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Lex Hixon 1941-1995

December 3, 2007
I wanted to post this from SRV. Lex Hixon was my Sufi Sheikh & in my view a living Bodhisattva. Sadly, he left this plane way too soon. It has been twelve years but he is still missed by many. Gassho.  

LEX HIXON

Founder of SRV
December 25, 1941 – November 1, 1995
 
Lex Hixon on himself:
“I grew up in the cultural openness and wild sacred energy of Southern California. I was not raised conventionally or religiously. Freedom was the keynote of my parent’s philosophy. At thirteen I went to a conservative Boy’s Academy in Connecticut. These were four years of blessed discipline. The effect of this almost monastic atmosphere was a great intensification of my awareness. Here, under the guidance of wonderful minds and spirits, I became a practicing poet, philosopher, musician, and spiritual seeker. These four strands have interwoven in my life ever since then.
“Rather than returning to the cultural comforts of California, I remained in the more challenging context of the east coast, attending Yale University for four years, then moving to New York City. I graduated in Philosophy, with an honors paper on Soren Kierkegaard, my first formal spiritual guide. Kierkegaard opened wide for me the dimension of the spiritual, which he clearly demonstrated to lie beyond what he called the aesthetic and the ethical or logical.
“At age 19, I became consciously Christian, under the guidance of the father of a college roommate, Vine Deloria Senior, a Lakota Sioux Episcopal priest. The rich, non-European Christianity of Father Deloria, subtly based in his Native American heritage of vision-quest, blended into the intense, existential Christianity of Kierkegaard, with its sharp critique of Hegelian rationalism, the tendency of European expansionist thinking. Thus, my spiritual life began as a confluence of European and non-European currents. “During college, I encountered traditional Zen through Alan Watts as well as the non-tradition of Krishnamurti. I also discovered The Gospel of Ramakrishna, which I began reading after graduation in 1963. I met the author of this extraordinary book, Swami Nikhilananda, by visiting the address of the publisher, printed on the back cover. My wife Sheila and I studied, traveled and meditated with the Swami for the last seven years of his life. He became the God-father of our four children. Following his guidance, I began studies for the Ph.D. at Columbia University, finally completing my dissertation on the Gaudapadakarika in 1976. My gratitude to him knows no bounds.
 “During my ten years as a graduate student, I became a radio journalist, broadcasting a weekly, two hour interview show called “In the Spirit,” over New York radio (WBAI), from 1971 to 1984. This endeavor involved a tremendous amount of fieldwork in newly emerging American spiritual consciousness, as well as an opportunity to meet the finest representatives of world-traditions who visited New York City. I met literally hundreds of teachers and students – both unknown and well-known, both authentic and not-so-authentic-observing the interesting dynamics of cultural interaction and spiritual growth. At this time I also began to study classical Indian music under the master sarodist, Vasant Rai.
“In 1975 I offered a course at the new School for Social Research. These well- attended spring term lectures were recorded, transcribed, and painstakingly edited. They became Coming Home: The Experience of Enlightenment in Sacred Traditions, published by Doubleday in 1978. Some twenty thousand copies were sold before the book went out of print. In 1988, Jeremy Tarcher reprinted Coming Home, and it has become a classic in its field.
“In 1980, I accepted the formal responsibility as a spiritual guide, or Sheikh, in the seven hundred year old Khalwati-Jerrahi Order from Egypt and Istanbul. My duty included care and guidance for four communities of Sufis. I was privileged to make the traditional Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina, with my Sheikh in 1980, at the pivotal age of forty. Three books emerged from this Islamic experience: Heart of the Koran published in 1988, Recollecion de la Miel (Gathering Honey) published in 1989, and Atom from the Sun of Knowledge. These books are well regarded by Muslims and non-Muslims alike and they represent a kind of informal peace initiative.
“Beginning with Zen, under the Japanese master Eido Roshi during the late sixties, and moving into Tibetan Tantric Buddhism in the mid seventies, my study and practice of Buddhist meditation has been ongoing. A book, Mother of the Buddhas, has emerged from this experience as well. My wife and I were privileged to make the pilgrimage to Bodhgaya and Sarnath in India with our Lama, Tomo Geshe Rinpoche, in 1981. In 1983, Sheila and I entered a formal, three year study of the mystical theology of the Eastern Church at Saint Vladamir’s Seminary. We sacramentally joined the Orthodox Church, attending for a period of several years, and we still attend the chapel there as parishioners. None of these spiritual studies and practices have become outmoded in my life, and I try to remain current in four sacred traditions – Ramakrishna Vedanta, Vajrayana Buddhism, the Jerrahi Dervish Order, and Eastern Orthodox Christianity.
“In 1992, came the publication of Great Swan: Meetings With Ramakrishna. This book holds the key to unlock all my life experiences. It provides a bridge between East and West, a bridge which I have crossed in both directions and which many people will be able to cross comfortably, maintaining their intellectual, cultural and spiritual integrity. Essential secrets for the unfolding of cultural interaction and spiritual growth in the 21st century are encoded in this vibrant portrait. With Ramakrishna as our inspiration, our subtle task is to create a global society based on the intuitive sense of the Sacred, a society with rich diversity yet without boundaries.”
Lex “entered” final liberation on November 1st, 1995, which was also, fittingly enough, both All-Saints Day and Jagaddhatri Puja, the holy day dedicated to Sri Sarada Devi’s chosen ideal. He remained conscious and light-hearted right up to the moment of leaving the body, despite dealing with cancer. Lex Hixon “passed away” as he had lived, consciously, happily, and spiritually. His final book entitled “Living Buddha Zen” was released just prior to his passing.
From the early 1970’s through the late 1980’s, Lex Hixon hosted a radio program at WBAI in New York City that was unprecedented in its depth, scope, insight and creativity. Entitled “In The Spirit,” it appeared as both “Body/Mind/Spirit” for a time and “Spirit/Mind/Body” as well. On this long running inspirational program that spanned two decades and which was sponsored in listener supported fashion on WBAI Radio, Lex interviewed educators, healers, clergy, authors, artists, psychics, spiritual leaders, teachers and a host of others.
As a list, the fruit of this selfless work reads like a comprehensive Who’s Who of the spiritual, artistic and intellectual heart and mind of both eastern and western cultures. With subtle tenderness and insight, though never lacking the penetrating edge which makes for excellent broadcasting, Lex welcomed the orthodox and the unorthodox, the conservative and the radical, the famous and the obscure, the popular and the controversial, the powerful and the humble, the aggressive and the retiring. He interviewed swamis, priests, rabbis, roshis, sheikhs, rinpoches, yogis, gurus, poets, musicians, psychics, occultists, authors, writers, teachers, politicians, businessmen and more-a collection which also includes such guests as the Dalai Lama and Mother Teresa, to name a few.

