Picture source: flickr.com
by Ven Dharmakara Boda, The Buddhist Channel, Feb 23, 2008
Los Angeles, CA (USA) -- There are few expressions which capture the essence of Madhyamika Buddhism better than "fording the stream and returning to it with equal measure".
All of the teachings throughout the history of the Buddhism, from Siddhartha Gautama to the present day, are a part of that stream, countless keys to countless Dharma Doors which call out to us to "ford the stream" and learn from those who have walked the path before us.
On March 18, 2006, in commemoration of the 1,500th anniversary of the dedication of the original Ashrama Vihara in Bangladesh to the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, the regents of the Mahabodhi Sunyata Seminario de Espana in Tarragona, Spain, and lineage holders of the Chan Ssu Lun tradition, entered that proverbial "stream" and re-established the Avaivartika Order of Ashrama Vihara as a contribution to the United Nations' International Decade of a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World.
While the Affirmation which appears below is an excerpt from the pravrajya ordination of the Avaivartika Order and contains the Four Great Vows, as well as the proper understanding and practice of the Bodhisattva Dharma, it is not meant to take the place of receiving the vows and instruction from a qualified teacher. With that said, it has always been an acceptable practice throughout the history of the Buddhist tradition to voluntarily undertake this way of life, especially when a qualified teacher is not available.
The principle that there is no distinction between doctrine and practice constitutes the basis of all Buddhist thought, no matter how much it may be lost in sectarian Buddhist ideas.
The Buddhist spiritual experience will reveal itself neither to the scholar nor to the conversationalist, but only to the man or woman who makes the central conceptions of Buddhist thought the basis of their mental activity, the subject of their deepest meditation, and the foundation of all their actions.
Every scriptural point is valid only to the extent that we engage it, embody it in our own learning and experience, upon the road to awakening.
Neither the nature nor the reality of the Bodhisattva Sangha, the grand fraternity which devotes its entire effort with one mind, one will and one over-riding thought, to the welfare and liberation of all beings, can be grasped by other means except by attunement to one's inner nature and nurture by a full joy and natural awe before the idea that there is no human aim higher than to understand the truth.
I know that every sacred pledge should be the result of deep thought and true feeling, and I will later reflect in silence, enriched by contemplation, and carry this pledge over into daily manifestation.
I know that there is no external fount to which I direct that pledge.
Thus I direct that pledge not to human creatures or an external being, but to the Buddha-nature that is being awakened within me.
I know that the essential nobility, the germ of Buddhahood is within myself, and will dissolve any mental inhibiting view of myself that masks that nobility and will help all others to do so.
I know that this pledge can be taken by anyone at any time, but the level of thought and intensity with which it is taken will determine the force and reliability of its execution.
To be able to take one's place in the glorious company of Bodhisattvas is not to assume that one can, purely on one's own, fulfil this exalted aim. But once one has truly affirmed it, no other aim has any comparable significance.
The Liberation of All Sentient Creatures
Although I pledge to save every being, I recognise what the Buddha declared, that there are no individual sentient beings to be saved.
Thus I understand that I must develop a view of the essential unity of all things and must see that unity reflected in every apparently separate living creature.
I understand that while I see fragmented consciousness on the worldly plane, due to the fragmentation of my own consciousness, I will look yet more profoundly and see the thread that unites all consciousness.
I understand that the apparent individualized consciousness reflected in the individual natures is the universal consciousness of all things.
I understand that the Bodhisattva recognising the higher within himself thereby recognises the higher within others.
I understand that the ideal of helping all sentient creatures is an ideal that cannot ever be fully attained and yet I will throw my whole being into its achievement.
I will see my Bodhisattva pledge as a pledge to carry the flame of the truth of the Dharma and to transmit that flame to all who are ready to receive. Thus one day all may be liberated. This is my pledge to save all sentient creatures.
While alive I will recognise of the connection between the moment of birth and the moment of death, of the intimate relationship between the pain of one human being and the sorrow of all humanity.
I understand that the prospect of such a vow is naturally perplexing to the lower mind, which is almost totally ignorant of the priorities of the true nature and knows very little about this life.
I know that if this pledge is taken prematurely, lacking this sense of necessity, it will precipitate difficulties, generate a sense of culpability with transgression, generate tortured anxiety about the nature of my personal path, involve futile comparisons and contrasts with other human beings, make me feel isolated and alone. But out of all these Mara generated experiences there will come a future ripeness.
I know that those who have well traveled the Bodhisattva path, who have taken the vow again and again, know that soon after one has made such an affirmation, one is going to be tested. I shall overcome.
I perceive that my own true interest and liberation is bound up in serving others to the utmost, and I will develop the supreme wisdom to know at any given time, in any particular context, what the true self-interest of another is.
I perceive that living correctly in accord with the Dharma as a Bodhisattva, is doubtless the noblest endeavour conceivable for any human being anywhere on earth in the past present or the future.
I perceive that the Bodhisattva is more than a human creature with a generous heart. It is the becoming of an ideal. Thus the potential life of others can be reflected in me. My Buddha-nature is to be found in every man and universal brotherhood must by my behaviour be seen to be attainable by every human creature that is aware.
I perceive that this ideal is not imposed as an idea. The Bodhisattva state is a natural state within each human creature which has been covered with a blanket of Ignorance. I shall remove that blanket of ignorance.
I perceive that I must look for the potential virtue and correctness in others, and see that there does exist so much potential for the common good in others, that I will be capable of handling judgements of their limitations.
I perceive that it is important not to forget our true human heritage, our real nature and, thus, will travel securely upon the Eightfold Path, free from the pressures of social and personal relationships.
I understand that there is another kind of suffering, both more tragic and nobler. It is the suffering for others. I see that I must helplessly observe countless humans destroy themselves and one another, committing useless acts of physical and psychological violence, yet find no individual fault in them.
I know that the Bodhisattva is imperfect and suffers frustration, but I must stand and watch this, and not be caught into egoistic suffering.
I know that I must stand as witness to seemingly perpetual personal degradation and yet see the untouched purity of our Buddha-nature.
I know that I must live in this world, seeking the true interest of every sentient creature, in detachment from clinging and craving the world of the senses.
I know that the Bodhisattva path requires the sacrifice of Identity, beginning with universal mind and ending with the smallest element of existence. This sacrifice and compassion is the same thing.
Every word and each day is like an incarnation. Thus I will allow myself to be reborn in wisdom each second with my mind always open and receptive to the dharma.
The Recognition of the Bodhisattva Pledge
I recognise that a human being with a wavering mind and a fickle heart may utter this pledge, but I will authentically affirm it in the name of my true Buddha-nature. Thus I will develop the full potency of this pledge and practice restraint and thereby established a high degree of reliability in my life and human relationships.
I recognise the power of this pledge and seek its realisation, but know that failure carries no guilt or shame, it carries even stronger resolution after apparent failure to succeed, forgetting the folly of the past.
I recognise the possibility of failure and the possibility of forgetfulness, but somewhere deep in myself I wish to be measured and tested by this pledge.
I recognise that this pledge is unconditional, and releases the spiritual will, and with it brings my highest self-respect and respect for others who have taken this pledge. I will open my wisdom-seeking mind, the seed of awakening.
I recognise that a drop of water is no different than the ocean and that a candle flame is no different than the sun; the small mirrors the large.
Thus, my pledge mirrors the vibrant pledge of all Bodhisattvas. Thus offered, it is powerful and supreme.
I recognise that persons with greater wisdom than myself have taken precisely such a vow and have affirmed this pledge time and time again. Therefore, with this pledge I am, however frail, however feeble, a part of the family of those who are the self-chosen, united with all unknown but unvanquished friends of the human race and members of the noble family.
I will make many discoveries upon this Bodhisattva path, but the hardest lesson to learn is patience and persistence. This is a pledge in favour of selfless service, and it cannot ever be premature. It will develop that patience and persistence.
I know that inexhaustible are the ways of compassion of wise beings. True Compassion cannot really be weighed or measured.
I will reject mundane compassion and develop the true Compassion that is not pity, empathy, or sorrow for others, but an enlightened application of the energy of Compassion that is understanding and joyful in the intention to help others help themselves.
I will develop the true Benevolence that is not social charity or hedonistic giving, but a giving in which there is a sacrifice of my own Identity as a giver.
I will develop that Benevolent love also in my capacity to receive without the Identity of a receiver, because I know that sometimes it is difficult to know how to receive both the Benevolence and Compassion of others.
I will develop true Happiness that is selfless and comes from within, being unaffected by the world of the senses. Thus the aura of constant well-being will surround me..
I will develop a true Equanimity in front of criticism and assaults upon both my apparent body and mind.
I will develop a true Equanimity in the face of praise and rewards.
I will develop Equanimity, which is not Intellectual indifference.
