Thursday, December 11, 2008

Palden Dorje aka "Buddha Boy"

Please forgive the long delay. I have been fortunate enough to settle into a new home on the east coast and will be back to the regular frequency of posts starting presently. Please enjoy today's posting! Sometimes on this blog we depart from teaching buddhism 101 in a dogmatic fashion in an attempt to relate better to a western viewer. Today I would like to share a news story. In buddhism we do not typically have much in the way of modern "tabloid type" news but this story has caught the buddhist world by storm and I would like to share it with you.

Have you heard of Nepal's "buddha boy" as he is popularized in the eastern media? He is called Palden Dorje. He is a teenager (18 years old now) who grew up very near the town that Shakyamuni Buddha was born. His mother's name is the same as the mother of the legendary Buddha. He went into meditation at the age of 15 under a Papil tree (the same tree Buddha sat under and attained enlightenment). He advised his brother that he would mediate for 6 years (same length of time Buddha contemplated prior to enlightenment) in an attempt to save human beings and liberate suffering in the world, he would come out of the meditation to teach after the period was over. To many in the buddhist world he is seen as Maitreya...the future buddha told of in buddhist legends. He recently came out of meditation to give the following statement before returning to the jungle to complete his mission. He makes some statements about not disturbing him because devotees have swarmed the remote jungle area to sit and be near him:

"Through my meditation I have learned to control my elements of speech, thinking, and all activity. As long as humans lack
this control, they shall need to eat and drink...this is well, although I urge people to honor the pure way

1. Strict vegetarianism
2. Eggs are not permitted, dairy products are permitted
3. The skins of dead animals are to be avoided as accessories
4. Negative speech is to be avoided. Such things, especially among my followers disrupt my meditation
5. For those who would call me into their presence, I abhor alcohol, drugs and tobacco, and those who would come into my
presence must either abstain from the use of such or desist from entering my ground.
6. No one is to leave money in my presence. Money, through it's circulation, has often aquired negative vibrations
which also disrupt my connection to the higher dimensions.

Keeping these rules will not only help me in my meditation but accelerate your own evolution and facilitate our communication. Please understand that though my love for you is unconditional, I am teaching you methodically the correct way. Be aware that our communication consists not of words but of feelings which engender ideas. Be ever alert to the state of your senses and feelings. No event is without significance, each feeling, pain or the presence of a thing or person carries
meaning. Do not give in to feelings of pride or inadequacy, both will subtract from your presence. You are enough as you
are in the moment, all necessities will be shown to you at the appropriate time."

I think it is deeply inspiring that a boy of such young age has devoted himself to metta, to loving-kindness, to the benefit of others through meditation. In this world of me, me, me I think his selfless devotion and powerful belief that he can make a difference through his actions is moving. To many in the west the fact that he has not eaten or drank during this time is a miracle a marvel that can not be understood by modern medicine...this is however not a surprise to devote buddhist. He was filmed by the Discover Channel for 4 days straight(which would be the length of time most people would die from starvation) and showed no degeneration of his physical condition other than profuse sweating at times which is indicative of the type of meditation practice he is performing. As buddhist we know of many geshle's (teachers) who perform this practice. We know of Tuma meditation and after a 1982 medical experiment on monks who were soaked in cold towels that began to steam with body heat being generated by the monks through meditation, so does the rest of the world. Even novice meditators know that they can altar their blood pressure and cardiac functions through meditation...why not heal the world. I give this to you to inspire those of you who have a meditation practice to reach further in your practice and to spread the word of this young boys compassion and display of spiritual power.

May his efforts benefit us all.


I have given a few photos some quite interesting in regard to his appearance when first starting the meditation to only a few days ago to add interest to this piece. Enjoy!

Palden Dorje when first beginning the 6 year meditation at age 15

Palden Dorje photo taken on Dec 3rd 2008 right before he returned to the jungle to complete his meditation. Age 18.

Palden's Mother slept at his tree meditation sight when he went missing in 2006. He was discovered further in the jungle under another tree where he fled the distraction of growing crowds.

Maitreya Iconic Representation

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Lesson 63 - The Diamond Light Visualization

Today's lesson is in regard to learning how to be more aware and consciously direct that awareness into something that is useful to oneself. May this lesson bring you happiness and a calmer more focused mind and help you have peace for yourself and the world. Namaste~

The Diamond Of Light

How do you avoid unhappy states of mind? By consciously flowing awareness into the radiance, the light emanating from the self-effulgent being within the lotus of the heart. Direct awareness through controlled breathing. Remembering this basic principle, tell yourself that it is there, and soon you will begin to feel it. You will actually cause to grow within yourself a subtle nerve force that will turn awareness into the inner being so that consciously you can feel the inner buddha nature that resides in you. This Buddha nature, and its emanation exists and flow within you. In this way you can experience true bliss, true happiness--blissful happiness that does not cycle or fade.

One moment of contact with your inner being that resides within the lotus of the heart, that is always there--one moment will clear up a whole situation in the external area of the mind for you. It will give you clear insight into how you should live your life, how to meet your circumstances, how to avoid whatever you do not want to find yourself involved in as the cycles of your life begin to repeat themselves.

This self-luminous emanation is like a diamond that is filled with light. Think about it in that way. It is filled with light, this diamond that resides within the lotus of your heart. Try to visualize this clearly and precisely as you read. Visualization of inner things is the same as opening an inner door for awareness to flow through to gain the experience that is already there. Visualization helps to pinpoint awareness and hold awareness concentrated in one certain area of the mind and gently move it to another. With this shining diamond constantly within the body, how could you become aware of an unhappy area of the mind? How could you become selfish? How could you hold resentment? How would it be possible for you to dislike another? This diamond within the lotus is within others, too.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Lesson 62 - No Good, No Bad

Each experience that we have is a good experience because it molds us. It shapes us, just like an artist would mold a piece of clay. From an ugly hunk of clay can emerge a divine being, molded by the artist. In that same way, the experiences of life, even those that boomerang back on us and those we think are terrible, mold us. But they only mold us quickly and benefit us tremendously if we hold our perspective as the inner man, the timeless man, the immortal being. Only in this way can this happen. That's the attitude, the thoughts we must have, as we go along on the path of enlightenment.

The mere fact that you want Self Realization in this life means that you have been through hundreds of thousands of experiences. You have been nearly everything that there is to be on this planet. And now, in your last lifetime, you are finishing up the experiential patterns that you didn't handle in a life prior.

Life is a series of experiences, one after another. Each experience can be looked at as a classroom in the big university of life if we only approach it that way. Who is going to these classrooms? Who is the member of this university of life? It's not your instinctive mind. It's not your intellectual mind. It's the body of your soul, your superconscious self, that wonderful body of light. It's maturing under the stress and strain, as the intellect gives back its power to the soul, as the instinct gives back its power to the soul, as the physical elements give back their power to the soul and all merge into a beautiful oneness. In this way, the beings of the new age are going to walk on Earth. Each one will have light flowing through his whole body and he will inwardly see his body glowing in light, even in the darkest night.

The good-and-bad concept should be thrown out with a lot of other things, including the up-and-down concept. There is no good; there is no bad. You don't raise your consciousness, nor do you lower it. These are just concepts that have come in by various philosophers who tried to explain these deeper teachings the very best that they could. What is bad is good, and what is good is good. And a higher state of consciousness and a lower state of consciousness, they don't exist at all. We simply hold a certain perspective of awareness, and we look out, and we go in.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Lesson 61 - Metta Meditation (Loving Kindness)

Today's lesson is on Metta. We have looked at Metta before in some other posts but I would like to give you today a great visualization technique for your meditation time centered around Metta. Metta is the buddhist term for loving kindness. This is something that we should all strive to put out in the world each and every day. A simple way to do this is to incorporate Metta into your meditation, you will see that this meditation will help soften your heart to those around you and help increase the amount of love in the world. Here is how to preform the Meditation.

Sit comfortable with back straight.

Quite your mind of activity, any thoughts that come into your mind allow to float away like clouds.

Begin to visualize the Buddha in front of you sitting on a lotus cushion.

Now see in your minds eye your family appears sitting just behind you facing the Buddha, so you see a picture of your self sitting in front of the Buddha and your family members behind you. Now envision love streaming from your heart to your family members.

Now envision your neighbors and those in your community with which you have an affinity for seated behind your family. Also send to them love and appreciation from your heart.

Now comes the hard part...see behind those with which you have an affinity for in the community all those whom you do not get a long with, any one you would relate to as difficult or view as your enemies. Now also send them love from your heart. This is where growth happens when you can sit in meditation and love those whom harm you or whom you do not get a long. This stretches your heart in wonderful ways.

