor not exists after death.’ To explain these thing is a waste of time.”

Chapter 50. Eight Awakenings of Great People

The form of the sutra is very simple. The text form is ancient, just like the Forty-Two Chapters and the Sutra on the Six Paramitas. However, its content is extremely profound and marvelous. Shramana An Shi Kao, a Partian monk, translated from Sanskrit into Chinese in about 150 A.D. (during the Later Han Dynasty). Most Venerable Thích Thanh Từ translated from Chinese into Vietnamese in the 1970s. The original text of this sutra in Sanskrit is still extant to this day. This sutra is entirely in accord with both the Theravada and Mahayana traditions. In fact, each of the eight items in this sutra can be considered as a subject of meditation which Buddhist disciples should at all times, by day and by night, with a sincere attitude, recite and keep in mind eight truths that all great people awaken to. These are eight Truths that all Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and great people awaken to. After awakening, they then energetically cultivate the Way. By steeping themselves in kindness and compassion, they grow wisdom. They sail the Dharma-body ship all the way across to Nirvana’s other shore, only to re-enter the sea of death and rebirth to rescue all living beings. They use these Eight Truths to point out the right road to all beings and in this way, help them to recognize the anguish of death and rebirth. They inspire all to cast off and forsake the Five Desires, and instead to cultivate their minds in the way of all Sages. If Buddhist disciples recite this Sutra on the Eight Awakenings, and constantly ponder its meaning, they will certainly eradicate boundless offenses, advance toward Bodhi, quickly realize Proper Enlightenment, forever be free of death and rebirth, and eternally abide in joy. Everyone of us knows what we deeply aspire to gain is happiness and what we try to avoid is sufferings and afflictions; however, our actions and behaviors in daily life do not bring us any joy and happiness; on the contrary, they only lead us to more sufferings and afflictions. Why? Buddhism believes that we cause our own sufferings and afflictions because we are not awakening of the truth. Buddhism claims that experiences which are apparently pleasurable in this world are ultimately states of suffering. Devout Buddhists should see clearly the point is that we perceive them as states of pleasure only because, in comparison to states of sufferings and afflictions, they appear as a form of relief. A disciple of the Buddha, day and night, should wholeheartedly recite and meditate on the eight awakenings discovered by the great beings.

The First Awakening is the awareness that the world is impermanent. All regimes are subject to fall; all things composed of the four elements that are empty and contain the seeds of suffering. Human beings are composed of five aggregates, and are without a separate self. They are always in the process of change, constantly being born and constantly dying. They are empty of self, without sovereignty. The mind is the source of all unwholesome deeds and confusion, and the body is the forest of all impure actions. If we meditate on these facts, we can gradually be released from the cycle of birth and death. The world is impermanent, countries are perilous and fragile; the body’s four elements are a source of pain; ultimately, they are empty; the Five Aggregates (Skandhas) are not me; death and rebirth are simply a series of transformations; misleading, unreal, and uncontrollable; the mind is the wellspring of evil; the body is the breeding ground of offenses; whoever can investigate and contemplate these truths, will gradually break free of death and rebirth. The Second Awakening is the awareness that more desire brings more suffering. The awareness that more desire brings more suffering. All hardships in daily life arise from greed and desire. Those with little desire and ambition are able to relax, their bodies and minds are free from entanglement. Too much desire brings pain. Death and rebirth are tiresome ordeals which stem from our thoughts of greed and desire. By reducing desires, we can realize absolute truth and enjoy independence and well-being in both body and mind. The Third Awakening is the awareness that the human mind is always searching for possessions and never feels fulfilled. This causes impure actions to ever increase. In our daily life we always want to have good food, nice clothes, attractive jewllery, but we only feel satisfied with them for a short time, after that, the very same object that once gave us pleasure might cause us frustration now. The same can also be applied to fame. At the beginning we might think ourselves that we are so happy when we are famous, but after some time, it could be that all we feel is frustration and dissatisfaction. Bodhisattvas, however, always remember the principle of having few desires. They live a simple life in peace in order to practice the Way, and consider the realization of perfect undestanding as their only career. Our minds are never satisfied or content with just enough. The more we obtain, the more we want; thus we create offenses and do evil deeds; Bodhisattvas do not make mistakes, instead, they are always content, nurture the way by living a quiet life in humble surroundings. Their sole occupation is cultivating wisdom. The Fourth Awakening is the awareness of the extent to which laziness is an obstacle to practice. For this reason, we must practice diligently to destroy the unwholesome mental factors which bind us , and to conquer the four kinds of Mara, in order to free ourselves from the prison of the five aggregates and the three worlds. Idleness and self-indulgence will be our downfall. With unflagging vigor, Great people break through their afflictions and baseness. They vanquish and humble the Four Kinds of Demons, and they escape from the prison of the Five Skandhas. The Fifth Awakening is the awareness that ignorance is the cause of the endless cycle of birth and death. Therefore, Bodhisattvas always listen and learn in order to develop their understanding and eloquence. This enables them to educate living beings and bring them to the realm of great joy. Stupidity and ignorance are the cause of death and rebirth, Bodhisattvas are always attentive to and appreciative of extensive study and erudition. They strive to expand their wisdom and refine their eloquence. Teaching and transfoming living beings, nothing brings them greater joy than this. The Sixth Awakening is the awareness that poverty creates hatred and anger, which creates a vicious cycle of negative thoughts and activity. When practicing generosity, Bodhiattvas consider everyone, friends and enemies alike, as equal. They do not condemn anyone’s past wrongdoings, nor do they hate those who are presently causing harm. The suffering of poverty breeds deep resentment; wealth unfairly distributed creates ill-will and conflict among people. So, Bodhisattvas practice giving and treat friend and foe alike. They neither harbor grudges nor despite evil-natured poeple. The Seventh Awakening is the awareness that the five categories of desire lead to difficulties. Although we are in the world, we should try not to be caught up in worldly matters. A monk, for example, has in his possession only three robes and one bowl. He lives simply in order to pratice the Way. His precepts keep him free of attachment to worldly things, and he treats everyone equally and with compassion. Great people, even as laity, are not blightly by worldly pleasures; instead, they constantly aspire to take up the three precepts-robes and blessing-bowl of the monastic life. Their ideal and ambition is to leave the household and family life to cultivate the way in immaculate purity. Their virtuous qualities are lofty and sublime; their attitudes toward all creatures are kind and compassionate. The Eighth Awakening is the awareness that the fire of birth and death is raging, causing endless suffering everywhere. Bodhisattvas should take the Great Vow to help everyone, to suffer with everyone, and to guide all beings to the realm of great joy. Rebirth and death are beset with measureless suffering and afflictions, like a blazing fire. Thus, great people make the resolve to cultivate the Great Vehicle to rescue all beings. They endure endless hardship while standing in for others. They lead everyone to ultimate happiness.

Chapter 51. Three-Thousand-Great Thousand World

It is as a billion-world universe is not formed just by one condition, not by one phenomenon; it can be formed only by innumerable conditions, innumerable things. That is to say the rising and spreading of great clouds and showering of great rain produce four kinds of atmosphere, continuously making a basis. All are produced by the joint actions of sentient beings and by the roots of goodness of enlightened beings, enabling all sentient beings to get the use of what they need. Innumerable such causes and conditions form the universe. It is such by the nature of things, there is no producer or maker, no knower or creator, yet the worlds come to be. Over twenty-five centuries ago, the Buddha talked about the immensity and endlessness of the cosmos. The earth on which we are living is not unique. There are a great number of others, which are as numerous as the grains of sand in the Ganges River. Three-thousand-great-thousand world. Universe of the three kinds of thousands of worlds (The three-fold great thousand world system—Buddha world). Each big celestial world comprises one thousand million small worlds, each one has the same size as that of our earth. Furthermore, there are an infinite number of big celestial worlds in the cosmos. The Buddhist concept of time reveals that each world has four middle kalpas or cosmic periods, each middle kalpa has twenty small kalpas; each small kalpa has 16 million years. Therefore, the average life of a world is equal to 1,280,000,000 years. The ancient Indian belief “the universe comprises of many groups of thousands of worlds.” Also called A small Chiliocosm. A small chiliocosm, consisting of a thousand worlds each with its Mt. Sumeru, continents, seas and ring of iron mountains. However, according to Buddhist teachings, every world system has four great continents; a thousand world systems of four great continents comprise a “small world system, a thousand small world systems comprise a medium-sized world system, and a thousand medium-sized world systems comprise a great world system of a billion worlds (literally thousand times thousand times thousand worlds).

The T’ien-T’ai School sets forth a world system of ten realms. That is to say, the world of living beings is divided into ten realms, of which the higher four are saintly and the lower six are ordinary. Here the T’ien-T’ai School at once comes back to the ideation theory but expresses it somewhat differently. It is set forth that a conscious-instant or a moment of thought has 3,000 worlds immanent in it. This is a theory special to this school and is called “Three Thousand Originally Immanent,” or “Three Thousand Immanent in Principle,” or “Three Thousand Immanent in Nature” or sometimes “Three Thousand Perfectly Immanent.” The immanency, either original, theoretical, natural or perfect, conveys one and the same idea; namely, that the one moment of thought is itself 3,000 worlds. Some consider this to be the nearest approach to the idea of the Absolute, but if you consider the Absolute to be the source of all creation it is not exactly the Absolute. Or, it may be considered to be a form of ideation theory, but if one thinks that ideation manifests the outer world by the process of dichotomy it is quite different, for it does not mean that one instant of thought produces the 3,000 worlds, because a production is the beginning of a lengthwise motion, i.e., timely production. Nor does it mean that the 3,000 worlds are included in one instant of thought because an inclusion is a crosswise existence, i.e., existence in space. Although here the 3,000-world doctrine is expounded on the basis of ideation, it is not mere ideation, for all the dharmas of the universe are immanent in one thought-instant but are not reduce to thought or ideation.

Chapter 52. Four Ideas Of Looking At The Dharma Realms In Buddhist Point of View

According to the Hua-Yen school, there are four ideas of looking at the Dharma Realms: The first dharma realm is the realm of phenomena: This is the idea of looking at the Dharmadhatu as a world of individual objects, in which case the term “dhatu” means “something separated.” This is the world of reality, the factual, practical world, or the phenomenal realm, phenomenal world. The Dharma Realm of Phenomena, or the realm of events (specifics). It represents the Realistic Doctrine of Hinayana. The second dharma realm is the realm of noumena: This is the idea of looking at the Dharmadhatu as a manifestation of one spirit (ekacitta) or one elementary substance (ekadhatu). This is the noumenal realm, or noumenal world. The Dharma Realm of Noumena, or the realm of principles. This is the world of principle or theorical world. It is represented by the Sam-Lun and Dharmalaksana Schools which teach that principle is separate from facts. The third dharma realm is the realm of non-obstructions of noumena and phenomena: This is the idea of looking at the Dharmadhatu as a world where all its particular existences (vastu) are identifiable with one underlying spirit. This Dharmadhatu is the interdependence of phenomenal and noumenal realm. The world in which phenomena are identical with noumena. The Dharma Realm of non-obstructions of noumena and phenomena (principles and specifics). The realm of principles against events perfectly fused in unimpeded freedom. The Awakening of Faith and the T’ien-T’ai School believe the identity of fact and principle. That means the world of principle and reality united, or the ideal world realized. The fourth dharma realm is the realm of non-obstruction of phenomena and phenomena: This is the idea of looking at the Dharmadhatu as a world where each one of its particular objects is identifiable with every other particular object, with whatever lines of separation there may be between them all removed. This is the world of all realities or practical facts interwoven or identified in perfect harmony. It is to say phenomena are also interdependent. The world in which phenomena interpenetrate one another without hindrances. The Dharma Realm of non-obstruction of phenomena and phenomena. The realm of events against events (specifics and specifics) perfectly fused in unimpeded freedom. It represents by the Hua-Yen School which teaches that all distinct facts or realities will, and ought to, form a harmonious whole by mutual penetration and mutual identification so as to realize the ideal world of “One-True.” According to Prof. Junjiro Takakusu in The Essentials of Buddhist Philosophy, it should not be difficult to make practice adapted to theory, but such being the evil of men, some make too much of theory while others make too much of practice. So a rational solution becomes necessary.

Moreover, in the world of realities (fact), practice often goes against practice, fact against fact, business, agains business, individual against individual, class against class, nation against nation. Such is the feature of the world of individualism and thus the whole world goes to pieces. Mere collectivism or solidarity will not prevent the evil of life. To harmonize such a state of being and to make all things go smoothly, the world of mutual reliance or interdependence ought to be created. Such an ideal world is called “the fact and fact world perfectly harmonized.”

Chapter 53. The Worldly World

The worldly world is also called the Jambudvipa. It is so named either from the Jambu trees abounding in it, or from an enormous Jambud tree on Mount Meru visible like a standard to the whole continent. Saha means sufferings and afflictions; it also means worries, binding, unable to be free and liberated. The worldly world is full of storm, conflict, hatred and violence. ambudvipa is a small part of Saha World, the continent south of Mount Sumeru on which, according to ancient Indian cosmology, human beings live. In Buddhism, it is the realm of Sakyamuni Buddha. The world in which we live is an impure field, and Sakyamuni is the Buddha who has initiated its purification. People in this world endure many sufferings stemming from three poisons of greed, anger and delusion as well as earthly desires. The Saha World is filled with dirt, rocks, thorns, holes, canyons, hills, cliffs. There are various sufferings regarding thirst, famine, hot, and cold. The people in the Saha World like wicked doctrines and false dharma; and do not have faith in the proper dharma. Their lives are short and many are fraudulent. Kings and mandarins, although already have had lands to govern and rule, are not satisfied; as they become greedy, they bring forces to conquer other countries causing innocent people to die in vain. In addition, there are other infinite calamities such as droughts, floods, loss of harvest, thirst, famine, epidemics, etc. As for this Saha World, the favorable circumstances to cultivate in peace and contenment are few, but the unfavorable conditions of afflictions destroying path that are rather losing Bodhi Mind they developed in the beginning. Moreover, it is very difficult to encounter a highly virtuous and knowledgeable advisor. According to the Buddha, the planet in which we are currently living is called Virtuous Southern Continent. It is situated to the south of Mount Sumeru and is just a tiniest part of the Great World System of the Saha World in which Sakyamuni Buddha is the ruler.

Saha means sufferings and afflictions; it also means worries, binding, unable to be free and liberated. The worldly world is full of storm, conflict, hatred and violence. The world in which we live is an impure field, and Sakyamuni is the Buddha who has initiated its purification. People in this world endure many sufferings stemming from three poisons of greed, anger and delusion as well as earthly desires. The Saha World is filled with dirt, rocks, thorns, holes, canyons, hills, cliffs. There are various sufferings regarding thirst, famine, hot, and cold. The people in the Saha World like wicked doctrines and false dharma; and do not have faith in the proper dharma. Their lives are short and many are fraudulent. Kings and mandarins, although already have had lands to govern and rule, are not satisfied; as they become greedy, they bring forces to conquer other countries causing innocent people to die in vain. In addition, there are other infinite calamities such as droughts, floods, loss of harvest, thirst, famine, epidemics, etc. As for this Saha World, the favorable circumstances to cultivate in peace and contenment are few, but the unfavorable conditions of afflictions destroying path that are rather losing Bodhi Mind they developed in the beginning. Moreover, it is very difficult to encounter a highly virtuous and knowledgeable advisor. According to the Buddha, the planet in which we are currently living is called Virtuous Southern Continent. It is situated to the south of Mount Sumeru and is just a tiniest part of the Great World System of the Saha World in which Sakyamuni Buddha is the ruler. Thus, “Saha” also called the place that which bears, the earth, interpreted as bearing, enduring; the place of good and evil; a universe, or great chiliocosm, where all are subject to transmigration and which a Buddha transforms; it is divided into three regions and Mahabrahma Sahampati is its lord. World of endurance refers to our world which is filled with sufferings and affections, yet gladly enjoyed and endured by its inhabitants. According to Buddhism, Jambudvipa is the human world, the world in which we are living. Jambudvipa is a small part of Saha World, the realm of Sakyamuni Buddha. The southernmost of the four great land masses (catur-dvipa) of traditional Buddhist cosmology. It is said to be named after the Jambu tree that grows there. It measures 2,000 yojanas on three sides, and its fourth side is only three-and-a-half yojanas long. The Southern Continent, one of the four continents, that situated south of Mount Meru, comprising the world known to the early Indian. According to Eitel in The Dictionary of Chinese-English Buddhist Terms, Jambudvipa includes the following countries around the Anavatapta lake and the Himalayas. The North region includes Huns-Mongolians-Turks; the East region inlcudes China-Korea-Japan; the South region includes Northern India (twenty-seven kingdoms), Eastern India (ten kingdoms), Southern India (fifteen kingdoms), Central India (thirty kingdoms, and Western Indian (thirty-four kingdoms).

Chapter 54. The Buddha Nature

According to the Mahayana view, Buddha-nature is the true, immutable, and eternal nature of all beings. According to almost all Mahayana sutras, all living beings have the Buddha-nature. The Buddha-nature dwells permanently and unalterably throughout all rebirths. That means all can become Buddhas. However, because of their polluted thinking and attachments, they fail to realize this very Buddha-nature. The seed of mindfulness and enlightenment in every person, representing our potential to become fully awake. Since all beings possess this Buddha-nature, it is possible for them to attain enlightenment and become a Buddha, regardless of what level of existence they are. Buddha-Nature, True Nature, or Wisdom Faculty (the substratum of perfection, of completeness, intrinsic to both sentient and insentient life). According to Zen teaching, every sentient being or thing has Buddha-nature, but not being aware of it or not living with this awareness as an awakened one does. According to Hakuin, a famous Japanese Zen master, Buddha-nature is identical with that which is called emptiness. Although the Buddha-nature is beyond all conception and imagination, it is possible for us to awaken to it because we ourselves are intrinsically Buddha-nature. In the Lotus Sutra, the Buddha taught: “All sentient beings have the Buddha-nature innately.” Our entire religious life starts with this teaching. To become aware of one’s own Buddha-nature, bringing it to light from the depths of the mind, nurturing it, and developing it vigorously is the first step of one’s religious life. If one has the Buddha-nature himself, others must also have it. If one can realize with his whole heart that he has the Buddha-nature, he comes spontaneously to recognize that others equally possess it. Anyone who cannot recognize this has not truly realized his own Buddha-nature.