Han Fei by Dr. John Knoblock

November 27, 2007

Han Fei

John Knoblock
This is one of a series of pages discussing Classical Chinese philosophy during the period from before Confucius (ca 650 B.C.) to the early Han dynasty (ca 200 B.C.). This page provides an intellectual biography of the 3rd century “Legalist” philosopher Han Fei and excerpts from two of his most important works.
Han Fei was a prince of the royal family of Han. He and Li Si studied with the philosopher Xun Kuang. Li Si, who later became chancellor of Qin under the First Emperor, felt that he was not the equal of Han Fei. But Han stuttered and could not present his ideas in court, which was a serious impediment. He overcame this by developing one of the most brilliant styles in ancient China.  Han Fei saw the gradual, but constant, decline of the state of Han and tried on several occasions to persuade the king to follow different policies, but the king proved incapable of following his advice. He witnessed with increasing despair how rulers of his day were beguiled by Ru and Mohist philosophers who prattled endlessly about moral virtues and by roving bands of knights-errant who performed acts of daring in contravention of the laws. Both caused the increasing disorder of society and distracted rulers from the real tasks of governing. “When the state is at peace, rulers support scholars and knights-errant, but when troubles arise they employ men of arms. Thus they support people they do not need and do not support those they do need.” Ultimately, Han Fei’s works made their way to Qin where the future First Emperor saw them and wanted to meet the man who wrote them. Li Si identified the writings as those of his classmate Han Fei, and Han Fei did come to Qin in 234. But even though the First Emperor was pleased with Han Fei’s advice, he did not fully trust him. Yao Jia, who had been censured by Han Fei for his conduct, and it is said Li Si as well, played on the suspicion that, being a member of the royal family of Han, Han Fei could never be entirely loyal to the interests of Qin, noting “that it is the nature of human feelings that he will always work for the interests of his native Han and not for those of Qin.” The First Emperor accepted Yao’s conclusion and had Han Fei imprisoned for a crime. Han Fei tried to defend himself, but he could not get an audience. So Li Si sent him some poison so that he could commit suicide. The First Emperor later regretted his condemnation of Han Fei and was going to pardon him, but Han was already dead.  When he died in 233, Han Fei was still a young man, but he had already established a reputation because of his brilliant writings. Some 55 of his books survive collected together in the Hanfeizi by Li Xiang about 25BC. Among the most famous of them are “Five Vermin” which castigates the rulers of the day for pandering to useless people like Mohist and Ru scholars and knights-errant who disrupt the court and weaken the country and “Eminence in Learning” which discusses the eight schools into which the Ru philosophers had divided in his day and the three schools of the Mohists.   Book 50: Eminence in Learning ¶50.1a
In the present age those eminent for their learning are the Ru and Mohist.1 The Ru pay their highest honor to Confucius, whereas the Mohists pay theirs to Mo Di.2 Since the death of Confucius the Ru schools of Zizhang,3 Zisi,4 the Yan family,5 Mencius,6 Qidiao,7 Zhongliang,8 [Gong]sun [Nizi],9 and Yuezheng10 have developed. Since the death of Mo Di, the Xiangli,11 Xiangfu,12 and Dengling13 schools have developed. Thus, since the death of Confucius, the Ru have split into eight schools, and since the death of Mo Di, the Mohist have divided into three factions.14 What they accept and reject of the heritage is different and even contradictory, and yet each claims to represent the true teachings of Confucius or Mo Di. Since Confucius and Mo Di cannot be brought back to life, who will determine which of the present versions of their doctrines is right? Further, Confucius and Mo Di both claim to follow the Dao of Yao and Shun, but what they accept and reject is different and each claims to be following the real Yao and Shun. But since we cannot bring Yao and Shun back to life, who will determine which of their doctrines is authentic? 1The LSCQ, “Dangran,” 2/4.7: “Though both [Confucius and Mo Di] died long ago, their followers are still growing in number and their disciples have flourished so abundantly that they fill the whole world.…The heirs of the learning of Confucius and Mo Di who have attained eminence and glory in the eyes of the world number into a multitude. The number is so great as to be uncountable, for everything which influenced them attained the proper standard.”  2According to the Shiji (74.2350), Mo Di was “probably a grand officer of Song skilled at defensive warfare and the economical use of resources. Some say that he lived at the same time as Confucius, others after him.” Sun Yirang dates him to 468-376, Qian Mu to 479-381, and Fang Shouchu to 490-403. Sun Yirang, Mozi jiangu, “Postface,” 629ff., examines the theories of his origins. Chen Qiyou (p. 1081, n.2) offers evidence that Mo Di’s family came from Song. 3Xunzi, “Fei shier zi,” ¶6.13, calls the followers of Zizhang “base Ru.” He also mentions separately, but also as “base Ru,” the followers of Zixia and Ziyou. 4The Shiji (74.2343) says that Mencius was taught by a disciple of Zisi, generally identified as the grandson of Confucius. Xunzi, “Fei shier zi,” ¶6.7, associates Mencius with Zisi. Confucius’ grandson, Zisi, is credited with a work in 32 bamboo bundles in the Hanshu, “Bibliography,” and is said to have been a contemporary of Duke Mu of Lu. There was, however, another Zisi, the disciple of Confucius Yan Xian (b. 525 B.C.). He is mentioned in the Analects (14.1) and is said to have been a recluse (Zhuangzi, “Rangwang,” 9.13b; Shiji, 67.2208). 5There were eight disciples of Confucius with the surname Yan: Yan Wuyu, Yan Hui, Yan Xin, Yan Gao, Yan Zu, Yan Kuai, Yan Zhipu, and Yan He. The most famous of these is Yan Hui (Ziyuan), his favorite disciple, but as he predeceased the Master, it is unlikely that he could be the founder of this school, so the identify of the founder(s) of this school cannot be established. The Shengxianqun fulu says that this school transmitted the Odes and specialized in remonstrance by ridicule. 6The natural interpretation of this passage is that it refers to the school of Mencius. But it seems odd that separate schools are listed for Zisi and Mencius if their relations were as close as implied in the Xunzi and the Shiji. 7The Qidiao school derives from the disciple Qidiao Qi. The Hanshu “Bibliography” records a book of 12 bamboo bundles written by the followers of Qidiao Qi. His school is widely mentioned in the literature. 8The Zhongliang School is of uncertain origin. Liang Qichao identifies it with a Chen Liang, a native of Chu, mentioned in the Mencius (4B.4) who came north to study the learning of the Central States, is cited as an example of a barbarian who converted to Chinese ways. Chen Xiang and Xin who studied under him are excoriated from giving up civilization to follow the “barbarian” doctrine of Xu Xing who preached the Dao of Shennong. Chen Qiyou rightly doubts this theory. There is a Master Zhongliang who is a contemporary with King Xiang of Qi, and thus to be dated to after Mencius. This Master Zhongliang is cited in Han commentaries to the classics. 9Gu Guangqi takes this school to be that of Xun Kuang. This interpretation is also followed by Liang Qichao. More plausibly, Ikeda argues that the text is defective and that the original reading was gongsun. Chen Qiyou concurs, noting that the Shengxianqun fulu says that the school of Gongsun specialized in the Changes. 10There were two persons with the surname Yuezheng who could be identified as the founder of this school. One was Yuezheng Zichun, a disciple of Zeng Shen; the other was Yuezheng Ke, a disciple of Mencius. Chen plausibly suggests that it is the disciple of Zeng Shen who should be taken as the founder of this school. 11The Yuanhe xingcuan quotes a passage of the Hanfeizi (missing in the present text), saying that Master Xiangli was an ancient worthy who wrote a book comprising seven bamboo bundles. The Zhuangzi, “Tianxia,” ¶33.2d, identifies him as Xiangli Qin and associates his disciples with the followers of Wu Huo. 12Of the Xiangfu school, nothing whatever is known.  13The school of Dengling was of southern origin and included Ku Hou and Ji Chi as well as Master Dengling, according to the Zhuangzi, “Tianxia,” ¶33.2d.  14It is generally believed that these three schools are represented in the three sets of chapters on each of ten theses of classical Mohism. Liang Qichao notes that in addition to these three schools, there was also the school of Song Xing and Yin Wen which has many points in common with the Mohists.  ¶50.1b
Now over 700 years have passed since Zhou succeeded the Yin and more than 2000 since the Xia dynasty succeeded the Yu dynasty of Shun.1 We are incapable of determining which are the real teachings of Confucius and Mo Di, so how, today, will those who desire to judge even the truth about the Dao of Yao and Shun–now more than 3000 years ago-do so? Obviously it is impossible to ascertain anything! Those who claim to know something with certainty but lack any corroborating evidence are fools; and those who rely on what we cannot know with certainty to make further claims are knaves. Thus, it is clear that those who rely on the former kings for their claims and profess certain knowledge about Yao and Shun are knaves if they are not utter fools. The learning of fools and knaves, and conduct that is unprincipled and contradictory, will not be accepted by the enlightened ruler. 1These figures are definitely wrong, so various scholars have proposed emending the figures to make them “historically” accurate, but there is little reason to believe that Han Fei intended to be precise.   Book 49: The Five Vermin ¶49.5b
Today Ru and Mohists alike praise the early kings for their universal love of the world, saying that they looked after their people the way parents do a beloved child. What do they use to prove that this is so? They say: “Whenever the Director of Crime applied the punishments, the lord would cancel his musical performances because of that and when he heard the announcement of an execution he would shed tears over it.” This is what they praise about the early kings. If you require that the relation between ruler and minister be like father and son and make it the condition necessary to produce order in government, the implication is that there is no such thing as unruly fathers or sons. By inborn nature, nothing surpasses the love of parents for their children. But even though all parents have expressed their love their children, this love has never resulted in all their children being well-behaved. And even if parents were to love the unruly child even more, would that prevent it from being unruly? The love of the early kings for their children could not surpass the love of parents’ for their children, so if parents love does not inevitably result in their children not being unruly, how can the love of kings make their people orderly? Moreover, if when the laws are applied to punish people the lord weeps about it–this may exemplify humaneness but it is not a way to create orderly government. Shedding tears and not wanting to punish may be humaneness but, however that may be, that the punishments cannot but be applied is a matter of law. If the early kings let their laws triumph and did not heed their tears, it is obvious that practicing humaneness cannot be used to create an orderly government. ¶49.6
Besides, by nature people submit to authority, but only a few are capable of cherishing moral principles. Confucius was the world’s sage. He cultivated his conduct, clarified his Dao, traveled across the lands within the seas, but in all those places only 70 men rejoiced in his humaneness, admired his moral code, and were willing to become his disciples. To be sure, to prize humaneness belongs to the very few and to be capable of his moral code is a difficult thing. Thus, in the vastness of the world there were only 70 men who became his disciples and there was only one man who became humane and moral.  Duke Ai of Lu was an inferior ruler, but when he faced south as lord of his country, not a single man within the borders of his state would dare refuse to be his servant. So since people by nature submit to authority, when a person holds a position of authority it is easy to cause others to submit. Thus it was that Confucius contrary to expectations remained a servant and Duke Ai, in contrast, remained lord. It was not a matter of Confucius cherishing the Duke’s morality but of his submitting to his authority. Thus if it was based on morality Confucius would never have submitted to Duke Ai, but because he wielded authority Duke Ai made Confucius his servant. Today scholars advise rulers that they should strive to conduct themselves with humaneness and morality so that it will be possible for them to become universal kings. They do not advise that they wield their authority which is certain to triumph. This is to make it necessary for rulers to reach the level of a Confucius and that all his subjects should act like Confucius’ disciples. Such a policy is certain to fail.  ¶49.9a
Ru scholars use their literary skills to destroy law and knights-errant use their military skills to violate prohibitions, yet rulers universally treat them with special courtesies so there is general disorder. Those who deviate from the law should be regarded as criminals but instead all these learned teachers are chosen for office for their literary accomplishments. Those who violate the prohibitions should be punished but instead every knight-errant is given a living for using their swords to further private interest. Thus, what law condemns the lord chooses and what officials punish their superior patronizes. Law and the ruler’s personal inclinations, superior and subordinate are in contradiction. Where nothing is fixed, even ten Yellow Emperors would be incapable of governing. Thus those who practice humaneness and morality should not be those who are praised, for to praise their conduct is to harm military readiness. Men of literary accomplishment should not be given office, for giving them office brings confusion to the laws.  ¶49.10b
To reward those who cut off enemy heads and yet esteem acts of compassion and kindness; to provide emoluments and noble titles to those who capture cities and yet put you trust in persuasions which advocate universal love; to strengthen armor and sharpen weapons in order to be prepared to meet any kind of trouble and yet admire the ornamented robes and belts of the civil gentry; to try to enrich the country through agriculture and ward off the enemy with trained soldiers and yet prize scholars for their literary accomplishments; to disdain people who treat the ruler with reverence and respect the law and instead patronize knights-errant who travel from court to court wielding their swords on behalf of private interests-those who recommend such conduct make it impossible for the state to be either well governed or strong. When the state is tranquil, it can nurture Ru scholars and knights-errant, but when difficulties arise, it must use armed knights. But in the present case, those who would benefit the state are not employed and those who are employed provide no benefit. This is precisely why those charged with particular responsibilities are negligent in carrying them out and the number of traveling scholars increases by the day. This is what causes the disorder of our age.
¶49.13
Accordingly, in the country of an enlightened ruler there is no literature written in books and on bamboo strips, for they use the laws for instruction. There is no discussion of the early kings, for they employ officials as their teachers. There is no wielding of swords in acts of private vengeance, for beheading enemy soldiers are the only acts of valor. In this way as they speak everyone is sure to stay within the framework established by the laws, when they act everyone is certain to aim at real accomplishments, and when they perform acts of valor, they are always in the service of the army. On account of this, when there is no threat the country is rich and when there is a threat the army is powerful. These are called “royal resources.” Accumulate the royal resources and wait for the enemy to present an opening. To surpass the Five Emperors and rival the Three Kings you must uses this model.  ¶49.18
For these reasons, the milieu of disintegrating states includes: 1) scholars who cites the Dao of early kings in order to pretend to be humane and moral and who adorn their manners and dress and polish their arguments and persuasions in order to cast doubt on laws of the present times in order to make the ruler be of two minds about them; 2) rhetoricians who manufacture treacherous schemes and avail themselves of the power of foreign governments in order to realize their private interests at the expense of benefitting the altars of soil and grain; 3) swordsmen who gather bands of followers which they discipline and drill in order to make their reputation more eminent but violate the prohibitions of the Five Bureaus; 4) those wanting to escape military service who gather about the gates of influential men, offering them bribes, to use their influence at court to keep them from toiling like beasts of burden in battle; and 5) merchants and craftsmen who disguise and repair broken and shoddy goods, who collect wasteful luxury goods, accumulate stores awaiting the best time to sell them, and cheat farmers out of their profits. These five are a country’s vermin. If a ruler does not wipe them out and instead supports resolute and determined knights, it should then come as no surprise that everywhere within the four seas states break apart and perish and ruling houses are decimated and annihilated.