See now in your minds eye the Buddha sitting in front of all of you. See the Buddha smile down apon you pleased with the great love and compassion you have been able to show. See from the Buddha a brilliant light of many colors pouring forth and showering down on you and the others. See all those present in your meditation happy to receive this light gift from the Buddha.

End your meditation really feeling the feeling of pure love, give thanks. As often as you can, think of this mediation during your day. So when you are stressed you can return to this place of pure love.

This mediation does wonders in releasing anger towards others and helps bring much needed love to our world of Samsara. I hope you enjoy practicing this meditation and that you grow in your love for self and others.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Lesson 60 - WHO or WHAT is the Buddha???


I am very excited about today's lesson. This lesson comes from the revered Nichiren Shu priest Shami Ryuei Michael McCormick. He has done an excellent job through this article to help us understand the proper way to view the buddha. Often times we think of the Buddha in his historical capacity only but as the following lesson shows the buddha is both a historical figure and an essence. Please use this article to further your understanding of who or what the buddha truly is.
~Namu Myoho Renge Kyo

*I apologize for the formatting of the text but the content is worth it!

Awakening as Buddha's Children

"Since time immemorial all of the people on earth have been Shakyamuni Buddha's beloved
children. We had not realized the relationship, because we had been undutiful children. It
is a unique relationship. As the moon reflects on calm water, the Buddha appears in our
calm mind." - from Hokke Shuyo Sho by Nichiren Shonin

My reflection: In what sense are we "Buddha's children"? Obviously we are not the children
of the historical Shakyamuni Buddha. But the Buddha does say in the Lotus Sutra chapter
3, "The triple world is my property. All living beings therein are my children. There are
many sufferings in this world. Only I can save all living beings." This has been interpreted
as the passage that shows that the Buddha is like our sovereign, our parent, and our
teacher or guide. How is this?

We must not forget that in Mahayana Buddhism, "Buddha" is not simply a long dead
historical figure. "Buddha" also refers to the true reality that in a metaphorical sense is the
real source or ground (though a groundless ground) of all that we experience. This
Dharmakaya or Suchness or True Nature is also the Buddha-nature. It goes by many
names in Buddhism alone. Wisdom comes from this, wisdom awakens to this. It is always
expressing itself in and through bodies of bliss (sambhogakaya) and bodies of
tranformation (nirmanakaya) in a very personal way, though it is not a person in any
conventional sense. The Eternal Shakyamuni Buddha of chapter 16 embodies all three -
the Dharma or reality, the bliss of awakening and boundless merit, and the concrete
actualization of compassionate awakening conduct in this world. In this sense the Buddha
as reality, realization and expression is really at the center of everything. At the center of
the Omandala that is the world we live in. As the center the Buddha protects and leads us
like a sovereign, nurtures and cares for us all like a parent, and guides us to the same
awakening and selfless compassion as our great teacher and exemplar. Here Nichiren
asserts that this Buddha is found in our own calm mind. Then we are able to be the
Buddha for others so that they too can find the Buddha within them.

Namu Myoho Renge Kyo,

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Lesson 59 - Wisdom is a Whisper

I want to give you something to ponder on this week and a lesson to practice. You know it is often times interesting to me when speaking with a revered one (buddhist priest or holy person) that many times it has been my experience that something they might say very casually will later hit me as very profound. I think it is the way with those who have a holy calling that the buddhas' essence just pours from them in this easy manner. Last week I was speaking to a buddhist priest who said something that struck me as one of these profound statements. When talking about wisdom he said "Wisdom is a whisper, wisdom does not speak in a loud voice so you must calm your mind through meditation so you may hear the whisper of wisdom when it speaks to you." In this blog we have often talk about the chaotic nature of the mind. We have often described the mind as a the buddhist usually refer to it as "the monkey mind" racing in it's many varying directions of worry, desire and other related attachments. I challenge you this week to make a concerted effort to meditate so that you may hear your own internal voice of wisdom. Like the revered mentioned wisdom does not come on with a strong overbearing voice so silence your minds racing thoughts through peaceful mediation and allow your self that opportunity for clarity so that you may hear when wisdom speaks to you.


Monday, March 17, 2008

Lesson 58 - The Three Bonds: Anava, Maya and Karma

"Anava" this simple word has a deep and very spiritual meaning. The buddhist term (and also used in Saivite theology) Anava means the consciousness of the ego, the sense of "I" and "mine". The representation of a sense of individuality and a separation from a general existence of any "divine plan". One of the three Buddhist malas or bondages: anava, karma and maya. In Shaivism, anava is the cause of the individual soul's mistaken sense of separate identity from Universal God, and the last bond broken before union or Self-Realization (moksha).

"Maya" is the belief that everything, which one sees in this world is illusion, a product of the individual's own failed interpretation and self-delusion. It begs the there an out there, out there?

"Karma" if you are a reader of this blog I know you know what Karma is by now but as a quick definition. Karma is the universal principle of cause and effect.

Now that you have a working definition of what Anava, Maya and Karma mean I would like to relay to you the following dharma lesson.

Just as children are kept from knowing all about adult life until they have matured into understanding, so too is the soul's knowledge limited. We learn what we need to know, and we understand what we have experienced. Only this narrowing of our awareness, coupled with a sense of individualized ego, allows us to look upon the world and our part in it from a practical, human point of view. Pasha is the soul's triple bondage: maya, karma and anava. Without the world of maya, the soul could not evolve through experience. Karma is the law of cause and effect, action and reaction governing maya. Anava is the individuating veil of duality, source of ignorance and finitude. Maya is the classroom, karma the teacher, and anava the student's ignorance. The three bonds, or malas, are given by the buddha to help and protect us as we unfold. Yet, the buddhas all-knowingness may be experienced for brief periods by the meditator who turns within to his own essence. "When the soul attains Self-knowledge, then it becomes one with the buddha. The malas perish, birth's cycle ends and the lustrous light of wisdom dawns." ~Namaste

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Lesson 57 - Tantric Practice, Karma, Vows and Guru Lineage

I wanted to post this video today as a means to explain why it is essential to have a lineage holder guru when practicing Tantra and to clear up misconceptions related to the term Karma. Many Westerners I think are drawn to tantric practice because they love the idea of secret, magical practices but I tell you it is VERY dangerous to practice in this manner if you do not have proper empowerment and a qualified lineage holder guru to guide you. I come from the Vajrayana tradition and for us we are taught from very early on the importance of guru lineage but I think this is something that most westerners do not have a good understanding of as to why this is necessary so today's lesson is in video format from Tsme Tulka Rinpoche on this subject. He does a most excellent talk on why this is so important and the pitfalls that await those who attempts these practices without proper training and guru blessings. He also speaks of Karma another subject I think is highly misunderstood and it's relation to vows. Please enjoy this video it is one hour and thirteen minutes long but it is chopped full of a whole host of important topics and the knowledge it imparts is quite important and worthy of your time I assure you. Enjoy and Namaste.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Lesson 56 - Mindfulness

One of the cornerstone teachings in Buddhism is that of mindfulness. Mindfulness is a practice in careful attention. It is important to be mindful in ALL things, in this way we have the best opportunity to guard ourselves from negative outflow like harmful speech or harmful action. When we are mindful we are completely in the moment and aware of our deeds and actions. We are not concerned with the past or future only the exact present moment. When we are mindful there is no need to second guess ourselves because we know that we used our full attention to focus the best effort possible on the task. Mindfulness also allows us to truly see a situation for what it really is because we have been fully attentive and not wrapped up in our own internal dialog and perceptions. Being mindful in ALL things is the best way to practice the dharma. So the next time you brush your teeth or have a conversation with a friend I challenge you to be mindful. Do not get caught up in your thoughts or opinions of the situation or participate in an activity as if in auto pilot mode but instead be fully present, experiencing moment by moment the joys of living a life fully alive and attentive. I assure you that this will improve your quality of life in innumerable ways.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Lesson 55 - Kalachakra

I am trying to get as many blog postings done as I can for you but this one will do it until I return on Feb 28th. Hope you are enjoying the posts so far and learning new insights about the wonderful buddha dharma. I will leave you with something that I received on e-mail : What is Kalachakra?

Kalachakra is a Tantric practice in the Vajarayana tradition of tibetan buddhism. It must be given by a Varja master.

The Kalachakra Initiation is generally given over 12 days. First, there are eight days of preparation rituals, during which the monks make the mandala. Then the students are initiated, after which they are allowed to see the completed sand mandala. The ceremony ends when the monks release the positive energy of the mandala into the everyday world through a final ritual.