“Buddhata” is a Sanskrit term which means “Buddha-nature.” This Mahayana Buddhist term that refers to the final, unchanging nature of all reality. This is often equated with emptiness (sunyata) and defined as simply an absence of any fixed and determinate essence. According to this formulation, because sentient beings have no fixed essence, they are able to change, and thus have the potential to become Buddhas. The Buddha Nature is also called True Nature. The enlightened mind free from all illusion. The mind as the agent of knowledge, or enlightenment. In the Thirteen Patriarchs of Pureland Buddhism, the Tenth Patriarch Ching-She confirmed: “Mind, Buddha, and Sentient Beings, all three are not any different. Sentient beings are Buddhas yet to be attained, while Amitabha is Buddha who has attained. Enlightened Nature is one and not two. Even though we are delusional, blind, and ignorant, but even so our Enlightened Nature has never been disturbed. Thus, once seeing the light, all will return to the inherent enlightenment nature.” In other Mahayana traditions, however, particularly in East Asia, the concept is given a more substantialist formulation and is seen as the fundamental nature of all reality, an eternal essence that all beings possess, and in virtue of which they can all become Buddhas. In Japanese Zen tradition, for example, it is described as true self of every individual, and Zen has developed meditation techniques by which practitioners might develop experiential awareness of it. The concept is not found in Theravada Buddhism, which does not posit the idea that all beings have the potential to become Buddhas, rather, Nikaya Buddhist traditions hold that only certain exceptional individuals may become Buddhas and that others should be content to attain Nirvana as an Arhat or Pratyeka-Buddha.

Buddha-Nature, True Nature, or Wisdom Faculty (the substratum of perfection, of completeness, intrinsic to both sentient and insentient life). The seed of mindfulness and enlightenment in every person, representing our potential to become fully awakened and eventually a Buddha. The substratum of perfection, of completeness, intrinsic to both sentient and insentient life. The reason of Buddhahood consists in the destruction of the twofold klesa or evil passions. The Buddha-nature does not receive punishment in the hells because it is void of form, or spiritual or above the formal or material (only things with forms can enter the hells). Buddha-nature, which refers to living beings, and Dharma-nature, which concerns chiefly things in general, are practically one as either the state of enlightenment (as a result) or the potentiality of becoming enlightened (as a cause). The eternity of the Buddha-nature. The Buddha-nature is immortal and immutable. As the sands the Ganges which always arrange themselves along the stream, so does the essence of Buddhahood, always conform itself to the stream of Nirvana. All living beings have the Buddha-Nature, but they are unable to make this nature appear because of their desires, hatred, and ignorance. “Buddhata” is an important term in Zen Buddhism, which refers to one’s buddha-nature (buddhata), the fundamental reality that is obscured by attachment to conceptual thoughts and language. The term is used in one of the best-known Koans, “What is your original face before your parents were born? Buddha-nature is the state of nothingness. In Buddhism we always talk about returning to the origin. We want to return to the way we were originally. What were things like originally? There was nothing at all! Now we want to go back to the state of nothingness.

According to the Mahayana Buddhism, to see one’s own nature and become a Buddha, or to behold the Buddha-nature to reach the Buddhahood or to attain enlightenment. This is a very common saying of the Zen school or Intuitive school. To behold the Buddha-nature within oneself or to see into one’s own nature. Semantically “Beholding the Buddha-nature” and “Enlightenment” have virtually the same meaning and are often used interchangeably. In describing the enlightenment of the Buddha and the patriarchs, however, it is often used the word “Enlightenment” rather than “Beholding the Buddha-nature.” The term “enlightenment” implies a deeper experience. This is a common saying of the Ch’an (Zen) or Intuitive School. This is one of the eight fundamental principles, intuitional or relating to direct mental vision of the Zen School. Also according to the Mahayana Buddhism, those who did not cultivate good roots in their past lives, see neither nirmanakaya nor sambhogakaya of the Buddha. Due to clinging to discrimination, ordinary people and Hinayana see only the nirmanakaya or body of incarnation of the Buddha; while Bodhisattvas and Mahayana, without clinging to discrimination, see both the body of incarnation (nirmanakaya) and the spiritual body or body in bliss (sambhogakaya) of the Buddha.

Chapter 55. The Thus-Come One

Devout Buddhists should always remember that Tathagata is neither a god nor the prophet of a god. In Mahayana Buddhism, Tathagata is the Buddha in his nirmanakaya, the intermediary between the essential and the phenomenal world. Tathagata also means “Absolute,” “Prajna” or “Emptiness or Shunyata.” The Tathagata who has gone beyond all plurality and categories of thought can be said to be neither permanent nor impermanent. He is untraceable. Permanent and impermanent can be applied only where there is duality, not in the case of non-dual. And because Tathata is the same in all manifestation, therefore all beings are potential Tathagatas. It is the Tathagata within us who makes us long for Nibbana and ultimately sets us free. Tathagata is one of the ten titles of the Buddha, which he himself used when speaking of himself or other Buddhas. He was born, lived and passed away. He left no room in His teaching for any other superstition. This event of the life of the Tathagata is human beings’ greatest impression and hope for everyone of us can hope that some day we can reach the same stage as the Tathagata did if we resolve to do our best to cultivate.

Long before our Buddha was born, there were many other Buddhas who found the path and showed it to people. These other Buddhas lived so long ago that we have no written histories about them, but they taught the people in those far off days the very same Truth that our Sakyamuni Buddha taught us almost twenty-six hundred years ago, for the Truths never change. “Tathagata” literally means one “thus come,” the “thus” or “thusness,” indicating the enlightened state. Therefore, Tathagata can be rendered as “Thus enlightened I come,” and would apply equally to all Buddhas other than Sakyamuni. The Thus-Come One also means one who has attained Supreme Enlightenment; one who has discovered (come to) Truth; one of the ten titles of the Buddha, which he himself used when speaking of himself or other Buddhas; those of the Tathagata order. “Tathagata” is a Sanskrit term for “Thus-gone-one.” An epithet of Buddhas, which signifies their attainment of awakening (Bodhi), a transcendental state that surpasses all mundane attainments. This term may be divided into either of the following formulas: tatha+gata, or tatha+agata. In the former case, it means “Như khứ,” and in the latter case “Như Lai.” A title of the Buddha, used by his followers and also by himself when speaking of himself. Tathagata also means the previous Buddhas have come and gone. According to the Middle Length Collections (Majjhimanikaya), Tathagata is a perfect being whose foot-prints or tracks are untraceable, who is above all the dichotomies of thought. According to the Dhammapada (254), the word Tathagata means ‘thus gone’ or ‘so gone,’ meaning ‘trackless,’ or whose track cannot be traced by any of the categories of thought. According to Nagarjuna in the Madhyamaka Philosophy, regardless the origin of the word ‘Tathagata,’ the function of it is clear. He descends on earth to impart the light of Truth to mankind and departs without any track. He is the embodiment of Tathata. When the Buddha is called Tathagata, his individual personality is ignored; he is treated as a type that appears from time to time in the world. He is the earthly manifestation of Dharma. Tathagata includes the Tathagata in bonds and tathagata unlimited and free from bonds. The Tathagata in bonds (limited and subject to the delusions and sufferings of life); or the fettered bhutatathata, the bhutatathata in limitations. Tathagata unlimited and free from bonds (not subject to the delusions and sufferings of life any more); or the unfettered or free bhutatathata, as contrast with fettered bhutatathata (Tại triền chân như).

Sunyata and Karuna are the essential characteristics of Tathagata. Sunyata here means Prajna or transcendental insight. Having Sunyata or Prajna, Tathagata is identical with Tathata or Sunya. Having Karuna, he is the saviour of all sentient beings. “Tathagata” means the true being of all. The true being of the Tathagata which is also the true being of all is not conceivable. In his ultimate nature, the Tathagata is ‘deep, immeasurable, unfathomable.’ The dharmas or elements of existence are indeterminable, because they are conditioned, because they are relative. The Tathagata is indeterminable, because, in his ultimate nature, he is not conditionally born. The indeterminability of the ultimate nature really means ‘the inapplicability of the ways of concepts.’ Thus, Nagarjuna in the Karika: “The Buddha is transcendental in regard to thoughts and words. He is not subject to birth and death. Those who describe the Buddha in the terms of conceptual categories are all victims of the worldly and verbalizing mind and are thus unable to see the Tathagata in his real nature.”

Chapter 56. Tathagata-Garbha

The absolute, the true nature of all things which is immutable, immovable and beyond all concepts and distinctions. A Sanskrit term for the innate potential for Buddhahood or Buddha-nature that is present in all sentient beings. Tathagatagarbha is the womb where the Tathagata is conceived and nourished and matured. Tathagatagarbha also means the Alayavijnana which fully purified of its habit-energy (vasana) and evil tendencies (daushthulya). According to the Mahayana Buddhism, everything has its own Buddha-nature in the dharmakaya. Tathagatagarbha is the cause of goods as well as evils which creates the various paths of existence. In some texts, Mahayana texts, for example, Tathagata-garbha is equated with emptiness (sunyata) and is based on the notion that since all beings, all phenomena lack inherent existence (svabhava) and are constantly changing in dependence upon causes and conditions there is no fixed essence. Thus Buddha-nature is not something that is developed through practices of meditation or as a result of meditation, but rather is one’s most basic nature, which is simply made manifest through removing the veils of ignorance that obscure it. However, meditation plays a crucial role in our cultivation life, for it’s a main tool that helps us to remove the beginningless veils of ignorance so that Buddha-nature can manifest. Matrix of Thus-come or Thus-gone or Tathagata-garbha has a twofold meaning: Thus-Come or Thus-Gone or Buddha concealed in the Womb (man’s nature), and the Buddha-nature as it is. Tathagata-garbha is the absolute, unitary storehouse of the universe, the primal source of all things. Therefore, the Tathagata is in the midst of the delusion of passions and desires; and the Tathagata is the source of all things(all created things are in the Tathagatagarbha, which is the womb that gives birth to them all), whether compatible or incomaptible, whether forces of purity or impurity, good or bad. The realm of the Tathagatagarbha which is another name for the Alayavijnana, is beyond the views based on the imagination of the Sravakas and Pratyekabuddhas and philosophers. Tathagatagarbha is the womb where the Tathgata is conceived and nourished and matured. Tathagatagarbha also means the Alayavijnana which fully purified of its habit-energy (vasana) and evil tendencies (daushthulya). Tathagatagarbha also means Buddha-nature. According to the Mahayana Buddhism, everything has its own Buddha-nature in the dharmakaya. Tathagatagarbha is the cause of goods as well as evils which creates the various paths of existence.

Chapter 57. Nirvana

Total extinction of desires and sufferings. Nirvana is the supreme goal of Buddhist endeavor. When we speak about Nirvana we encounter some problems of expression, because the exact nature of an experience cannot and never can be communicated merely by words. This experience must be experienced directly by each one of us, without any exception. We have to experience the end of sufferings and afflictions for ourselves, and the only way we can do this is by eliminating the causes of sufferings and afflictions: the attachment, aversion, and ignorance. When we have eliminated such causes of sufferings and afflictions, then we will experience nirvana for ourselves. “Nirvana” is a Sanskrit term for “cessation.” The term is a combination of the Sanskrit prefix “nir” plus the verbal root “va” and literally means “blow out” or “extinguish.” This is a “cessation” of the process of becoming, eternal peace, or extinction or Ultimate reality Absolute Truth, or the state achieved by the conquest of craving, the extinction of birth and death. This is the highest state of bliss, peace and purity. This is the unconditioned reality. This is also the supreme Goal of Buddhist endeavour (the spiritual goal of Buddhism); release from the limitations of existence. A state which is free from rebirth by extinguishing of all desires and the elimination of egoism. According to the Lankavatara Sutra, Nirvana means to see the abode of reality as it is, and after seeing this a Bodhisattva with great compassion forgo his own nirvana in order to lead others to liberation. Nirvana consists of ‘nir’ meaning exit, and ‘vana’ meaning craving. Nirvana means the extinguishing or liberating from existence by ending all suffering. So Nirvana is the total extinction of desires and sufferings, or release (giải thoát). It is the final stage of those who have put an end to suffering by the removal of craving from their mind. In Mahayna Buddhism, Nirvana has the floowing meanings: inaction or without effort (diệt), no rebirth (vô sanh), calm joy (an lạc), and extinction or extinguish or tranquil extinction or transmigration to extinction (tịch diệt). In other word, Nirvana means extinction of ignorance and craving and awakening to inner Peace and Freedom. Nirvana with a small “n” stands against samsara or birth and death. Nirvana also refers to the state of liberation through full enlightenment. Nirvana is also used in the sense of a return to the original purity of the Buddha-nature after the disolution of the physical body, that is to the perfect freedom of the unconditioned state. The supreme goal of Buddhist endeavor. An attainable state in this life by right aspiration, purity of life, and the elimination of egoism. The Buddha speaks of Nirvana as “Unborn, unoriginated, uncreated, and unformed,” contrasting with the born, originated, created and formed phenomenal world. The ultimate state is the Nirvana of No Abode (Apratisthita-nirvana), that is to say, the attainment of perfect freedom, not being bound to one place. Nirvana is used in both Hinayana and Mahayana Buddhist schools. In the Lankavatara Sutra, the Buddha told Mahamati: “Oh Mahamati, Nirvana means seeing into the abode of reality in its true significance. The abode of reality is where a thing stands by itself. To abide in one’s self-station means not to be astir, i.e., to be eternally quiescent. By seeing into the abode of reality as it is means to understand that there is only what is seen of one’s own mind, and no external world as such.” After the Buddha’s departure, most of the metaphysical discussions and speculations centered around the subject of Nirvana. The Mahaparinirvana Sutra, the Sanskrit fragments of which were discovered recently, one in Central Asia and another in Koyasan, indicates a vivid discussion on the questions as to what is ‘Buddha-nature,’ ‘Thusness,’ ‘the Realm of Principle,’ ‘Dharma-body’ and the distinction between the Hinayana and Mahayana ideas. All of these topics relate to the problem of Nirvana, and indicate the great amount of speculationundertaken on this most important question.

The most probable expalantion of Nirvana is that it is the highest level of meditation, the ceasing of ideation and feeling. The attainment of Nirvana is also called the cessation of consciousness, since rebirth is effected through the medium of vijnana and the Nirvana is the cessation of rebirth, the reality of no-self. In the stream of consciousness processes, of which vijnana consists, is stopped and emptied, usually by means of the meditational exercises to insight exist. Buddhism had always maintained that the state of Nirvana can not be expressed in words by a lot of negation such as: ‘There is the not-born, the not-become, the not-created, the not-compounded. There is the realm where there is neither earth nor water; neither the boundless realm of space nor boundless consciousness. There is neither coming nor going nor standing, neither origination nor annihilation... This is the end of suffering. So, Nirvana is beyond all suffering and change. It is as unfading, still, undecaying, taintless, as peace and blissful. It is an island, the shelter, the refuge and the goal. In addition, the term Nibbana in the literature of Pali Nikayas clearly refers to a unity eternally existing beyond the three world. It is infinite, inexpressible, unborn, undecaying and empty. It is homogeneous and knows no individuality. In it, all discriminations or dichotomy cease.

The Buddha said that Nirvana is supreme happiness, peace, immortal, uncreated, beyond earth, water, fire, and air, the sun and moon. It is unfathomable and immeasurable. He has described Nirvana in the following terms: infinite (ananta-p), non-conditioned (asamkhata -p), incomparable (anupameya-p), supreme (anuttara-p), highest (para-p), beyond (para-p), highest refuge (parayana-p), safety (tana-p), security (khema-p), happiness (siva-p), unique (kevala-p), abodeless (analaya-p), imperishable (akkhara -p), absolute purity (visuddho -p), supramundane (lokuttara-p), immortality ( amata-p), emancipation (mutti-p), peace (santi-p), etc. Nirvana has the following general characteristics: permanent, tranquil extinguish, no aging, no death, purity, liberated from existence, passiveness (without effort), no rebirth, calm joy, transmigration to extinction, extinction or end of all return to reincarnation (cessation of rebirth), extinction of passion, and extinction of all misery and entry into bliss. You should always remember that when you are still reborn in the Samsara, you still have to prepare for a long journey from here (samsara) to Nirvana. It is important to cultivate on a regular basis so you can obtain wisdom that is necessary for your journey. Do not seek the transcendental events or supernatural powers of just one existence. Look to the end of the journey: Nirvana.

The word “Nirvana” literally means “extinguished” and therefore “tranquil.” A question is raised whether Nirvana is only a transformed state of mind or whether it is another dimension of being. The word has been used both for a transformed psychological state and for a metaphysical status. Buddhist literature is full of statements which go to show that Nirvana is a transformed state of personality and consciousness. The transformation is described in negative terms as a destruction of craving and attachments and in positive terms as the emergence of transcendental wisdom and peace. According to Buddhist philosophy, there are four ways of description of a Nirvana: The first way of description of Nirvana is “Negative”: The negative description is the most common. Nirvana is deathless, unchanging, imperishable, without end, non-production, extinction of birth, unborn, not liable to dissolution, uncreated, free from disease, un-aging, freedom from transmigration, utmost, cessation of pain, and final release. The second way of description of Nirvana is “Positive”: Nirvana is peace, bliss, transcendental wisdom, pure and security. Impermanent, indeed, are all conditioned things. It is their very nature to come into being and then to cease. Having been produced, they are stopped. Their cessation brings peace and ease. Cessation also means extinction of craving and cessation of suffering with a state of calm. In a positive way, Nirvana also means the supreme bliss, transcendental wisdom, illumination, and pure radiant consciousness. The third way of description of Nirvana is “Paradoxical”: This statement is mostly found in Prajnaparamita or Madhyamika literature. Nirvana is abiding in a state of non-abiding. The only way of reaching the goal is to realize that in the ultimate sense there is no goal to be reached.