Mantra Pushpam

November 3, 2007

 Mantra Pushpam

[This great mantra is taken from Taithreeya Aranyakam of Yajur Veda. It is normally sung in a chorus by all the priests together after performing any Pooja (worship) or Yagna. It tells in short that water is the basis of this universe. The reason why it is repeated in all functions is not known to me. What I have attempted is a simple translation of this great chant.]

Yopam puspam veda
Puspavan prajavan pasuvan bhavati
Candramava Apam puspam
Puspavan, Prajavan pasuman bhavati
Ya Evam Veda
Yopa mayatanam Veda
Ayatanam bhavati.

He who understands the flowers of water,
He becomes the possessor of flowers, children and cattle.
Moon is the flower of the water,
He who understands this fact,
He becomes the possessor of flowers, children and cattle.
He who knows the source of water,
Becomes established in himself,

Agnirva Apamayatanam
Ayatanavan Bhavati
Yo agnerayatanam Veda
Ayatanavan bhavati
Apovagner ayatanam
Ayatanavan bhavati
Ya Evam Veda
Yopa mayatanam Veda
Ayatanavan bhavati

Fire is the source of water,
He who knows this,
Becomes established in himself,
Water is the source of fire,
He who knows this,
Becomes established in himself.
He who knows the source of water,
Becomes established in himself,

Vayurva Apamaya tanam
Ayatanavan bhavati.
Yova Yorayatanam Veda
Ayatanavan bhavati|
Apovai va yorayatanam
Ayatanavan bhavati.
Ya Evam veda
Yopamayatanam Veda
Ayatanavan Bhavati

Air is the source of water,
He who knows this,
Becomes established in himself,
Water is the source of air,
He who knows this,
Becomes established in himself.
He who knows the source of water,
Becomes established in himself,

Asowvai tapanna pamayatanam
Ayatanavan bhavati
Yo musya tapata Ayatanan Veda
Ayatanavan bhavati
Apova Amusyatapata Ayatanam
Ayatanavan bhavati
Ya Evam Veda
Yopa mayatanam Veda
Ayatanavan bhavati