The Tibetan word for initiation is wong-khor, which literally means giving permission, or granting the authority to practice the Tantra. The person conferring the initiation is known as the ritual master or Vajra Master, because the vajra (shown at top of this blog entry) is the ritual implement that cuts through illusion and represents the indestructible mind. Since the tantra itself lives through direct transmission by the Vajra Master, the initiation fulfils the Vajra Master's pledge to pass on the tantra without diminishing it in any way, always for the benefit of all sentient beings.

During the initiation, the student makes a pledge to respect and uphold the teachings. In this way the student enters into the lineage. Students may choose to take on different levels of commitment. One who maintains the commitment to a conscientious daily practice will achieve greater results, and the lineage will be strengthened. Many beautiful objects are used in the Kalachakra rituals. The thekpu is the special house where the mandala is built. There is a brocade throne where the Vajra Master, sits to give the initiation and the altar to the Kalachakra deity contains elaborate offerings and ritual objects. Large silk tapestries of the Buddha, Kalachakra, and various protector deities are hung around the thekpu, the throne, and the altar. The first few days of the Kalachakra process is about constructing the sand mandala, there are many elaborate rituals involved in this process. Those who construct the mandala take years to learn how to do this process.When the mandala is finally completed sacred vases are placed around it. The sides of the thekpu are covered with curtains so that the mandala will not be seen before the proper time. The Vajra Master thanks the spirits and deities for their cooperation by making offerings to them. The monks play sacred music with bells, gongs, drums, and huge twelve foot horns. They also do a dance of celebration that lasts an hour and a half.

On the ninth day, after the Vajra Master and the monks finish their morning prayers and meditation, the students arrive for the first time. Those who wish to be initiated into the practice of the Kalachakra teachings take a vow to have compassion toward all living things, to work for the benefit of others, and never to reveal the secrets of the mandala.

The students are each given two stalks of kusha grass, because the Buddha was sitting on kusha grass under the Bodhi tree when he became enlightened. The students are told to put the long stalks of kusha grass under their mattresses and the short stalk under their pillows. This will help the students to remember and study their dreams that night.

The next day after some preliminaries, the actual initiation begins. After the students have made pledges of good behaviour, the Vajra Master asks Kalachakra to open their eyes. Each student has received a red blindfold to place over his or her forehead as a symbol, since the students are not yet spiritually ready to see the sand mandala, and they now remove their blindfolds, symbolically removing the darkness of ignorance. They are now prepared to 'see' the mandala.

Next, the Vajra Master gives the students what are called the Seven Childhood Initiations. These initiations will help students to be reborn during the ceremony as ideal persons fit to enter the perfect world of the mandala. Each initiation corresponds to a significant event in the life of a child. The seven initiations represent a child's receiving a name, having a first bath, getting a first haircut, first experiencing the five senses, getting pierced ears, saying a first word, and learning to read.

After the students have been 'reborn' by completing the childhood initiations, they may enter the ideal world of the Wheel of Time - the universe of enlightenment, ruled by the deity Kalachakra. They can now view the mandala. The Kalachakra sand mandala shows the 722 gods and goddesses as well as the palace in which they dwell. The four faces of the deity named Kalachakra are also pictured. To represent his faces in the mandala four wedge-shaped areas of colour are used, within the circle. A blue-black wedge, or face, at the bottom of the picture looks east. The red face looks south. The white face looks north. The orange or yellow face at the top looks west.

If you envision what the mandala looks like from the deity's point of view, inside the mandala at its center, the deity's black face looks forward, his red face looks to his right, his white face looks to his left, and his yellow face looks backward. There are representations in the mandala of 721 additional deities, as well as animals, flowers, and jewels. The palace of Kalachakra, where the gods and goddesses live, is the largest square within the circle. This building has five levels, and each level consists of a square with four walls. In the middle of each wall is an entrance. In order to reach the most secret central chambers of the palace, initiates must travel through the maze of squares. Each square represents a different aspect of an enlightened being.

The mandala appears to be flat, but you can use your imagination to picture it rising up three-dimensionally toward its lotus-flower center. To trace the path of enlightenment, you enter the black eastern doorway from the outside of the building. You will find yourself on the first level of the palace. This level is called the mandala of the enlightened body. Halfway inside the body mandala is another set of four walls and an entrance. When you proceed through the entrance, you have reached the enlightened speech mandala. Halfway inside, there is another set of walls and entrances where you will discover an even higher level called the enlightened mind mandala. Halfway inside the mind mandala is a square platform that represents the enlightened wisdom mandala.

Once in the wisdom mandala, you will find another square platform. This is the highest level of the palace, the enlightened great bliss mandala. Within it is the eight-petalled lotus, at the centre of which stands the deity Kalachakra embracing his female counterpart, Vishvamata, the All-Mother. Together they symbolise full enlightenment, the union of wisdom and compassion.

Throughout the mandala there are many other identifiable symbols. Twelve animals, located on the lowest level of the palace, are associated with the twelve months of the year. Each animal supports a lotus flower where thirty deities are represented, symbolising the thirty days of the month. And around the entire palace lie circular bands representing the ancient elements: yellow for earth, a white band with waves representing water, salmon red for fire, gray for wind, and finally the outermost band, representing space and consciousness. With the Vajra Master guiding their minds and inner eyes, the students become authorised to enter into this perfect palace. But to become enlightened, the students will first have to work hard to perfect their techniques of meditation and their compassion toward all living beings.

In the last part of the ceremony, the Varjra Master says prayers, thanking the 722 deities for their participation and requesting them to leave the mandala and return to their sacred homes. He removes the sand that symbolically represents the deities, then cuts through the mandala along its original wheel-shaped lines with a ritual implement. The sand is brushed toward the centre of the platform and then the monks put it into urns and transport it to a nearby body of water. With chanting and more prayers, a ritual assistant empties the sand into the water, and the perfect peace of Kalachakra flows with it into the everyday world. The mandala, now gone from view, remains forever in the memory of all who entered its perfect realm.

Though the philosophy of the Kalachakra is at the highest level of Buddhism anyone can use it at any time. This philosophy urges us to reach a splendid, pure inner world while still living in our imperfect, earthly one, using Kalachakra as a model. For example, a pure body comes from healthy eating and not smoking, drinking alcohol, or taking drugs. Pure speech means not gossiping or saying unkind things about others. A pure mind is trained away from angry, hateful and selfish thoughts. Once each of us purifies our body, speech and mind, we can find inner peace. When we have inner peace, at last it is possible to experience the state of bliss, or perfect happiness.

Side note: The highest ranking kalachakra varja master is the Dalia Lama.

Here is a very inspiring video of Kalachakra I think it does an excellent job of conveying the feeling of Kalachakra. This video can be downloaded on to your I-pod by going to the I-tunes music store and typing in Kalachakra in the search. It is free. I always have this on my I-pod, as many of you who know me personally know I have flight anxiety so when I fly I always watch this during take off and landing. It just gives me such a feeling of calm. Thought I would share that with you in case you want to use that little trick. ; )

Until I return, the buddha in me bows to the buddha in you! May you have good health and happiness and live in the full expression of the dharma. Namaste!

Inspirational Kalachakra Video

Kalachakra Mandala Dismantling by Dalia Lama
This video shows a little more of what you have read above about the dismantling process and shows the thekpu.

Lesson 54 - Live life with conscious joy!

The possibilities for joy and true fulfillment are more abundant than ever before. It is great to be alive, on this day, in this place, with things just as they are. And you are truly blessed to be you, with your own unique and valuable gifts to offer each new moment.

Making the most of this beautiful moment is really quite simple. Just allow the authentic, driving purpose that lives within you to be expressed in your thoughts, words and actions.

Sure, there are difficult problems and formidable challenges in this world. And yet even the challenges and difficulties eventually bring positive value to life.

For in working through those challenges, you learn, you grow, you create and you discover new, delightful possibilities. When life compels you to give your best, you end up getting better, stronger, and more capable of living with richness and joy.