Nirvana is reality which is void (sunya). The fourth way of description of Nirvana is “Symbolical”: Symbolical description differs from the paradoxical in avoiding to speak in abstractions and using concrete images instead. From this standpoint, Nirvana is the cool cave, the island in the flood, the further shore, the holy city, the refuge, the shelter, and the safe asylum.

According to Buddhism, Nirvana has many characteristics: First, nirvana may be enjoyed in the present life as an attainable state. Second, Nirvana has four virtues or transcendental characteristics in Buddhism, or four noble qualities of the Buddha’s life expounded in the Nirvana Sutra: eternity, or permanence (permanence versus impermanence); joy, or happiness (Bliss versus suffering or the paramita of joy); personality or soul or true self (Supreme self versus personal ego); purity (equanimity versus anxiety). Besides, Nirvana also has many other special characteristics: First, an attainable state in this life by right aspiration, purity of life, and the elimination of egoism. The Buddha speaks of Nirvana as “Unborn, unoriginated, uncreated, and unformed,” contrasting with the born, originated, created and formed phenomenal world. Second, the fact that Nirvana is realized as one of the mental states. It is not a state of nothingness. Third, nirvana is not a place or a kind of heaven where a self or soul resides. Nirvana is the attainment of a state which is dependent on this body itself and this state can be achieved in this very life. Nirvana is beyond description of words. It is beyond time and space described by ordinary people. Fourth, nirvana is a place where (if we can temporarily say so) craving, hate and delusion are destroyed. Nirvana is the attainment of the cessation of sufferings. However, there are some heretic opinions in Nirvana. Nirvana is permanent and eternal; however, heretics believe that everything including nirvana as impermanent. Nirvana is a real Buddha-nature; however, heretics believe that there is no such Buddha-nature. Nirvana is a permanent place of bliss; however, heretics believe that everywhere including nirvana as no pleasure, but suffering. This is one of the eight upside-down views which belongs to the four upside-down views on impermanence. Buddhism believes that Nirvana is permanent and eternal; however, heretics believe that everything including nirvana as impermanent. Nirvana is pure; however, heretics believe that everything is impure. This is one of the eight upside-down views which belongs to the four upside-down views on impermanence. Buddhism believes that Nirvana is permanent and eternal; however, heretics believe that everything including nirvana as impermanent.

At the time of the Buddha, there existed some problems concerning Nirvana. Some are born in a womb; evil-doers are reborn in hells; the righteous people go to blissful states; the undefiled ones pass away into Nirvana (Dharmapada 126). In the Dharmapada Sutra, whenever the Buddha was asked by a questioner whether he was to live after death or what sort of world he was to enter after Nirvana, he always remained silent. When the When the Buddha remained silent to a question requiring an answer of ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ his silence usually meant assent. Ut his silence on the question concerning Nirvana was due to the fact that his listeners could not understand the profound philosophy involved. The main problem of Buddhism either formalistic or idealistic, was concerning the extinction of human passion, because this distorted state of mind is considered to be the source of all evils of human life. Human passion can be extinguished even during one’s lifetime. Therefore liberation from such disorder of mind is the chief object of Buddhist culture. Nirvana means the extinction of passion, of desire, of sense, of mind, and even of individual consciousness. To Buddhist mind, Nirvana did not contain any idea of deification of the Buddha. It simply meant the eternal continuation of his personality in the highest sense of the word. It meant returning to his original state of Buddha-nature, which is his Dharma-body, but not his scripture-body as misunderstood by people. Dharma means the ‘ideal’ itself which the Buddha conceived in his perfect Enlightenment. Nirvana is this ideal body which is without any restricting conditions. The formalists, on the other hand, hold that the scripture is the perfect representation of the ideal of the Buddha. Hence their opinion that the Buddha lives forever in the scripture-body, Nirvana being his entire annihilation and extinction otherwise. The principle of Nirvana or the state of a fire blown out in the light of space and time. It was an illusion on the part of philosophers, especially some of the Indian philosophers, to believe that space and time were infinite. Buddhism, however, has never treated space and time as infinite, for Buddhism takes them to be physical matters. The theory that space is curved, set forth by modern physicists, has considerably facilitated the elucidation of the doctrine of Nirvana. The universe, or the Realm of Principle (Dharmadhatu) as it is technically called, is the region which is occupied by space and time and in which they control all the waves of existence. So in practice, the space-time world is the ocean of the waves of life and death. It is the sphere of the flowing cycles of life or samsara, the world of creation, of energy, of action, of causation and ideation, of self-creation and of dynamic becoming. It is the sphere of desire, matter (form) and mind. Space is considered one of the five elements (earth, water, fire, air, and space), and it is sometimes represented to be of round shape. Time is treated as real in some schools while in other schools it is treated as unreal. But it is to be particularly noted that time has never been considered to exist separately from space. That is to say, every being or thing has time of its own. Space and time are always correlative. Men have an average lifetime of one hundred years. But a crane is said to live for a thousand years, and a tortoise even ten thousand years. And with the heavenly beings, their one day and night is said to be as long as the whole fifty years of the earthly men. A day-fly, on the other hand, live a short wave-length of only one day.

Chapter 58. Heaven Is Not A Nirvana in Buddhism

According to dictionary, “heaven” means the dwelling place of the deity. However, for a Buddhist, both heaven and hell are right here, right in this world. That is to say you can create your own heaven or hell right here in this world. It’s ridiculous to create all kinds of unwholesome deeds, then simply with faith or praying you can create a heaven. Buddhist belief in heaven is simple, if you live and act according to moral principles, you can create your own heaven right here in this world. If not, you can also create the hell on this earth itself. Sincere Buddhists never expect a heaven elsewhere to reward a virtue, or a hell to punish vice, virtue and evil have inevitable consequences in this world itself. These consequences can be considered as heaven or hell at the very moment. Buddhist literature contains too many descriptions of realms in which beings are reborn as a consequence of their past performance. According to Abhidharma-Kosa, there are six heavens in the “Desire Realm,” and seventeen in the “Form Realm.” Sentient beings who are born into these heavens are referred to as “gods.” Celestial beings or gods are one of the three good modes of existence as a reward for their previous good deeds. Devas allotted a very long, happy life in the Deva although they are still subject to the cycle of rebirth. However, this happiness may constitute a substantial hindrance on their path to liberation for they cannot recognize the truth of suffering. So heaven is seen as undesirable in Buddhism, because gods inevitably exhaust their good karma and are reborn in one of the lower realms of existence, where they again become subject to suffering. Thus the final goal of any Buddhists should be a liberation of all kinds of existence in the cycle of rebirth.

Chapter 59. The Buddha’s Nirvana

At the age of eighty, the Buddha accompanied by a large assembly of monks, made a long journey from the Vulture Peak near Rajagaha to many towns, cities, and villages, where he preached the Dharma, enlightening his disciples with various discourses and emphasizing the fundamental doctrine of the Four Noble Truths. He said: “It is through not comprehending the Four Noble Truths, you and I have had to wander so long in the six miserable paths with rebirth after rebirth.” He also emphasized on the Three-Fold Training of right conduct, concentration and wisdom. When they arrived at Vesali, a prosperious city, they stayed at Ambapali’s mango-grove, where the Buddha gave a lecture to the Licchavis and Ambapali, who later offered the Buddha and his Sangha her mango grove. In his last retreat in Beluva, a village near Vesali. Here he felt sharp pains, but he bore them without any complaint. Soon after his recovery, in his last instruction to the Order, he adressed the Venerable Ananda: “The Tathagata does not think that he should lead the Order, nor does the Order depend on him. Therefore, Ananda, be lamps to yourselves. Take no external refuge. Hold fast to the Dharma as a lamp. Hold fast to the Dharma as a refuge. And how, Ananda, is a Bhiksu to be a lamp to himself, a refuge to himself, taking no external refuge, holding fast to the Dharma as a lamp? Herein, a Bhiksu lives diligent, mindful, and self-possessed, overcoming desire and grief in the world, reflecting on the body, feeling, mind and mental objects.” The Buddha emphasized on the importance of personal striving for purification and freedom from suffering. The Buddha and the Order arrived at Pava and stayed at Cunda’s mango grove, where they were treated by the black smith the Buddha’s last meal. The Buddha reminded the Order that the Buddha’s last and first meals were of greater profit than any others. Eventually, they moved on to the Sala grove of the Mallas in Kusinara, where a wandering ascetic, Subhadda, approached the Buddha and requested him to clear his doubt about other religious teachers at that time. The Buddha spoke: “In whatever doctrine and discipline, Subhadda, the Noble Eightfold Path is not found, neither is there found the first samana, nor the second, nor the third, nor the fourth. Now in this doctrine and discipline, Subhadda, there is the Noble Eightfold Path, and in it too, are found the first, the second, the third, and the fourth Samanas. The other teachers’ schools are empty of Samanas. If, Subhadda, the disciples live rightly, the world would not be void of Arahants: Void of true saints are the systems of other teachers. But in this one, may the Bhiksus live the perfect life, so that the world would not be without saints.” The ascetic Subhadda became the Buddha’s last disciple and soon after his ordination he also became an Arahant. At last the Buddha addressed the Order before his final exhortation: “Behold now, Bhiksus, I exhort you! Subject to change are all component things! Strive on with diligence!” Then the Buddha paased away on the Full Moon of the Vesak month in 543 B.C. His body was cremated with great ceremony and the relics were divided among Brahmins, Kings, and nobles and were then enshrined in the Eight Great Stupas.

Chapter 60. Incomplete and Complete Nirvanas

The realm of nirvana (the abode of Nirvana), or bliss, where all virtues are stored and whence all good comes, one of the three dharmas of inaction. Mahayana Buddhism also agrees with the Pali literature, Nirvana is that which is neither discarded nor attained; it is neither a thing destroyed nor a thing eternal; it is neither suppressed nor does it arise. It is the state of final release. However, the Mahayanists gave further explanation on Nirvana: “Nirvana is the state of the Bodhisattva who does not want to retire into the final release, even though he is fully entitled to it, and who by his free choice devotes himself to the services of all sebtient beings. In the Madhyamika Sastra Karikavrtti, Candrakirti defined that Nirvana is “What is not abadoned nor acquire; what is not annihilation nor eternality; what is not destroyed nor created.” According to Nagarjuna Bodhisattva in the Madhyamaka Philosophy, the absolute is transcendent to both thought and speech. Neither the concept of ‘bhava’ not ‘abhava’ is applicable to it. Nirvana or the Absolute Reality cannot be a ‘bhava’ or empirical existence, for in that case it would be subject to origination, decay, and death; there is no empirical existence which is free from decay and death. If it cannot be ‘bhava’ or existence, far less can it be ‘abhava’ or non-existence, for non-existence is only the concept of absence of existence (abhava). When ‘bhava’ itself is proved to be inapplicable to Reality, ‘abhava’ cannot stand scrutiny, for abhava is known only as the disappearance of ‘bhava.’ When the concept of ‘bhava’ or empirical existence, and ‘abhava’ or the negation of bhava cannot be applied to the Abslute, the question of applying any other concept to it does not arise, for all other concepts depend upon the above two. In summary, the absolute is transcendent to thought, and because it is transcendent to thought, it is inexpressible. What cannot be an object of thought cannot be an object of speech.

According to Keith in The Dictionary of Chinese-English Buddhist Terms, there are two kinds of Nirvana: The first kind of Nirvana is the “Incomplete Nirvana” (Kilesa-parinibbana-p): The cause of reincarnation is ended. Nirvana reached by those enlightened beings who have not yet completely rid themselves of their samsaric burden of skandhas. The cause has been annihilated, but the remnant of effect still remains. A saint may enter into this nirvana during life, but has continue to live in this mortal realm (has not yet eliminated the five aggregates) till the death of his body. There are two different views on the Incomplete Nirvana. Hinayana holds that the arhat, with the full extinction of afflictions, after his last term of mortal existence enters into nirvana, while alive here he is in the state of limited or modified nirvana (sopadhisesa-nirvan), in contrasted with complete nirvana (nirupadhisesa-nirvana). An Arhat whose taints are destroyed, who has lived the life, done what was to be done, laid down the burden, attained Arahatship by stages, destroyed completely the bond of becoming, one who is free through knowing rightly. As his faculties have not been demolished he experiences what is agreeable and disagreeable, he experiences pleasure and pain. The five aggregates remain. It is his extinction of lust, hate and delusion, that is called the Nibbana element with a basis remaining (saupadisesa-nibbanadhatu). The Mahayana holds that when the cause of reincarnation is ended the state is that of incomplete nirvana; when the effect is ended, and the eternal Buddha-body has been obtained, then there is a complete nirvana. The Mahayana says that in the Hinayana “Remainderless Nirvana” for the arhat, there are still remains of illusion, karma, and suffering, and it is therefore only an “Incomplete nirvana” in Mahayana. In Mahayana, c wmplete nirvana, these remains of illusion, karma, etc., are ended. As a technical term the extinction of human passion is called the ‘Nirvana with the condition of being still remaining’ or, ‘the Nirvana with the upadhi remnant,’ upadhi being the material and immaterial condition of being. The second kind of Nirvana is the Nirvana element without a basis remaining: The nirvana of arhat extinction of body and mind where there are no more cause and effect, the connection with the chain of mortal life being ended. A saint enters this perfect nirvana upon the death of his body (the aggregates have been eliminated). This is the Final nirvana without remainder of reincarnation where all the effects (quả) are ended. The nirvana state in which exists no remainder of the karma of suffering, or the full extinction of the groups of existence. Final nirvana without remainder of reincarnation where all the effects (quả) are ended. The nirvana state in which exists no remainder of the karma of suffering, or the full extinction of the groups of existence. The nirvana of arhat extinction of body and mind. An Arhat whose taints are destroyed, who has lived the life, done what was to be done, laid down the burden, attained Arahatship by stages, destroyed completely the bond of becoming, one who is free through knowing rightly. All his feelings not being welcome, not being delighted in, will here and now become cool; it is thus, that is called the Nibbana element without a basis remaining. Static nirvana, the nirvana after death, the remainderless extinction of liberated one, in which all relationship to the world is broken off and there is no activity. It opposed to Apratisthita-nirvana, in which the liberated one choose to remain in the world where Bodhisattvas renounce entry into pratisthita-nirvana so that he can, in accordance with his vow, lead beings on the way to liberation. The Nirvana without the upadhi remnant. It is the total extinction of the conditions of being as well as of passion. One may call it the annihilation of being. This is Nirvana of Perfect Freedom, or the passing away of Sakyamuni Buddha.

Five Kinds of Nirvana: Besides, according to the Surangama Sutra, book Nine, in the section of the ten states of formation skandha, the Buddha reminded Ananda about the five kinds of immediate Nirvana: “Further, in his practice of samadhi, the good person’s mind is firm, unmoving, and proper and can no longer be distrubed by demons. He can thoroughly investigate the origin of all categories of beings and contemplate the source of the subtle, fleeting, and constant fluctuation. But if he begins to speculate on existence after death, he could fall into error with five theories of Nirvana. Because of these speculations about five kinds of immediate Nirvana, he will fall into externalism and become confused about the Bodhi nature. First, he may consider the Heavens of the Desire Realm a true refuge, because he contemplates their extensive brightness and longs for it. Second, he may take refuge in the First Dhyana, because there his nature is free from worry. Third, he may take refuge in the Second Dhyana, because there his mind is free from suffering. Fourth, he may take refuge in the Third Dhyana, because he delights in its extreme joy. Fifth, he may take refuge in the Fourth Dhyana, reasoning that suffering and bliss are both ended there and that he will no longer undergo transmigration. These heavens are subject to outflows, but in his confusion he thinks that they are unconditioned; and he takes these five states of tranquility to be refuge of supreme purity. Considering back and forth in this way, he decides that these five states are ultimate. Five Kinds of Anagamins: According to the Sangiti Sutta in the Long Discourses of the Buddha, there are five kinds of anagamins (Na Hàm) who never return to the desire-real. First, the “less-than-half-timer”, where the anagamin who enters on the intermediate stage between the realm of desire and the higher realm of form. Second, the “more-than-half-timer”, where the anagamin who is born into the form world and soon overcome the remains of illusions. Third, the “gainer with exertion”, where the anagamin who diligently works his way through the final stage. Fourth, the “gainer without exertion”, where the anagamin whose final departure is delayed through lack of aid and slackness. Fifth, Nirvana where he who goes upstream to the highest. The anagamin who proceeds from lower to higher heavens into nirvana.

Chapter 61. Three Main Schools in Buddhism

The first school is the Southern School or Theravada: The Southern or Theravada (Teachings of the Elders), also known as the Hinayana, which arose in southern India, whence it spread to Ceylon, Burma, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. The “Little or minor (small) Vehicle.” Name of the earliest system of Buddhist doctrine, opposed to the Mahayana. This is the term which the Mahayana utilizes to refer to the those who follow Theravada for they have own liberation goal rather than that of all beings. In fact, Hinayana developed between the death of Buddha and the 1st century BC and it represented the original and pure teaching as it was taught by the Buddha. The essence of the teaching is expressed in the four noble truths, the doctrine of dependent arising, the teaching of the ego, the law of karma and the eightfold noble path.