Thus if someone helps me or harms me may I regard that person as my best teacher.
I will remain constantly aware that all creatures feel pain and that human creatures suffer, though many do not see that suffering in the false happiness of the senses that they experience. Thus I will help all, being tolerant of human imperfections and lack of vision.
I will develop true introspection, free critical enquiry and growth for the benefit of all sentient creatures.
I will develop the wisdom to see through false worldly differences based upon Duality, such as capable versus inept, physical versus mental, the intelligent versus the unintelligent or self versus others. I will develop Prajna as the "non-discriminating mind," where the clinging to the dual notion of self and other objects is absent.
The Affirmation of the Bodhisattva Pledge
I commit myself to correct Attitudes with Joy, correct Intentions with Compassion, correct Actions with Benevolent love, and Equanimity with Bliss for the welfare of all beings and will gradually establish myself in the practice of a Bodhisattva.
I will not violate the purity of this faultless, noble Family.
Everywhere and always will I live and strive for the liberation of every creature throughout the world from the bonds of conditioned existence.
Everywhere and always I will respect the abundance of nature, both animals and other life forms, observing the natural law of the Dharma as a guardian without seeking dominance.
The Sugatas of former times committed themselves to the Bodhisattva path, gradually establishing themselves in the practice of a Bodhisattva. So, I too commit myself to growth upon this path for the welfare of all beings and will gradually establish myself in the practice of a Bodhisattva.
I pledge union in the Bodhisattva Sangha as a son/daughter of the Buddha. My birth as a human being has become fruitful and justified, joined with all sentient beings in the light of the Dharma.
This I pledge before all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, past, present, and future.
Technorati: Buddhism Buddha Buddhist Dharma Compassion Wisdom Religion Meditation Zen Philosophy Spirituality Inspiration Peace Insight
“Sariputra, if there are people who have already made the vow, who now make the vow, or who are about to make the vow, ‘I desire to be born in Amitabha’s country,’ these people, whether born in the past, now being born, or to be born in the future, all will irreversibly attain to anuttarasamyaksambodhi. Therefore, Sariputra, all good men and good women, if they are among those who have faith, should make the vow, ‘I will be born in that country.’”
~ Amitabha Sutra
When I obtain the Buddhahood, any being of the boundless and inconceivable Buddha-worlds of the ten quarters whose body if be touched by the rays of my splendour should not make his body and mind gentle and peaceful, in such a state that he is far more sublime than the gods and men, then may I not attain the enlightenment.
~ Amitabha Buddha's Thirty-Third Vow
Friday, February 29, 2008
Picture source: flickr.com
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
by Judith Simmer-Brown
My topic is Buddhism in the 21st century, the legacy we are leaving our children. My first concern is a housekeeping concern. Have we set the American Buddhist house in order? Specifically, if our children wish to continue the traditions of Buddhist practice, what are we doing to make that possible? Have we created the ground of a truly American Buddhism which can sustain practice, community, and culture into the new millennium? Have we, the baby boomer generation, created a legacy which will nurture the hearts of the practitioners who are to follow?
Almost 30 years ago, in graduate school, I was introduced to what seemed arcane then, but relevant to me now. They were four classic criteria developed by Western Buddhologists, which predict the resilience of Buddhism in a new cultural setting. Specifically, what factors must be present if Buddhism is to survive beyond a single generation? While these criteria were developed from observation of Buddhism moving through Asia, with certain adjustments they may be of relevance for an assessment of American Buddhism.
These are the four criteria-elements of Asian Buddhist tradition necessary to assure the continuation of Buddhism in an American setting.
The first is, have the key sutras, commentaries, teachings, practices and liturgies been translated into English? And are these translations usable for the practice communities themselves? Excessively scholarly translations will not do - and translations which strip away all tradition dilute the richness of our Asian heritage. Access to these texts is a priority, and we must continue to work on this monumental task. The Tibetan tradition, for example, is most fragile: the situation in Tibet itself shows little improvement, and the great exiled masters of the traditions grow old and pass on. We know that we cannot translate these texts without their supervision and commentary. I must ask you this - have your communities worked with this? Are you training and supporting your translators and their translation projects?
The second criterion is, have the essence teachings been transmitted to American dharma heirs and students? Are these heirs trusted and respected by their Asian lineages, and have they received everything, with nothing held back? We must realize the incredible auspiciousness of our place in history. To receive these teachings requires sincere, heartfelt practice, fervent and sustained devotion, and unfailing communication. My teacher, Ven. Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, passed on 11 years ago. I and others have dedicated ourselves to carrying on his heritage, his transmissions, his instructions. Do we understand the preciousness of human life, that our teachers will not live forever? How might we more fully receive the transmissions which they offer us?
The third criterion is, has a strong base of American patrons been established? In Buddhist history, this was accomplished by royal patronage, for if the king supported the dharma the people would as well. Obviously, it is somewhat different in 21st century America, but we need financial support and cultural sympathy in order for the dharma to thrive. Here, we court Hollywood, Washington, and Silicon Valley. Rockefeller, Ford, and Lilly. Patronage is an important chance to communicate something fundamental about the dharma and it is an acknowledgement of the ordinary practicalities of power, influence, and prestige. Without American patronage, there can be no sustained American Buddhism. What are we doing to ensure the future of the dharma through appropriate patronage?
And the fourth criterion is, has monastic ordination been fully passed to American monks and nuns? This category also reflects Buddhism's Asian history, in which monasteries served as preservers and propagators of the tradition. Where the monastery did not continue, there was no place where dharma could remain powerful outside of the whims and intrigues of cultural and political life. For the American context, we must preserve and nurture the monastic traditions which have fostered Buddhism in this way. But in the American context, the lay tradition is destined to play a major role in the continued development of Buddhism. Are there also strong places of practice for lay people, for the yoginis and yogis of our culture? Can we preserve the tradition, established in our "boomer" generation, of strong commitment to practice for everyone, both monastic and lay?
All of these criteria merely suggest the heart of our dharma connection. As first generation American Buddhists, we made practice our link, and it is practice which brought us here today. Practice has given us a new lease on life; practice has conquered the hopelessness and depression of our generation; practice has opened us to the suffering of the world without embittering or hardening us. Do we have the fundamentals of our practice established so that we can continue? Do we have the texts, the transmissions, the financial support, and the institutions and places of practice? And can we, above all, commit ourselves to continue to practice? Can we commit ourselves to teach our children, so that they can practice as well?
We must always remember, our practice is not just for ourselves. Of course, we practice for our teachers, out of gratitude and devotion for the precious jewel they have given us. We practice for our children, for all children, for all people in the next seven generations. We practice because this is how we are most alive. We practice because we don't know how not to practice. It is the only way to be who we are.
Most importantly, we practice so that we do not remain merely Buddhists. We cannot solidify our identities as Buddhists. We know that to hide in Buddhism is not the way to honor our teachers and to nurture our descendants. If the three refuges remove us from the suffering of the world, we have not understood them. American Buddhism must serve the world, not itself. It must become, as the 7th century Indian master Santideva wrote, the doctor and the nurse for all sick beings in the world until everyone is healed; a rain of food and drink an inexhaustible treasure for those who are poor and destitute.
Social Engagement in the World
This leads to the next level of reflection about my children in the 21st century: the importance of socially engaging in the world. My children, Owen and Alicia, will increasingly encounter suffering; we can only imagine the kinds of suffering our children will encounter. Even now, we see the poor with not enough food and no access to clean and safe drinking water; we see ethnic and religious prejudice that would extinguish those who are different; we see the sick and infirm who have no medicine or care; we see rampant exploitation of the many for the pleasure and comfort of the few; we see the demonization of those who would challenge the reign of wealth, power, and privilege. And we know the 21st century will yield burgeoning populations with an ever-decreasing store of resources to nourish them.
Fueling this suffering is the relentless consumerism which pervades our society and the world. Greed drives so many of the damaging systems of our planet. The socially engaged biologist Stephanie Kaza reminds me, in America each of us consumes our body weight each day in materials extracted and processed from farms, mines, rangelands, and forests-120 pounds on the average. Since 1950, consumption of energy, meat, and lumber has doubled; use of plastic has increased five-fold; use of aluminum has increased seven-fold; and airplane mileage has increased 33-fold per person. We now own twice as many cars as in 1950. And with every bite, every press of the accelerator, every swipe of the credit card in our shopping malls, we have left a larger ecological footprint on the face of the world. We have squeezed our wealth out of the bodies of plantation workers in Thailand, farmers in Ecuador, factory workers in Malaysia.