Life is beautiful right now, as it is. And what's better, is that you can make it even more so.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Chuang Yen Monastery

This blog entry is on Chuang Yen Monastery. As you might have read in my profile this is where I spent years in practice while living in New York. CYM is one of those rare and special places. In my effort to advise you on buddhist resources here in the west I felt I had to show you this wonderful treasure. The Chuang Yen Monastery (CYM) is one of the Country's greatest wonders. It is the largest Buddhist monastery in the eastern United States and is the seat for the Buddhist Association of the United States (BAUS). It houses the Woo-Ju Library, the only library in the US exclusively specializing in Buddhism. Chuang Yen is also home to the largest indoor statue of the Buddha in Europe and the Americas. It is truly awe inspiring. Kuan-Yin Hall houses a colored porcelain statue of Kuan-Yin Bodhisattva which dates from the Ming Dynasty. It is the largest colored porcelain statue of Kuan-Yin in the world. The monastery is located on 225 acres of serene, rural beautiful land in Putnam County, New York. It is my hope that when you are in New York you will endeavor to visit. I can not possibly explain to you the feeling that is present there. From the natural beauty of the land to the sacred geometric perfection of the buildings to the ornate altars and relics, everything about CYM is so incredible and meditative. The monks and nuns are so welcoming and the amount of resources are vast. You know when you are there that you are in the buddhas' land! Please enjoy the video and photos, let it be your Darshan (gazing at in a holy manner) for the day.

Chuang Yen Monastery
Route 301
Kent, NY 10512
Ongoing Monastery programs in English are held on Sundays in the Tai-Hsu Hall:
Morning Meditation AND Dharma Talk: 9:30 - 10:30am
Book Discussion Group: 10:30am - noon
Vegetaria lunch served (Sunday only): Noon - 1:00pm

**Special note** - CYM has some really unique programs, they offer a summer camp for children, special seasonal ceremonies and workshops, Dharma talks as well as monastery stays where lay individuals can take the monk or nun vows for a set amount of time...kinda like trying on the monastic life. Very cool adventure for the more serious buddhist - and yes you will have to shave your head! You take the vows and live exactly as a monk or nun would for your given stay then you go through a ceremony to relinquish your vows before leaving the monastery stay.

Copy and paste this link into your browser for a PDF file of the 2008 Calendar of Events for the Monastery:

Video produced by CYM/BAUS:


Notice the girl to the right of the photo to get the scale of the great Buddha!

It is a photographers Dream!

Map of the Monastery Grounds

It is also very beautiful in the winter but know that the rural roads are hard to pass when ice and snow covered so it is best to plan your visit for the spring, summer or fall.
chuang yen monastery in upstate ny. isn\'t it gorgeous in the snow?

Lesson 53 - Sky Like Meditation Practice

This explanation of Sky Like Meditation comes from Jack Kornfield. I have personally had the opportunity to speak with Jack on several occasions and he is a wonderful teacher of the dharma for westerners. He was born in America but trained as a buddhist monk in the Theraveda tradition. If you are looking for buddhist books for a western ear please check out Jack Kornfield on your next trip to the bookstore. Jack Kornfield spent many years studying Buddhism in Burma, Thailand and India, is co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, and the Spirit Rock Center in Woodacre, California. He also holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. This meditation is one of a variety of practices offered in Jack Kornfield's The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness and Peace (Bantam Books).

A Mind Like Sky: Wise Attention Open Awareness

By Jack Kornfield

Meditation comes alive through a growing capacity to release our habitual entanglement in the stories and plans, conflicts and worries that make up the small sense of self, and to rest in awareness. In meditation we do this simply by acknowledging the moment-to-moment changing conditions—the pleasure and pain, the praise and blame, the litany of ideas and expectations that arise. Without identifying with them, we can rest in the awareness itself, beyond conditions, and experience what my teacher Ajahn Chah called jai pongsai, our natural lightness of heart. Developing this capacity to rest in awareness nourishes samadhi (concentration), which stabilizes and clarifies the mind, and prajna (wisdom), that sees things as they are.

We can employ this awareness or wise attention from the very start. When we first sit down to meditate, the best strategy is to simply notice whatever state of our body and mind is present. To establish the foundation of mindfulness, the Buddha instructs his followers "to observe whether the body and mind are distracted or steady, angry or peaceful, excited or worried, contracted or released, bound or free." Observing what is so, we can take a few deep breaths and relax, making space for whatever situation we find.

From this ground of acceptance we can learn to use the transformative power of attention in a flexible and malleable way. Wise attention—mindfulness—can function like a zoom lens. Often it is most helpful to steady our practice with close-up attention. In this, we bring a careful attention and a very close focus to our breath or a sensation, or to the precise movement of feeling or thought. Over time we can eventually become so absorbed that subject and object disappear. We become the breath, we become the tingling in our foot, we become the sadness or joy. In this we sense ourself being born and dying with each breath, each experience. Entanglement in our ordinary sense of self dissolves; our troubles and fears drop away. Our entire experience of the world shows itself to be impermanent, ungraspable and selfless. Wisdom is born.

But sometimes in meditation such close focus of attention can create an unnecessary sense of tightness and struggle. So we must find a more open way to pay attention. Or perhaps when we are mindfully walking down the street we realize it is not helpful to focus only on our breath or our feet. We will miss the traffic signals, the morning light and the faces of the passersby. So we open the lens of awareness to a middle range. When we do this as we sit, instead of focusing on the breath alone, we can feel the energy of our whole body. As we walk we can feel the rhythm of our whole movement and the circumstances through which we move. From this perspective it is almost as if awareness "sits on our shoulder" and respectfully acknowledges a breath, a pain in our legs, a thought about dinner, a feeling of sadness, a shop window we pass. Here wise attention has a gracious witnessing quality, acknowledging each event—whether boredom or jealousy, plans or excitement, gain or loss, pleasure or pain—with a slight bow. Moment by moment we release the illusion of getting "somewhere" and rest in the timeless present, witnessing with easy awareness all that passes by. As we let go, our innate freedom and wisdom manifest. Nothing to have, nothing to be. Ajahn Chah called this "resting in the One Who Knows."

Yet at times this middle level of attention does not serve our practice best. We may find ourself caught in the grip of some repetitive thought pattern or painful situation, or lost in great physical or emotional suffering. Perhaps there is chaos and noise around us. We sit and our heart is tight, our body and mind are neither relaxed nor gracious, and even the witnessing can seem tedious, forced, effortful.

In this circumstance we can open the lens of attention to its widest angle and let our awareness become like space or the sky. As the Buddha instructs in the Majjhima Nikaya, "Develop a mind that is vast like space, where experiences both pleasant and unpleasant can appear and disappear without conflict, struggle or harm. Rest in a mind like vast sky."

From this broad perspective, when we sit or walk in meditation, we open our attention like space, letting experiences arise without any boundaries, without inside or outside. Instead of the ordinary orientation where our mind is felt to be inside our head, we can let go and experience the mind's awareness as open, boundless and vast. We allow awareness to experience consciousness that is not entangled in the particular conditions of sight, sound and feelings, but consciousness that is independent of changing conditions—the unconditioned. Ajahn Jumnien, a Thai forest elder, speaks of this form of practice as Maha Vipassana, resting in pure awareness itself, timeless and unborn. For the meditator, this is not an ideal or a distant experience. It is always immediate, ever present, liberating; it becomes the resting place of the wise heart.

Fully absorbed, graciously witnessing, or open and spacious—which of these lenses is the best way to practice awareness? Is there an optimal way to pay attention? The answer is "all of the above." Awareness is infinitely malleable, and it is important not to fixate on any one form as best. Mistakenly, some traditions teach that losing the self and dissolving into a breath or absorbing into an experience is the optimal form of attention. Other traditions erroneously believe that resting in the widest angle, the open consciousness of space, is the highest teaching. Still others say that the middle ground—an ordinary, free and relaxed awareness of whatever arises here and now, "nothing special"—is the highest attainment. Yet in its true nature awareness cannot be limited. Consciousness itself is both large and small, particular and universal. At different times our practice will require that we embrace all these perspectives.

Every form of genuine awareness is liberating. Each moment we release entanglement and identification is selfless and free. But remember too that every practice of awareness can create a shadow when we mistakenly cling to it. A misuse of space can easily lead us to become spaced-out and unfocused. A misuse of absorption can lead to denial, the ignoring of other experiences, and a misuse of ordinary awareness can create a false sense of "self" as a witness. These shadows are subtle veils of meditative clinging. See them for what they are and let them go. And learn to work with all the lenses of awareness to serve your wise attention.

The more you experience the power of wise attention, the more your trust in the ground of awareness itself will grow. You will learn to relax and let go. In any moment of being caught, awareness will step in, a presence without judging or resisting. Close-in or vast, near or far, awareness illuminates the ungraspable nature of the universe. It returns the heart and mind to its birthright, naturally luminous and free.