The second school is the North School or the Mahayana (Major Vehicle or the school of Mahayana): After the Buddha’s death, Buddhism was divided into many schools. The two main branches were Hinayana and Mahayana. Whoever seeks to become an arhat belongs to the Hinayana; while whoever seeks to become a Buddha belongs to the Mahayana. Right after the Buddha’ death the school of Mahayana, attributed to the rise in India of the Madhyamika (the school ascribed to Nagarjuna) and the Yoga; the rest of the sects belonged to the Hinayana. The Madhyamika and Yoga were called Tsan-Luan and Dharmalaksana in China. In Japan, only Kosa and Satyasiddhi belong to the Hinayana; the rest of other schools belong to the Mahayana. The Mahayana moved from northern India to Tibet, Mongolia, China, Vietnam, Korea, and Japan. Unlike Southern Buddhism, which tended to remain conservative and doctrinaire, the Mahayana adapted itself to the needs of peoples of diverse racial and cultural backgrounds and varying levels of understanding. The greater vehicle, one of the two great schools of Buddhism (Hinayana and Mahayana). The Mahayana arose in the first century BC. It is called Great Vehicle because its objective is the salvation of all beings. It opens the way of liberation to a great number of people and indeed, expresses the intentionto liberate all beings. One of the most critical in Mahayana is that it stresses the value on laypersons. It emphasizes that laypersons can also attain nirvana if they strive to free themselves from worldly bondages. Major Mahayana sects include Hua-Yen, T’ien T’ai, Zen and the Pure Land. It should be noted that Mahayana spread from India to Tibet, China, Korea and Viet Nam. We must recognize that the Mahayana has contributed a great deal to Buddhist thought and culture. It has produced a wonderful Path of Bodhisattvas. Sakyamuni Buddha set an example by his own career that people could emulate. The goal of this career was Enlightenment and Buddhahood, and the way was the way of the Bodhisattva. The Third Council was held during the reign of Emperor Asoka in the third century B.C., there were already at least eighteen schools, each with its own doctrines and disciplinary rules. Among them, two schools dominated the deliberations at the Third Council, an analytical school called Vibhajyavadins, and a school of realistic pluralism known as the Sarvastivadins. The Council decided in favor of the analytical school and it was the views of this school that were carried to Sri Lanka by Asoka’s missionaries, led by his son Mahendra. There it became known as the Theravada. The adherents of the Sarvastivada mostly migrated to Kashmir in the north west of India where the school became known for its popularization of the path of the perfections of the Bodhisattva. However, another Council (the Fourth Council) was held during the reign of King Kanishka in the first century A.D. in Kashmir; two more important schools emerged, the Vaibhashikas and the Sautrantikas. These two differed on the authenticity of the Abhidharma; the Vaibhashikas holding that the Abhidharma was taught by the Buddha, while the Sautrantikas held that it was not. By this time, Mahayana accounts tell us, a number of assemblies had been convened in order to compile the scriptures of the Mahayana tradition, which were already reputed to be vast in number.

In the north and south west of India as well as Nalanda in Magadha, the Mahayana was studied and taught. Many of the important texts of the Mahayana were believed to have been related by Maitreya, the future Buddha and other celestial Bodhisattvas. The written texts of Mahayana as well as those of other schools began to appear about 500 years after the Buddha’s Nirvana. The earliest Mahayana sutras such as the Lotus Sutra and the Sutra of the Perfection of Wisdom are usually dated before the first century A.D. The essence of the Mahayana Buddhism is the conception of compassion for all living beings. The Mahayana, with its profound philosophy, its universal compassion and its abundant use of skillful means, rapidly began to attract the majority of people, not only in India, but in the newly Buddhist lands of central Asia. The origin of Mahayana may be traced to an earlier school known as Mahasanghika and earlier literary sources known as Mahayana Sutras. By the first century A.D., the formation of the Mahayana Buddhism was virtually complete, and most of the major Mahayana sutras were in existence. Theoretically speaking, Mahayana Buddhism is divided into two systems of thought: the Madhyamika and the Yogacara.

The third school is the Mantrayana: The esoteric method. The esoteric Mantra, or Yogacara sect, developed especially in Shingon, with Vairocana as the chief object of worship, and the Mandalas of Garbhadhatu and Vajradhatu. The esoteric teaching or Tantric Buddhism, in contrast with the open schools (Hiển giáo). The Buddhist tantra consists of sutras of a so-called mystical nature which endeavor to teach the inner relationship of the external world and the world of spirit, of the identity of Mind and universe. Among the devices employed in tantric meditational practices are the following. First, the contemplation of the Mandala. Mandala means “circle,” “assemblage,” “picture.” There are various kinds of mandala, but the most common in Esoteric Buddhism are of two types: a composite picture graphically portraying different classes of demons, deities, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, representing various powers, forces, and activities, within symbolic squares and circles, and in the center of which is a figure of the Buddha Vairocana, the Great Illuminator; and a diagrammatic representation wherein certain sacred Sanskrit letters, called “bija” or “seeds” are substituted for figures. Second, the contemplation of the Mantra. Mantras are the sacred sounds, such as OM, for example, are transmitted from the master to his disciple at the time of initiation. When the disciple’s mind is properly attuned, the inner vibrations of this word symbol together with its associations in the consciousness of the initiate are said to open his mind to higher dimension. Third, mudra. Mudras are physical gestures, especially symbolical hand movements, which are performed to help evoke certain states of mind parallel to those of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. The Esoteric School is divided into two divisions. First, the Miscellaneous Mystic Sect. What we designate as “Miscellaneous Mystic” of which mantras were translated early in the fourth century A.D. Srimitra of Kucha, a Central Asian state inhabited by a white race, translated some texts into Chinese. These were charms, cures, and other sorts of sorcery, often containing some matra prayers and praises of gods or saints of higher grades, but generally speaking they could not be regarded as expressing a high aspiration. Second, the Pure Mystic Sect. What we can designate as ‘Pure Mystic’ begins with some able Indian teachers who arrived in China during the T’ang period (713-765). First, Subhakarasimha (637-735), second, Vajrabodhi (663-723), third, Amoghavajra (705-774), and fourth, I-Hsing (683-727).

Chapter 62. Cores of Buddhism

It’s trully wrong to believe that Buddhism a religion of pessimism. This is not true even with a slight understanding of basic Buddhism. When the Buddha said that human life was full of sufferings and afflictions, he did not mean that life was pessimistic. In this manner, the Buddha admitted the presence of sufferings and afflictions in human life, and by a method of analysis he pointed out to his disciples that attachment to things without a correct view as to their nature is the cause of sufferings and afflictions. Impermanence and change are inherent in the nature of all things. This is their true nature and this is the correct view. He concluded: “As long as we are at variance with this truth, we are bound to run into conflicts. We cannot alter or control the nature of things. The result is ‘hope deferred made the heart sick’. The only solution lies in correcting our point of view.” In fact, the thirst for things begets sorrow. When we like someone or something, we wish that they belonged to us and were with us forever. We never think about their true nature, in other words, or we refuse to think about their true nature. We expect them to survive forever, but time devours everything. Eventually we must yield to old age and freshness of the morning dew disappears before the rising sun. In the Nirvana Sutra, when Ananda and other disciples were so sad and cried when the Buddha lay on his death-bed, the Buddha taught: “Ananda! Lament not. Have I not already told you that from all good things we love and cherish we would be separated, sooner or later... that they would change their nature and perish. How then can Tathagata survive? This is not possible!” This is the philosophy which underlies the doctrine of the “Three Marks” (impermanence, suffering and no-self) of existence of the Buddhist view of life and the world. All Buddhist values are based on this. The Buddha expected of his disciples, both laity and clergy, good conduct and good behavior and decent standard of living in every way. With him, a simple living did not amount to degenerate human existence or to suffer oneself. The Buddha advised his disciples to follow the “Middle Path”. It is to say not to attach to things nor to abandon them. The Buddha does not deny the “beauty”, however, if one does not understand the true nature of the objects of beauty, one may end up with sufferings and afflictions or grief and disappoinment.

In the “Theragatha”, the Buddha brought up the story of the Venerable Pakka. One day, going to the village for alms, Venerable Pakka sat down beneath a tree. Then a hawk, seizing some flesh flew up into the sky. Other hawks saw that attacked it, making it drop the piece of meat. Another hawk grabbed the fallen flesh, and was flundered by other hawks. And Pakka thought: “Just like that meat are worldly desires, common to all, full of pain and woe.” And reflecting hereon, and how they were impermanent and so on, he continued to contemplate and eventually won Arahanship. The Buddha advised his disciples not to avoid or deny or attach to objects of beauty. Try not to make objects of beauty our objects of like or dislike. Whatever there is in the world, pleasant or unpleasant, we all have a tendency to attach to them, and we develop a like or dislike to them. Thus we continue to experience sufferings and afflictions. Buddhists recognize beauty where the sense can perceive it, but in beauty we should also see its own change and destruction. And Buddhist should always remember the Buddha’s teaching regarding to all component things: “Things that come into being, undergo change and are eventually destroyed.” Therefore, Buddhists admire beauty but have no greed for acquisition and possession. In order to terminate the suffering and affliction in life, The Buddha advises his fourfold disciple: “Do no evil, to do only good, to purify the mind.” In the Agama Sutra, the Buddha taught: “Do not commit wrongs, devoutly practice all kinds of good, purify the mind, that’s Buddhism” or “To do no evil, to do only good, to purify the will, is the doctrine of all Buddhas.” These four sentences are said to include all the Buddha-teaching.

Chapter 63. The Doctrine of “Egolessness”

When Sakyamuni Buddha put forth the notion of “no-self,” he upsets many concepts about life in the universe. He blasted our most firm and widespread conviction, that of a permanent self. Those who understand “not self” know that its function is to overthrow “self,” not to replace it with a new concept of reality. The notion of “not self” is a method, not a goal. If it becomes a concept, it must be destroyed along with all other concepts. The doctrine of no-self has two main characteristics: selflessness of things (dharma-nairatmya) and selflessness of person (pudgalanairatmya). Sometimes, the teaching of “not-self” causes confusion and misunderstanding. Any time we speak, we do say “I am speaking” or “I am talking”, etc. How can we deny the reality of that “I”? Sincere Buddhists should always remember that the Buddha never asked us to reject the use of the name or term “I”. The Buddha himself still use a word “Tatathata” to refer to himself, no matter what is the meaning of the word, it is still a word or a name. When the Buddha taught about “not-self”, he stressed on the rejection of the idea that this name or term “I” stands for a substantial, permanent and changeless reality. The Buddha said that the five aggregates (form, feeling, perception, volition and consciousness) were not the self and that the self was not to be found in them. The Buddha’s rejection of the self is a rejection of the belief in a real, independent, permanent entity that is represented by the name or term “I”, for such a permanent entity would have to be independent, permanent, immutable and impervious to change, but such a permanent entity and/or such a self is nowhere to be found.

A Sanskrit term for “No-self.” One of the “three characteristics” (tri-laksana) that the Buddha said apply to all conditioned (samskrita) phenomena, the others being impermanence and unsatisfactoriness or suffering. The doctrine holds that, contrary to the assertions of the brahmanical orthodoxy of the Buddha’s time, there is no permanent, partless, substantial “self” or soul. The brahmanical tradition taught that the essence of every individual is an eternal, unchanging essence (called the atman). The Buddha declared that such a essence is merely a conceptual construct and that every individual is in fact composed of a constantly changing collection of “aggregates” (skandha). No-self also means non-existence of a permanent self. The body consists of the five elements and there is no self. Elements exist only by means of union of conditions. There is no eternal and unchangeable substance in them.

The doctrine of “Egolessness” is one of the central teachings of Buddhism; it says that no self exists in the sense of a permanent, eternal, integral and independent substance within an individual existent. The anatta or anatma doctrine taught by the Buddha, to which most Buddhists, including Zen practitioners, subscirbe, is briefly the “not self” idea of man’s true nature. This is not to be confused with the “not self” expression used in Hindu philosophies. It means that the true nature of man is not conceivable by the human mind. How can one speak of “Anatta” if there is no “Atta”? We must understand what the Buddha meant by “Anatta”. He never meant anything in contra-distinction to “Atta”. He did not place two terms in juxtaposition and say: “This is my ‘Anatta’ in opposition to ‘Atta’.” The term “Anatta”, since the prefix “an” indicates non-existence, and not opposition. So “Anatta” literally means no atta, that is the mere denial of an “atta”, the non-existence of “atta”. The believers in an “atta” tried to keep their “atta”. The Buddha simply denied it, by adding the prefix “an”. As this concept of an Atta, Self, or Soul, was deep rooted in many whom the Buddha met, He had to discourse at length on this pivotal question of Self to learned men, dialecticians and hair-splitting disputants.

The doctrine of no-self has two main characteristics: selflessness of things (dharma-nairatmya) and selflessness of person (pudgalanairatmya). First, selflessness of person (Pudgalanairatmya). Man as without ego or permanent soul, or no permanent human ego or soul. Second, selflessness of things (Dharmanairatmya). This means no permanent individuality in or independence of things. Things are without independent individuality, i.e. the tenet that things have no independent reality, no reality in themselves. The idea that there is no self-substance or “Atman” constituting the individuality of each object is insisted on by the followers of Mahayana Buddhism to be their exclusive property, not shared by the Hinayana. This idea is naturally true as the idea of “no self-substance” or Dharmanairatmya is closely connected with that of “Sunyata” and the latter is one of the most distinguishing marks of the Mahayana., it was natural for its scholars to give the former a prominent position in their philosophy. In the Lankavatara Sutra, the Buddha taught: “When a Bodhisattva-mahasattva recognizes that all dharmas are free from Citta, Manas, Manovijnana, the Five Dharmas, and the Threefold Svabhava, he is said to understand well the real significance of Dharmanairatmya.”

Chapter 64. Determinism and Selflessness

Determinism means the theory of being determined by fate, nature, or god. Buddhism believes in the absence of a permanent, unchaging self or soul, or non-existence of a permanent self. According to the Vimalakirti Sutra, the body consists of the five elements or skandhas, which together represent body and mind, and there is no such so-called “self.” Elements exist only by means of union of conditions. There is no eternal and unchangeable substance in them. When these come apart, so-called “body” immediately disappears. Since the form which is created by the four elements is empty and without self, then the human body, created by the unification of the five skandhas, must also be empty and without self. Human body is in a transforming process from second to second. In Theravada, no-self is only applied to the person; in the Mahayana, all things are regarded as without essence.

According to Prof. Junjiro Takakusu in The Essentials of Buddhist Philosophy, the Buddha regarded this world as a world of hardship, and taught the ways to cope with it. Then what are the reasons which make it a world of hardship? The first reason, as given by the Buddha is that all things are selfless or egoless, which means that no things, men, animals and inanimate objects , both living and not living, have what we may call their original self or real being. Let us consider man. A man does not have a core or a soul which he can consider to be his true self. A man exists, but he cannot grasp his real being, he cannot discover his own core, because the existence of a man is nothing but an “existence depending on a series of causations.” Everything that exists is there because of causations; it will disappear when the effects of the causation cease. The waves on the water’s surface certainly exist, but can it be said that a wave has its own self? Waves exist only while there is wind or current. Each wave has its own characteristics according to the combination of causations, the intensity of the winds and currents and their directions, etc. But when the effects of the causations cease, the waves are no more. Similarly, there cannot be a self which stands independent of causations. As long as a man is an existent depending on a series of causations, it is unreasonable for him to try to hold on to himself and to regard all things around him from the self-centered point of view. All men ought to deny their own selves and endeavor to help each other and to look for co-existence, because no man can ever be truly independent. If all things owe their existence to a series of causations, their existence is a conditional one; there is no one thing in the universe that is permanent or independent. Therefore, the Buddha’s theory that selflessness is the nature of all things inevitably leads to the next theory that all things are impermanent (anitya). Men in general seem to be giving all of their energy to preserving their own existence and their possessions. But in truth it is impossible to discover the core of their own existence, nor is it possible to preserve it forever. Even for one moment nothing can stay unchanged. Not only is it insecure in relation to space but it is also insecure in relation to time. If it were possible to discover a world which is spaceless and timeless, that would be a world of true freedom, i.e., Nirvana. Men in general seem to be giving all of their energy to preserving their own existence and their possessions. But in truth it is impossible to discover the core of their own existence, nor is it possible to preserve it forever. Even for one moment nothing can stay unchanged. Not only is it insecure in relation to space but it is also insecure in relation to time. If it were possible to discover a world which is spaceless and timeless, that would be a world of true freedom, i.e., Nirvana. If, as the modern physicists assert, space is curved and time is relative, this world of space and time is our enclosed abode from which there is no escape; we are tied down in the cycles of cause and effectIf, as the modern physicists assert, space is curved and time is relative, this world of space and time is our enclosed abode from which there is no escape; we are tied down in the cycles of cause and effect. As long as men cannot discover a world which is not limited by time and space, men must be creatures of suffering. To assert that such a state, unlimited in time and space, is attainable by man is the message of BuddhismAs long as men cannot discover a world which is not limited by time and space, men must be creatures of suffering. To assert that such a state, unlimited in time and space, is attainable by man is the message of Buddhism. Of course, there is no such thing as a limitless time. Even modern physical science does not recognize infinity in time and space. However, the Buddha brought forward his ideal, Nirvana (extinction), following his theories of selflessness and impermanence. Nirvana means extinction of life and death, extinction of worldly desire, and extinction of space and time conditions. This, in the last analysis, means unfolding a world of perfect freedom. Selflessness (no substance) and impermanence (no duration) are the real state of our existence; Nirvana (negatively extinction; positively perfection) is our ideal, that is, perfect freedom, quiescence.

Chapter 65. The Triple Jewel

A Summary of the Triple Jewel: The foundation of Buddhism is the Three Treasures: Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. While Sakyamuni Buddha is the first person of the Trinity, his Law the second, and the Order the third, all three by some are accounted as manifestations of the All-Buddha. The first jewel is the Buddha: The Buddha is the person who has achieve the enlightenment that leads to release from the cycle of birth and death and has thereby attained complete liberation. The word Buddha is not a proper name but a title meaning “Enlightened One” or “Awakened One.” Prince Siddhartha was not born to be called Buddha. He was not born enlightened, nor did he receive the grace of any supernatural being; however, efforts after efforts, he became enlightened. It is obvious to Buddhists who believe in re-incarnation, that the Buddha did not come into the world for the first time. Like everyone else, he had undergone many births and deaths, had experienced the world as an animal, as a man, and as a god. During many rebirths, he would have shared the common fate of all that lives. A spiritual perfection like that of a Buddha cannot be the result of just one life. It must mature slowly throughout many ages and aeons. However, after His Enlightenment, the Buddha confirmed that any beings who sincerely try can also be freed from all clingings and become enlightened as the Buddha. All Buddhists should be aware that the Buddha was not a god or any kind of supernatural being (supreme deity), nor was he a savior or creator who rescues sentient beings by taking upon himself the burden of their sins. Like us, he was born a man. The difference between the Buddha and an ordinary man is simply that the former has awakened to his Buddha nature while the latter is still deluded about it. However, the Buddha nature is equally present in all beings. According to Tao-Ch’o (562-645), one of the foremost devotees of the Pure Land school, in his Book of Peace and Happiness, one of the principal sources of the Pure Land doctrine. All the Buddhas save sentient beings in four ways. First, by oral teachings such recorded in the twelve divisions of Buddhist literature; second, by their physical features of supernatural beauty; third, by their wonderful powers and virtues and transformations; and fourth, by recitating of their names, which when uttered by beings, will remove obstacles and result their rebirth in the presence of the Buddha.

