Taking refuge in Buddha Amitabha
in the wondrous ultimate dimension,
I devote my heart to returning to myself
and diligently maintaining mindfulness.
I vow to go for refuge to Buddha Amitabha.
I bow my head and ask to be received in his embrace.
Please bring your torch of light
to shine upon my mind, to offer guidance to my thoughts.
Please bring the boat of longevity
to carry my body so that I may live with peace and joy.
Please Buddha, always protect me.
Keep my mind attentive, ending wrong perceptions
so that all afflictions fall away.
With every step we take in solidity and freedom,
the Buddha is alive; we walk in the Pure Land.
Dwelling mindfully in the present moment,
with the Pure Land already a reality,
we are assured that the future will be filled with peace and
If we are able to recollect Amitabha
with undispersed, one-pointed mind,
we will witness the appearance of the nine lotus grades.
May we all live long,
knowing in advance the moment of our passing away,
dying with a mind that is calm and free,
and a body without sickness or pain.
May Buddha Amitabha be here with us now
with his holy assembly which bears the golden lotus.
Together, may we set out in freedom
to witness the opening of the lotus and the Buddha within.
May the Pure
Land forever be our home.
I bow my head and ask the Buddha to be witness
To my continuous efforts in the practice. (BB)
Opening Verse

[bell, bell, bell]

Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Samma Sambuddhassa

Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Samma Sambuddhassa

Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Samma Sambuddhassa



The Dharma is deep and lovely.

We now have a chance to see, study, and practice it.

We vow to realize its true meaning. [bell]


The Three Refuges

I take refuge in the Buddha,

the one who shows me the way in this life.

I take refuge in the Dharma,

the way of understanding and of love.

I take refuge in the Sangha,

the community that lives in harmony and awareness.


Dwelling in the refuge of Buddha,

I clearly see the path of light and beauty in the world.

Dwelling in the refuge of Dharma,

I learn to open many doors on the path of transformation.

Dwelling in the refuge of Sangha,

shining light that supports me, keeping my practice free of obstruction.


Taking refuge in the Buddha in myself,

I aspire to help all people recognize their own awakened nature,

realizing the Mind of Love.

Taking refuge in the Dharma in myself,

I aspire to help all people fully master the ways of practice

and walk together on the path of liberation.

Taking refuge in the Sangha in myself,

I aspire to help all people build Fourfold Communities,

to embrace all beings and support their transformation.

[bell, bell]


Sharing the Merit

Reciting the sutras, practicing the way of awareness

gives rise to benefits without limit.

We vow to share the fruits with all beings.

We vow to offer tribute to parents, teachers, friends, and numerous beings

who give guidance and support along the path.

[bell, bell, bell]



We are Truly present


With hearts established in mindfulness, we are truly present

For sitting meditation and walking meditation, and for reciting the sutras.

May this practice center, with its Fourfold Sangha,

Be supported by the Three Jewels and Holy Beings,

Well-protected from the eight misfortunes

And the three paths of suffering.

May parents, teachers friends, and all beings within the Three Realms

Be filled with the most divine grace,

And may it be found that in the world there is no place at war.

May the winds be favorable, the rains seasonable,

And the people’s hearts at peace.

May the practice of the noble community, diligent and steady,

Ascend the Ten Bodhisattva Stages with ease and energy.

May the Sangha body live peacefully, fresh and full of joy.

A refuge for all, offering happiness and insight.

The Wisdom of the Awakened Mind shines out like the full moon.

The body of the Awakened One is pure and clear as crystal.

In the World the Awakened One relieves bitterness and suffering.

In every place the Awakened Mind reveals love and compassion.


Namo Shakyamunaye Buddhaya (3x) {Bell,Bell}


May the Day be Well


May the day be well and the night be well.

May the midday hour bring happiness too.

In every minute and every second,

May the day and night be well.

By the blessing of the Triple Gem,

May all things be protected and safe.

May all beings born in each of the four ways

Live in a land of purity.

May all in the Three Realms be born upon Lotus Thrones.

May countless wandering souls realize

The three virtuous positions of the Bodhisattva Path.

May all living beings, with grace and ease,

Fulfill the Bodhisattva Stages.

The countenance of the World-Honored One,

like the full moon or like the orb of the sun,

shines with the light of clarity.

A halo of wisdom spreads in every direction,

Enveloping all with love and compassion, joy and equanimity.


Namo Skayamunaye Buddhaya (3x) {Bell,Bell}








The Diamond That Cuts through Illusion

Opening Gatha*

How may we overcome the fear of birth and death

and arrive at the state that is as indestructible as a diamond?

What way can direct us in our practice

to sweep away our thousands of illusions?

If the awakened mind shows its compassion

and opens up for us the treasure store,

then we may bring into our lives

the wonderful diamond teachings.