To amplify and deepen an understanding of how to practice with awareness as space, the following instructions can be helpful. One of the most accessible ways to open to spacious awareness is through the ear door, listening to the sounds of the universe around us. Because the river of sound comes and goes so naturally, and is so obviously out of our control, listening brings the mind to a naturally balanced state of openness and attention. I learned this particular practice of sound as a gateway to space from my colleague Joseph Goldstein more than 25 years ago and have used it ever since. Awareness of sound in space can be an excellent way to begin practice because it initiates the sitting period with the flavor of wakeful ease and spacious letting go. Or it can be used after a period of focused attention.

Whenever you begin, sit comfortably and at ease. Let your body be at rest and your breathing be natural. Close your eyes. Take several full breaths and let each release gently. Allow yourself to be still.

Now shift awareness away from the breath. Begin to listen to the play of sounds around you. Notice those that are loud and soft, far and near. Just listen. Notice how all sounds arise and vanish, leaving no trace. Listen for a time in a relaxed, open way.

As you listen, let yourself sense or imagine that your mind is not limited to your head. Sense that your mind is expanding to be like the sky-open, clear, vast like space. There is no inside or outside. Let the awareness of your mind extend in every direction like the sky.

Now the sounds you hear will arise and pass away in the open space of your own mind. Relax in this openness and just listen. Let the sounds that come and go, whether far or near, be like clouds in the vast sky of your own awareness. The play of sounds moves through the sky, appearing and disappearing without resistance.

As you rest in this open awareness, notice how thoughts and images also arise and vanish like sounds. Let the thoughts and images come and go without struggle or resistance. Pleasant and unpleasant thoughts, pictures, words and feelings move unrestricted in the space of mind. Problems, possibilities, joys and sorrows come and go like clouds in the clear sky of mind.

After a time, let this spacious awareness notice the body. Become aware of how the sensations of breath and body float and change in the same open sky of awareness. The breath breathes itself, it moves like a breeze. The body is not solid. It is felt as areas of hardness and softness, pressure and tingling, warm and cool sensation, all floating in the space of the mind's awareness.

Let the breath move like a breeze. Rest in this openness. Let sensations float and change. Allow all thoughts and images, feelings and sounds to come and go like clouds in the clear open space of awareness.

Finally, pay attention to the awareness itself. Notice how the open space of awareness is naturally clear, transparent, timeless and without conflict—allowing all things, but not limited by them.

The Buddha said, "O Nobly Born, remember the pure open sky of your own true nature. Return to it. Trust it. It is home."

May the blessings of these practices awaken your own inner wisdom and inspire your compassion. And through the blessing of your heart may the world find peace.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Lesson 52 - Methods of Relaxation

Well today I had a lesson I wrote for you on the iconic Buddhist work of art: The Wheel of Life but Blogger had other plans for my lesson. It would not allow the interactive tools I had spent much time writing html code for, so I will continue to work on that for a future lesson. In proper Buddhist thought there is no need to be concerned, we just happily move along right? No attachments, no worries. : )

Today I have a great gift of the dharma for you, two very short videos on the understandings of Relaxation. These two dharma talks come from a friend of mine, whom I lovingly refer to as "Lama Z" (giggle) His name is Zachoeje Rinpoche Or Za Rinpoche as many call him. He is one of the high recognized lamas of Tibet. He was recognized by the Dalai Lama to be the sixth reincarnation of the great Zachoeje lama from eastern Tibet. Listen to how Za Rinpoche speaks of who we really are in part 2 and where the "I" we so love to refer to REALLY exist. It is my hope to introduce you as westerners to this great teacher. Through the blog post that I make, I always wish to give you names of teachers and various modes of dharma transmission because I feel this is very important. In this day and age I feel it is so important to reach people through all the ways of communicating we can. That is why some dharma entries on this blog are in written form, some are in video or audio form and with a variety of teaching styles in an effort to reach all. Please enjoy these two video dharma teachings from one of the greatest teachers we are priviledged to have teaching in the west. If you would like to learn more about Zachoeje Rinpoche copy and paste this link in to your browser for his center located in Arizona:

*Note Za refers to the Sky Like Meditation. Tomorrow I will give you a detailed written dharma lesson with instructions to preform the Sky Like Meditation. It is a great meditation!

Part 1

Part 2

Monday, February 11, 2008

A Special Treat!

A sweet friend of mine today sent me a note asking if I could send her a list of movies which would display the culture of Tibet or who's themes were of a buddhist nature. I thought this would be a great add to the blog! Some avenues of technology are so wonderful in that they can give one an insight into worlds previously unknown or unreachable by oneself personally. The movies below will open a window into buddhism's nature, practices, beautiful lands, history and people. May it inspire your practice. I have added trailers when available.

Lian Hua Kristi's Top Movie Picks:

Vajra Sky Over Tibet

Dharma River

Words Of My Perfect Teacher

The Lion's Roar


Seven Years in Tibet

Little Buddha

The Cup
See trailer at link below

The Saltmen of Tibet

Friday, February 8, 2008

Lesson 51 - Perspective and Motivation

I thought today that I wished to share with you about perspective and motivation in Buddhist practice. I also realized that it had been some time since we had a video dharma talk from Tsem Tulku Rinpoche. I was very pleased when I came across this dharma talk entitled "Nothing to Change". May you gain great merit and a whole new perspective! And please always remember to live in service for others with a heart of compassion. In this manner we benefit all beings as well as ourselves. There is no greater offering to the Triple Jewels than this. Namaste~

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Note on Translations of the Lotus Sutra

Please note that the translation used is for ease of the reader. I would be remiss if I did not share that this translation is for introductory purposes to the Lotus Sutra. If a more academic or in depth study is desired it would be advisable to seek other translations as well. I will update this as I personally become more familiar with other translations. Please allow me to suggest the following translation for now.

Murano Senchū - The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law (Nichiren Shu Headquarters). Translation from the Chinese of Kumārajīva.

Lesson 50 - Lotus Sutra Chapter 28 (Universal Sage)

The Lotus Sutra
Translated by Burton Watson

Chapter Twenty-eight: The Encouragement of Bodhisattva Universally Worthy

At that time Bodhisattva Universal worthy, famed for his freely exercised transcendental powers, dignity and virtue, in company with great bodhisattvas in immeasurable, boundless, indescribable numbers, arrived from the east. The lands that he passed through one and all quaked and trembled, jeweled lotus flowers rained down, and immeasurable hundreds, thousands, ten thousands, millions of different kinds of music played. In addition, numberless heavenly beings, dragons yakshas, gandharvas, asuras, garudas, kimnaras, mahoragas, human and nonhuman beings surrounded him in a great assembly, each displaying his dignity, virtue, and transcendental powers.

When [Bodhisattva Universal Worthy] arrived in the midst of Mount Gridhrakuta in the saha world, he bowed his head to the ground in obeisance to Shakyamuni Buddha, circled around him to the right seven times, and said to the Buddha: 'World-Honored One, when I was in the land of the Buddha King Above Jeweled Dignity and Virtue, from far away I heard the Lotus Sutra being preached in this saha world. In company with this multitude of immeasurable, boundless hundreds, thousands, ten thousands, millions of bodhisattvas I have come to listen to and accept it. I beg that the World-Honored One will preach it for us. And good men and good women in the time after the Thus Come One has entered extinction--how will they be able to acquire this Lotus Sutra?"

The Buddha said to Bodhisattva Universal Worthy: "If good men and good women will fulfill four conditions in the time after the Thus Come One has entered extinction, then they will be able to acquire this Lotus Sutra. First, they must be protected and kept in mind by the Buddhas. Second, they must plant the roots of virtue. Third, they must enter the stage where they are sure of reaching enlightenment. Fourth, they must conceive a determination to save all living beings. If good men and good women fulfill these four conditions, then after the Thus Come One has entered extinction they will be certain to acquire this sutra."

At that time Bodhisattva Universal Worthy said to the Buddha: "World-Honored One , in the evil and corrupt age of the last five-hundred-year period, if there is someone who accepts and upholds this sutra, I will guard and protect him, free him from decline and harm, see that he attains peace and tranquility, and make certain that no one can spy out and take advantage of his shortcomings, no devil, devil's son, devil's daughter, devil's minion, or one possessed by the devil, no yaksha, raksasa, kumbhanda, pishacha, kritya, putana, vetada, or other being that torments humans will be able to take advantage of him.