The second jewel is the Dharma: Dharma is a very troublesome word to handle properly and yet at the same timeit is one of the most important and essential technical terms in Buddhism. First, etymologically, it comes from the Sanskrit root “Dhri” means to hold, to bear, or to exist; there seems always to be something of the idea of enduring also going along with it. The most common and most important meaning of “Dharma” in Buddhism is “truth,” “law,” or “religion.” Secondly, it is used in the sense of “existence,” “being,” “object,” or “thing.” Thirdly, it is synonymous with “virtue,” “righteousness,” or “norm,” not only in the ethical sense, but in the intellectual one also. Fourthly, it is occasionally used in a most comprehaensive way, including all the senses mentioned above. In this case, we’d better leave the original untranslated rather than to seek for an equivalent in a foreign language. Besides, Dharma also means the cosmic law which is underlying our world. According to Buddhism, this is the law of karmically determined rebirth. Dharmas are all phenomena, things and manifestation of reality. All phenomena are subject to the law of causation, and this fundamental truth comprises the core of the Buddha’s teaching. In Buddhism, Dharma means the teaching of the Buddha (Understanding and Loving). The way of understanding and love taught by the Buddha. The Buddha says: “He who sees the Dharma sees me.” All things are divided into two classes: physical and mental; that which has substance and resistance is physical, that which is devoid of these is mental (the root of all phenomena is mind). The doctrines of Buddhism, norms of behavior and ethical rules including pitaka, vinaya and sila.

According to Prof. Junjiro Takakusu in The Essentials of Buddhist Philosophy, the word “Dharma” has five meanings. First, the Dharma would mean ‘that which is held to,’ or ‘the ideal’ if we limit its meaning to mental affairs only. This ideal will be different in scope as conceived by different individuals. In the case of the Buddha it will be Perfect Enlightenment or Perfect Wisdom (Bodhi). Secondly, the ideal as expressed in words will be his Sermon, Dialogue, Teaching, and Doctrine. Thirdly, the ideal as set forth for his pupils is the Rule, Discipline, Precept, and Morality. Fourthly, the ideal to be realized will be the Principle, Theory, Truth, Reason, Nature, Law, and Condition. Fifthly, the ideal as realized in a general sense will be Reality, Fact, Thing, Element (created and not created), Mind-and-Matter, or Idea-and-Phenomenon. According to the Madhyamakas, Dharma is a protean word in Buddhism. In the broadest sense it means an impersonal spiritual energy behind and in everything. There are four important senses in which this word has been used in Buddhist philosophy and religion. First, Dharma in the sense of one ultimate Reality. It is both transcendent and immanent to the world, and also the governing law within it. Secondly, Dharma in the sense of scripture, doctrine, religion, as the Buddhist Dharma. Thirdly, Dharma in the sense of righteousness, virtue, and piety. Fourthly, Dharma in the sense of ‘elements of existence.’ In this sense, it is generally used in plural. According to the meaning of Dharma in Sanskrit, Dharma is a very troublesome word to handle properly and yet at the same timeit is one of the most important and essential technical terms in Buddhism. Dharma has many meanings. A term derived from the Sanskrit root “dhr,” which” means “to hold,” or “to bear”; there seems always to be something of the idea of enduring also going along with it. Originally, it means the cosmic law which underlying our world; above all, the law of karmically determined rebirth. The teaching of the Buddha, who recognized and regulated this law. In fact, dharma (universal truth) existed before the birth of the historical Buddha, who is no more than a manifestation of it. Today, “dharma” is most commonly used to refer to Buddhist doctrine and practice. Dharma is also one of the three jewels on which Buddhists rely for the attainment of liberation, the other jewels are the Buddha and the Samgha.

Besides, the term “Dharma” also means the teaching of the Buddhas which carry or hold the truth. The way of understanding and love taught by the Buddha doctrine. The Buddha taught the Dharma to help us escape the sufferings and afflictions caused by daily life and to prevent us from degrading human dignity, and descending into evil paths such as hells, hungry ghosts, and animals, etc. The Dharma is like a raft that gives us something to hang onto as we eliminate our attachments, which cause us to suffer and be stuck on this shore of birth and death. The Buddha’s dharma refers to the methods of inward illumination; it takes us across the sea of our afflictions to the other shore, nirvana. Once we get there, even the Buddha’s dharma should be relinquished. The Dharma is not an extraordinary law created by or given by anyone. According to the Buddha, our body itself is Dharma; our mind itself is Dharma; the whole universe is Dharma. By understanding the nature of our physical body, the nature of our mind, and worldly conditions, we realize the Dharma. The Dharma that is the law of beginningless and endless becoming, to which all phenomena are subject according to causes and conditions. The Dharma, which comprises the spoken words and sermons of Sakyamuni Buddha wherein he elucidated the significance of the Unified Three Treasures and the way to its realization. The Dharma, the teaching imparted by the Buddha. All written sermons and discourses of Buddhas (that is, fully enlightened beings) as found in the sutras and other Buddhist texts still extant. According to the Prajnaparamita Heart Sutra, the basic characteristic of all dharmas is not arising, not ceasing, not defiled, not immaculate, not increasing, and not decreasing. The Buddha says: “He who sees the Dharma sees me.”

The third jewel is the Sangha: “Sangha” is a Sanskrit term for “community.” The community of Buddhists. In a narrow sense, the term can be used just to refer to monks (Bhiksu) and nuns (Bhiksuni); however, in a wider sense, Sangha means four classes of disciples (monks, nuns, upasaka and upasika). Lay men (Upasaka) and lay women (Upasika) who have taken the five vows of the Panca-sila (fivefold ethics). All four groups are required formally to adopt a set of rules and regulations. Monastics are bound to two hundred-fifty and three hundred forty-eight vows, however, the actual number varies between different Vinaya traditions. An important prerequisite for entry into any of the four catergories is an initial commitment to practice of the Dharma, which is generally expressed by “taking refuge” in the “three jewels”: Buddha, Dharma, and Samgha. The Sangha means the congregation of monks and nuns or genuine Dharma followers. Sangha consists of contemporary disciples who practice and realize the saving truth of the Unified Three Treasures that was first revealed by Sakyamuni Buddha. Sangha is a Sanskrit term means the monastic community as a whole. Sangha also means a harmonious association. This harmony at the level of inner truth means sharing the understanding of the truth of transcendental liberation. At the phenomenal level, harmony means dwelling together in harmony; harmony in speech means no arguments; harmony in perceptions; harmony in wealth or sharing material goods equally, and harmony in precepts or sharing the same precepts. Buddhist monks and nuns have left the family life to practice the Buddha’s teachings. They usually own only a few things, such as robes, an alms bowl and a razor to shave their heads. They aim to give up the need for material possessions. They concentrate on their inner development and gain much understanding into the nature of things by leading a pure and simple life. Community (congregation) of monks, nuns, and lay Buddhists who cultivate the Way. The Buddhist Brotherhood or an assembly of brotherhood of monks. Sangha also means an assembly, collection, company, or society. The corporate assembly of at least three or four monks under a chairperson. “Sangha” is an Assembly of Buddhists; however, in a narrow sense, sangha means the members of which are called Bhikkhus or Bhikkhunis; however, in a wider sense, Sangha means four classes of disciples (monks, nuns, upasaka and upasika). Usually, an assembly of monks. The corporate assembly of at least three or four monks under a chairman, empowered to hear a confession, grant absolution, and ordain. The church or monastic order, the third member of the Triratna.

Categories of the Triple Jewel: All Buddhists know the triple jewel is the foundation of Buddhism is the Three Treasures, without trust in which and reverence for there can be no Buddhist religious life. There are three kinds of Triratna (three Treasures). The Triple Jewel was defined in many different ways. First, the Unified or One-Body Three Treasures: “The Vairocana Buddha, representing the realization of the world of Emptiness, of Buddha-nature, of unconditioned Equality. The Dharma that is the law of beginningless and endless becoming, to which all phenomena are subject according to causes and conditions. The harmonious fusion of the preceding two, which constitutes total reality as experienced by the enlightened.” The Three Treasures are mutually related and interindependent. One unrealized in the Unified Three Treasures can neither comprehend in depth the import of Sakyamuni Buddha’s enlightenment, nor appreciate the infinite preciousness of his teachings, nor cherish as living images and pictures of Buddhas. Again, the Unified Three Treasures would be unknown had not it been made manifest by Sakyamuni in his own body and mind and the Way to its realization expounded by him. Lastly, without enlightened followers of the Buddhas’ Way in our own time to inspire and lead others along this Path to Self-realization, the Unified Three Treasures would be a remote ideal, the saga of Sakyamuni’s life desiccated history, and the Buddhas’ words lifeless abstractions. More, as each of us embodies the Unified Three Treasures, the foundation of the Three Treasures is none other than one’s own self. Buddhist practitioners who cannot realize the Unified Three Treasures can neither comprehend in depth the import of Sakyamuni Buddha’s enlightenment, nor appreciate the infinite preciousness of his teachings, nor cherish as living images and pictures of Buddhas. Again, the Unified Three Treasures would be unknown had not it been made manifest by Sakyamuni in his own body and mind and the Way to its realization expounded by him. Lastly, without enlightened followers of the Buddhas’ Way in our own time to inspire and lead others along this Path to Self-realization, the Unified Three Treasures would be a remote ideal, the saga of Sakyamuni’s life desiccated history, and the Buddhas’ words lifeless abstractions. More, as each of us embodies the Unified Three Treasures, the foundation of the Three Treasures is none other than one’s own self. Zen Master Huai-hai taught: “Mind is the Buddha and it is needless to use this Buddha to seek the Buddha. Mind is the Dharma and it is needless to use this Dharma to seek the Dharma. Buddha and Dharma are not separate entities and their togetherness forms the Sangha. Such is the meaning of Three Jewels in One Substance. A sutra says: “Mind, Buddha and sentient beings, there is no difference between any of them. When your body, speech and mind are purified, we say a Buddha has appeared in teh world. When these three become impure, we say a Buddha has been extinguished.” Second, the Manifested Three Treasures: “The Buddha is the historic Buddha Sakyamuni, who through his perfect enlightenment relaized in himself the truth of the Unified Three Treasures. The Dharma, which comprises the spoken words and sermons of sakyamuni Buddha wherein he elucidated the significance of the Unified Three Treasures and the way to its realization. The Sangha, Sakyamuni Buddha’s disciples, including the immediate disciples of the Buddha Sakyamuni and other followers of his day who heard, believed, and made real in their own bodies the Unified Three Treasures that he taught. An assembly of monks, an order of the Monks, or a company of at least three monks. “Sangha” is a Sanskrit term for “community.” The community of Buddhists. In a narrow sense, the term can be used just to refer to monks (Bhiksu) and nuns (Bhiksuni); however, in a wider sense, Sangha means four classes of disciples (monks, nuns, upasaka and upasika). Lay men (Upasaka) and lay women (Upasika) who have taken the five vows of the Panca-sila (fivefold ethics). All four groups are required formally to adopt a set of rules and regulations. Monastics are bound to two hundred-fifty and three hundred forty-eight vows, however, the actual number varies between different Vinaya traditions. An important prerequisite for entry into any of the four catergories is an initial commitment to practice of the Dharma, which is generally expressed by “taking refuge” in the “three jewels”: Buddha, Dharma, and Samgha.” The Supremely Enlightened Being includes the iconography of Buddhas which have come down to us. The teaching imparted by the Buddha. All written sermons and discourses of Buddhas (that is, fully enlightened beings) as found in the sutras and other Buddhist texts still extant. The congregation of monks and nuns or genuine Dharma followers. Sangha consists of contemporary disciples who practice and realize the saving truth of the Unified Three Treasures that was first revealed by Sakyamuni Buddha.

Chapter 66. Taking Refuge on the Three Gems

The three Refuges are three of the most important entrances to the great enlightenment. There are several problems for a Buddhist who does not take refuge in the Three Gems. There is no chance to meet the Sangha for guidance. Buddhist sutras always say, “If one does not take refuge in the Sangha, it’s easier to be reborn into the animal kingdom.” Not taking refuge in the Sangha means that there is no good example for one to follow. If there is no one who can show us the right path to cultivate all good and eliminate all-evil, then ignorance arises, and ignorance is one of the main causes of rebirth in the animal realms. There is no chance to study Dharma in order to distinguish right from wrong, good from bad. Thus desire appears, and desire is one of the main causes of rebirth in the hungry ghost. Therefore, Buddhist sutras always say, “If one does not take refuge in the Dharma, it’s easier to be reborn in the hungry ghost realms.” There is not any chance to get blessings from Buddhas, nor chance to imitate the compassion of the Buddhas. Thus, anger increased, and anger is one of the main causes of the rebirth in hell. Therefore, Buddhist sutras always say, “if one does not take refuge in Buddha, it’s easier to be reborn in hell. In the Dharmapada Sutra, the Buddha taught: “Men were driven by fear to go to take refuge in the mountains, in the forests, and in sacred trees (Dharmapada 188). But that is not a safe refuge or no such refuge is supreme. A man who has gone to such refuge, is not delivered from all pain and afflictions (Dharmapada 189). On the contrary, he who take refuge in the Buddhas, the Dharma and the angha, sees with right knowledge (Dharmapada 190). With clear understanding of the four noble truths: suffering, the cause of suffering, the destruction of suffering, and the eighfold noble path which leads to the cessation of suffering (Dharmapada 191). That is the secure refuge, the supreme refuge. He who has gone to that refuge, is released from all suffering (Dharmapada 192).”

To take refuge in the Triratna, a Buddhist must first find a virtuous monk who has seriously observed precepts and has profound knowledge to represent the Sangha in performing an ordination ceremony. An admission of a lay disciple, after recantation of his previous wrong belief and sincere repetition to the abbot or monk of the Three Refuges. Take refuge in the Buddha as a supreme teacher. To the Buddha, I return to rely, vowing that all living beings understand the great way profoundly, and bring forth the bodhi mind (1 bow). Take refuge in the Dharma as the best medicine in life. To the Dharma, I return and rely, vowing that all living beings deeply enter the sutra treasury, and have wisdom like the sea (1 bow). Take refuge in the Sangha, wonderful Buddha’s disciples. To the Sangha, I return and rely, vowing that all living beings form together a great assembly, one and all in harmony without obstructions (1 bow). When listening to the three refuges, Buddhists should have the full intention of keeping them for life; even when life is hardship, never change the mind.

To take refuge in the Triratna, or to commit oneself to the Triratna, i.e. Buddha, Dharma, Sangha (Buddha, his Truth, and his Order). Those who sincerely take refuge in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha shall not go to the woeful realm. After casting human life away, they will fill the world of heaven. Any Buddhist follower must attend an initiation ceremony with the Three Gems, Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, i.e., he or she must venerate the Buddha, follow his teachings, and respect all his ordained disciples. Buddhists swear to avoid deities and demons, pagans, and evil religious groups. A refuge is a place where people go when they are distressed or when they need safety and security. There are many types of refuge. When people are unhappy, they take refuge with their friends; when they are worried and frightened they might take refuge in false hope and beliefs. As they approach death, they might take refuge in the belief of an eternal heaven. But, as the Buddha says, none of these are true refuges because they do not give comfort and security based on reality. Taking refuge in the Three Gems is necessary for any Buddhists. It should be noted that the initiation ceremony, though simple, is the most important event for any Buddhist disciple, since it is his first step on the way toward liberation and illumination. This is also the first opportunity for a disciple to vow to diligently observe the five precepts, to become a vegetarian, to recite Buddhist sutras, to cultivate his own mind, to nurture himself with good deeds, and to follow the Buddha’s footsteps toward his own enlightenment.

To take refuge means to vow to Take Refuge in the Buddha-Dharma-Sangha. The root “Sr” in Sanskrit, or “Sara” in Pali means to move, to go; so that “Saranam” would denote a moving, or he that which goes before or with another. Thus, the sentence “Gachchàmi Buddham Saranam” means “I go to Buddha as my Guide”. Take refuge in the three Precious Ones, or the Three Refuges. In Buddhism, a refuge is something on which one can rely for support and guidance, not in a sense of fleeing back or a place of shelter. In most Buddhist traditions, “going for refuge” in the “three refuges” or “three jewels”: Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, is considered to be the central act that establishes a person as a Buddhist. Going for refuge is an acknowledgment that one requires aid and instruction and that one has decided that one is committed to following the Buddhist path. The Buddha is one who has successfully found the path to liberation, and he teaches it to others through his instructions on dharma. The Sangha, or monastic community, consists of people who have dedicated their lives to this practice and teaching, and so are a source of instruction and role models for laypeople. The standard refuge prayer is:

“I go for refuge in the Buddha.
I go for refuge in the Dharma
I go for refuge in the Sangha.”

These three phrases mean: “I go to Buddha, the Law, and the Order, as the destroyers of my fears, the first by the Buddha’s teachings, the second by the truth of His teachings, and the third by good examples and virtues of the Sangha.