The crisis of consumerism is infecting every culture of the world, most of them emulating our American lifestyle. David Loy, in The Religion of the Market, considers whether consumption has actually become the new world religion. This religion of consumerism is based on two unexamined tenets or beliefs:
1) growth and enhanced world trade will benefit everyone, and
2) growth will not be constrained by the inherent limits of a finite planet. Its ground is ego gratification, its path is an ever-increasing array of wants, and its fruition is expressed in the Descartian perversion - "I shop, therefore I am." While it recruits new converts through the floods of mass media, it dulls the consumer, making us oblivious to the suffering in which we participate. "Shopping is a core activity in sustaining a culture of denial."
Now that communist countries throughout the world are collapsing, consumerism is all but unchallenged in its growth. As traditional societies become modern, consumerism is the most alluring path. Religious peoples and communities have the power to bring the only remaining challenge to consumerism. And Buddhism has unique insights which can stem the tide of consumptive intoxication.
How do we respond to all of this suffering? How will our children respond? It is easy to join the delusion, forgetting our Buddhist training. But when we return to it, we remember-the origin of suffering is our constant craving. We want, therefore we consume; we want, therefore we suffer. As practitioners, we feel this relentless rhythm in our bones. We must, in this generation, wake up to the threat of consumerism, and join with other religious peoples to find a way to break its grip. We must all find a way to become activists in the movement which explores alternatives to consumerism.
Three Kinds of Materialism
As American Buddhists, we must recognize the threats of consumerism within our practice, and within our embryonic communities and institutions. From a Tibetan Buddhist point of view, consumerism is just the tip of the iceberg. It represents only the outer manifestation of craving and acquisitiveness. Twenty-five years ago, my guru, the Vidyadhara Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, wrote one of first popular dharma books in America, Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism. Its relevance only increases each year. He spoke of the three levels of materialism which rule our existence as expressions of ego-centered activity. Unchallenged, materialism will co-opt our physical lives, our communities, and our very practice.
Physical materialism refers to the neurotic pursuit of pleasure, comfort, and security. This is the outer expression of consumerism. Under this influence, we try to shield ourselves from the daily pain of embodied existence, while accentuating the pleasurable moments. We are driven to create the illusion of a pain-free life, full of choices which make us feel in control. We need 107 choices of yoghurt in a supermarket so full of choices we feel like queens of our universe. We go to 24-Plex movie theaters so that we can see whatever film we want, whenever we want. We need faster pain relievers, appliances to take away all inconvenience, and communication devices to foster immediate exchange. All of these create the illusion of complete pleasure at our finger-tips, with none of the hassle of pain. When we are ruled by this kind of physical materialism, we identify ourselves by what we have.
But this is just the beginning. On the next level, psychological materialism seeks to control the world through theory, ideology, and intellect. Not only are we trying to physically manipulate the world so that we don't have to experience pain, we do so psychologically as well. We create a theoretical construct which keeps us from having to be threatened, to be wrong, to be confused. We always put ourselves in control in this way. "As an American I have rights. As a woman, I deserve to be independent from expectations of men in my society. I earn my own salary, I can choose how I want to spend it. As a Buddhist, I understand interdependence..." Psychological materialism interprets whatever is threatening or irritating as an enemy. Then, we control the threat by creating an ideology or religion in which we are victorious, correct, or righteous; we never directly experience the fear and confusion which could arise from experiencing a genuine threat.
This is particularly perilous for the American Buddhist. In these times, Buddhism has become popular, a commodity which is used by corporations and the media. Being Buddhist has become a status symbol, connoting power, prestige and money. His Holiness' picture appears on the sets of Hollywood movies and in Apple computer ads; Hollywood stars are pursued as acquisitions in a kind of dharmic competition. Everyone wants to add something Buddhist to her resume. Buddhist Studies enrollments at Naropa have doubled in two years, and reporters haunt our hallways and classrooms. Conferences like this attract a veritable parade of characters like myself, hawking the "tools" of our trade.What is happening is that our consumer society has turned Buddhism into a commodity like everything else. And the seductions for the American Buddhist are clear. We are being seduced to use our Buddhism to promote our own egos, communities, and agendas in the American marketplace.
This still is not the heart of the matter. On the most subtle level, spiritual materialism carries this power struggle into the realm of our own minds, into our own meditation practice. Our consciousness is attempting to remain in control, to maintain a centralized awareness. Through this, ego uses even spirituality to shield itself from fear and insecurity. Our meditation practice can be used to retreat from the ambiguity and intensity of daily encounters; our compassion practices can be used to manipulate the sheer agony of things falling apart. We develop an investment in ourselves as Buddhist practitioners, and in so doing protect ourselves from the directness and intimacy of our own realization. It is important for us to be willing to cultivate the "edge" of our practice, the edge where panic arises, where threat is our friend, and where our depths are turned inside out.
What happens when we are ruled by the "three levels of materialism"? The Vidyadhara taught that when we are so preoccupied with issues of ego, control, and power we become "afraid of external phenomena, which are our own projections." What this means is that when we take ourselves to be real, existent beings, then we mistake the world around us to be independent and real. And when we do this we invite paranoia, fear, and panic. We are afraid of not being able to control the situation. As Patrul Rinpoche taught:
Don't prolong the past,
Don't invite the future,
Don't alter your innate wakefulness,
Don't fear appearances...
We must give up the fear of appearances. How can we do this?
The only way to cut this pattern of acquisitiveness and control is to guard the naked integrity of our meditation practice. We must have somewhere where manipulation is exposed for what it is. We must be willing to truly "let go" in our practice. When we see our racing minds, our churning emotions and constant plots, we touch the face of the suffering world and we have no choice but to be changed. We must allow our hearts to break with the pain of constant struggle that we experience in ourselves and in the world around us. Then we can become engaged in the world, and dedicate ourselves to a genuine enlightened society in which consumerism has no sway. Craving comes from the speed of our minds, wishing so intensely for what we do not have that we cannot experience what is there, right before us.
How can we, right now, address materialism in our practice and our lives? I would like to suggest a socially engaged practice which could transform our immediate lifestyles and change our relationship with suffering. It is the practice of generosity. No practice flies more directly in the face of American acquisitiveness and individualism. Any of us who have spent time in Asia or with our Asian teachers see the centrality of generosity in Buddhist practice.
According to traditional formulation, our giving begins with material gifts and extends to gifts of fearlessness and dharma. Generosity is the virtue that produces peace, as the sutra says. Try it. Every day give something to someone. Notice what happens. Give something which is hard to give. Give money or gifts. Was it hard, and what was hard about it? Give emotional support or comfort. What happens when we genuinely make ourselves available to others? Generosity is a practice which overcomes our aquisitiveness and self-absorption, and which benefits others. Committing to this practice may produce our greatest legacy for the 21st century.
Judith Simmer-Brown is professor of Religious Studies at The Naropa Institute. This article was adapted from her keynote address given at the Buddhism in America Conference in San Diego in 1998.
Technorati: Buddhism Buddha Buddhist Dharma Compassion Wisdom Religion Meditation Zen Philosophy Spirituality Inspiration americanbuddhism Insight
Monday, February 18, 2008
(The Accumulations for Enlightenment)
Translated by Christian Lindtner
1. Now, in the presence of the Buddhas, I fold my hands and bow my head. I intend to explain according to tradition a Buddha's accumulations for enlightenment.
2. How is it possible to explain without omission the accumulations for enlightenment? [For] the Buddhas are the only ones who individually obtain infinite enlightenment!
3. The body of a Buddha has infinite qualities. The [two] accumulations for enlightenment constitute the basis. Therefore the accumulations for enlightenment have no final limit either.
4. I can only explain a small part of these [two accumulations]. I praise the Buddhas and the Bodhisattvas. All the Bodhisattvas and the rest I revere successively to the Buddhas.
5. Since [Prajnaparamita] is the mother of Bodhisattvas it is also the mother of Buddhas. Prajnaparamita is the foremost collection for enlightenment.
6. Prajnaparamita is the mother of Bodhisattvas, skill in means is their father, and compassion is their daughter.
7. Generosity, morality, patience, energy, dhyana and the [other paramitas] beyond these five are all due to prajna—Prajnaparamita comprises them all.
8. Great compassion penetrates into the marrow of the bone. It is the support of all living beings. Like [the love of a] father for his only son, the tenderness [of a Buddha] is all- pervasive.
9. If one thinks of the Buddha's virtues and listens to [accounts of] the miracles of the Buddha, [this creates] love, joy, a feeling [of happiness], and purity. This is called great joy.
10. A Bodhisattva must not desert or abandon living beings. He should always care for them to the best of his ability.
11. From the very beginning [of the path], in accord with the strength available, a Bodhisattva ought to be skilled in ways of converting people so that they may enter the Mahay ana.
12. One may convert beings [as numerous as] the grains of sand in the Ganges so that they obtain sainthood, but to convert one [single person] to Mahayana— that creates greater merit!
13. Some are instructed according to the Sravakayana and the Pratyekabuddhayana. Because of their limited powers they are not suitable for conversion [to the Mahayana].