Scorching sun is the source of water,
He who knows this,
Becomes established in himself,
Water is the source of scorching sun,
He who knows this,
Becomes established in himself.
He who knows the source of water,
Becomes established in himself,

Candrama Vama pamayatnam
Ayatanavan bhavati.
Yascandra masa Ayatanam Veda
Ayatanavan bhavati
Apovai Candra masa Ayatanam
Ayatanavan bhavati
Ya Evam Veda
Yo pamayatanam veda
Ayatanavan bhavati

Moon is the source of water,
He who knows this,
Becomes established in himself,
Water is the source of moon,
He who knows this,
Becomes established in himself.
He who knows the source of water,
Becomes established in himself,

Nakshtrani va Apamayatanam
Ayatanavan bhavati
Yo Nakshtrana mayatanam Veda
Ayatanavan bhavati
Apovai Nakshtrana mayatanam
Ayatanavan bhavati
Ye evam Veda
Yopamaya tanam Veda
Ayatanavan bhavati

Stars are the source of water,
He who knows this,
Becomes established in himself,
Water is the source of stars,
He who knows this,
Becomes established in himself.
He who knows the source of water,
Becomes established in himself,

Parjanyova apamayatanam
Ayatanavan bhavati
Yah parjanyasya syayatinam Veda
Ayatanavan bhavati
Apovai parjanya Syayatanam
Ayatanavan bhavati
Ye Evam veda
Yopa maya tanam Veda
Ayatanavan bhavati

Clouds are the source of water,
He who knows this,
Becomes established in himself,
Water is the source of clouds,
He who knows this,
Becomes established in himself.
He who knows the source of water,
Becomes established in himself,

Samvastaro Va Apamayatanam
Ayatavan bhavati
Yassavatsa rasyaya tanam Veda
Ayatavan bhavati.
Apovai samvasara ayatanam
Ayatanavan bhavati
Ya Evam veda
Yopsu Navam pratistitam veda
Pratyeva tistati

Rainy season is the source of water,
He who knows this,
Becomes established in himself,
Water is the source of rainy season,
He who knows this,
Becomes established in himself.
He who knows that there is a raft is available,
Becomes established in that raft.

{This stanza is included in some versions of mantra Pushpam
Om thad Brahma, Om it is Brahma
Om Thad Vayu. Om it is air
Om Thad Athma Om it is the soul
Om Thad Sathyam Om it is the truth
Om That Sarvam Om it is everything
Om That puror nama Om salutations to that Purusha
Anthascharathi bhootheshu Guhyam Viswa Murthishu
That which is inside all beings secretly is that Universal God
Thvam Yajna You are the fire sacrifice,
Thwam vashatkara You are the the personification of Vedic sacrifice
Thwam Indra You are the Indra
Thvam vayu You are the air
Thvam Rudra You are the Rudra
Vishnus thvam You are the Vishnu
Brahmasthvam You are the Brahma
Thvam prajaipathi You are the Lord of all beings
Om Thadhapa apo jyothi raso amrutham brahma bhur bhuvasuvarom
Om water is light, the essence is the nectar and the concept of Brahma is in all the seven worlds.}

Rajadhi rajaya Prasahya Sahine|
Namo Vayam Vai Sravanaya Kurmahe
Samekaman Kama Kamaya mahyam
Kamesvaro Vai Sravano dadatu
Kuberaya Vai Sravanaya
Maha rajaya Namah.
(This last stanza is normally recited by priests while giving back prasada after performing an Archana in all temples)

King of kings, we praise thee,
Who is the giver of all victories,
Who is the fulfiller of all desires,
Please bless me with wealth,
To fulfill all our desires,
Oh, Kubhera*, we praise thee,
Salutations to the king of kings.

* Kubhera is the Lord of wealth.

No-self or Not-self?

October 23, 2007

No-self or Not-self?  

One of the first stumbling blocks that Westerners often encounter when they learn about Buddhism is the teaching on anatta, often translated as no-self. This teaching is a stumbling block for two reasons. First, the idea of there being no self doesn’t fit well with other Buddhist teachings, such as the doctrine of kamma and rebirth: If there’s no self, what experiences the results of kamma and takes rebirth? Second, it doesn’t fit well with our own Judeo-Christian background, which assumes the existence of an eternal soul or self as a basic presupposition: If there’s no self, what’s the purpose of a spiritual life? Many books try to answer these questions, but if you look at the Pali Canon — the earliest extant record of the Buddha’s teachings — you won’t find them addressed at all. In fact, the one place where the Buddha was asked point-blank whether or not there was a self, he refused to answer. When later asked why, he said that to hold either that there is a self or that there is no self is to fall into extreme forms of wrong view that make the path of Buddhist practice impossible. Thus the question should be put aside. To understand what his silence on this question says about the meaning of anatta, we first have to look at his teachings on how questions should be asked and answered, and how to interpret his answers.
The Buddha divided all questions into four classes: those that deserve a categorical (straight yes or no) answer; those that deserve an analytical answer, defining and qualifying the terms of the question; those that deserve a counter-question, putting the ball back in the questioner’s court; and those that deserve to be put aside. The last class of question consists of those that don’t lead to the end of suffering and stress. The first duty of a teacher, when asked a question, is to figure out which class the question belongs to, and then to respond in the appropriate way. You don’t, for example, say yes or no to a question that should be put aside. If you are the person asking the question and you get an answer, you should then determine how far the answer should be interpreted. The Buddha said that there are two types of people who misrepresent him: those who draw inferences from statements that shouldn’t have inferences drawn from them, and those who don’t draw inferences from those that should.
These are the basic ground rules for interpreting the Buddha’s teachings, but if we look at the way most writers treat the anatta doctrine, we find these ground rules ignored. Some writers try to qualify the no-self interpretation by saying that the Buddha denied the existence of an eternal self or a separate self, but this is to give an analytical answer to a question that the Buddha showed should be put aside. Others try to draw inferences from the few statements in the discourse that seem to imply that there is no self, but it seems safe to assume that if one forces those statements to give an answer to a question that should be put aside, one is drawing inferences where they shouldn’t be drawn.
So, instead of answering “no” to the question of whether or not there is a self — interconnected or separate, eternal or not — the Buddha felt that the question was misguided to begin with. Why? No matter how you define the line between “self” and “other,” the notion of self involves an element of self-identification and clinging, and thus suffering and stress. This holds as much for an interconnected self, which recognizes no “other,” as it does for a separate self. If one identifies with all of nature, one is pained by every felled tree. It also holds for an entirely “other” universe, in which the sense of alienation and futility would become so debilitating as to make the quest for happiness — one’s own or that of others — impossible. For these reasons, the Buddha advised paying no attention to such questions as “Do I exist?” or “Don’t I exist?” for however you answer them, they lead to suffering and stress.
To avoid the suffering implicit in questions of “self” and “other,” he offered an alternative way of dividing up experience: the four Noble Truths of stress, its cause, its cessation, and the path to its cessation. Rather than viewing these truths as pertaining to self or other, he said, one should recognize them simply for what they are, in and of themselves, as they are directly experienced, and then perform the duty appropriate to each. Stress should be comprehended, its cause abandoned, its cessation realized, and the path to its cessation developed. These duties form the context in which the anatta doctrine is best understood. If you develop the path of virtue, concentration, and discernment to a state of calm well-being and use that calm state to look at experience in terms of the Noble Truths, the questions that occur to the mind are not “Is there a self? What is my self?” but rather “Am I suffering stress because I’m holding onto this particular phenomenon? Is it really me, myself, or mine? If it’s stressful but not really me or mine, why hold on?” These last questions merit straightforward answers, as they then help you to comprehend stress and to chip away at the attachment and clinging — the residual sense of self-identification — that cause it, until ultimately all traces of self-identification are gone and all that’s left is limitless freedom.
In this sense, the anatta teaching is not a doctrine of no-self, but a not-self strategy for shedding suffering by letting go of its cause, leading to the highest, undying happiness. At that point, questions of self, no-self, and not-self fall aside. Once there’s the experience of such total freedom, where would there be any concern about what’s experiencing it, or whether or not it’s a self?
Source: Copyright © 1997 Thanissaro Bhikkhu.  The author gives permission to re-format and redistribute his work for use on computers and computer networks, provided that you charge no fees for its distribution or use. Otherwise, all rights reserved. 
 