This is what I heard one time when the Buddha was staying in the monastery in Anathapindika's park in the Jeta Grove near Shravasti with a community of 1,250 bhikshus, fully ordained monks. That day, when it was time to make the alms round, the Buddha put on his sanghati robe and, holding his bowl, went into the city of Shravasti to beg for food, going from house to house. When the alms round was completed, he returned to the monastery to eat the midday meal. Then he put away his sanghati robe and his bowl, washed his feet, arranged his cushion, and sat down. At that time, the Venerable Subhuti stood up, bared his right shoulder, put his knee on the ground, and, joining his palms respectfully, said to the Buddha, "World-Honored One, it is rare to find someone like you. You always support and show special confidence in the Bodhisattvas. World-Honored One, if sons and daughters of good families want to give rise to the highest, most fulfilled, awakened mind, what should they rely on and what should they do to master their thinking?"

The Buddha said to Subhuti, "This is how the Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas master their thinking: 'However many species of living beings there are whether born from eggs, from the womb, from moisture, or spontaneously; whether they have form or do not have form; whether they have perceptions or do not have perceptions; or whether it cannot be said of them that they have perceptions or that they do not have perceptions, we must lead all these beings to nirvana so that they can be liberated. Yet when this innumerable, immeasurable, infinite number of beings has become liberated, we do not, in truth, think that a single being has been liberated. Why is this so? If, Subhuti, a bodhisattva holds on to the idea that a self, a person, a living being, or a lifespan exists, that person is not a true bodhisattva. "Moreover, Subhuti, when a bodhisattva practices generosity, he does not rely on any object any form, sound, smell, taste, tactile object, or dharma to practice generosity. That, Subhuti, is the spirit in which a bodhisattva practices generosity, not relying on signs. Why? If a bodhisattva practices generosity without relying on signs, the happiness that results cannot be conceived of or measured. Subhuti, do you think that the space in the Eastern Quarter can be measured?"

"No, World-Honored One."

"Subhuti, can space in the Western, Southern, or Northern Quarters, above or below be measured?"

"No, World-Honored One."

"Subhuti, if a bodhisattva does not rely on any concept while practicing generosity, the happiness that results from that virtuous act is as great as space. It cannot be measured. Subhuti, the bodhisattvas should let their minds dwell in the teachings I have just given. "What do you think, Subhuti? Is it possible to grasp the Tathagata by means of bodily signs?"

"No, World-Honored One. When the Tathagata speaks of bodily signs, there are no signs being talked about."

The Buddha said to Subhuti, "In a place where there is something that can be distinguished by signs, in that place there is deception. If you can see the signless nature of signs, you can see the Tathagata."

The Venerable Subhuti said to the Buddha, "In times to come, will there be people who, when they hear these teachings, have real faith and confidence in them?"

The Buddha replied, "Do not speak that way, Subhuti. Five hundred years after the Tathagata has passed away, there will still be people who appreciate the joy and happiness that come from observing the precepts. When such people hear these words, they will have faith and confidence that this is the truth. Know that such people have sown seeds not only during the lifetime of one Buddha, or even two, three, four, or five Buddhas, but have, in fact, planted wholesome seeds during the lifetimes of tens of thousands of Buddhas. Anyone who, for even a moment, gives rise to a pure and clear confidence upon hearing these words of the Tathagata, the Tathagata sees and knows that person, and he or she will attain immeasurable happiness because of this understanding. Why? {Bell}



"Because that person is not caught in the idea of a self, a person, a living being, or a life span. He or she is not caught in the idea of a dharma or the idea of a non-dharma. He or she is not caught in the notion that this is a sign and that is not a sign. Why? If you are caught in the idea of a dharma, you are also caught in the ideas of a self, a person, a living being, and a life span. If you are caught in the idea that there is no dharma, you are still caught in the ideas of a self, a person, a living being, and a life span. That is why we should not get caught in dharmas or in the idea that dharmas do not exist. This is the hidden meaning when the Tathagata says, 'Bhikshus, you should know that all of the teachings I give to you are a raft.' All teachings must be abandoned, not to mention non-teachings."

The Buddha asked Subhuti, "In ancient times when the Tathagata practiced under the guidance of the Buddha Dipankara, did the Tathagata attain anything?"

Subhuti answered,"No,World-Honored One. In ancient times when the Tathagata practiced under the guidance of the Buddha Dipankara, he did not attain anything."

"What do you think, Subhuti? Does a bodhisattva create a serene and beautiful Buddha Field?"

"No, World-Honored One. Why? To create a serene and beautiful Buddha Field is not in fact to create a serene and beautiful Buddha Field. That is why it is called creating a serene and beautiful Buddha Field."