"Whether that person is walking or standing, if he reads and recites this sutra, then at that time I will mount my six-tusked kingly white elephant and with my multitude of great bodhisattvas will proceed to where he is. I will manifest myself, offer alms, guard and protect him, and bring comfort to his mind. I will do this because I too want to offer alms to the Lotus Sutra. If when that person is seated he ponders this sutra, at that time too I will mount my kingly white elephant and manifest myself in his presence. If that person should forget a single phrase or verse of the Lotus Sutra, I will prompt him and join him in reading and reciting so that he will gain understanding. At that time the person who accepts, upholds, reads and recites the Lotus Sutra will be able to see my body, will be filled with great joy, and will apply himself with greater diligence than ever. Because he has seen me, he will immediately acquire samadhis and dharanis. These are called the repetition dharani, the hundred, thousand, ten thousand, million repetition dharani, and the Dharma sound expedient dharani. He will acquire dharanis such as these.

"World-Honored One, in that later time, in the evil and corrupt age of the last five-hundred-year period, if monks, nuns, laymen believers or laywomen believers who seek out, accept, uphold, read, recite, and transcribe this Lotus Sutra should wish to practice it, they should do so diligently and with a single mind for a period of twenty-one days. When the twenty-one days have been fulfilled, I will mount my six-tusked white elephant and, with immeasurable numbers of bodhisattvas surrounding me and with this body that all living beings delight to see, I will manifest myself in the presence of the person and preach the Law for him, bringing him instruction, benefit, and joy. I will also give him dharani spells. And because he has acquired these spells, no nonhuman being will be able to injure him and he cannot be confused or lead astray by women. I too will personally guard him at all times. Therefore, World-Honored One, I hope you will permit me to pronounce these dharanis." Then in the presence of the Buddha he pronounced these spells:

adande dandapati dandavarte dandakushale dandasudhare
sudhare sudharapati buddhapashyane sarvadharani-avartani
sarvandhashyavartani su-avartani samghaparikshani
samghanarghatani asamge samgapagate tri-adhvasamgatulya-
arate-prapty savasamgasamatikrante sarvadharmasuparikshite
sarvasattvarutakaushalyanugate simhavikridite

"World-Honored One, if any bodhisattva is able to hear these dharanis, he should understand that it is due to the transcendental powers of Universal Worthy. If when the Lotus Sutra is propagated throughout Jambudvipa there are those who accept and uphold it, they should think to themselves: This is all due to the authority and supernatural power of Universal Worthy! If there are those who accept this sutra, memorize it correctly, understand its principles, and practice it as the sutra prescribes, these persons should know that they are carrying out the practices of Universal Worthy himself. In the presence of immeasurable, boundless members of Buddhas they will have planted good roots deep in the ground, and the hands of the Thus Come Ones will pat them on the head.

"If they do no more than copy the sutra, when their lives come to an end they will be reborn in the Trayastrimsha heaven. At that time eighty-four thousand heavenly women, performing all kinds of music, will come to greet them. Such persons will put on crowns made of seven treasures amidst the ladies-in-waiting will amuse and enjoy themselves. How much more so, then, if they accept, uphold, read and recite the sutra, memorize it correctly, understand its principles, when the lives of these persons come to an end, they will be received into the hands of a thousand Buddhas, who will free them from all fear and keep them from falling into the evil paths of existence. Immediately they will proceed to the Tushita heaven, to the place of Bodhisattva Maitreya. Bodhisattva Maitreya possesses the thirty-two features and is surrounded by a multitude of great bodhisattvas. He has hundreds, thousands, ten thousands, millions of heavenly women attendants, and these persons will be reborn in their midst. Such will be the benefits and advantages they enjoy.

"Therefore persons of wisdom should single-mindedly copy the sutra themselves, or cause others to copy it, should accept, uphold, read, and recite it, memorize it correctly and practice it as the sutra prescribes. "World-Honored One, I now therefore employ my transcendental powers to guard and protect this sutra. And after the Thus Come One had entered extinction, I will cause it to be widely propagated throughout Jambudvipa and will see that it never comes to an end."

At that time Shakyamuni Buddha spoke these words of praise: "Excellent, excellent, Universal Worthy! You are able to guard and assist this sutra and cause many living beings to gain peace and happiness and advantages. You have already acquired inconceivable benefits and profound great pity and compassion. Since long ages in the past you have shown a desire for anuttara-samyak-sambodhi, and have taken a vow to use your transcendental powers to guard and protect this sutra. And I will employ my transcendental powers to guard and protect those who can accept and uphold the name of Bodhisattva Universal Worthy.

"Universal Worthy, if there are those who accept, uphold, read and recite this Lotus Sutra, memorize it correctly, practice and transcribe it, you should know that such persons have seen Shakyamuni Buddha. It is as though they heard his sutra from the Buddha's mouth. You should know that such persons have offered alms to Shakyamuni Buddha you should know that such persons have been patted on the head by Shakyamuni Buddha. You should know that such persons have been covered in the robes of Shakyamuni Buddha.

"They will no longer be greedy for or attached to worldly pleasures, they will have no taste for the scriptures or jottings of the non-Buddhists. They will take no pleasure in associating this such people, or with those engaged in evil occupations such as butchers, raisers of pigs sheep, chickens or dogs, hunters, or those who offer women's charms for sale. These persons will be honest and upright in mind and intent, correct in memory, and will possess the power of merit and virtue. They will not be troubled by the three poisons, nor will they be troubled by jealousy, self-importance, ill-founded conceit, or arrogance. These persons will have few desires, will be easily satisfied, and will know how to carry out the practices of Universal Worthy.

"Universal Worthy, after the Thus Come One has entered extinction, in the last five-hundred-year period, if you see someone who accepts, upholds reads, and recites the Lotus Sutra, you should think to yourself: Before long this person will proceed to the place of practice, conquer the devil hosts, and attain anuttara-samyak-sambodhi. He will turn the wheel of the Dharma, beat the Dharma drum, and sound the Dharma conch, and rain down the Dharma rain. He is worthy to sit in the lion seat of the Dharma, amid the great assembly of heavenly and human beings.

"Universal Worthy, in later ages if there are those who accept, uphold, read, and recite this sutra, such persons will no longer be greedy for or attached to clothing, bedding, food and drink, or other necessities of daily life. Their wishes will not be in vain, and in this present existence they will gain the reward of good fortune. If there is anyone who disparages or makes light of them, saying, 'You are mere idiots! It is useless to carry out these practices--in the end they will gain you nothing!, then as punishment for his offense that person will be born eyeless in existence after existence. But if there is anyone who offers alms to them and praises them, then in this present existence he will have manifest reward for it.

"If anyone sees a person who accepts and upholds this sutra and tries to expose the faults or evils of that person, whether what he speaks is true or not, he will in his present existence be afflicted with white leprosy. If anyone disparages or laughs at that person, then in existence after existence he will have teeth that are missing or spaced far apart, ugly lips, a flat nose, hands and feet that are gnarled or deformed, and eyes that are squinty. His body will have a foul odor, with evil sores that run pus and blood, and he will suffer from water in the belly, shortness of breath, and other severe and malignant illnesses. Therefore, Universal Worthy, if you see a person who accepts and upholds this sutra, you should rise and greet him from afar, showing him the same respect you would a Buddha."

When this chapter on the Encouragements of the Bodhisattva Universal Worthy was preached, bodhisattvas immeasurable and boundless as Ganges sands acquired dharanis allowing them to memorize a hundred, a thousand, ten thousand, a million repetitions of the teachings, and bodhisattvas equal to the dust particles of the thousand-million-fold world perfected the way of Universal Worthy.

When the Buddha preached this sutra, Universal Worthy and the other bodhisattvas, Sâriputra and the other voice-hearers, along with the heavenly beings, dragons, humans and nonhuman beings--the entire membership of the great assembly were all filled with great joy. Accepting and upholding the words of the Buddha, they bowed in obeisance and departed.

Lesson 49 - Lotus Sutra Chapter 27 (Previous Life)

The Lotus Sutra
Translated by Burton Watson

Chapter Twenty-seven: The Former Deeds of King Wondrous Splendor

At that time the Buddha addressed the great assembly, saying: "In an age long ago, an immeasurable, boundless, inconceivable number of asamkhya kalpas in the past, there was a Buddha named Cloud Thunder Sound Constellation King Flower Wisdom, tathagata, arhat, samyak-sambuddha. His land was named Light Bright Adornment and his kalpa was named Gladly Seen. In the midst of this Buddha's Law there was a king named Wonderful Adornment. This king's consort was named Pure Virtue, and he had two sons, one named Pure Storehouse and the other named Pure Eye. These two sons possessed great supernatural powers, merit, virtue, wisdom, and for a long time they had been practicing the way appropriate to a bodhisattva, carrying out the dana-paramita, shila-paramita, kshanti-paramita, virya-paramita, dhynana-paramita, pragna-paramita, the paramita of expedient means, pity, compassion, joy and indifference, as well as the thirty-seven aids to the way 9. All of these they had thoroughly understood and mastered. In addition, they had gained the samadhis of the bodhisattva, namely, the pure samadhi; sun, star, and constellation samadhi; pure light samadhi; pure color samadhi; pure illumination samadhi; long adornment samadhi; and great dignity and virtue storehouse samadhi, and had thoroughly mastered all these samadhis.