Vasubandhu’s Verses of Aspiration for Birth

October 22, 2007

Vasubandhu (Sanskrit. Chinese 世親. Korean 세친, fl. 4th c.) was an Indian Buddhist scholar-monk, and along with his half-brother Asanga, one of the main founders of the Indian Yogācāra school. Vasubandhu is one of the most influential figures in the entire history of Buddhism.

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vasubandhu

VASUBANDHU’S
DISCOURSE ON THE PURE LAND
JODORON
translated from Chinese by
Hisao Inagaki

VASUBANDHU’S
VERSES OF ASPIRATION FOR BIRTH:
UPADESHA ON THE AMITAYUS SUTRA

[VERSES]
O World-Honored One, with singleness of mind, I
Take refuge in the Tathagata of Unhindered Light
Shining throughout the Ten Directions,
And aspire to be born in the Land of Peace and Bliss. (1)

Depending on the sutras’ exposition
Of the manifestation of true merit,
I compose verses of aspiration in condensed form,
Thereby conforming to the Buddha Dharma. (2)

When I contemplate the nature of that Land,
I find that it surpasses all states of existence in the three worlds.
It is ultimately like space,
Vast and without bounds. (3)

Out of the Great Compassion inherent in the Right Path
And from the root of supramundane good has it arisen.
It is completely radiant with pure light,
Like a mirror or the sun or moon. (4)

It is composed of rare jewels,
And endowed with exquisite adornments.
Its pure and blazing light is brilliant
And serene, illuminating the whole world. (5)

Jewelled ornaments, pliant and soft like grasses,
Bend to right and left.
They produce delightful sensations in one who touches them,
Surpassing the sensations produced when kacilindika grass is stroked.
  (6)

A myriad varieties of jewelled blossoms
Are scattered profusely among the ponds, streams, and springs.
When a soft breeze moves the flowers and leaves,
Reflections of light interweave and shimmer in all directions. (7)

The palaces and various towers
Command unobstructed views in the ten directions.
There are trees displaying many colors,
All surrounded by railings of precious gems. (8)

Nets strung with innumerable jewels
Hang across the sky.
When bells of various kinds ring out,
They proclaim the message of the excellent Dharma. (9)

Magnificent flowers and robes rain down,
And numerous varieties of incense pervade everywhere.
The Buddha’s wisdom is pure and brilliant like the sun;
It dispels the darkness of the world’s ignorance. (10)

The sacred name enlightens people far and wide;
It is subtle and wonderful and is heard everywhere in the ten
  directions.
[The Land] is firmly upheld by Amida,
The Enlightened One, the Dharma-King. (11)

The hosts of sages in the likeness of pure flowers surrounding the
  Tathagata
Are born there, transformed from within the Flower of
  Enlightenment.
They enjoy the taste of the Buddhist Dharma,
Taking meditation and Samadhi as food. (12)

Forever free from bodily and mental afflictions,
They always enjoy pleasure, without interruption.
In this realm of the Goodness of the Mahayana
[All beings are] equal, and not [even] the names of unworthy beings
  are found there. (13)

Women, deformed and deficient persons and
[Those having] the seeds of the Two Vehicles are not born here.
Whatever aspirations sentient beings may have,
They will all be fulfilled. (14)

For this reason I aspire to be born
In Amida Buddha’s Land.
[He is seated] on the pedestal of an excellent, pure lotus flower
Adorned with innumerable great treasures. (15)

His physical marks of excellence shine for one fathom;
His form is incomparably superior to that of any other beings.
The wondrous voice of the Tathagata like that of Brahma
Is heard throughout the ten directions. (16)

Like earth, water, fire, wind
And space, [he] has no discriminative thoughts.
Heavenly and human beings, unshakable [in their spiritual
  attainments],
Are born out of the ocean of pure wisdom. (17)

Like Sumeru, the king of mountains,
[Amida is] supreme, wonderful and unequaled.
Heavenly beings and valiant men
Worship, circumambulate round him and look up to him adoringly. (18)

When I observe the Buddha’s Primal Vow-Power,
I find that those who meet with it do not pass by in vain.
They are enabled to gain quickly
The great sea of the treasure of merit. (19)

The Land of Peace and Bliss is pure and serene;
[The Buddha] always turns the undefiled wheel [of the Dharma].
Transformed Buddhas and Bodhisattvas [illumine the whole world]
  like the sun,
[While remaining motionless] like Mt. Sumeru. (20)

The pure, glorious light [of the Bodhisattvas],
In a flash of thought and simultaneously,
Illumines each and every Buddha’s assembly
And gives benefit to multitudes of beings. (21)

They manifest heavenly musical instruments, flowers, robes,
Fine incense, and so forth, with which they worship the Buddhas;
They praise and extol the merits of the Buddhas
Without discriminative thoughts. (22)

If there is any world in the universe
Without the treasure of merit of the Buddha Dharma,
I resolve to be born there
And to preach the Dharma like a Buddha. (23)

I have written this discourse and composed verses
With the wish to see Amida Buddha
And, together with all sentient beings,
Be born in the Land of Peace and Bliss. (24)

I have expounded a summary, in verse, of passages from the Larger Sutra on Amitayus.

[Commentary]
<First three Mindful Practices>
What do these Verses of Aspiration for Birth show? They show that one contemplates the Land of Peace and Bliss, sees Amida Tathagata and aspires to be born in the Land.
How does one contemplate and awaken faith? If a good man or woman performs the Five Mindful Practices and has accomplished them, he or she will eventually attain birth in the Land of Peace and Bliss and see Amida Buddha.
What are the Five Gates of Mindful Practices? They are: (1) worship; (2) praise; (3) aspiration; (4) contemplation; and (5) merit-transference.
What is worship? It is a bodily act of worshipping Amida the Tathagata, the Arhat, and the Perfectly Enlightened One. [One performs this act] because one aspires to be born in his Land.
How does one praise and eulogize [Amida]? One praises and eulogizes him by means of speech. One calls the Name of that Tathagata which describes his Light, the embodiment of Wisdom, wishing to practice in accord with the Dharma, that is, in agreement with the significance of the Name.
How does one aspire [to the Pure Land]? One constantly resolves; fixing one’s thought on the eventual attainment of birth in the Land of Peace and Bliss, one wishes to practice shamatha correctly.
How does one contemplate? One contemplates with wisdom, that is, contemplates [the Pure Land] with mindfulness, wishing to practice vipashyana in accord with the Dharma.
The contemplation is of three kinds: (1) contemplation of the glorious manifestations of the merit of the Buddha-land; (2) contemplation of the glorious merit of Amida Buddha; (3) contemplation of the glorious merit of various Bodhisattvas.
How does one transfer [the merit of the practice]? One does not forsake suffering beings, but constantly resolves in one’s mind to perfect the Great Compassion by putting merit-transference above anything else.