14. Those who are not fit for conversion to the Sravakayana, the Pratyekabuddhayana, or the Mahayana must be assigned meritorious tasks.
15. If people are [utterly] unfit to receive conversion [conducive to] heaven and liberation, then [a Bodhisattva] must attract them through advantages in this world, in accordance with the power available.
16. Toward people who cannot possibly be induced to conversion a Bodhisattva should generate great compassion. He must never discard them!
17. Attracting with gifts, teaching the Dharma, listening to the teaching of the Dharma, and also practicing acts of benefit to others — these are skillful means for attracting [others].
18. While benefitting living beings without tiring and without carelessness, [a Bodhisattva] expresses his aspiration for enlightenment: To benefit others is to benefit oneself!
19. By entering the profound foundation of dharmas, exempt and separate from conceptual constructs, entirely without effort, all matters are spontaneously abandoned.
20. Profit, reputation, honors, and pleasure are four things one should not be attached to. Nor should one become embroiled in their opposites. This is called [worldly] renunciation.
21. As long as he has not obtained the Irreversible [Stage], a Bodhisattva should perform these actions for the sake of enlightenment as zealously as if his headdress were on fire.
22. All the Bodhisattvas who seek enlightenment display energy without rest, for they shoulder a heavy burden.
23. If he has not yet produced great compassion and patience, although he may have attained the Irreversible [Stage], a Bodhisattva can become like a mortal by being careless.
24. If he enters the Sravaka and Pratyekabuddha levels, he becomes a mortal, because the roots of the knowledge of deliverance of the Bodhisattvas are cut off.
25. Even if he fell into hell a Bodhisattva would not be afraid, but the level of the Sravakas and Pratyekabuddhas horrifies him.
26. While falling into hell creates no absolute barrier to enlightenment, it is an absolute barrier to fall into the lands of the Sravakas and Pratyekabuddhas.
27. It is said that people who love life are afraid to have their head cut off. In just the same way, the lands of the Sravakas and Pratyekabuddhas ought to evoke similar fear.
28. [To accept all reality as non- arising means seeing everything as] unborn, undestroyed, neither unborn nor undestroyed, neither both nor neither, neither empty nor non- empty.
29. When one does not swerve from the Middle View with regard to any phenomenon whatsoever, there is acceptance [of] non-arising, because all ideas are eliminated.
30. As soon as you have obtained this conviction, at that very moment you receive the prediction [that you will become a Buddha]. You certainly will become a Buddha once you have attained the Irreversible [Stage].
31. Until a Bodhisattva attains the stage of Presence, he should strengthen his samadhi and ought not to become careless.
32. The [sixth stage], the Stage of Presence of a [future] Buddha, is steadfast concentration. This is the father of a Bodhisattva [and] great compassion is his mother.
33. Prajnaparamita is his mother and [skill in] means is his father. The term 'parents of the Bodhisattva' is employed because the latter generates and the former sustains.
34. A small quantity of merit cannot bring about enlightenment. One brings it about by collecting a quantity of merit the size of a hundred Sumerus.
35. Though [a Bodhisattva's] merit be slight, it must be skillful. He must produce a support for all living beings, [thinking:]
36. "All the actions I perform shall always be for the benefit of living beings!" Who can measure the merit of an intention such as this?
37. Not to cherish one's own family or one's body, life, or riches, not to covet pleasures and power or the world of Brahma and the other gods;
38. Not to covet nirvana, but to act to benefit living beings — just this is to care for living beings. Who can measure such merit?
39. To save and protect a world lacking support and protection from suffering and pain — who can measure the merit of forming such intentions?
40. To possess the Prajnaparamita for one or several months, as when briefly milking a cow — who can measure the merit?
41. To recite to oneself and to teach others the profound scriptures praised by the Buddha, and to explain the various meanings: This is called a mass of merit.
42. By causing innumerable beings to turn their minds to enlightenment the store of merit will wax ever greater, so that one will obtain the Immovable Stage.
43. To follow [the Buddha], to turn the victorious Dharmacakra turned by the Buddha, and to calm and quench bad impulse: This is a Bodhisattva's store of merit.
44. Bearing the great suffering of hell (and a little extra suffering as well), so as to benefit and bring pleasure to living beings — this will place enlightenment close at hand.
45. Initiating action not for oneself but only to benefit and please living beings, motivated by compassion — this will place enlightenment close at hand.
46. Wisdom without conceptualization, zeal without sloth, unstinting generosity — this places enlightenment close at hand.
47. Being independent, by thoughts not obsessed, having perfect morality, complete and unstained, accepting [that things] are unborn — this places enlightenment close at hand.
48. In front of the fully enlightened Buddhas who are present in the ten regions, I entirely confess my sins.
49. If the Buddhas who have attained enlightenment in the universe of the ten directions are reluctant to expound their teaching, I entreat them to turn the Dharmacakra!
50. If the fully enlightened Buddhas present in the universe of the ten directions desire to give up life [in samsara], I bow my head and request them to remain.
51. The merit of generosity and good morals, of [good] thoughts and actions produced by living beings by means of body, speech, and mind —
52. We all rejoice in [such] merit, accumulated by holy men and common people of the past, present, and future.
53. If only I could gather all the merit I have and pass it on to living beings so that they might obtain full enlightenment!
54. In this way I repent, exhort [the Buddha to preach], request [the Buddha to remain], and dedicate [my merit] to enlightenment. One must know: [Thus will I be] like the Buddhas.
55. Express remorse for unwholesome acts, request the Buddhas [to abide in samsara], rejoice in merit, and transfer it to enlightenment, as the Jinas have stated.
56. Do so every third hour, day and night, joining palms, with the right kneecap touching the ground and the upper garment arranged on one shoulder.
57. If the merit [thus] created in one hour had outward form, [realms amounting to] many thousands [of times the] number of grains of sand in the Ganges still could not contain it.
58. Once [a Bodhisattva] has first produced the thought [of enlightenment: bodhicitta], he ought to show respect and kindness towards all the minor Bodhisattvas as if they were his teacher or parents.
59. Even if a Bodhisattva has committed a wrong he should not talk about it, much less tell an untruth. Speak only the truth.
60. If a man expresses the vow to become a Buddha, wish that he not fall back, show [him the merit of the Buddha], fire his zeal,
and awaken joy.
61. If he has not yet unravelled the very profound Sutras, he must not say that they are not the Buddha's words. If he makes such statements, he will reap great suffering in return.
62. If all wrongs, including the five anantarya, were to be added together and compared with these two wrongs, they would not amount to a fraction [of them].
63. Develop carefully the three doors to liberation: sunyata, the markless, and the wishless.
64. Since dharmas lack own- being, they are empty (sunya). Being empty, how can they have marks? All marks being extinguished, how can the wise wish [for anything]?
65. While [the Bodhisattva] is cultivating and contemplating these [three and] traversing the path to nirvana, he must not think that the Buddhakaya does not exist. Do not relax your efforts on this score!
66. As for nirvana, he will not realize it at once, but must produce this thought: We must ripen the Prajnaparamita.
67. A master archer releases his arrows so that each of them is aimed one at the other; each supporting the one before it, they do not fall. The great Bodhisattva is like that.
68. Carefully he aims the arrow of the mind at the door to liberation called 'empty'. The arrows of [skill in means] act together to support it, so that [his prajna] is not allowed to fall into nirvana.
69. Let us not desert living beings! In order to benefit living beings, first generate this attitude and then come to possess the practice of the doors to liberation.
70. There are living beings whose attachments persist a long time, and who cultivate misconceptions and [wrong] notions. All this is due to delusion.
71. Those who are addicted to [wrong] notions [and] misconceptions can abandon them by proclaiming the Dharma. First one focuses the mind on reality, and then one comes to possess the practice of the doors to liberation.
72. Bodhisattvas benefit living beings, yet they see no living beings! A difficult point indeed; an exquisite point! One cannot grasp it.
73. Even if a Bodhisattva is predestined, he must practice the doors to liberation. Since the original vow is not yet fulfilled, [the Bodhisattva] does not realize nirvana.
74. If he has not yet attained his predestination, being [only] concerned with skillful means, the original vow is not yet fulfilled. So again he does not realize nirvana.
75. [A Bodhisattva has] extreme distaste for samsara but still turns toward samsara. He has faith and joy in nirvana, yet turns his back on nirvana.
76. Fear the klesas but do not be exhausted by the klesas; accumulate good karma in order to suppress the suppressing klesas.
77. A Bodhisattva has a passionate nature; he does not yet have a nirvana nature. [So only when] the klesas are not yet burned away [can he] produce the seed of enlightenment.
78. A Bodhisattva predicts [the destiny of] other beings. This prediction has as necessary condition a Tathagata's merit and skill, enabling them to reach the farther shore.