There are five stages of taking refuge: Take refuge in the Buddha, take refuge in the Dharma, take refuge in the Sangha, take refuge in the eight commandments, and take refuge in the Ten Commandments. These are five modes of trisarana, or formulas of trust in the Triratna, taken by those who: First, those who turn from heresy. Second, those who take the five commandments. Third, those who take the eight commandments. Fourth, those who take the Ten Commandments. Fifth, those who take the complete commandments. The ceremony of taking refuge in the Triratna and observing precepts should be celebrated solemnly in front of the Buddha’s Shrine with the represent of the Sangha in performing an ordination ceremony. The initiation ceremony must be simple, depend on the situation of each place. However, it must be solemn. It is led by Buddhist Master who would grace it by standing before the altar decorated with the Buddha’s portrait, with the assistance of other monks and nuns, relatives, and friends. As for the initiated, he must be clean and correctly dressed. Under the guidance of the Master, he must recite three times the penance verses in order to cleanse his karmas: “As a Buddhist disciple, I swear to follow in Buddha’s footsteps during my lifetime, not in any god, deity or demon. As a Buddhist disciple, I swear to perform Buddhist Dharma during my lifetime, not pagan, heretic beliefs or practices. As a Buddhist disciple, I swear to listen to the Sangha during my lifetime, not evil religious groups.”

The Buddha had said: “I am a realized Buddha, you will be the Buddha to be realized,” meaning that we all have a Buddha-nature from within. Therefore, after having taken the initiation with the Three Gems, we must repeat the above vows, addressing this time the inner Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha: “As a Buddhist disciple, I vow to take refuge in the inner Buddha. To the Buddha, I return to rely, vowing that all living beings understand the great way profoundly, and bring forth the bodhi mind (1 bow). As a Buddhist disciple, I vow to take refuge in the inner Dharma. To the Dharma, I return and rely, vowing that all living beings deeply enter the sutra treasury, and have wisdom like the sea (1 bow). As a Buddhist disciple, I vow to take refuge in the inner Sangha. To the Sangha, I return and rely, vowing that all living beings form together a great assembly, one and all in harmony without obstructions (1 bow).” When listening to the three refuges, Buddhists should have the full intention of keeping them for life; even when life is hardship, never change the mind.

Take refuge in the Triple Gem in Secret Sects according to the first Tibetan Panchen Lama: “With great bless, I arise as my Guru Yidam. From my clear body masses of light rays diffuse into the ten directions. Blessing the world and all sentient beings. All becomes perfectly arrayed with only extremely pure qualities. From the state of an exalted and virtuous mind. I and all infinite, old mother sentient beings. From this moment until our supreme enlightenment. We vow to go for refuge to the Gurus and the Three Precious Gems. Homage to the Guru (Namo Gurubhya). Homage to the Buddha (Namo Buddhaya). Homage to the Dharma (Namo Dharmaya). Homage to the Sangha (Namo Sanghaya three times). For the sake of all mother sentient beings. I shall become my Guru Deity. And place all sentient beings in the supreme state of a Guru Deity (three times). For the sake of all mother sentient beings, I shall quickly attain supreme state of a Guru Deity in this very life (three times). I shall free all mother sentient beings from suffering and place them in the great bliss of Buddhahood (three times). Therefore, I shall now practice the profound path of Guru-Yidam yoga (three times). Om-Ah-Hum (three times). Pure clouds of outer, inner and secret offerings. Fearsome items and objects to bond us closely and fields of vision pervade the reaches of space, earth and sky spreading out inconceivably. In essence wisdom-knowledge in aspect inner offerings and various offerings objects as enjoyments of the six senses they function to generate the special wisdom-knowledge of bliss and voidness.

Take refuge in the Triple Gem and Hundred Thousand Buddhas in the Pure Land for Secret Sects according to Lozang-Dragpa: “I take safe direction from the Three Precious Gems; I shall liberate every limited being. I reaffirm and correct my bodhicitta aim (three times). May the surface of the land in every direction be pure, without even a pebble. As smooth as the palm of a child’s hand; naturally polished, as is a beryl gem. May divine and human objects of offering actually arrayed and those envisioned as peerless clouds of Samantabhadra offerings. From the heart of the Guardian of the hundreds of deities of Tusita, the Land of Joy, on the tip of a rain-bearing cloud resembling a mound of fresh, white curd. We request you alight and grace this site, King of the Dharma, Lozang-Dragpa, the omniscient, with the pair of your spiritual sons. Seated on lion-thrones, lotus, and moon in the sky before us, ennobling, impeccable gurus, we request you remain, with white smile of delight. For hundreds of eons to further the teachings as the foremost fields for growing a positive force for us with minds of belief in the facts. Your minds have the intellect that comprehends the full extent of what can be known. Your speech, with its elegant explanations, becomes an adornment for the ears of those of good fortune. Your bodies are radiantly handsome with glorious renown. We prostrate to you whom to behold, hear, or recall is worthwhile. Refreshing offerings of water, assorted flowers, fragrant incense, lights, scented water, and more. This ocean of clouds of offerings, actually arranged and imagined here. We present to you foremost fields for growing a positive force. Whatever destructive actions of body, speech and mind that we have committed, since beginningless time, and especially the breaches of our three sets of vows, we openly admit, one by one, with fervent regret from our heart. In this degenerate age, you perserved with a phenominal amount of study and practice and, by riding yourselves of the eight childish feelings, you made the respites and enrichments of your lives worthwhile, and from the depth of our hearts, we rejoice, O Guardians, in the towering waves of your enlightening deeds. In the towering waves of your enlightening deeds that billow in the skies of your Dharmakayas, we request you to release a rain of profound and vast Dharma to rain upon the absorbent earth of us, eager to be tamed in fitting ways. May whatever constructive forces built up by this benefit the teachings and those who wander, and may they especially enable the heart of the teachings of the ennobling, impeccable Lozang-dragpa to beat ever on. By directing and offering to the Buddha-fields this base, anointed with fragrant waters, strewn with flowers, and decked with Mount Meru, four islands, the sun, and the mon. May all those who wander be led to pure land. I send forth this mandala to you precious gurus by the force of having made fervent requests in this way. From the hearts of the ennobling, impeccable father and the pairs of his spiritual sons, hollow beams of white light radiate forth. Their tips combine into one and penetrate us through the crowns of our heads. Through the conduit of these white tubes of light, white nectars flow freely, the color of milk, purging us of diseases, demons, negative forces, obstacles, and constant habits, baring none. Our bodies become as pure and as clear as a crystal. You are Avalokitesvara, a great treasury of compassion. Manjushri, a commander of flawless wisdom. Vajrapani, a destroyer of all hordes of demonic forces. Tsongkhapa, the crown jewel of the erudite masters of the Land of Snow. At your feet, Lozang-Dragpa, we make you requests (three times). Glorious, precious root guru, come grace the lotus and moon seats at the crowns of our heads. Taking care of us through your great kindness. Direct us to the actual attainments of your body, speech and mind. Glorious, precious guru, come grace the lotus seats at our hearts. Taking care of us through your great kindness. Remain steadfast to the core of our enlightenment. By this constructive act, may we quickly actualize ourselves as Guru-Buddhas and thereafter lead to that state, all wandering beings, not neglecting even one.

Truly speaking, Buddhism has indeed proved to be the genuine article and has given those people where it has come the highest right conduct for a human being. The gentle, courtesy and upright lives of the Buddhists from all over the world show that Buddhism has indeed proved to be the genuine article and has given those people where it has come the highest right conduct for a human being. If happiness is the result of good thoughts, words and actions; then indeed devout Buddhists have found the secred of right living. In fact, have we ever found true happiness resulting from wrong thinking and wrong doing, or can we ever sow evil cause and reap sweet fruits? Furthermore, Can any of us escape from the Law of Change or run away from the sufferings and afflictions? According to Buddhism, false refuge means not to take refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. From the beginningless time, we had taken refuge in momentary and transitory pleasures with the hope to find some satisfaction in these pleasures. We consider them as a way out of our depression and boredom, only end up with other sufferings and afflictions. When the Buddha talked about “taking refuge”, he wanted to advise us to break out of such desperate search for satisfaction. Taking true refuge involves a changing of our attitude; it comes from seeing the ultimate worthlessness of the transitory phenomena we are ordinarily attached to. When we see clearly the unsatisfactory nature of the things we have been chasing after, we should determine to take refuge in the Triple Gem. The Benefits of a true refuge. Devout Buddhists, especially laypeople, should try to understand the Four Noble Truths because the more we have the understanding of the Four Noble Truths, the more we respect the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sacred Disciples of the Buddha. Of course we all respect the Buddha, but all of us should gain a profound admiration for the Dharma too for at the time we do not have the Buddha, the Dharma is the true refuge for us, the lighthouse that guide us in our path of cultivation towards liberation. The process of “Taking refuge” is not a process that happens on the day of the ceremony of “Taking refuge”, or take place within just a few days, or a few years. It takes place not only in this very life, but also for many many aeons in the future. Devout Buddhists should always see that the only great avenue to Buddhahood is taking refuge in the Triratna without any exception! Besides, there are still other benefits of taking refuge include the followings: first, we become a Buddhist; second, we can destroy all previously accumulated karma; third, we will easily accumulate a huge amount of merit; fourth, we will seldom be bothered by the harmful actions of others; fifth, we will not fall to the lower realms; sixth, we will effortlessly achieve our goal in the path of cultivation; and lastly, it is a matter of time, we will soon be enlightened.

Chapter 67. Cultivation of Four Kinds of Mindfulness

Some forty such meditations of mindfulness are given in the Visuddha-Magga: four ‘measureless meditations, ten impurities, four formless states, ten universals, ten remembrances, one sign, and one mental reflex. Four kinds of mindfulness is also called four meditations, or four objects on which memory or thought should dwell. Four types of Buddhist meditation for eradicating illusions and attaining enlightenment. In other words, for Buddhist practitioners, four foundations of Mindfulness are four wonderful paths that can help practitioners advance to the Buddhahood. Hinayana calls these practices ‘basis of action’ (kammathana) which is one of the modes of analytical meditation.

First, Meditation and Full Realization on the Body: Also called the contemplation of the impurity of the body. Due to illusions, most of us think that our body is more valuable than any thing else. So it needs be provided with better foods and expensive clothes. Therefore, the ‘struggle for life’ has come into play. Life is no longer a peaceful place, but a battle field with greed, hatred, envy, arrogance, doubt, wrong views, killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying. Evil karma is gradually formed as a result. Earnest Buddhists should view the body (eye, ear, skin, hair, nose, tongue, mouth, anus, etc) is unclean (Quán thân bất tịnh) which covered with a bag of skin, inside are flesh, fat, bone, blood, mucus and waste matters of which no one wishes to touch. The body itself, if not being washed frequently with fragrant water and soap, no one wants to stay close to it. In addition, it is prone to decay minute after minute, second after second. If we stop breathing, what is the body called if not a corpse? During the first day, its color is changing. A few days later, it becomes bluish and produces offensive odor. At this time, even if that disintegrated body once was the most beautiful woman or a handsome man, no one wants to be close to it. Earnest Buddhist should always contemplate that the body is unclean. This contemplation is designed to cure greed, attachment, selfishness, and arrogance. Also, when people realize that they are physically and biologically the same, they would easily understand, tolerate and compassionate among themselves and others. The discrimination against the aging, people with disabilities, and the other race would be diminished. As we see above, through contemplation we see that our body is not clean. It is viewed as a skinned bag containing dirty trash that will soon be disintegrated. Therefore, we must not become attached to it. The nature of our bodies and minds are impure which is neither holy nor beautiful. From psychological and physiological standpoint, human beings are impure. This is not negative or pessimistic. Objectively speaking, if we examine the constituents of our bodies from the hair, blood, pus, excrement, urine, intestines, liver, and stomach, etc., they are dwelling places for many bacteria. Many diseases are awaiting for the opportunity to develop. In fact, our bodies are impure and subject to decay. The body as an abode of mindfulness. Contemplation of the impurity of the body, or to contemplate the body as impure. Midfulness of the body as impure and utterly filthy (consider the body is impure). This negates the idea of “Purity.”. Here a monk abides contemplating body as body, ardent, clearly aware and mindful, having put aside hankering and fretting for the world.

Second, Meditation and Full Realization on the Evils of Sensations: Also called the contemplation of sensations is suffering. No matter they are painful, joyous, or indifferent sensations. To view all the feelings are painful. There are three kinds of feelings: pleasures, pain and neutral ones; however, according to Buddha’s teaching, all feelings are painful because they are impermanent, transcient, ungraspable, and therefore, they are unreal, illusive and deceptive. (Quán thọ thị khổ). Furthermore, when you accept something from others, naturally, you have to do something else for them in return. It might cost you more than what you have accepted. However, we can easily refuse material things, but the hardest thing to escape is our own feelings. Feeling is a form of acceptance that most of us could easily be trapped. It is very subtle, but its effect is so destructible. We usually feel whatever conveyed to us by the six senses. For example, hearing someone bad-mouth on us, we feel angry at once. Seeing something profitable, we readily feel greedy. After all, if we don’t cultivate, greed and angry are two uncontrollable agents which dominate and overwhelm our daily activities. To contemplate all the feelings are painful will gradually assist us to keep the feelings under control as well as to purify our mind; and as a result, provide us the joy and peace. We experience good and bad feelings from our five senses. But good feelings never last long; and sooner or later they will disappear. Only bad feelings remain from which we will suffer. Nothing in the universe can exist independently or permanently. All things including bodies of human beings are composed of four elements: earth, water, fire, and air. When there is a harmonious relationship among these four elements, there is peace. When the four elements are not in harmony, there is suffering. Feelings as an abode of mindfulness, or to contemplate all feelings or sensations lead to suffering, or mindfulness of feeling as the cause of suffering. Sensation or consciousness as always resulting in suffering (receiving is self-binding, consider feelings or the senses as a source of suffering). This negates the idea of “Joy.” Here a monk abides contemplating feelings as feelings, ardent, clearly aware and mindful, having put aside hankering. According to the Satipatthanasutta, contemplation of feelings or sensations means to be mindful of our feeling, including pleasant, unpleasant and indifferent or neutral. When experiencing a pleasant feeling we should know that it is a pleasant feeling because we are mindful of the feeling. The same with regard to all other feelings. We try to experience each feeling as it really is. Generally, we are depressed when we are experiencing unpleasant feelings and are elated by pleasant feelings. Contemplation of feelings or sensations will help us to experience all feelings with a detached outlook, with equanimity and avoid becoming a slave to sensations. Through the contemplation of feelings, we also learn to realize that there is only a feeling, a sensation. That feeling or sensation itself is not lasting and there is no permanent entity or “self” that feels. According to the Satipatthana Sutta in the Majjhima Nikaya, the Buddha taught “How, Bhikkhus, does a Bhikkhu abide contemplating feelings as feelings? Here, when feeling a pleasant feeling, a Bhikkhu understands: ‘I feel a pleasant feeling;’ when feeling a painful feeling, he understands: ‘I feel a painful feling;’ when feeling a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, he understands: ‘I feel a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling.’ When feeling a worldly pleasant feeling, he understands: ‘I feel a worldly pleasant feling;’ when feeling an unworldly pleasant feling, he understands: ‘I feel an unworldly pleasant feeling;’ when feeling a worldly painful feeling, he understands: ‘I feel a worldly painful feeling;’ when feeling an unworldly painful feeling, he understands: ‘I feel an unworldly painful feeling;’ when feeling a worldly neither-painful-nor pleasant feeling, he understands: ‘I feel a worldly neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling;’ when feeling an unworldly neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, he understands: ‘I feel an unworldly neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling.’ In this way he abides contemplating feelings as feelings internally, or he abides contemplating feelings as feelings externally, or he abides contemplating feelings as feelings both internally and externally. Or else he abides contemplating in feelings their arising factors, or he abides contemplating in feelings their vanishing factors, or he abides contemplating in feelings both their arising and vanishing factors.

Or else, mindfulness that ‘there is feeling’ is simply established in him to the extent necessary for bare knowledge and mindfulness. And, he abides independent, not clinging to anything in the world. That is how a Bhikkhu abides contemplating feelings as feelings.” Cultivation on the Senasations means meditation and full realization on the evils of sensations, no matter they are painful, joyous, or indifferent sensations. We experience good and bad feelings from our five senses. But good feelings never last long; and sooner or later they will disappear. Only bad feelings remain from which we will suffer. Nothing in the universe can exist independently or permanently. All things including bodies of human beings are composed of four elements: earth, water, fire, and air. When there is a harmonious relationship among these four elements, there is peace. When the four elements are not in harmony, there is suffering. Feelings as an abode of mindfulness, or to contemplate all feelings or sensations lead to suffering, or mindfulness of feeling as the cause of suffering. Sensation or consciousness as always resulting in suffering (receiving is self-binding. Consider feelings or the senses as a source of suffering). This negates the idea of “Joy.” Here a monk abides contemplating feelings as feelings, ardent, clearly aware and mindful, having put aside hankering and fretting for the world.