<Contemplation of the Pure Land>
How does one contemplate the glorious aspects of the Buddha Land? The glorious aspects of the Buddha Land are provided with the inconceivable power, and their nature resembles that of the wish-fulfilling Ma n}i-gem.
Concerning the contemplation of the glorious merits of the Buddha’s Land, there are seventeen aspects. What are the seventeen? They are the perfected glorious merits of (1) purity, (2) vastness, (3) essential nature, (4) luminous appearances, (5) manifold precious adornments, (6) magnificent illumination, (7) supreme sensation, (8) three elements, (9) rain, (10) light, (11) wonderful name, (12) lord Buddha, (13) kinsmen, (14) nourishment, (15) freedom from afflictions, (16) gate of the great principle and (17) fulfillment of all aspirations.
Accomplishment of the glorious merit of purity is described in the verse as:

  When I contemplate the nature of that Land
  I find that it surpasses all states of existence in the three worlds
.
     (3 ab)

Accomplishment of the glorious merit of vastness is described in the verse as:

  It is ultimately like space,
  Vast and without bounds. (3 cd)


Accomplishment of the glorious merit of essential nature is described in the verse as:

Out of the Great Compassion of the Right Path
And from the roots of supramundane good has [the Pure Land] arisen.
(4 ab)

Accomplishment of the glorious merit of luminous appearances is described in the verse as:

  It is completely radiant with pure light,
  Like a mirror or the sun or moon
. (4 cd)

Accomplishment of the glorious merit of manifold precious adornments is described in the verse as:

  It is composed of rare jewels,
  And endowed with exquisite adornment
. ( 5 ab)

Accomplishment of the glorious merit of magnificent illumination is described in the verse as:

  Its pure and blazing light is brilliant
  And serene, illuminating the whole world. (5 cd)

Accomplishment of the glorious merit of sensation is described in the verse as:

  Jewelled ornaments, pliant and soft like grass,
  Bend to right and left.
  They produce delightful sensations in those who touch them,
  Surpassing the sensations produced when kacilindika grass is stroked.(stanza 6)

Concerning the accomplishment of the glorious merit of the three elements, one should know that there are three elements. What are they? They are (1) water, (2) earth and (3) sky.

Accomplishment of the glorious merit of water is described in the verse as:

  A myriad varieties of jewelled blossoms
  Are scattered profusely among the ponds, streams and springs.
  When a soft breeze moves the flowers and leaves,
  Reflections of light interweave and shimmer in all directions.
(7)

Accomplishment of the glorious merit of earth is described in the verse as:

  The palaces and various towers
  Command unobstructed views in the ten directions.
  There are trees displaying many colors,
  Surrounded everywhere by railings of precious gems.(8)

Accomplishment of the glorious merit of sky is described in the verse as:

  Nets strung with innumerable jewels
  Hang across the sky.
  When bells of various kinds ring out,
  They proclaim the message of the excellent Dharma. (9)

Accomplishment of the glorious merit of rain is described in the verse as:

  Magnificent flowers and robes rain down
  And innumerable varieties of incense pervade everywhere.(10 ab)

Accomplishment of the glorious merit of light is described in the verse as:

  The Buddha’s wisdom is pure and brilliant like the sun;
  t dispels the darkness of the world’s ignorance.(10 cd)

Accomplishment of the glorious merit of the wonderful name is described in the verse as:

   The sacred name enlightens people far and wide;
  It is subtle and wonderful and is heard everywhere in the ten directions.
(11 ab)

Accomplishment of the glorious merit of the Lord Buddha is described in the verse as:

  [The Land] is firmly upheld by Amida,
  The Enlightened One, the Dharma-King.(11 cd)

Accomplishment of the glorious merit of kinsmen is described in the verse as:

  The hosts of sages in the likeness of pure flowers surrounding the Tathagata
  Are born there, transformed from within the Flower of Enlightenment.(12 ab)

Accomplishment of the glorious merit of nourishment is described in the verse as:

  They enjoy the taste of the Buddha Dharma,
  Taking meditation and Samadhi as food. (12 cd)

Accomplishment of the glorious merit in securing freedom from afflictions is described in the verse as:

Forever free from bodily and mental afflictions,
They always enjoy pleasure, without interruption
. (13 ab)

Accomplishment of the glorious merit in providing the gate of the Great Principle is described in the verse as:

  
In this realm of the Goodness of the Mahayana
  [All beings are] equal, and not [even] names of unworthy beings are found there.
  Women, deformed and deficient persons and
  [Those having] the seeds of the Two Vehicles are not born there.(13 cd & 14 ab)

One should know that the reward of the Pure Land is free of two kinds of unworthy beings: (1) beings themselves and (2) their names. The beings are of three kinds: (1) followers of the Two Vehicles, (2) women and (3) deformed and deficient persons. Because of the absence of these three imperfections, it is said ‘unworthy beings themselves are not found there.’ The names are also of three kinds. Not only are the three kinds of such beings themselves non-existent, but also even names ‘the Two Vehicles’, ‘women’ and ‘deformed and deficient persons’ are not heard there. Therefore, it is said ‘not even the names of unworthy beings are found there.’ ‘Equal’ means being equal and having the same characteristics.
Accomplishment of the glorious merit in fulfilling all aspirations is described in the verse as:

  Whatever aspirations sentient beings may have,
  They will all be fulfilled.
( 14 cd)

<Perfection of self-benefit and benefiting of others>
I have briefly explained the seventeen kinds of glorious merits of Amida Buddha’s Land, which manifest the Tathagata’s perfection of both the great merit-power for his own benefit and the merit for benefiting others.

<The Pure Land entering into the ultimate reality>
The adornments of the Land of the Buddha of Immeasurable Life are phenomenal aspects of a wondrous realm which has arisen from the ultimate reality. I have explained in due order the sixteen objects of perception (i.e. from the second to the seventeenth adornments) and the one (i.e. the first adornment). This one should know.

<Contemplation of Amida>
What is the contemplation of accomplishment of the glorious merits of the Buddha? We should know that it has eight aspects. What are the eight? They are: (1) accomplishment of the glorious merit of the seat, (2) accomplishment of the glorious merit of the body, (3) accomplishment of the glorious merit of speech, (4) accomplishment of the glorious merit of the mental activity, (5) accomplishment of the glorious merit of the congregation, (6) accomplishment of the glorious merit of the sovereign power, (7) accomplishment of the glorious merit of lordship, and (8) accomplishment of the glorious merit of the unfailing sustenance.

What is the accomplishment of the glorious merit of the seat? It is said in the verse:

  [He is seated] on the pedestal of an excellent, pure lotus flower
  Adorned with innumerable great treasures. (15 cd)

What is the accomplishment of the glorious merit of the body? It is said in the verse:

  His physical marks of excellence shine for one fathom;
  His form is incomparably superior to that of any other beings
. (16 ab)

What is the accomplishment of the glorious merit of speech? It is said in the verse:

  The wondrous voice of the Tathagata like that of Brahma
  Is heard throughout the ten directions. (16 cd)


What is the accomplishment of the glorious merit of mental activity? It is said in the verse:

  Like earth, water, fire, wind
  And space, [he] has no discriminative thoughts. (17 ab)


[Amida] has no discriminative thought’ because he has no discriminative mind.
What is the accomplishment of the glorious merit of the congregation? It is said in the verse:

  Heavenly and human beings, unshakable [in their spiritual attainment,]
  Are born out of the ocean of pure wisdom. (17 cd)

What is the accomplishment of the glorious merit of the sovereign power? It is said in the verse:

  Like Sumeru, the king of mountains,
  [Amida is] supreme, wonderful and unequaled. (18 ab)


What is the accomplishment of the glorious merit of lordship? It is said in the verse:

Heavenly beings and valiant men
Worship, circumambulate and look up at him adoringly. ( 18 cd)

What is the accomplishment of the glorious merit of the unfailing sustenance? It is said in the verse:

 When I observe the Buddha’s Primal Vow-Power,
  I find that those who meet with it do not pass by in vain.
  They are enabled to gain quickly
  The great sea of the treasure of merit.( 19)

When Bodhisattvas who have not yet attained the pure mind see the Buddha, they will finally be able to realize the Dharmakaya of Equality and will eventually be equal to Bodhisattvas of pure mind and those of the upper stages in the realization of tranquillity and equality.[

I have briefly explained the eight aspects [of the Buddha's activity], demonstrating that the Tathagata’s glorious merits for his own benefit and that of others have been accomplished in due order. You should realize the implication of this.

<Contemplation of the Bodhisattvas>
What is the contemplation of accomplishment of the glorious merits of the Bodhisattvas? It is to contemplate the Bodhisattvas, in whom we find accomplishment of the merits in performing the four right practices. You should realize the implication of this.