79. A [Bodhisattva should] propagate and establish all the sastras, techniques, sciences, and arts for the use and benefit of all humanity.
80. According to the stages of transmigration and caste in the world of potential converts, a Bodhisattva proceeds there as he wishes; by virtue of his vows he accepts rebirth.
81. When faced with various evil matters and people's flattery or deception, put on strong armor. Do not be disgusted [by samsara] and do not be afraid [of seeking enlightenment].
82. Bodhisattvas with a completely pure mind do not flatter or deceive. They reveal all [their] sins and evils, but conceal and store [their] good deeds [without boasting].
83. Pure [in] the karma of body and speech and also [in] the karma of mind, [a Bodhisattva] cultivates all the moral rules, allowing no shortcoming or diminution.
84. [A Bodhisattva must] peacefully dwell in mindfulness. He selects an object and contemplates in solitude, employing mindfulness to safeguard himself, [so that his] mind becomes a mind without attachment.
85. If discursive thoughts arise, he must determine whether they are wholesome or unwholesome, abandoning the unwholesome and increasing the wholesome.
86. If his mind is disturbed by objects, he should concentrate his mindfulness, lead his mind back to the object, and (if it wavers) cause it to remain still.
87. Do not relax or fall into clinging, but cultivate strenuousness. If a Bodhisattva cannot uphold his samadhi, he must constantly strive [to do so].
88. [Those who are about to] ascend the Sravakayana or the Pratyekabuddhayana, merely acting for [their, or its] own benefit, must not abandon firm energy —
89. Then what of the great Bodhisattva! As his own savior and the savior of others, should he not put forth ten thousand million times the zeal?
90. For half an hour one may practice various [meditations] and for another follow different procedures, but this is not the way to practice samadhi! Let the mind be fixed on one object!
91. There should be no affection for the body and no regret for one's life. Even if one wants to protect this body, still in the end it will prove subject to decay and misery by nature.
92. Be altogether unattached to gain, honors, and fame. Act vigorously to fulfill the vow [to liberate oneself and others], as if your head [or] clothes were on fire.
93. Determined to produce the highest good, a Bodhisattva cannot wait till tomorrow. Tomorrow is far away. How can one preserve a transient existence?
94. [A Bodhisattva must] peacefully dwell in mindfulness [with utter equanimity]. If he [had] to eat the flesh of his favorite son, he would eat without being either attracted or repelled.
95. The purpose of renouncing worldly life, and how to determine whether what we have done or left undone must be done or not — this is explained in the Dasadharmakasutra.
96. See that compound things are impermanent, and that there is no I or mine. Aware of all the deeds of Mara, abandon them!
97. Produce zeal and cultivate the [five] powers, the [five] strengths, the [seven] branches of enlightenment, the [four] bases of miraculous power, the [four] restraints, the [eightfold] path, and the four applications of mindfulness.
98. A mind can be a place for the continuous birth of good things, happiness, and merit, but it can also be a root of evil. Reflect on this carefully!
99. Regarding positive dharmas, watch daily how they increase and how they diminish.
100. If one sees others gain in profit, support, respect, and fame, one's mind should not react with even the slightest bit of envy or jealousy.
101. Live without desiring the objects [of the senses], as if dull-witted, blind, dumb, and deaf. At the right moment the lion's roar frightens the tirthika deer.
102. In welcoming and taking leave, honor those to be respected. In all matters of Dharma, be kind and helpful.
103. By saving and liberating those who suffer annihilation, one prospers and is not destroyed. [By] cultivating the sciences and crafts well, one trains oneself and instructs others.
104. Regarding particularly good dharmas, keep to them strenuously. Practice the four foundations of propitiation and make donations of clothing, drink, and food.
105. Do not rebuff those who beg for alms. Reconcile all your kindred. Do not turn against your followers. Make donations of dwellings and property.
106. Give parents, relatives, and friends their due; accord them the treatment due the supreme Lord.
107. Speak kindly even to a slave and care for him. Show him great respect, make medicine available, and heal all diseases.
108. [Those whose] head is [adorned with an usnisa due to] the good karma of prior actions, [whose] voice is fine, smooth, beautiful, and wonderful, [whose] voice [i. e., brahmasvara, is due to] good karma and the right way of mind, will [never] fail to be respected, in the future as in the past.
109. Do not harm the followers of others. Look at living beings with a compassionate eye and without a jealous spirit, as if they were relatives and friends.
110. One must always do as one has promised. Acting according to one's words wins the confidence of others.
111. Support the Dharma and be wary of the idle. Make precious nets of gold and cast them over the caityas.
112. If one wants to seek out a fair maid, one should give her ornaments. But in addition to giving her jewels, one must also discourse [to her] on the qualities of the Buddha.
113. Cast statues of the Buddha sitting upright on exquisite lotus blossoms. Practice the six dharmas [with] joy and pleasure.
114. Those who are honorable are not to be dishonored. Do not criticize the Dharma spoken by the Buddha or by those who discourse on the Dharma, even to [save your] life.
115. Distribute gold and jewels to the teachers and to the caityas of the teachers. If you [find that you] forget what you learn, concentrate so as not to be confused.
116. When one has not yet fully thought out one's actions, one must neither panic nor just imitate [the actions] of others. Do not believe in the gods, nagas, or yaksas of the tirthikas.
117. One's mind should be like a vajra, capable of penetrating all dharmas, or like a mountain, unperturbed in all situations.
118. Enjoy expressions transcending the world. Take no pleasure in transactions of the world. Keep all the virtues in yourself and help others to keep them too.
119. Develop the five spheres of liberation, contemplate the ten notions of impurity, and reflect upon the eight thoughts of a great Being.
120. Clearly develop the five superknowledges: the eye of the gods/ the hearing of the gods, the ability to perform miraculous transformations, the ability to read the minds of others, and remembrance of past lives.
121. The four bases of power form the root: will, mind, energy, and deliberation. The four infinite foundations are love, compassion, joy, and equanimity.
122. Look upon the four elements as a poisonous snake, the six bases as an empty village, the five skandhas as a murderer.
123. Revere the Dharma and the teachers of the Dharma, and put aside any animosity toward the Dharma. The teacher must not clench his hand; those who listen must not be annoyed.
124. Preach the Dharma to others without rudeness and without expectations, with only a compassionate heart and a devoted and respectful mind.
125. Be insatiable for learning and commit to memory what you have learned. Do not be deceitful toward respected holy personages, but give pleasure to the teacher.
126. [When] investigating other teachings, do not let your heart cherish reverence. Do not study or recite worldly texts on account of the difficulty of the [Buddhist] treatises.
127. Do not, on account of anger, slander any of the Bodhisattvas. When one has not yet grasped and learned the Dharma one must not cause calumny.
128. Abandon pride and abide by the four noble principles. Do not despise others; do not be self- important either.
129. Whether an offense is real or fictitious, do not inform others of it. Take no notice of the faults of others; just be aware of your own faults.
130. The Buddha and the Buddhadharma should not be objects of speculation or doubt. Although the Dharma is very difficult to believe in, one must have faith in it.
131. Even if [a Bodhisattva] dies by stating the truth, or is deprived of [his exalted status as] cakravartin king or Indra, he must state the truth and nothing else.
132. [Even if you are] hit, insulted, threatened, flogged, or tied up by someone, bear him no resentment. Future and present [evils] are all due to one's own bad karma.
133. Respect, love, and support your parents greatly; serve your instructor and revere the teacher.
134. It is an error for the Bodhisattva to discourse on the very profound Dharma [i. e., the Mahayana] to those who believe in the Sravakayana and the Pratyekabuddhayana.
135. If people believe in the profound Mahayana and one still advocates the Sravakayana and Pratyekabuddhayana, this also is an error for the Bodhisattva.
136. Many people come [to the monastery] out of interest in the Dharma. If they are careless, one should not offer them discourses, but should care for evildoers and establish non-believers in the Mahayana.
137. [A Bodhisattva] must abandon these four errors. The virtues of a purified man should be recited and learned, practiced and cultivated.
138. [The four Bodhisattvamargas are] equanimity, balanced discourse [on the Dharma], being well- established in impartiality, and being the same toward all living beings.
139. [The four kinds of Bodhisattvas] act for the Dharma, not for profit; for merit, not for reputation. [They] wish to save living beings from suffering, wanting no pleasure for themselves.
140. [If a Bodhisattva] sincerely seeks to have his actions mature, he must make the [three] meritorious practices arise. He must also mature living beings and reject his own affairs.
141. [The Bodhisattva] should approach four kinds of good friends: the teacher, the Buddha, those who offer encouragement to ascetics, and monks.
142. Those who rely on worldly knowledge, who especially crave worldly goods, who believe in the Pratyekabuddhayana, or inj fiie Sravakayana;
143. Seek instead what are known as the four great treasuries:
144. The superworldly Buddha, study of the [six] paramitas, a mind that looks upon the teacher without impediments, [and] being happy to dwell in empty places.