Third, Meditation and Full Realization on the Mind: Also called the contemplation of evanescence or impermanence of mind and thoughts (contemplating the impermanence of the thought). To view the mind is transcient or impermanent. Most people think that their mind is not changed; therefore, they attach to whatever they think. They believe that what they think reflects the truth. Probably some of them would discover that their mind is changing, but they refuse to accept it. Buddhist practitioners should always contemplate their wholesome and unwholesome minds, they are all subject to rising and destroying. They have no real entity. In sitting meditation, one will have the chance to recognize the facts that the mind keeps jumping in a fast speed as pictures on a movie screen. The body, therefore, always feels restless and eager to react on the thinking pulses. That is why people are rarely calm down or experiencing true happiness. Earnest Buddhists should always remember that the mind does not have any “real entity” to itself. It changes from second to second. That’s why the Buddha viewed the mind of an ordinary person is like a swinging monkey, the wind, lightning or a drop of morning dew. This contemplation helps the practitioners see that everything is changed so that the practitioners will have the ability to eliminate attachment to what they think. Impermanence is the key nature of all things. From moment to moment, all things in this universe, including human’s bodies and minds are in constant transformation. Everything passes through a period of birth, maturity, transformation and destruction. Mind as an abode of mindfulness, or mindfulness of the mind as impermanent, or to contemplate the mind as impermanent. Ordinary mind is impermanent, merely one sensation after another (mind is everchanging, consider the mind to be a constant state of flux). This negates the idea of “Permanence.” Here a monk abides contemplating mind as mind, ardent, clearly aware and mindful, having put aside hankering and fretting for the world. However, on what mind do we have to contemplate? According to the Siksasamuccaya Sutra, the Buddha taught: “Cultivator searches all around for this thought. But what thought? Is it the passionate, hateful or confused one? Or is it the past, future, or present one? The past one no longer exists, the future one has not yet arrived, and the present one has no stability. In the Satipatthana Sutta in the Majjhima Nikaya, the Buddha taught: “For thought, Kasyapa, cannot be apprehended, inside, or outside, or in between. For thought is immaterial, invisible, nonresisting, inconceivable, unsupported, and non-residing. Thought has never been seen by any of the Buddhas, nor do they see it, nor will they see it. And what the Buddhas never see, how can that be observable process, except in the sense that dharmas proceed by the way of mistaken perception? Thought is like a magical illusion; by an imagination of what is actually unreal it takes hold of a manifold variety of rebirths. A thought is like the stream of a river, without any staying power; as soon as it is produced it breaks up and disappears. A thought is like a flame of a lamp, and it proceeds through causes and conditions. A thought is like lightning, it breaks up in a moment and does not stay on…

Searching thought all around, cultivator does not see it in the skandhas, or in the elements, or in the sense-fields. Unable to see thought, he seeks to find the trend of thought, and asks himself: “Whence is the genesis of thought?” And it occurs to him that “where is an object, there thought arises.” Is then the thought one thing and the object another? No, what is the object that is just the thought. If the object were one thing and the thought another, then there would be a double state of thought. So the object itself is just thought. Can then thought review thought? No, thought cannot review thought. As the blade of a sword cannot cut itself, so can a thought not see itself. Moreover, vexed and pressed hard on all sides, thought proceeds, without any staying power, like a monkey or like the wind. It ranges far, bodiless, easily changing, agitated by the objects of sense, with the six sense-fields for its sphere, connected with one thing after another. The stability of thought, its one-pointedness, its immobility, its undistraughtness, its one-pointed calm, its nondistraction, that is on the other hand called mindfulness as to thought. In short, the contemplation of mind speaks to us of the importance of following and studying our own mind, of being aware of arising thoughts in our mind, including lust, hatred, and delusion which are the root causes of all wrong doing. In the contemplation of mind, we know through mindfulness both the wholesome and unwholesome states of mind. We see them without attachment or aversion. This will help us understand the real function of our mind. Therefore, those who practice contemplation of mind constantly will be able to learn how to control the mind. Contemplation of mind also helps us realize that the so-called “mind” is only an ever-changing process consisting of changing mental factors and that there is no abiding entity called “ego” or “self.” According to the Satipatthana Sutta in the Majjhima Nikaya, the Buddha taught: “Bhikkhus, doeas a Bhikhu abide contemplating mind as mind? Here a Bhikhu understands mind affected by lust as mind affected by lust, and mind unaffected by lust as mind unaffected by lust. He understands mind affected by hate as mind affected by hate, and mind unaffected by hate as mind unaffected by hate. He understands mind affected by delusion as mind affected by delusion, and mind unaffected by delusion as mind unaffected by delusion. He understands contracted mind as contracted mind, and distracted mind as distracted mind. He understands exalted mind as exalted mind, and unexalted mind as unexalted mind. He understands surpassed mind as surpassed mind, and unsurpassed mind as unsurpassed mind. He understands concentrated mind as concentrated mind, and unconcentrated mind as unconcentrated mind. He understands liberated mind as liberated mind, and unliberated mind as unliberated mind. In this way he abides contemplating mind as mind internally, or he abides contemplating mind as mind externally, or he abides contemplating mind as mind both internally and externally. Or else, he abides contemplating in mind its arising factors, or he abides contemplating in mind its vanishing factors, or he abides contemplating in mind both its arising and vanishing factors. Or else mindfulness that ‘there is mind’ is simply established in him to the extent necessary for bare knowledge and mindfulness. And he abides independent, not clinging to anything in the world. That is how a Bhikkhu abides contemplating mind as mind.”

Fourth, Contemplation of Mental Objects: “Contemplation of mind-objects” means meditation and full realization on the transiency selflessness of all elements (contemplating that all the dharmas are without their own nature). The contemplation of mental objects or mind contents means to be mindful on all essential dharmas. The contemplation of mental objects is not mere thinking or deliberation, it goes with mindfulness in discerning mind objects as when they arise and cease. For example, when there is a sense dersire arising, we immediately know that a sense desire is arising in us; when a sense desire is present, we immediately know that a sense desire is present in us; when a sense desire is ceasing, we immediately know that a sense desire is ceasing. In other words, when there is sense desire in us, or when sense desire is absent, we immediately know or be mindful that there is sense desire or no sense desire in us. We should always be mindful with the same regard to the other hindrances, as well as the five aggregates of clinging (body or material form, feelings, perception, mental formation, and consciousness). We should also be mindful with the six internal and six external sense-bases. Through the contemplation of mental factors on the six internal and external sense-bases, we know well the eye, the visible form and the fetter that arises dependent on both the eye and the form. We also know well the ear, sounds, and related fetters; the nose, smells and related fetters; the tongue and tastes; the body and tactile objects; the mind and mind objects, and know well the fetter arising dependent on both. We also know the ceasing of the fetter. Similarly, we discern the seven factors of enlightenment, and the Four Noble Truths, and so on. Thus we live mindfully investigating and understanding the mental objects. We live independent, clinging to nothing in the world. Our live is totally free from any attachments. Zen practitioners must contemplate to see that everything is without-self and has no real nature. Everything in the world, either physical or mental, is depend upon each other to function or survive. They are not free from one another or free to act on theirowns, on their own will. They do not have a “self.” They are not capable of being self-existed. A human body is composed of billions of cells that depend on one another; one cell dies will effect so many other cells. Similarly, a house, a car, a road, a mountain, or a river all are compounded, not being self-existed. Everything, therefore, is a combination of other things. For instance, without nutritious foods, water, and fresh air, this body will certainly be reduced to a skeleton and eventually disintegrated. Thus the Buddha taught: “All existents are selfless, empty, and impermanent.” Practitioners who always contemplate ‘the dharma is without-self,’ they should become more humble and likable. In fact, everything has no real nature, they are only a combination of the four elements, and each element is empty and without a self of itself, thus everything is without a self. Dharmas (real things and phenomena) as an abode of mindfulness, or mindfulness of dharmas as dependent, without self-entity, or to contemplate all things as being dependent, without self-nature or self-identity. All phenomena lack self-nature. There is no such thing as an ego. Things in general as being dependent and without a nature of their own (things are composed and egoless: consider everything in the world as being a consequence of causes and conditions and that nothing remains unchanged forever). This negates the idea of “Personality.” Here a monk abides contemplating monf-objects as mind-objects, ardent, clearly aware and mindful, having put aside hankering and fretting for the world.

According to Majjhima Nikaya and Digha Nikaya, the Buddha taught: “Bhiksus! Whoever should be able to develop these Four Foundations of mindfulness for seven years, one of these two fruits may be expected by him: ‘either Arahantship in this life or the state of Non-returning in the future. Bhiksus! Let alone 7 years. Should anyone be able to develop these Four Foundations of mindfulness for six years, five years, four years, three years, two years, one year... then one of the two above mentioned fruits may also be expected by him. Bhiksus! Let alone one year. Should anyone be able to develop these Four Foundations of mindfulness for seven months, six months... half a month, then one of the two above mentioned fruits may also be expected by him. Bhiksus! Let alone half a month. Should anyone be able to develop these Four Foundations of mindfulness for a week, then one of the two above mentioned fruits may also be expected by him. This is the only way, Bhiksus, for the purification of beings, for the overcoming of sorrow and lamentation, for the destruction of suffering and grief, for winning the right path, for realizing Nirvana, namely, the Four Foundations of mindfulness.”

Chapter 68. Cultivation of Six Paramitas

According to the Sanskrit language, Paramita means crossing-over. Six Paramitas mean the six things that ferry one beyond the sea of mortality to nirvana. Six paramitas are six stages of spiritual perfection followed by any Buddhist practitioner on his or her path that advances to Buddhahood or the progress to Buddhahood. The six virtues of perfection are not only characteristic of Mahayana Buddhism in many ways, they also contain virtues commonly held up as cardinal by all religious systems. They consist of the practice and highest possible development. Thus, practicing the six paramitas will lead the practitioner to cross over from the shore of the unenlightened to the dock of enlightenment. Devout Buddhists always know that the Six Paramitas are the basic methods of cultivation for a Buddhist, but we do not try to practice them. To meet anyone at anywhere we always talk about the Six Perfections, but when the situation comes, we do not want to practice giving, we do not keep the precepts, we cannot tolerate any circumstances, we are not vigorous, we do not set aside time to practice meditation, and as a result, we can not use real wisdom to conduct our daily activities. So, what is the use of the cultivation of outside appearance? There are people who do not want to give out a cent; on the contrary, they demand others to give to them, the more the better. They always want to gain the advantage and not take a loss. We all know that holding precepts means keeping the precepts that the Buddha taught, but when states come, we break the precepts instead of keeping them. Although we all know that patience can take us to the other shore, but when we meet a difficult situation, we can never be patient. Everyone wants to be vigorous, but only vigorous in worldly businesses, not in cultivation. We all know that we should meditate to concentrate our mind so that wisdom can manifest, but we only talk and never practice. For these reasons, the Buddha taught the Six Perfections: giving means to give wealth or Buddhadharma to others, holding precepts means to keep the precepts that the Buddha taught and to refrain from wrong-doings, patience means to patiently endure the things that do not turn out the way we wish them to, vigor means to be vigorous in cultivation, meditation means to concentrate our mind until there are no more idle thoughts, and wisdom enables us to reach the other shore and end birth and death.

Chapter 69. Cultivation of Four Immeasurable Minds

In fact, there are a lot of small virtues that practitioners need to prepare before and during cultivation in Buddhism. Practitioners should cultivate to a point that they would be happy with other’s success and sympathy with other’s miseries. They would keep themselves modest when achieving success. However, the Buddha pointed out four immeasurable minds. The immeasurable mind is the mind that is inconceivably large. These four immeasurable minds are not only benefit immeasurable living beings, bringing immeasurable blessings to them, and producing immeasurable highly spiritual attainments in a world, in one life, but also spreads all over immeasurable worlds, in immeasurable future lives, shaping up immeasurable Buddha. The four immeasurables or infinite Buddha-states of mind or four kinds of boundless mind, or four divine abodes. These states are called illimitables because they are to be radiated towards all living beings without limit or obstruction. They are also called brahmaviharas or divine abodes, or sublime states, because they are the mental dwellings of the brahma divinities in the Brahma-world.

It was the spirit of love and compassion taught by the Buddha that touched the heart of King Asoka, the great Buddhist Emperor of India in the third century B.C. Before he became a Buddhist he was a warlike monarch like his father, King Bimbisara, and his grandfather, King Candragupta. Wishing to extend his territories he invaded and conquered Kalinga. In this war thousands were slain, while many more were wounded and taken captive. Later, however, when he followed the Buddha’s creed of compassion he realized the folly of killing. He felt very sad when he thought of the great slaughter, and gave up warfare. He is the only military monarch on record who after victory gave up conquest by war and inaugurated conquest by righteousness. As his Rock Edict XIII says, ‘he sheathed the sword never to unsheath it, and wish no harm to living beings.’ The spread of the Buddha’s creed of compassion throughout the Eastern world was largely due to the enterprise and tireless efforts of Asoka the Great. The Buddha-law made Asia mild and non-aggressive. However, modern civilization is pressing hard on Asian lands. It is known that with the rise and development of the so-called civilization, man’s culture deteriorates and he changes for the worse. With the match of modern science very many changes have taken place, and all these changes and improvements, being material and external, tend to make modern man more and more worldly minded and sensuous with the result that he neglects the qualities of the mind, and becomes self-interested and heartless. The waves of materialism seem to influence mankind and affect their way of thinking and living. People are so bound by their senses, they live so exclusively in the material world that they fail to contact the good within. Only the love and compassion taught by the Buddha can establish complete mental harmony and well-being.

Practitioners should always observe these four immeasurable minds, for they are four excellent virtues conducive to noble living. They banish selfishness and disharmony and promote altruism with other beings, unity in the family, and good brotherhood in communities. In meditation practice, they are four minds of deliverance, for through them we can recognize the good of others. Therefore, the four immeasurable minds can also be considered as excellent subjects of meditation, through them practitioners can develop more sublime states. By cultivating these noble virtues, practitioners can maintain a calm and pure mind. The meditation method of self-analysis, self-reflection, and self-discovery should never be taken to imply that we are to shut ourselves off from communion with our fellow men. To follow the way of meditation is not to become isolated in a cage or cell, but to become free and open in our relations with our fellow beings. The search for self-realization always has its counterpart the development of a new way of relating to others, a way imbued with compassion, love and sympathy with all that live.

Mind of Immeasureable Loving-Kindness: Kindness, benevolence, one of the principal Buddhist virtues. Maitri is a benevolence toward all beings that is free from attachment. Maitri can be devloped gradually through meditation, first toward persons who are close to us, then to others, and at last to those who are indifferent and ill-disposed to us, for the mind of loving-kindness is the wish for the welfare and happiness of all beings. In the Dhammapada Sutta, the Buddha taught: “Hatred does not cease by hatred, hatred ceases only by love.” In fact, compassion and loving-kindness are the utmost importance for human beings, for despite our strivings towards self-sufficiency, it remains a fact that people need one another. No man is an island at all. An island can exist alone in the sea, but a man cannot live alone. We need each other, and we must come to regard one another as friends and helpers whom we can look toward for mutual support. All men, as the doctrine of rebirth implies, are really brothers to each other, literally members of the big family, for in the repeated round of rebirth there is not one man or woman who has not at some time in the past been our father or mother, our sister or brother. Therefore we must learn to love each other, to respect each other, to protect each other, and to give to the other what we would have for ourselves. To practice meditation is to train ourself to eliminate hatred, anger, and selfishness and to develop loving-kindness toward all. We have our physical bodies and our own lives, but still we can live in harmony with each other and help each other to the best of our ability. In Buddhism, loving kindness is the greatest love toward all sentient beings. Immeasurable loving kindness is the greatest love dedicated to all sentient beings, together with the desire to bring them joy and happiness. Practitioners should be on permanent guard against the so-called ‘carnal love disguised as loving-kindness’, it is only one of the human joys. Human joy is totally impermanent; it is governed by misery, that is, when our passions such as greed, anger, and ignorance are satisfied, we feel pleased; but when they are not satisfied, we feel sad. To have a permanent joy, we must first sever all sufferings. Loving kindness generally goes together with pity whose role is to help the subjects sever his sufferings, while the role of loving kindness is to save sentient beings from sufferings and to bring them joy. However, loving-kindness is not an inborn characterictic. If we really want to develop our loving-kindness, we have to devote more time to practice. Sitting in meditation alone cannot bring us the so-called “loving-kindness.” In order to achieve the loving-kindness, we must put loving-kindness in actions in our daily life. In our daily activities, we must develop empathy and closeness to others by reflecting on their sufferings. For example, when we know someone suffering, we should try our best to console them by kind words or to help them with our worldly possessions if needed. To respond to immeasurable human sufferings, we should have immeasurable loving kindness. To accomplish the heart of immeasurable loving kindness, practitioners have developed their immeasurable loving kindness by using all means to save mankind. They act so according to two factors, specific case and specific time. Specific case, like the physician who gives a prescription according to the specific disease, the Bodhisattva shows us how to put an end to our sufferings. Specific time means the teachings must always be relevant to the era, period and situation of the sufferers and their needs. The Contemplation of the Mind Sutra teaches that we must avoid four opportune cases: What we say is not at the right place, what we say is not in the right time, what we say is not relevant to the spiritual level of the subject, and what we say is not the right Buddhist Dharma. Meditation on the “Loving-kindness” is cultivating to attain a mind that bestows joy or happiness. Immeasurable Love, a mind of great kindness, or infinite loving-kindness. Boundless kindness (tenderness), or bestowing of joy or happiness. Here, a practitioner, with a heart filled with loving-kindness. Thus he stays, spreading the thought of loving-kindness above, below, and across, everywhere, always with a heart filled with loving-kindness, abundant, magnified, unbounded, without hatred or ill-will. The loving-kindness is also the wish for the welfare and happiness of all living beings. It helps to eliminate ill-will. The powers of Loving-kindness is the Temporal Happiness and the Energy for Meditation Practices. Love has the power of bestowing temporal happiness upon us in this lifetime. Without love, people in this world will encounter a lot of problems (anger, hatred, jealousy, envy, arrogance, etc). A Buddhist should develop love for all sentient beings and to cherish others more than oneself. Love should be given equally to everyone including relatives or strangers, friends or foes, given without any conditions, without self-interests or attachment.