"At that time that Buddha, wishing to attract and guide King Wonderful Adornment, and because he thought with compassion of living beings, preached the Lotus Sutra. The king's two sons, Pure Storehouse and Pure Eye, went to where their mother was, pressed their palms and the nails of their ten fingers together, and said to her, 'We beg our mother to go and visit the place where the Buddha Cloud Thunder Sound Constellation King Flower Wisdom is. We too will attend him, drawing near to the Buddha and offering alms and obeisance. Why? Because this Buddha is preaching the Lotus Sutra in the midst of all the multitude of heavenly and human beings and it is right that we should listen and accept it.'

"The mother announced to her sons, 'Your father puts his faith in non-Buddhist doctrines and is deeply attached to the Brahmanical Law. You should go to your father, tell him about this, and persuade him to go with you.'

"Pure Storehouse and Pure Eye pressed their palms and ten fingernails together and said to their mother, 'We are sons of the Dharma King, and yet we have been born into this family of heretical views!'

"The mother said to her sons, 'You are right to think with concern about your father. You should manifest some supernatural wonder for him. When he sees that, his mind will surely be cleansed and purified and he will permit us to go to where the Buddha is.'

The two sons, being concerned about their father, leaped up into the air to the height of seven tala trees and there performed various types of supernatural wonders, walking, standing, sitting, and lying down in midair; making water come out of the upper part of their bodies; making fire come out of the lower part of their bodies, making water come out of the lower part of their bodies; making fire come at of the upper part of their bodies; manifesting huge bodies that filled the sky and then making themselves small again; after becoming small, making themselves big again; disappearing in the midst of the sky and then suddenly appearing on the ground; sinking into the ground as though it were water; walking on the water as though it were land. They manifested these various types of supernatural wonders in order to cause the mind of their royal father to become pure and to make him believe and understand.

"At that time when the father saw his sons displaying supernatural powers of this kind, his mind was filled with great delight, as he had never known before, and he pressed his palms together, faced his sons and said, "Who is your teacher? Whose disciples are you?'

"The two sons replied, "Great king, the Buddha Cloud Thunder Sound Constellation King Flower Wisdom is at present sitting in the Dharma seat under the seven-jeweled bodhi tree and, amid the multitudes of heavenly and human beings of all the world, is broadly expounding the Lotus Sutra. This is our teacher and we are his disciples.'

"The father said to his sons, 'I would like to go now and see your teacher, You can go with me.'

"With this the two sons descended from the air, proceeded to where their mother was, pressed their palms together and said to their mother, 'Our royal father has now come to believe and understand, he is fully capable of conceiving a desire for anuttara-samyak-sambodhi. We have finished doing the Buddha's work for the sake of our father. We beg that our mother will permit us to go to the place where the Buddha is, to leave the household life and to practice the way.'

"At that time the two sons, wishing to state their meaning once more, spoke in verse form, saying to their mother:

We beg our mother to permit us
to leave the household and become shramanas.
The Buddhas are very hard to encounter;
we will follow this Buddha and learn from him.
Rare as is the udumbara flower,
rarer is it to encounter a Buddha,
and escaping from difficulties is also difficult--
we beg you to allow us to leave the household.

"Their mother then said to them, 'I will permit you to leave the household life. Why? Because the Buddha is difficult to encounter.'

"The two sons then addressed their father and mother, saying: 'Excellent, father and mother! And we beg you in due time to go to the place where the Buddha Cloud Thunder Sound Constellation King Flower Wisdom is, attend him in person and offer alms. Why? Because encountering the Buddha is as difficult as encountering the udumbara flower. Or as difficult as it is for a one-eyed turtle to encounter a floating log with a hole in it. We have been blessed with great good fortune from past existences and so have been born in an age where we can encounter the Buddha's Law. For this reason our father and mother should permit us to leave household life. Why? Because the Buddhas are difficult to encounter, and the proper time is also hard to come upon.'

"At that time the eighty-four thousand persons in the women's quarters of King Wonderful Adornment were all capable of accepting and upholding the Lotus Sutra. Bodhisattva Pure Eye had long ago mastered the Dharma flower samadhi, and Bodhisattva Pure Storehouse had already, some hundreds, thousands, ten thousands, millions of kalpas in the past, mastered the samadhi of the escape from the evil realms of existence. This was because he wished to make it possible for all living beings to escape the evil realms. The king's consort had gained the samadhi of the Buddhas' assembly and was capable of understanding the secret storehouse of the Buddhas. Her two sons, as already described, had employed the power of expedient means to improve and transform their father so that he could acquire a mind of faith and understanding and love and delight in the Buddha's Law.

"Thereupon King Wonderful Adornment, accompanied by his ranks of ministers and his attendants; his queen Pure Virtue and all the ladies-in-waiting and attendants of the women's quarters; and the king's two sons and their forty-two thousand attendants, all at the same time went to where the Buddha was. Arriving there, they bowed their heads to the ground in obeisance to his feet, circled around the Buddha three times, and then withdrew and stood to one side.

"At that time that Buddha preached the Law for the sake of the king, instructing him and bringing him benefit and joy. The king was exceedingly delighted.

"At that time King Wonderful Adornment and his queen removed from their necks necklaces of pearls worth hundreds and thousands and scattered them over the Buddha. In midair the necklaces changed into a jeweled dais with four pillars. On the dais was a large jeweled couch spread with hundreds, thousands, ten thousands of heavenly robes. Seated cross-legged on them was a Buddha who emitted a brilliant light.

"At that time King Wonderful Adornment thought to himself: The Buddha's body is rare indeed, extraordinary in dignity and adornment, constituting a form of utmost subtlety and wonder! Then the Buddha Cloud Thunder Sound Constellation King Flower Wisdom spoke to the four kinds of believers, saying, 'Do you see this King Wonderful Adornment who stands before me with his palms pressed together? In the midst of my Law this king will become a monk, diligently practicing the Law that aids the Buddha way. He will be able to become a Buddha. His name will be Sal Tree King, his land will be called Great Light, and his kalpa will be called Great Lofty King. This Buddha Sal Tree King will have an immeasurable multitude of bodhisattvas, as well as immeasurable voice-hearers. His land will be level and smooth. Such will be his benefits.'

"The king immediately turned his kingdom to his younger brother and he himself, along with his queen, his two sons, and all their attendants, in the midst of the Buddha's Law renounced the household life to practice the way.

"After the king had left the household life, for the space of eighty-four thousand yours he constantly applied himself with diligence, practicing the Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful Law. When his period had passed, he gained the samadhi of the adornment of all pure benefits. Rising into the air to the height of seven tala trees, he addressed the Buddha saying: 'World-Honored One, these two sons of mine have carried out the Buddha's work, employing transcendental powers and transformations to turn my mind away from heresies, enabling me to abide safely in the Buddha's Law, and permitting me to see the World-Honored One. These two sons have been good friends to me. They wished to awaken the good roots from my past existences and to enrich and benefit me, and for that reason they were born into my household.'

"At that time the Buddha Cloud Thunder Sound Constellation King Flower Wisdom said to King Wonderful Adornment, 'Just so, just so. It is as you have said. If good men and good women have planted good roots, and as a result in existence after existence have been able to gain good friends, then these good friends can do the Buddha's work, teaching, benefiting, delighting, and enabling them to enter anuttara-samyak-sambodhi. Great king, you should understand that a good friend is the great cause and condition by which one is guided and led, and which enables one to see the Buddha and to conceive the desire for anuttara-samyak-sambodhi. Great king, do you see these two sons? These two sons have already offered alms to Buddhas equal in number to the sands of sixty-Five Hundred, thousand, ten thousand, million nayutas of Ganges, have drawn near to them with reverence, and in the presence of those Buddhas have accepted and upheld the Lotus Sutra, thinking with compassion of living beings who embrace heretical views and causing them to abide in correct views.'

"King Wonderful Adornment then descended from midair and said to the Buddha, 'World-Honored One, the Thus Come One is a very rare being! Because of his benefits and wisdom, the knob of flesh on the top of his head illuminates all with bright light. His eyes are long, broad, and dark blue in color. The tuft of hair in between his eyebrows, one of his features, is white as a crystal moon. His teeth are white, even, closely spaced, and constantly have a bright gleam. His lips are red and beautiful as the bimba fruit.'