145. Like earth, water, fire, wind, and space, entirely and everywhere, [Bodhisattvas] benefit living beings equally.
146. Consider the very meaning of the Buddha's words and unremittingly produce the dharanis. Do not hinder in any way those who are studying the Dharma.
147. Those who are to be disciplined in the nine bases of quarreling [must] put aside the [twenty] minor matters without exception. The eight kinds of sloth must also be extinguished.
148. Harbor no improper affection, [for] unreasonable desire is not in accord with one's [true] wishes. Those who are disunited should be united, without asking whether they are friends.
149. A sage does not base his actions on sunyata by apprehending sunyata. If one [absolutely] must apprehend sunyata, this error amounts to the fault of belief in a personal substance.
150. Sweep the dust, smear [cow dung], make decorations, and perform worship of the caityas with many kinds of drum music and offerings such as incense, dressing the hair in a knot, and so forth.
151. Make various lamp- wheels, worship the caityas, and donate parasols, leather sandals, riding horses, carriages, chariots, and so forth.
152. [A Bodhisattva] should take special delight in the Dharma and enjoy an intellectual belief in the Buddha's attainments. He should gladly supply and serve the Sangha and take pleasure in listening to the Holy Dharma.
153. Unborn in the past, not remaining in the present, and not arrived in the future — look upon all dharmas thus.
154. Be gracious to living beings without seeking a reward from them. Bear [their] troubles alone, without grasping after pleasure for yourself.
155. Even if one is worthy of [rebirth in heaven as] the result of great merit, one's heart should not be uplifted or elated. Even if one is in great need like a hungry ghost, one should be neither downcast nor sad.
156. Those who are fully disciplined must be paid full respect. Those who are not yet disciplined should enter the discipline, and must not be objects of contempt.
157. Those whose good conduct is perfect should be respected. If [they] violate good conduct, they should return to its practice. Those whose wisdom is perfect [should be] approached as friends. Those who are dull should be established in wisdom.
158. The suffering of samsara is manifold: birth, old age, death, and bad rebirth. But do not fear such perils! Conquer Maraand bad understanding.
159. Gather all the virtues in all the Buddha fields. Make lofty vows, so that all may attain them.
160. Never appropriate dharmas, but always give them up. To do this is to accept the burden, taking on responsibility for the sake of all living beings.
161. One who correctly examines all dharmas sees that there is no I and no mine. Still he does not abandon great compassion and great kindness.
162. One must surpass all worship in order to worship the Buddha Bhagavat. Of what nature is this worship? It is known as Dharma worship.
163. If one grasps the Bodhisattvapitaka and obtains the various dharanis while penetrating the profound foundation of [all] dharmas, that is Dharma worship.
164. Hold to the main thing, without preferring this or that articulation. Enter the profound path of the Dharma with joy, not showing heedlessness.
165. When ascetics and householders have collected these accumulations for great aeons numerous as the sands of the Ganges, they shall attain perfect enlightenment!
Our good fortune is solely due to this translation of this wonderful text by Chris Lindtner
Technorati: Buddhism Buddha Buddhist Dharma Compassion Wisdom Religion Meditation Zen Arya Nagarjuna Spirituality Prajnaparamita Bodhisambharaka Insight
Translated by Christian Lindtner
1. Bowing to the glorious Vajrasattvas embodying the mind of enlightenment, I shall expound the development of the bodhicitta that abolishes [the three kinds of] existence [in samsara].
2. The Buddhas maintain that bodhicitta is not enveloped in notions conscious of a self, skandhas, and so forth, [but] is always marked by being empty [of any such notions].
3. [Those] with minds [only] tinged by compassion must develop [bodhicitta] with particular effort. This bodhicitta is constantly developed by the compassionate Buddhas.
4. When the self imagined by the tirthikas is analyzed logically, it obtains no place within the [five] skandhas.
5. If it were [identical with] the skandhas [the self] would not be permanent, but the self has no such nature. And between things permanent and impermanent a container- content relationship is not [possible].
6. When there is no so-called self how can the so-called creator be permanent? [Only] if there were a subject might one begin investigating its attributes in the world.
7. Since a permanent [creator] cannot create things, whether gradually or all at once, there are no permanent things, whether external or internal.
8. Why [would] an efficacious [creator] be dependent? He would of course produce things all at once. A [creator] who depends on something else is neither eternal nor efficacious.
9. If [he] were an entity he [would] not be permanent, for things are perpetually instantaneous (since [you] do not deny that impermanent things have a creator).
10. This [empirical] world, free from a self and the rest, is vanquished by the [Sravakas'] understanding of the skandhas, elements, sense- fields, and subject and object.
11. Thus the benevolent [Buddhas] have spoken to the Sravakas of the five skandhas: form, feeling, apprehension, karma formations and consciousness.
12- 13. But to the Bodhisattvas [the Buddha], the best among those who walk on two legs, has always taught this doctrine about the skandhas: "Form is like a mass of foam, feeling is like bubbles, apprehension is like a mirage, karma- formations are like the plantain, and consciousness is like an illusion."
14. The form skandha is declared to have the four great elements as its nature. The remaining [four skandhas] are inseparably established as immaterial.
15. Among these eye, form, and so forth are classified as [the eighteen] elements. Again, as subject- object these are to be known as the [twelve] sense- fields.
16. Form is not the atom, nor is it the [organ] of sense. It is absolutely not the active sense [of consciousness]. [Thus] an instigator and a creator are not suited to producing [form].
17. The form atom does not produce sense consciousness, [because] it passes beyond the senses. If [empirical forms are supposed to] be created by an assemblage [of atoms], this accumulation is unacceptable.
18. If you analyze by spatial division, even the atom is seen to possess parts. That which is analyzed into parts — how can it logically be an atom?
19. Concerning one single external object divergent judgments may prevail. Precisely that form which is pleasant [to one person] may appear differently to others.
20. Regarding the same female body, an ascetic, a lover and a wild dog entertain three different notions: "A corpse!" "A mistress!" "A tasty morsel!"
21. Things are efficacious due to being like objects. Is it not like an offense while dreaming [i. e., nocturnal emission]? Once awakened from the dream the net result is the same.
22. As to the appearance of consciousness under the form of subject and object, [one must realize] that there exists no external object apart from consciousness.
23. In no way at all is there an external thing in the mode of an entity. This particular appearance of consciousness appears under the aspect of form.
24. The deluded see illusions, mirages, cities of gandharvas, and so forth. Form manifests in the same way.
25. The purpose of the [Buddha's] teachings about the skandhas, elements, and so forth is [merely] to dispel the belief in a self. By establishing [themselves] in pure consciousness the greatly blessed [Bodhisattvas] abandon that as well.
26. According to Vijhanavada, this manifold [world] is established to be mere consciousness. What the nature of this consciousness might be we shall analyze now.
27. The Muni's teaching that "The entire [world] is mere mind" is intended to remove the fears of the simple- minded. It is not a [teaching] concerning reality.
28. [The three natures] — the imagined, the dependent, and the absolute — have only one nature of their own: sunyata. They are the imaginations of mind.
29. To [Bodhisattvas] who rejoice in the Mahayana the Buddhas present in brief the selflessness and equality of [all] phenomena [and the teaching] that mind is originally unborn.
30. The Yogacarins give predominance to mind in itself. [They] claim that mind purified by a transformation in position [becomes] the object of its own specific [knowledge].
31. [But mind] that is past does not exist, [while] that which is future is nowhere discovered. [And] how can the present [mind] shift from place [to] place?
32. [The alayavijnana] does not appear the way it is. As it appears — it is not like that. Consciousness essentially lacks substance; it has no other basis [than insubstantiality].
33. When a lodestone is brought near, iron turns swiftly around; [though] it possesses no mind, [it] appears to possess mind. In just the same way,
34. The alayavijnana appears to be real though it is not. When it moves to and fro it [seems to] retain the [three] existences.
35. Just as the ocean and trees move though they have no mind, the alayavijnana is active [only] in dependence on a body.
36. Considering that without a body there is no consciousness, you must also state what kind of specific knowledge of itself this [consciousness] possesses!
37. By saying that a specific knowledge of itself [exists] one says it is an entity. But one also says that it is not possible to say, "This is it!"
38. To convince themselves as well as others, those who are intelligent [should] always proceed without error!
39. The knowable is known by a knower. Without the knowable no knowing [is possible]. So why not accept that subject and object do not exist [as such]?
40. Mind is but a name. It is nothing apart from [its] name. Consciousness must be regarded as but a name. The name too has no own-being.
41. The Jinas have never found mind to exist, either internally, externally, or else between the two. Therefore mind has an illusory nature.