Mind of Immeasureable Compassion: Immeasurable Compassion means sympathy, or pity (compassion) for another in distress and desire to help him or to deliver others from suffering out of pity. The compassion is selfless, non-egoistic and based on the principle of universal equality. ‘Karuna’ means pity or compassion. In Pali and Sanskrit, ‘Karuna’ is defined as ‘the quality which makes the heart of the good man tremble and quiver at the distress of others.’ The quality that rouses tender feelings in the good man at the sight of others’ suffering. Cruelty, violence is the direct enemy of ‘karuna’. Though the latter may appear in the guise of a friend, it is not true ‘karuna’, but falsely sympathy; such sympathy is deceitful and one must try to distinguish true from false compassion. The compassionate man who refrains from harming and oppressing others and endeavors to relieve them of their distress, gives the gift of security to one and all, making no distinction whatsoever. To be kind does not mean to be passive. “Karuna” in Buddhism means compassionate, and compassionate does not mean to allow others to walk all over you, to allow yourself to be destroyed. We must be kind to everybody, but we have to protect ourselves and protect others. If we need to lock someone up because he is dangerous, then we have to do that. But we have to do it with compassion. Our motivation is to prevent that person from continuing his course of destruction and from feeding his anger. For practitioners, compassion can help refraining from pride and selfishness. Immeasurable Compassion, a mind of great pity, or infinite compassion. Boundless pity, to save from suffering. Here a practitioner, with a heart filled with compassion. Thus he stays, spreading the thought of compassion, above, below, across, everywhere, always with a heart filled with compassion, abundant, magnified, unbounded, without hatred or ill-will. Compassion also makes the heart quiver when other are subject to suffering. It is the wish to remove the suffering of others, and it is opposed to cruelty. Once we have fully developed compassion, our mind will be full with altruistic thoughts, and we automatically pledge to devote ourselves to freeing others from the the suffering. In addition, compassion also enables us to refrain from pride and selfishness. Compassion means wishing others be freed from problems and pain that they have undergone or are undergoing. Compassion is different from pity and other conscending attitudes. Compassion recognizes ourselves and others as equal in terms of wanting happiness and wanting to be free from misery, and enables us to help them with as much ease as we now help ourselves. “Active Compassion,” one of the most important and the outstanding quality of all Buddhas and bodhisattvas; it is also the motivation behind their pursuit of awakening. Compassion extends itself without distinction to all sentient beings. “Karuna” refers to an attitude of active concern for the sufferings of other sentient bengs. Practitioners must cultivate or increase compassion via wisdom (prajna). In Theravada, it is one of the four “immeasurables.” It involves developing a feeling of sympathy for countless sentient beings. According to the Mahayana Buddhism, compassion itself is insuffient, and it is said to be inferior to the “great compassion” of Bodhisattvas, which extends to all sentient beings, and this must be accompanied by wisdom to approach enlightenment. Thus, practitioners must train both “karuna” and “prajna,” with each balancing and enhancing the other. Karuna or compassion is one of the most important entrances to the great enlightenment; for with it, we do not kill or harm living beings.

Compassion means wishing others be freed from problems and pain that they have undergone or are undergoing. Compassion is different from pity and other conscending attitudes. Compassion recognizes ourselves and others as equal in terms of wanting happiness and wanting to be free from misery, and enables us to help them with as much ease as we now help ourselves. Immeasurable Compassion, a mind of great pity, or infinite compassion. Here a monk, with a heart filled with compassion. Thus he stays, spreading the thought of compassion, above, below, across, everywhere, always with a heart filled with compassion, abundant, magnified, unbounded, without hatred or ill-will. Compassion also makes the heart quiver when other are subject to suffering. It is the wish to remove the suffering of others, and it is opposed to cruelty. Bodhisattvas’ compassion is inconceivable. Bodhisattvas are enlightenment-beings, Buddhas-to-be, however, they vow to continue stay in this world for a long period of time. Why? For the good of others, because they want to become capable of pulling others out of this great flood of sufferings and afflictions. But what personal benefit do they find in the benefit of others? To Bodhisattvas, the benefit of others is their own benefit, because they desire it that way. However, in saying so, who could believe that? It is true that some people devoid of pity and think only of themselves, find it hard to believe in the altruism of the Bodhisattvas. But compassionate people do so easily. Do we not see that certain people, confirmed in the absence of pity, find pleasure in the suffering of others, even when it is not useful to them? And we must admit that the Bodhisattvas, confirmed in pity, find pleasure in doing good to others without any egoistic preoccupation. Do we not see that certain, ignorant of the true nature of the conditioned Dharmas which constitute their so-called “Self”, attach themselves to these dharmas, as a result, they suffer pains and afflictions because of this attachment. While we must admit that the Bodhisattvas, detach themselves from the conditioned Dharmas, no longer consider these Dharmas as “I” or “Mine”, growing in pitying solicitude for others, and are ready to suffer pains for this solitude? Compassion is surely not a flabby state of mind. It is a strong enduring thing. When a person is in distress, it is truly compassionate man’s heart that trembles. This, however, is not sadness; it is this quacking of the heart that spurs him to action and incites him to rescue the distressed. And this needs strength of mind, much tolerance and equanimity. So, it is totally wrong to come to a hurry conclusion that compassion to be an expression of feebleness, because it has the quality of tenderness. The Buddhist conception of “Karuna” has no compromising limitations. All beings include even the tiniest creature that crawls at our feet. The Buddhist view of life is such that no living being is considered as outside the circle of “Metta and Karuna” which make no distinction between man, animal and insect, or between man and man, as, high and low, rich and poor, strong and weak, wise and unwise, dark and fair, Brahmin and Candala, and so forth; for “Metta and Karuna” are boundless and no sooner do we try to keep men apart on the false basis mentioned above, than the feeling of separateness creeps in and these boundless qualities become limited which is contrary to the teaching of the Buddha. We must be careful not to confuse compassion with morbid manifestations of sadness, with feelings of mental pain and with sentimentality. At the loss of a dear one, man weeps, but that is not compassion. If we analyze such feelings carefully we will conclude that they are outward manifestations of our inner thoughts of self affection. Why do we feel sad? Because our loved one has passed away. He who was our kin is now no more. We feel that we have lost the happiness and all else that we derived from him and so we are sad. Do we not see that all these feelings revolve round the ‘I’ and ‘Mine’? Whether we like it or not, self interest was responsible for it all. Can we call this ‘karuna’, pity or compassion? Why do we not feel equally sad when others who are not our kin pass away before our eyes? Because we were not familiar with them, they were not ours, we have not lost anything and are not denied the pleasures and comforts we already enjoy.

According to Most Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh in “Anger,” understanding and compassion are very powerful sources of energy. They are the opposite of stupidity and passivity. If you think that compassion is passive, weak, or cowardly, then you don’t know what real understanding or compassion is. If you think that compassionate people do not resist and challenge injustice, you are wrong. They are warriors, heroes, and heroines who have gained many victories. When you act with compassion, with non-violence, when you act on the basis of non-duality, you have to be very strong. You no longer act out of anger, you do not punish or blame. Compassion grows constantly inside of you, and you can succeed in your fight against injustice. Being compassion doesn’t mean suffering unnecessarily or losing your common sense. Suppose you are leading a group of people doing walking meditation, moving slowly and beautifully. The walking meditation generates a lot of energy; it embraces everyone with calm, solidity, and peace. But suddenly it begins to rain. Would you continue to walk slowly, letting yourself and everyone else get soaked? That’s not intelligent. If you are a good leader of the walking meditation, you will break into a jogging meditation. You still maintain the joy of the walking meditation. You can laugh and smile, and thus you prove that the practice is not stupid. You can also be mindful while running and avoid getting soaked. We have to practice in an intelligent way. Meditation is not a stupid act. Meditation is not just blindly following whatever the person next to you does. To meditate you have to be skillful and make good use of your intelligence. Practitioners should always remember that human beings are not our enemy. Our enemy is not the other person. Our enemy is the violence, ignorance, and injustice in us and in the other person. When we are armed with compassion and understanding, we fight not against other people, but against the tendency to invade, to dominate, and to exploit. We don’t want to kill others, but we will not let them dominate and exploit us or other people. We have to protect ourselves. We are not stupid. We are very intelligent, and we have insight. Being compassionate does not mean allowing other people to do violence to themselves or to us. Being compassionate means being intelligent. Non-violent action that springs from love can only be intelligent action. When we talk about compassion, altruism and about others’ well-being, we should not misunderstand that this means totally rejecting our own self-interest. Compassion and altruism is a result of a very strong state of mind, so strong that that person is capable of challenging the self-cherishing that loves only the self generation after generation. Compassion and altruism or working for the sake of others is one of the most important entrances to the great enlightenment; for with it, we do not blame others.

Mind of Immeasureable Inner Joy: Immeasurable Joy, a mind of great joy, or infinite joy. Boundless joy (gladness), on seeing others rescued from suffering. Here a cultivator, with a heart filled with sympathetic joy. Thus he stays, spreading the thought of sympathetic joy above, below, across, everywhere, always with a heart filled with sympathetic joy, abundant, magnified, unbounded, without hatred or ill-will. Appreciative joy is the quality of rejoicing at the success and prosperity of others. It is the congratulatory attitude, and helps to eliminate envy and discontent over the succes of others. Immeasurable inner joy also means to rejoyce in all good, to rejoice in the welfare of others, or to do that which one enjoys, or to follow one’s inclination. This is the fifth of the ten conducts and vows of Samantabhadra Bodhisattva. Rejoice at others’ merits and virtues means from the time of our initial resolve for all wisdom, we should diligently cultivate accumulation of blessings without regard for their bodies and lives, cultivate all the difficult ascetic practices and perfect the gates of various paramitas, enter bodhisattva grounds of wisdom and accomplish the unsurpassed Bodhi of all Buddhas. We should completely follow along with and rejoice in all of their good roots (big as well as small merits). Through meditation and study of the vicissitudes of life, practitioners can cultivate this sublime virtue of appreciating others’ happiness, welfare and progress. As a matter of fact, when we can rejoice with the joy of others, our minds get purified, serene and noble.

Mind of Perfect Equanimity: Mind of immeasurable detachment, one of the chief Buddhist virtues, that of renunciation, leading to a state of indifference without pleasure or pain, or independence of both. It is defined as the mind in equilibrium, i.e. above the distinction of things or persons, of self or others; indifferent, having abandoned the world and all things, and having no affections or desirs. Upeksa is one of the seven Bodhyangas. The Buddha taught: “If one wishes to penetrate into the profound realm of liberation of the Maha-Bodhisattvas, Buddhists must first be able to let go of all of the five desires of ordinary people.” According to the Vimalakirti Sutra, when Manjusri Bodhisattva called on to enquire after Upasaka Vimalakirti’s health, Manjusri asked Vimalakirti about “Upeksa”. Manjusri asked Vimalakirit: “What should be relinquish (upeksa) of a Bodhisattva?” Vimalakirti replied: “In his work of salvation, a Bodhisattva should expect nothing (i.e. no gratitude or reward) in return.” Detachment is the attitude of those who give up, forget, do not attach any importance for what they have done for the benefit of others. In general, we feel proud, self-aggrandized when we do something to help other people. Quarrels, conflicts, or clashes between men or groups of men are due to passions such as greed or anger whose source can be appraised as self-attachment or dharma-attachment. The Buddha taught that if there is someone who misjudges us, we must feel pity for him; we must forgive him in order to have peace in our mind. The Bodhisattvas have totally liberated themselves from both self-attachment and dharma-attachment. When people enjoy material or spiritual pleasures, the Bodhisattvas also rejoice, from their sense of compassion, pity, and inner joy. They always consider human beings as their benefactors who have created the opportunities for them to practice the Four Immeasurable Minds on their way to Enlightenment. In terms of the Immeasurable Detachment, the Bodhisattvas consider all men equal, the clever as the stupid, themselves as others, they do everything as they have done nothing, say everything as they have said nothing, attain all spiritual levels as they have attained nothing. Immeasurable Equanimity, a mind of great detachment, or infinite equanimity. Limitless indifference, such as rising above all emotions, or giving up all things. Here a practitioner, with a heart filled with equanimity. Thus he stays, spreading the thought of equanimity above, below, across, everywhere, always with a heart filled with equanimity, abundant, magnified, unbounded, without hatred or ill-will. Equanimity is also considered as a divine abode. It is the state of mind that regards others with impartiality, free from attachment and aversion. An impartial attitude is its chief characteristic, and it is opposed to favouritism and resentment. Mind of Equanimity helps practitioners to put aside two extremes of attachment and resentment. Through the mind of equnimity, practitioners always follow the Middole Path, neither attached to the pleasant nor repelled by hte unpleasant. Also through the mind of equanimity, practitioners’ mind can remain balanced without any temper, depression or anxiety. Equanimity plays a tremendous role for both in practice and in everyday life. Generally we get either swept away by pleasant and enticing objects, or worked up into a great state of agitation when confronted by unpleasant, undesirable objects. These hindrances are common among ordinary people. When we lack the ability to stay balanced and unfaltering, we are easily swept into extremes of craving or aversion. According to Zen Master U. Pandita in “In This Very Life”, there are five ways to develop Equanimity: Balanced emotion toward all living beings. The first and foremost is to have an equanimity attitude toward all living beings. These are your loved ones, including animals. We can have a lot of attachment and desire associated with people we love, and also with our pets. To prepare the ground for equnimity to arise, we should try to cultivate an attitude of nonattachment and equnimity toward the people and animals we love. As worldly people, it may be necessary to have a certain amount of attachment in relationships, but excessive attachments is destructive to us as well as to loved ones. Balanced emotion toward inanimate things. To prepare the ground for equnimity to arise, we should also try to adopt an attitude of balance toward inanimate things, such as property, clothing. All of them will decay and perish because everything in this world must be subject to the law of impermanence. Avoiding people who are so attached to people and things. These people have a deep possessiveness, clinging to what they think belongs to them, both people and things. Some people find it is difficult to see another person enjoying or using their property. Choosing friends who do not have many attachments or possessions. Inclining the mind toward the state of equnimity. When the mind is focusing in the development of equnimity, it will not have time to wander off to thoughts of worldly business any more.

Chapter 70. Cultivation of Ten Good Actions

Good karma created by wholesome path such as practicing of the five precepts and the ten wholesome deeds, which will result in happiness. Good karmas are deeds that lead to birth in the Pure Land. According to the Dharmapada Sutra, verse 183, the Buddha taught: Not to do evil, to do good, to purify one’s mind, this is the teaching of the Buddhas.” Kusala karmas or good deeds will help a person control a lot of troubles arising from his mind. Inversely, if a person does evil deeds he will receive bad results in this life and the next existence which are suffering. Zen Master Philip Kapleau wrote in the Awakening to Zen:

“In classical Buddhism, actions are not termed ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ but rather ‘skillful’ or ‘unskillful.’ Skillful actions are those that arise from an awareness of Unity, or nonseparation. Such actions, not overly bound by attachment to thoughts of self and other, are spontaneous, wise, and compassionate. Unskillful actions, on the other hand, grow out of the unwholesome roots of greed, hatred or anger, and delusion. As the primary delusion is that of self and other, thoughts and actions that arise from such condition of separation, of separateness we might say, tend to be reactive and self-protective. They can hardly form the basis of skillful life, that is, creative and fullfilling. For example, think of the first item of good character: not to kill but to cherish all life. It is not possible to commit murder unless the thought to take a life has arisen. One must have already seen a person as separate from oneself and one’s own self-interest to conceive of him or her as someone to be killed. Out of this seed of separation, this thought in the mind, the deed can happen. Killing is the outward expression of a mind dominated by separation, specifically by anger or hatred. Deeds are thoughts made manifest. From unskillful thoughts, unskillful or pain-producing acts arise. Almost all action proceeds from thought.”

Buddhist practitioner should always remember that a wholesome (good) cause will produce a wholesome result (good fruit). In Buddhism, a good man is an honest man, especially one who always believes in Buddhist ideas of causality and lives a good life. The Buddha always reminded his disciples in the four assemblies that the only way for the beginners of the Path Leading to Buddhahood is cultivating the ten good actions. According to the Mahayana Buddhism, there are ten meritorious deeds, or the ten paths of good action. First, to abstain from killing, but releasing beings is good; second, to abstain from stealing, but giving is good; third, to abstain from sexual misconduct, but being virtuous is good; fourth, to abstain from lying, but telling the truth is good; fifth, to abstain from speaking double-tongued (two-faced speech), but telling the truth is good; sixth, to abstain from hurtful words (abusive slander), but speaking loving words is good; seventh, to abstain from useless gossiping, but speaking useful words; eighth, to abstain from being greedy and covetous; ninth, to abstain from being angry, but being gentle is good; tenth, to abstain from being attached (devoted) to wrong views, but understand correctly is good. According to Hinayana Buddhism, according to Most Venerable Narada, there are ten kinds of good karma or meritorious actions which may ripen in the sense-sphere. Generosity or charity which yields wealth; morality gives birth in noble families and in states of happiness; meditation gives birth in realms of form and formless realms; reverence is the cause of noble parentage; service produces larger retinue; transference of merit acts as a cause to give in abundance in future births; rejoicing in other’s merit is productive of joy wherever one is born, rejoicing in other’s merit is also getting praise to oneself; hearing the dhamma is conductive to wisdom; expounding the dhamma is also conducive to wisdom; taking the three refuges results in the destruction of passions, straightening one’s own views and mindfulness is conducive to diverse forms of happiness. As a matter of fact, staying with good people and doing good things is like walking through morning dew. You will not feel the wetness of the dew, yet gradually it will penetrate your skin. On the contrary, staying with mean and wicked people, you can only develop wrong views to do evil things and create negative karma. Soon you will be acquired and revolved in the three evil paths. According to the Vimalakirti Sutra, chapter ten, the Buddha of the Fragrant Land, Vimalakirti said to Bodhisattvas of the Fragrant Land as follows: “As you have said, the Bodhisattvas of this world have strong compassion, and their lifelong works of salvation for all living beings surpass those done in other pure lands during hundreds and thousands of aeons. Why? Because they achieved ten excellent deeds which are not required in other pure lands.” What are these ten excellent deeds? They are: using charity (dana) to succour the poor; using precept-keeping (sila) to help those who have broken the commandments; using patient endurance (ksanti) to subdue their anger; using zeal and devotion (virya) to cure their remissness; using serenity (dhyana) to stop their confused thoughts; using wisdom (prajna) to wipe out ignorance;putting an end to the eight distressful conditions for those suffering from them; teaching Mahayana to those who cling to Hinayana; cultivation of good roots for those in want of merits; and using the four Bodhisattva winning devices for the purpose of leading all living beings to their goals (in Bodhisattva development).

The layman Sasaki Doppo studied Zen with Ganseki. He later recounted how he had asked his teacher, “What is Buddha?” Ganseki replied, “The good heart is Buddha.” The layman added, “What is most basic in the human world is a good heart. Therefore the normal mind is called the Way.” He also expressed these ideas in a verse on Shinto, the Spirit Religion:

“The defilement known as taboo
is made up by the human mind;
people who know the divine mind
are themselves divine.”

He also wrote another verse,

“The sun my eyes, the sky my face,
My breath the wind, mountains and
rivers turn out to be me.”


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