"At that time King Wonderful Adornment, having praised the Buddha's immeasurable hundreds, thousands, ten thousands, millions of benefits in this manner, in the presence of the Thus Come One single-mindedly pressed his palms together and addressed the Buddha once more, saying 'World-Honored One, such a thing as this has never been known before! The law of the Thus Come One is fully endowed with inconceivably subtle and wonderful benefits. Where his teachings and precepts are observed there will be tranquility and good feeling. From this day on I will give way to heretical views or to arrogance, anger, or other evil states of mind.'

"When he had spoken these words, he bowed to the Buddha and departed."

The Buddha said to the great assembly: "What is your opinion? Is this King Wonderful Adornment someone unknown to you? In fact he is none other than the present Bodhisattva Flower Virtue. And his queen Pure Virtue is Bodhisattva Light Shining Adornment Marks who is now in the Buddha's presence. Out of pity and compassion for King Wonderful Adornment and his attendants, he was born in their midst. The king's sons are the present bodhisattvas Medicine King and Medicine Superior.

"These bodhisattvas Medicine King and Medicine Superior have already succeeded in acquiring great benefits such as these, and in the presence of immeasurable hundreds, thousands, ten thousands, millions of Buddhas have planted numerous roots of virtue and acquired inconceivably good benefits. If there are persons who are acquainted with the names of these two bodhisattvas, the heavenly and human beings of all the world will surely do obeisance to them."

When the Buddha preached this chapter on the Former Affairs of King Wonderful Adornment, eighty-four thousand persons removed themselves from dust and defilement and with respect to the various phenomena attained the pure Dharma eye.

Lesson 48 - Lotus Sutra Chapter 26 (Dharanis)

The Lotus Sutra
Translated by Burton Watson

Chapter Twenty-six: Dharani

At that time the Bodhisattva Medicine king rose from his seat, bared his right shoulder, pressed his palms together and, facing the Buddha, spoke to him, saying, "World-Honored One, if there are good men or good women who can accept and uphold the Lotus Sutra, if they read and recite it, penetrate its meaning, or copy the sutra scrolls, how much merit will they gain?"

The Buddha said to Medicine King, "If there are good men or good women who offer alms to Buddhas equal in number to the sands of eight hundred ten thousand million nayutas of Ganges, what is your opinion? The merit they gain will surely be great, will it not?"

"Very great, World-Honored One."

The Buddha said, "If there are good men or good women who, with regard to this sutra, can accept and uphold even one four-line verse, if they read and recite it, understand the principle and practice it as the sutra directs, the benefits will be very many."

At that time Bodhisattva Medicine King said to the Buddha, "World-Honored One, I will now give to those who preach the Law dharani spells, which will guard and protect them." Then he pronounced these spells:

anye manye mane mamane chitte harite shame shamitavi
shante mukte muktatame same avashame sama same kshaye
akshaye akshine shante shame dharani alokabhashe-
pratyavekshani nivshte abhyantaranivishte atyantaparishuddhi
ukkule mukkule arade parade shukakashi asamasame
buddhavilokite dharmaparikshite samghanirghoshani
bhayabhayashodhani mantre mantrakshayate rute
rutakaushalye akshaye akshayavanataya abalo amanyanataya.

"World-Honored One, these dharanis, these supernatural spells, are pronounced by Buddhas equal in number to the sands of sixty-two million Ganges. If anyone should assault or injure these teachers of the Law, then he will have assaulted and injured these Buddhas!"

At that time Shakyamuni Buddha praised Bodhisattva Medicine King, saying, "Excellent, excellent, Medicine King! You keep these teachers of the Law in your compassionate thoughts, shield and guard them, and for that reason you pronounce these dharanis. They will bring great benefit to living beings."

At that time Bodhisattva Brave Donor said to the Buddha, "World-Honored One, I too will pronounce dharanis to shield and guard those who read, recite, accept, and uphold the Lotus Sutra. If a teacher of the Law acquires these dharanis, then although yakshas, rakshasas, putanas, krityas, kumbhandas or hungry spirits should spy out his shortcomings and try to take advantage of them, they will be unable to do so." Then in the presence of the Buddha he pronounced these spells:

jvale mahajvale ukke mukke ade adavati nritye nrityavati ittini
vittini chittini nrityani nrityakati

"World-Honored One, these dharanis, these supernatural spells, are pronounced by Buddhas equal in number to the sands of the Ganges, and all of them respond with joy. If anyone should assault or injure these teachers of the Law, then he will have assaulted and injured these Buddhas!"

At that time the heavenly king Vaishravana, protector of the world, said to the Buddha, "World-Honored One, I too think compassionately of living beings and shield and guard these teachers of the Law, and therefore I pronounce these dharanis." Then he pronounced these spells:

atte natte nunatte anada nade kunadi

"World-Honored One, with these supernatural spells I shield and guard the teachers of the Law. And I will also shield and guard those who uphold this sutra, making certain that they suffer no decline or harm within the area of a hundred yojanas."

At that time heavenly king Upholder of the Nation, who was in the assembly along with a host of thousands, ten thousands, millions of nayutas of gandharvas who surrounded him and paid him reverence, advanced to the place where the Buddha was, pressed his palms together and said to the Buddha, "World-Honored One, I too will employ dharanis, supernatural spells, to shield and guard those who uphold the Lotus Sutra." Then he pronounced these spells:

agane gane gauri gandhari chandali matangi janguly vrusani

"World-Honored One, these dharanis, these supernatural spells, are pronounced by forty-two million Buddhas. If anyone should assault or injure these teachers of the Law, then he will have assaulted and injured these Buddhas!"

At that time there were daughters of rakshasa demons, the first named Lamba, the second named Vilamba, the third named Crooked Teeth, the fourth named Flowery Teeth, the fifth named Black Teeth, the sixth named Much Hair, the seventh named Insatiable, the eighth named Necklace Bearer, the ninth named Kunti, and the tenth named Stealer of the Vital Spirit of All Living Beings. These ten rakshasa daughters, along with the Mother of Devil Children, her offspring, and her attendants, all proceeded to the place where the Buddha was and spoke to the Buddha in unison, saying, "World-Honored One, we too wish to shield and guard those who read, recite, accept, and uphold the Lotus Sutra and spare them from decline or harm. If anyone should spy out the shortcomings of these teachers of the Law and try to take advantage of them, we will make it impossible for him to do so." Then in the presence of the Buddha they pronounce these spells:

itime itime itime atime itime nime nime nime nime nime ruhe
ruhe ruhe ruhe stahe stahe stahe stuhe shuhe

"Though they climb upon our very heads, they will never trouble the teachers of the Law! Whether it be a yaksha, or a pakshasa, or a hungry spirit, or a putana, or a kritya, or a vetada, or a skanda 8, or an umaraka, or an apasmaraka, or a yaksha kritya, or a human kritya, or a fever, a one day, a two day, a three day, or a four day, or up to a seven day or a constant fever, whether it be in a man's form, in a woman's form, in young boy's form, in young girl's form, though it be only in a dream, it will never trouble them!"

Then in the presence of the Buddha they spoke in verse form, saying:

If there are those who fail to heed our spells
and trouble and disrupt the preachers of the Law,
their heads will split into seven pieces
like the branches of the arjaka tree.
Their crime will be like that of one who kills father and mother,
or one who presses out oil,
or cheats others with measures and scales,
or, like Devadatta, disrupts the Order of monks.
Anyone who commits a crime against these teachers of the Law
will bring on himself guilt such as this!"

After the rakshasa daughters had spoken these verses, they said to the Buddha, "World-Honored One, we will use our own bodies to shield and guard those who accept, uphold, read, recite, and practice this sutra. We will see that they gain peace and tranquility, freeing them from decline and harm and nulling the effect of all poison herbs."

The Buddha said to the rakshasa daughters, "Excellent, excellent! If you can shield and guard those who accept and uphold the mere name of the Lotus Sutra, your merit will be immeasurable. How much more so if you shield and guard those who accept and uphold it in its entirety, who offer alms to the sutra scrolls, flowers, incense, necklaces, powdered incense, paste incense, incense for burning, banners, canopies, music, who burn various kinds of lamps, lamps of butter oil, oil lamps, lamps of various fragrant oils, lamps of sumana flower oil, and lamps of utpala flower oil, and who in this manner offer hundreds and thousands of varieties of alms? Kunti, you and your attendants should shield and guard the teachers of the Law such as these!"

When [the Buddha] preached this Dharani chapter, sixty-eight thousand persons gained the truth of birthless-ness.