42. Mind has no fixed forms such as various colors and shapes, subject and object, or male, female, and neuter.
43. In brief: Buddhas do not see [what cannot] be seen. How could they see what has lack of own-being as its own-being?
44. A 'thing' is a construct. Sunyata is absence of constructs. Where constructs have appeared, how can there be sunyata?
45. The Tathagatas do not regard mind under the form of knowable and knower. Where knower and knowable prevail there isno enlightenment.
46. Space, bodhicitta, and enlightenment are without marks; without generation. They have no structure; they are beyond the path of words. Their 'mark' is non-duality.
47. The magnanimous Buddhas who reside in the heart of enlightenment and all the compassionate [Bodhisattvas] always know sunyata to be like space.
48. Therefore [Bodhisattvas] perpetually develop this sunyata, which is the basis of all phenomena; calm, illusory, baseless; the destroyer of existence.
49. Sunyata expresses non-origination, voidness, and lack of self. Those who practice it should not practice what is cultivated by the inferior.
50. Notions about positive and negative have the mark of disintegration. The Buddhas have spoken [of them in terms of] sunyata, [but] the others do not accept sunyata.
51. The abode of a mind that has no support has the mark of [empty] space. These [Bodhisattvas] maintain that development of sunyata is development of space.
52. All the dogmatists have been terrified by the lion's roar of sunyata. Wherever they may reside, sunyata lies in wait!
53. Whoever regards consciousness as momentary cannot accept it as permanent. If mind is impermanent, how does this contradict sunyata?
54. In brief: When the Buddhas accept mind as impermanent, why should they not accept mind as empty?
55. From the very beginning mind has no own-being. If things could be proved through own-being, [we would] not declare them to be without substance.
56. This statement results in abandoning mind as having substantial foundation. It is not the nature of things to transcend [their] own own-being!
57. As sweetness is the nature of sugar and hotness that of fire, so [we] maintain the nature of all things to be sunyata.
58. When one declares sunyata to be the nature [of all phenomena] one in no sense asserts that anything is destroyed or that something is eternal.
59. The activity of dependent co-origination with its twelve spokes starting with ignorance and ending with decay [we] maintain to be like a dream and an illusion.
60. This wheel with twelve spokes rolls along the road of life. Apart from this, no sentient being that partakes of the fruit of its deeds can be found.
61. Depending on a mirror the outline of a face appears: It has not moved into it but also does not exist without it.
62. Just so, the wise must always be convinced that the skandhas appear in a new existence [due to] recomposition, but do not migrate [as identical or different].
63. To sum up: Empty things are born from empty things. The Jina has taught that agent and deed, result and enjoyer are [all only] conventional.
64. Just as the totality [of their causes and conditions] create the sound of a drum or a sprout, [so we] maintain that external dependent co-origination is like a dream and an illusion.
65. It is not at all inconsistent that phenomena are born from causes. Since a cause is empty of cause, [we] understand it to be unoriginated.
66. That phenomena [are said] not to arise indicates that they are empty. Briefly, 'all phenomena' denotes the five skandhas.
67. When truth is [accepted] as has been explained, convention is not disrupted. The true is not an object separate from the conventional.
68. Convention is explained as sunyata; convention is simply sunyata. For [these two] do not occur without one another, just as created and impermanent [invariably concur].
69. Convention is born from karma [due to the various] klesas, and karma is created by mind. Mind is accumulated by the vasanas. Happiness consists in being free from the vasanas.
70. A happy mind is tranquil. A tranquil mind is not confused. To be unperplexed is to understand the truth. By understanding truth one obtains liberation.
71. It is also defined as reality, real limit, signless, ultimate meaning, the highest bodhicitta, and sunyata.
72. Those who do not know sunyata will have no share in liberation. Such deluded beings wander [among] the six destinies, imprisoned within existence.
73. When ascetics (yogacarin) have thus developed this sunyata, their minds will without doubt become devoted to the welfare of others, [as they think]:
74. "I should be grateful to those beings who in the past bestowed benefits upon me by being my parents or friends.
75. "As I have brought suffering to beings living in the prison of existence, who are scorched by the fire of the klesas, it is fitting that I [now] afford them happiness."
76. The sweet and bitter fruit [that beings in] the world [obtain] in the form of a good or bad rebirth is the outcome of whether they hurt or benefit living beings.
77-78. If Buddhas attain the unsurpassed stage by [giving] living beings support, what is so strange if [those] not guided by the slightest concern for others receive none of the pleasures of gods and men that support the guardians of the world, Brahma, Indra, and Rudra?
79. The different kinds of suffering that beings experience in the hell realms, as beasts, and as ghosts result from causing beings pain.
80. The inevitable and unceasing suffering of hunger, thirst, mutual slaughter, and torments result from causing pain.
81. Know that beings are subject to two kinds of maturation: [that of] Buddhas [and] Bodhisattvas and that of good and bad rebirth.
82. Support [living beings] with your whole nature and protect them like your own body. Indifference toward beings must be avoided like poison!
83. Though the Sravakas obtain a lesser enlightenment thanks to indifference/ the bodhi of the Perfect Buddhas is obtained by not abandoning living beings.
84. How can those who consider how the fruit of helpful and harmful deeds ripens persist in their selfishness for even a single moment?
85. The sons of the Buddha are active in developing enlightenment, which has steadfast compassion as its root, grows from the sprout of bodhicitta, and has the benefit of others as its sole fruit.
86. Those who are strengthened by meditational development find the suffering of others frightening. [In order to support others] they forsake even the pleasures of dhyana; they even enter the Avici hell!
87. They are wonderful; they are admirable; they are most extraordinarily excellent! Nothing is more amazing than those who sacrifice their person and riches!
88. Those who understand the sunyata of phenomena [but also] believe in [the law of] karma and its results are more wonderful than wonderful, more astonishing than astonishing!
89. Wishing to protect living beings, they take rebirth in the mud of existence. Unsullied by its events, they are like a lotus [rooted] in the mire.
90. Though sons of the Buddha such as Samantabhadra have consumed the fuel of the klesas through the cognitive fire of sunyata, the waters of compassion still flow within them!
91-92. Having come under the guiding power of compassion they display the descent [from Tusita], birth, merriments, renunciation, ascetic practices, great enlightenment, victory over the hosts of Mara, turning of the Dharmacakra, the request of all the gods, and [the entry into] nirvana.
93. Having emanated such forms as Brahma, Indra, Visnu, and Rudra, they present through their compassionate natures a performance suitable to beings in need of guidance.
94. Two [kinds] of knowledge arise [from] the Mahayana to give comfort and ease to those who journey in sorrow along life's path— so it is said. But [this] is not the ultimate meaning.
95. As long as they have not been admonished by the Buddhas, Sravakas [who are] in a bodily state of cognition remain in a swoon, intoxicated by samadhi.
96. But once admonished, they devote themselves to living beings in varied ways. Accumulating stores of merit and knowledge, they obtain the enlightenment of Buddhas.
97. As the potentiality of both [accumulations], the vasanas are said to be the seed [of enlightenment]. That seed, [which is] the accumulation of things, produces the sprout of life.
98. The teachings of the protectors of the world accord with the [varying] resolve of living beings. The Buddhas employ a wealth of skillful means, which take many worldly forms.
99. [Teachings may differ] in being either profound or vast; at times they are both. Though they sometimes may differ, they are invariably characterized by sunyata and non-duality.
100. Whatever the dharams, stages, and paramitas of the Buddhas, the omniscient [Tathagatas] have stated that they form a part of bodhicitta.
101. Those who thus always benefit living beings through body, words, and mind advocate the claims of sunyata, not the contentions of annihilation.
102. The magnanimous [Bodhisattvas] do not abide in nirvana or samsara. Therefore the Buddhas have spoken of this as "the non-abiding nirvana"
103. The unique elixir of compassion functions as merit, [but] the elixir of sunyata functions as the highest. Those who drink it for the sake of themselves and others are sons of the Buddha.
104. Salute these Bodhisattvas with your entire being! Always worthy of honor in the three worlds, guides of the world, they strive to represent the lineage of the Buddhas.
105. [In] Mahayana this bodhicitta is said to be the very best. So produce bodhicitta through firm and balanced efforts.
106. [In this] existence there is no other means for the realizationof one's own and others' benefit. The Buddhas have until now seen no means apart from bodhicitta.
107. Simply by generating bodhicitta a mass of merit is collected. If it took form, it would more than fill the expanse of space!
108. If a person developed bodhicitta only for a moment, not even the Jinas could calculate the mass of his merit!
109. The one finest jewel is a precious mind free of klesas. Robbers like the klesas or Mara cannot steal or damage it.
110. Just as the high aspirations of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in samsara are unswerving, those who set their course on bodhicitta must make [firm their] resolve.
111. No matter how amazing [all this seems], you must make efforts as explained. Thereafter you yourself will understand the course of Samantabhadra!