What are the four? First, while dwelling motionless in a Buddha-land, [Bodhisattvas] display various transformed bodies throughout the ten directions, manifest performance of practices in accord with the Dharma and engage constantly in the Buddha’s work. The verse says:

  The Land of Peace and Bliss is pure and serene;
  [The Buddha] always turns the undefiled wheel [of Dharma].
  Transformed Buddhas and Bodhisattvas [illumine the whole world] like the sun,
  [While remaining motionless] like Mt. Sumeru. ( 20)


For they seek to enable sentient beings to bloom like lotuses in a muddy pool.

Second, at any time they choose, their accommodative and transformed bodies emit great light and reach all worlds in the ten directions simultaneously and in a flash of thought in order to teach and guide sentient beings; for they seek to remove the suffering of all sentient beings by various expedient means, practices and acts. The verse says:

  The pure, glorious light [of the Bodhisattvas],
  In a flash of thought and simultaneously,
  Illumines each and every Buddha’s assembly
  And gives benefit to multitudes of beings.( 21)


Third, having reached all the worlds without exception, they illumine each and every Buddha’s assembly. On such a vast and immense scale, they make offerings to the Buddhas, Tathagatas, pay homage to them and praise their virtues. The verse says:

  They shower heavenly musical instruments, flowers, robes,
  Fine incense, and so forth, with which they worship the Buddhas;
  They praise and extol the merits of the Buddhas
  Without discriminative thoughts. (22)

Fourth, they visit places in all the worlds in the ten directions where the Three Treasures do not exist. Establishing and glorifying the ocean-like merit of the treasures of the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, they display and explain the correct practices to all. The verse says:

  If there is any world in the universe
  Without the treasure of merit of the Buddha Dharma,
  I resolve to be born there

  And to preach the Dharma as does a Buddha.( 23)

<All the glorious manifestations entering into the Vow-Mind>
I (i.e., Vasubandhu) have explained above the contemplation of accomplishment of the glorious merits of the Buddha-land, the Buddha and the Bodhisattvas. These three kinds of accomplishment are adorned with the resolution. One should realize the implications of this.

<Entering into the One Dharma Principle>
Presented in brief, they enter into the One Dharma Principle. The One Dharma Principle is the Purity Principle; the Purity Principle is Unconditioned Dharmakaya that is to be realized through True Wisdom.

<Two kinds of purity>
Purity is distinguished into two kinds. One should realize this. What are the two kinds? First, purity of the land as the receptacle, and second, purity of its inhabitants. The purity of the land refers to the accomplishment of the seventeen kinds of adornment of that Buddha-land; these are called the purity of the land. The purity of the inhabitants refers to the eight kinds of adornment of the Buddha and the four kinds of adornment of Bodhisattvas; these are called the purity of the inhabitants. Thus the One Dharma Principle contains these two kinds of purity. One should realize the implication of this.

<Converting beings with skillful means>
Bodhisattvas thus practice shamatha on the condensed presentation and vipashyana on the extensive presentation, and so attain the pliant mind. They truly realize both the extensive manifestations and the all-inclusive principle. Thus they accomplish the transference of merit by skillful means.
What is the Bodhisattvas’ transference of merit by skillful means? The Bodhisattvas’ transference of merit by skillful means is that they turn over all the merits and roots of good accumulated by performing the five kinds of practice, such as worship, to all sentient beings to remove their sufferings, for they do not seek to enjoy the pleasures for their own sustenance, but wish to embrace all sentient beings and help them attain birth in that Buddha-land of Peace and Bliss together with themselves. This is called ‘Bodhisattvas’ accomplishment of the transference of merit by skillful means
.’

<Eliminating hindrances to Bodhi>
Having mastered the method of accomplishing the transference of merit, Bodhisattvas can now eliminate the three hindrances to Bodhi. What are the three? First, by entering the gate of wisdom, they do not seek their own pleasure, and thus they eliminate any thought of self-attachment.
Second, by entering the gate of compassion, they remove the sufferings of all sentient beings and eliminate disinclination to give peace to them.
Third, by entering the gate of expedient means, they attain compassion for all sentient beings and thus eliminate any thought of seeking veneration and respect by others.
These are called elimination of the three kinds of hindrances to Bodhi.

<Coming into accord with Bodhi>
Having thus eliminated the three kinds of hindrances to Bodhi, Bodhisattvas can now completely attain the three minds which are in accord with Bodhi. What are these?
First, the undefiled pure mind: [they attain this mind] because they do not seek their own pleasure.
Second, the peaceful pure mind: [Bodhisattvas attain this mind] because they seek to remove the sufferings of all sentient beings.
Third, the blissful pure mind: [Bodhisattvas attain this mind] because they enable all sentient beings to reach Great Bodhi and [for this purpose] they receive sentient beings and lead them to attain birth in that Land.
These are called ‘completely attaining the three minds which are in accord with Bodhi.’ One should realize the implication of this.

<Summary of some key terms>
The three gates mentioned above – wisdom, compassion and skillful means – contain Prajna; Prajna contains skillful means. One should realize the implication of this.
The three eliminations mentioned above – elimination of any thought of self-attachment, elimination of disinclination to give peace to sentient beings, and elimination of any thought of seeking veneration and respect by others – are the ways of removing hindrances to Bodhi. One should realize the implication of this.
The three kinds of mind mentioned above – undefiled pure mind, peaceful pure mind and blissful pure mind – are combined to form ‘the supreme, blissful, unsurpassed and true mind.’ One should realize the implication of this.

<Fulfillment of the vows and the acts>
In this way the Bodhisattvas’ mind of wisdom, mind of expediency, mind of non-hindrance, and unsurpassed and true mind bring about birth in the Buddha’s Pure Land. One should realize the implication of this.
This is called ‘accomplishment of the acts of the Bodhisattvas, Mahasattvas, as they desire through the five Dharma-gates.’ The acts of body, speech, mind, wisdom and wisdom of skillful means as mentioned above are the Dharma-gates that conform to the way of birth in the Pure Land.

<Accomplishment of the beneficial acts>
Again, there are five gates, which in order produce five kinds of merit. One should realize the implication of this. What are the five gates? They are: (1) the gate of approach, (2) the gate of great assemblage, (3) the gate of residence, (4) the gate of chamber, and (5) the gate of playing ground.
Of the five gates, the first four produce the merit in the phase of ‘going in’ and the fifth produces the merit in the phase of ‘going out’.
The first gate in the phase of ‘going in’ is to worship Amida Buddha in order to be born in his Land; by this one attains birth in the Land of Peace and Bliss, and so it is called the first gate in the phase of ‘going in.’
The second gate in the phase of ‘going in’ is to praise Amida Buddha, while reciting his Name in compliance with its meaning and practicing in compliance with his light of wisdom; by this one joins the great assemblage. This is called the second gate in the phase of ‘going in.’
The third gate in the phase of ‘going in’ is to aspire single-mindedly and wholeheartedly to be born there and to perform the practice of shamatha, the samadhi of tranquillity; by this one can reach the Land of Lotus-Treasury. This is called the third gate in the phase of ‘going in.’
The fourth gate in the phase of ‘going in’ is to contemplate wholeheartedly those glorious adornments and so practice vipashyana; by this one can reach that Land, where one will enjoy various flavors of the Dharma. This is called the fourth gate of ‘going in.’
The fifth gate in the phase of ‘going out’ is to observe with great compassion all suffering beings, manifest accommodated and transformed bodies, and enter the garden of birth-and-death and the forest of evil passions, where [Bodhisattvas] play about, exercising transcendent powers; they thus dwell in the stage of teaching others through [Amida's] transference of merit by their Primal Vow-Power. This is called the fifth gate in the phase of ‘going out.’
Bodhisattvas accomplish the practice for their own benefit with the four gates in the phase of ‘going in.’ One should realize the implication of this.
Through the fifth gate of ‘going out’ Bodhisattvas accomplish the practice of benefiting others by transference of merit. One should realize the implication of this.
Thus, by performing the five mindful practices, Bodhisattvas accomplish both self-benefit and benefit for others, and so quickly attain anuttara-samyak- sambodhi.