112. Through the incomparable merit I have now collected by praising the excellent bodhicitta praised by the excellent Jinas, may living beings submerged in the waves of life's ocean gain a foothold on the path followed by the leader of those who walk on two legs.
Our good fortune is solely due to this translation of this wonderful text by Chris Lindtner
Technorati: Buddhism Buddha Buddhist Dharma Compassion Wisdom Religion Meditation Zen Arya Nagarjuna Spirituality Inspiration Bodhicittavivarana Insight
Friday, February 15, 2008
Quotes of Wei Wu Wei
"What we are looking for ... is what is looking"
"Why are you unhappy?
Because 99.9 per cent of everything you think, and of everything you do, is for yourself.
And there isn't one."
~End of post~
Technorati: Buddhism Buddha Buddhist Dharma Compassion Wisdom Religion Meditation Zen Philosophy Spirituality Inspiration Wei Wu Wei Insight
Written by Mike Graham, 25 Jan 2008, last edited 14 Feb 2008
It is true that "We are Lived", "Life Lives Us" and "We are an expression of the One Life".
Does this mean that we are not the 'Doer' of anything?
Actions arise, things get done - there is no doubt about that.
The question remains - Who or what is the 'Doer'?
We only have two candidates nominated as the 'doer'.
Awareness / Aliveness / Consciousness / Presence-Awareness / Intelligience-Energy / God.
The 'me', the ego, the reference point.
Looking in more detail
Awareness / Consciousness / Aliveness.
Awareness / Intelligence-Energy is Omnipresent - which means that it is Present in every possibly location in the Universe, without being 'more Present' in some places and 'less Present' in others.
There is no possible separation that can exist - and all apparent separation is an illusion. One is All. There is no room for a separate 'god' and no room for a separate 'you' or a separate 'me'.
There cannot be a separate 'doer'.
Some hold that "Consciousness is the 'ultimate doer' ", but that is Dualistic. There is no separation between Consciousness and anything else, even an 'ultimate 'doer'. The 'ultimate doer' is just a concept, a label, an abstraction. The actuality is there is only DO-ing but no separate 'Doer' except in the mind as a thought.
Everything arises in Consciousness in the immediacy of the Present Moment. It does not arise from a 'separate Doer' or a 'separate Source'.
Consciousness is non-personal - there is no entity that can be a 'Doer' or a 'Source'.
Everything just arises. That is it.
There is only Consciousness / Awareness / Intelligence - Energy. God.
The 'me', the ego
The ego is just a thought. The 'me' is just a thought. It has no power at all in it's own right.
The 'me' cannot be the 'doer' but it certainly claims to be.
Awareness sees and the 'me' says "I see". Awareness hears and the 'me' comes in and says "I hear".
The seeing and the hearing have already occurred before the thoughts "I see" and "I hear" arise.
These thoughts are 'after thoughts' - occurring after the event to which they refer.
Thoughts have no power of themselves.
Thoughts cannot be the 'doer'.
The understanding is that there IS NO DOER AT ALL. Everything just arises in consciousness.
We are Lived. Life Lives us.
But what then of the statement 'I am not the doer'?
This statement is flawed for two reasons - the assumptions on which it is based.
There is an assumption that a 'me' or an 'I' actually exists as a separate entity. So there is a belief in a non-existent 'me' which denies being the 'doer'.
That entity, when investigated is found not to exist, at which point the issue of 'who is the doer' is no longer an issue.
The 'doer' actually does not exist anywhere else other than thought. It is an abstraction. What happens is DO-ing, which is a Movement of Consciousness in the immediacy of the Present Moment.
The mind (which likes to divide and separate) latches onto this and describes it in terms of a DOER and something that is DONE - but in fact there is only DO-ing.
So the statement "I am not the doer" is correct except that there is no 'I' and there is no 'doer'.
How about "there is no doer and people should not be blamed for what they apparently 'do' and nor should you blame yourself either ".
This statement is seriously flawed as well, in addition to the reasons above, which equally apply to this statement
In blaming yourself there is an implicit belief in the 'me' that is doing the blaming and the same 'me' that is being blamed. So it is the Ego blaming the Ego. Total mind stuff. None of this exists except in the imagination.
Whether there is blaming or not is not the issue - the issue is the solid and steadfast belief in the existence of the 'me' in the first person. There is a similar belief in the separate entity of others (their 'me'). All are illusions. None actually exist.
If there is no 'me' here - how possibily could there be a 'me' over there?
When the 'me' is seen through - seen for the fiction that it is - the subject of blaming does not arise. It is a red herring.
Technorati: Buddhism Buddha Buddhist Dharma Compassion Wisdom Religion Meditation Zen Philosophy Spirituality Inspiration Peace Insight
Written by Mike Graham, 19 Jan 2008, last edited 7 Feb 2008
The mind is a wonderful tool and it has brought us so much - computers, internet and BitTorrent. It does have its place. Mind function and thought - under 'proper adult supervision' - is there doing its job. It is it's Natural function. There is no 'me' in any of that. No problem. No suffering. No separation. No Worries.
An engineer sorting out a machine that does not work, or designing a water tower that needs to be built, or me figuring out how some electrical wiring works - all Natural Functioning. But even there, the resolution often lies in non conceptual awareness - the pure looking, without thought - a moment of clarity, space, stillness. Great insights can occur then. Like with Einstein. Or small insights, like with the electrical wiring.
The Natural Functioning of Seeing is there, without a separate concept of 'me'. The Natural Functioning has always been there. The Natural Functioning of the Seeing itself is a Functioning of Awareness which is beyond brain function - the 'no-thing' that is beyond the brain. How many things would be seen without the Aliveness, without the Awareness?
Then the thought 'I see' comes up, or the thought 'I think', which brings in the apparent separate entity 'I' and attributes the seeing/thinking to that. But the seeing, which is a function of Awareness, has already occurred. There was no 'I' there at the instant of seeing.
The vast bulk of our life is Natural Functioning and occurs without thought. Even if 'we' are thinking of something else at the time the Functioning still occurs. We do not need to think 'chair' to register the chair, or think 'door' to register the door. There is a knowing there which does not need the words or the concepts. If we come across something that we do not recognize, or does not make sense, the mind is used to help sort that out - that is Natural Functioning. There is nothing personal in that - no 'me' there at all in this Natural Functioning.
We walk around the city, drive cars, clean our teeth. We see stuff - and only a very, very small part of which we label. Mostly we just see - and the knowing is there without reference to the database in the head. You see a red light and stop the car - without having thoughts about red lights, deceleration or remembering which one is the brake. All without reference to the 'me', or any reference point. You drive into a sudden 'opening' in the traffic stream - by seeing, then acting, as one - without a mental process of thinking about it.
We learn stuff - and the mind helps a lot in that. Then as learning progresses - thought drops away, the concepts drop away - leaving just the Functioning.
Roger Federer playing tennis is pure Natural Functioning. Even though the mind was involved in developing these skills, the mind function has fallen away - all that is left is the Natural Functioning and knowing - without reference to the past and without labeling/conceptualization and without any 'me'. He does not think 'ball' every time he sees one. He does not even need a concept called 'ball' - who needs a concept when you have a knowing about the actuality?
Using the mind in this way is Natural Functioning. It is the way we learn and is built into us. It is our Natural Functioning. Just as learning is built into the cats in their 'catty' way - as their Natural Functioning.
You can look at a clock and tell the time, but without the translation into words and concepts. Just seeing.
Labeling takes us into conceptual thought, references to the past and in the main adds nothing to what is already seen and known. Knowing that the name of a fish is 'Guppy' and its scientific name is Lebistes reticulatus adds nothing to what has been seen. We do not understand anything more at all - but we think that labeling is necessary and think that it is knowledge.
Labeling a certain sensation/feeling as 'anger' or 'anxiety' takes us into conceptual thought, into the past and the future and away from the Actuality.
'Witnessing the anger' as a 'spiritual practice' does nothing at all as that is purely conceptual. The anger does not exist - it is just a concept. 'Anger' is just a label and labeling it as such does not bring us any more understanding of what is actually there. The Actuality is the feeling/sensation/energy movement and not the label, the concept - 'anger'.
Add to that the 'witness' that does the 'witnessing' - is also conceptual and a label that adds nothing. The actuality is that all there is - is 'seeing' - there is no entity doing the seeing - pure seeing by awareness itself, which is not an entity. Labeling and conceptualizing makes it appear as if there is a separate entity there.
The vast bulk of our life is Natural Functioning and is without labeling - only a very, VERY small proportion of what we see is labeled. We survive very well with minimal labeling as there is an effortless, instant knowing there. The knowing is already there with the seeing. How else can the label be added, literally as an afterthought, yet again?
Having said all that - there is a place for words, labels and conceptualization.
But not in 'running the show'.
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