  End of my brief exposition of the essential of the Verses of Aspiration for Birth, Upadesha on the Buddha of Infinite Life Sutra


[Bibliography] H. Inagaki, Ojoronchu: T’an-luan’s Commentary on Vasubandhu’s Discourse on the Pure Land: A Study and Translation, Nagata Bunshodo, Kyoto, 1998, pp. 120-291.

Mahakarunika Dharani

October 21, 2007

Mahakarunika Dharani

Namo ratna-trayaya namah arya avalokitešvaraya
bodhisattvaya mahasattvaya mahakarunikaya
om’ sabalavati šudhanatasya namas-krivanimam
arya avalokitešvara lamtabha
namo nilakantha šrimahapatašami sarvatodhušuphem
asiyum sarvasada nama bhaga mabhatetu tadyatha
om’ avaloki lokate kalati ešili mahabodhisattva
sabho sabho mara mara maši maši ridhayum guru guru gamam turu turu
bhašiyati maha bhašiyati dhara dhara dhirini
švaraya jala jala mama bhamara mudhili edhyehi
šina šina alašim bhalašari bhaša bhašim bharašaya hulu hulu pra hulu hulu
šri sara sara siri siri suru suru budhi budhi budhaya budhaya
maitriye nilakantha trišarana bhayamana svaha
sitaya svaha maha sitaya svaha sitayaye švaraya svaha nilakanthi svaha
pranila svaha šri sidha mukhaya svaha sarva maha astaya svaha cakra astaya svaha
padma kešaya svaha nilakanthe pantalaya svaha
mobholišankaraye svaha
namo ratna-trayaya namah arya avalokita išvaraya
om’ sidhyantu mantra pataye svaha

Kukai’s initiation Into esoteric Buddhism

October 21, 2007

Mircea Eliade “From Primitives to Zen”: KUKAI’S INITIATION IN THE ESOTERIC BUDDHISM


(‘Kobo Daishi Zenshu,’ I, 98 ff.) Kukai (774-835) learned in China and introduced to Japan the Buddhism known as the True Words (Mantrayana in Sanskrit, Shingon in Japanese). In Shingon Buddhism the mysteries are transmitted orally from master to disciple. This Esoteric Buddhism became the most important religion of Heian Japan.The passage printed below is taken from the Memorial Presenting a List of Newly Imported Sutras, which Kukai wrote to the emperor upon his return from studying in China. Kukai wrote reports on the results of his studies and cautiously relates his initiation.

During the sixth moon of 804, I, Kukai, sailed for China aboard the Number One Ship, in the party of Lord Fujiwara ambassador to the T’ang court. We reached the coast of Fukien by the eighth moon, and four months later arrived at Ch’ang-an, the capital, where we were lodged at the official guest residence. The ambassadorial delegation started home for Japan on March 15, 805, but in obedience to an imperial edict, I alone remained behind in the Hsi-ming Temple where the abbot Yung-chung had formerly resided.

One day, in the course of my calls on eminent Buddhist teachers of the capital, I happened by chance to meet the abbot of the East Pagoda Hall of the Green Dragon Temple. This great priest, whose Buddhist name was Hui-kuo, was the chosen disciple of the Indian master Amoghavajra. His virtue aroused the reverence of his age; his teachings were lofty enough to guide emperors. Three sovereigns revered him as their master and were ordained by him. The four classes of believers looked up to him for instruction in the esoteric teachings.

I called on the abbot in the company of five or six monks from the Hsi-ming Temple. As soon as he saw me he smiled with pleasure, and he joyfully said, ‘I knew that you would come! I have been waiting for such a long time. What pleasure it gives me to look on you today at last! My life is drawing to an end, and until you came there was no one to whom I could transmit the teachings. Go without delay to the ordination altar with incense and a flower.’ I returned to the temple where I had been staying and got the things which were necessary for the ceremony. It was early in the sixth moon, then, that I entered the ordination chamber. I stood in front of the Womb Mandala [Garbha Mandala] and cast my flower in the prescribed manner.1 By chance it fell on the body of the Buddha Vairochana in the centre. The master exclaimed in delight, ‘How amazing! How perfectly amazing!’ He repeated this three or four times in joy and wonder. I was then given the fivefold baptism and received the instruction in the Three Mysteries that bring divine intercession. Next I was taught the Sanskrit formulas for the Womb Mandala, and learned the yoga contemplation on all the Honoured Ones.

Early in the seventh moon I entered the ordination chamber of the Diamond [Vajra] Mandala for a second baptism. When I cast my flower it fell on Vairochana again, and the abbot marvelled as he had before. I also received ordination as an acharya early in the following month. On the day of my ordination I provided a feast for five hundred of the monks. The dignitaries of the Green Dragon Temple all attended the feast, and everyone enjoyed himself.

I later studied the Diamond Crown Yoga and the five divisions of the True Words teachings, and spent some time learning Sanskrit and the Sanskrit hymns. The abbot informed me that the Esoteric scriptures are so abstruse that their meaning cannot be conveyed except through art. For this reason he ordered the court artist Li Chen and about a dozen other painters to execute ten scrolls of the Womb and Diamond Mandalas, and assembled more than twenty scribes to make copies of the Diamond and other important esoteric scriptures. He also ordered the bronzesmith Chao Wu to cast fifteen ritual implements. These orders for the painting of religious images and the copying of the sutras were issued at various times.

One day the abbot told me, ‘Long ago, when I was still young, I met the great master Amoghavajra. From the first moment he saw me he treated me like a son, and on his visit to the court and his return to the temple I was inseparable from him as his shadow. He confided to me. ‘You will be the receptacle of the esoteric teachings. Do your best! Do your best!’ I was then initiated into the teachings of both the Womb and Diamond, and into the secret mudras as well. The rest of his disciples, monks and laity alike, studied just one of the Mandalas or one Honoured One or one ritual, but not all of them as I did. How deeply I am indebted to him I shall never be able to express.

‘Now my existence on earth approaches its term, and I cannot long remain. I urge you, therefore, to take the two Mandalas and the hundred volumes of the Esoteric teachings, together with the ritual implements and these gifts which were left to me by my master. Return to your country and propagate the teachings there.

‘When you first arrived I feared I did not have time enough left to teach you everything, but now my teaching is completed, and the work of copying the sutras and making the images is also finished. Hasten back to your country, offer these things to the court, and spread the teachings throughout your country to increase the happiness of the people. Then the land will know peace and everyone will be content. In that way you will return thanks to Buddha and to your teacher. That is also the way to show your devotion to your country and to your family. My disciple I-ming will carry on the teachings here. Your task is to transmit them to the Eastern Land. Do your best! Do your best !’ These were his final instructions to me, kindly and patient as always. On the night of the last full moon of the year he purified himself with a ritual bath and, lying on his right side and making the mudra of Vairochana, he breathed his last.

That night, while I sat in meditation in the Hall, the abbot appeared to me in his usual form and said, ‘You and I have long been pledged to propagate the esoteric teachings. If I am reborn in Japan, this time I will be your disciple.’

I have not gone into the details of all he said, but the general import of the Master’s instructions I have given. [Dated 5th December 806].


Note1 Mandala is a rather complex design, comprising a circular border and one or more concentric circles enclosing a square divided into four triangles; in the centre of each triangle, and in the centre of the Mandala itself, are other circles containing images of divinities or their emblems. During the initiation, the guru blindfolds the disciple and puts a flower in his hand; the disciple throws it into the Mandala, and the section into which it falls reveals the divinity who will be especially favourable to him. On the Symbolism and the Rituals of the Mandala, cf. M. Eliade, Yoga (New York: Bollingen Series LVI, 1958), pp. 219 ff.; G. Tucci, The Theory and practice of the Mandala (London, 196l).

Translation by Wm. Theodore de Bary, in De Bary (ed.), Sources of Japanese Tradition (New York: Columbia University Press, 1958), PP. 144-6. Introductory comment adapted from De Bary, pp. 137 ff. Note by M. Eliade.

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