The Buddha said, "So, Subhuti, all the Bodhisattva Mahasattvas should give rise to a pure and clear intention in this spirit. When they give rise to this intention, they should not rely on forms, sounds, smells, tastes, tactile objects, or objects of mind. They should give rise to an intention with their minds not dwelling anywhere. So, Subhuti, when a bodhisattva gives rise to the unequaled mind of awakening, he has to give up all ideas. He cannot rely on forms when he gives rise to that mind, nor on sounds, smells, tastes, tactile objects, or objects of mind. He can only give rise to the mind that is not caught in anything. "The Tathagata has said that all notions are not notions and that all living beings are not living beings. Subhuti, the Tathagata is one who speaks of things as they are, speaks what is true, and speaks in accord with reality. He does not speak deceptively or to please people. Subhuti, if we say that the Tathagata has realized a teaching, that teaching is neither graspable nor deceptive.

"Subhuti, a bodhisattva who still depends on notions to practice generosity is like someone walking in the dark. She will not see anything. But when a bodhisattva does not depend on notions to practice generosity, she is like someone with good eyesight walking under the bright light of the sun. She can see all shapes and colors.

"Subhuti, do not say that the Tathagata has the idea, 'I will bring living beings to the shore of liberation.' Do not think that way, Subhuti. Why? In truth there is not one single being for the Tathagata to bring to the other shore. If the Tathagata were to think there was, he would be caught in the idea of a self, a person, a living being, or a life span. Subhuti, what the Tathagata calls a self essentially has no self in the way that ordinary persons think there is a self. Subhuti, the Tathagata does not regard anyone as an ordinary person. That is why he can call them ordinary persons.

"What do you think, Subhuti? Can someone meditate on the Tathagata by means of the thirty-two marks?"

Subhuti said, "Yes, World-Honored One. We should use the thirty-two

marks to meditate on the Tathagata."

The Buddha said, "If you say that you can use the thirty-two marks to see the Tathagata, then the Cakravartin is also a Tathagata?"

Subhuti said, "World-Honored One, I understand your teaching. One should not use the thirty-two marks to meditate on the Tathagata."

Then the World-Honored One spoke this verse:


"Someone who looks for me in form

or seeks me in sound

is on a mistaken path

and cannot see the Tathagata."


"Subhuti, if you think that the Tathagata realizes the highest, most fulfilled, awakened mind and does not need to have all the marks, you are wrong. Subhuti, do not think in that way. Do not think that when one gives rise to the highest, most fulfilled, awakened mind, one needs to see all objects of mind as nonexistent, cut off from life. Do not think in that way. One who gives rise to the highest, most fulfilled, awakened mind does not say that all objects of mind are nonexistent and cut off from life."

After they heard the Lord Buddha deliver this discourse, the Venerable Subhuti, the bhikshus and bhikshunis, laymen and laywomen, and gods and asuras, filled with joy and confidence, began to put these teachings into practice. {Bell, Bell}


Vajracchedika Prajñaparamita Sutra,

Taisho Revised Tripitaka 335*

Discourse on Love



"He or she who wants to attain peace should practice being upright, humble, and capable of using loving speech. He or she will know how to live simply and happily, with senses calmed, without being covetous and carried away by the emotions of the majority. Let him or her not do anything that will be disapproved of by the wise ones. “

(And this is what he or she contemplates :)

"May everyone be happy and safe, and may all hearts be filled with joy. May all beings live in security and in peace — beings who are frail or strong, tall or short, big or small, invisible or visible, near or faraway, already born, or yet to be born. May all of them dwell in perfect tranquility. Let no one do harm to anyone. Let no one put the life of anyone in danger. Let no one, out of anger or ill will, wish anyone any harm. Just as a mother loves and protects her only child at the risk of her own life, cultivate boundless love to offer to all living beings in the entire cosmos. Let our boundless love pervade the whole universe, above, below, and across. Our love will know no obstacles. Our heart will be absolutely free from hatred and enmity. Whether standing or walking, sitting or lying, as long as we are awake, we should maintain this mindfulness of love in our own heart. This is the noblest way of living. Free from wrong views, greed, and sensual desires, living in beauty and realizing Perfect Understanding, those who practice boundless love will certainly transcend birth and death." {Bell, Bell}


Etena sacca vajjena sotthi te hotu sabbada.

[repeat three times]

[By the firm determination of this truth, may you ever be well.]


Metta Sutta, Sutta Nipata 1.8*



Discourse on the Land of Great Happiness


This is what I heard the Buddha say one time when he was staying in the Anathapindika Monastery in the Jeta Grove. At that time the Buddha had with him a Sangha of 1,250 bhikshus, all arhats and the most well-known among his senior disciples, including Shariputra, Mahamaudgalyayana, Mahakashyapa, Mahakatyayana, Mahakaushthila, Revata, Shuddhipanthaka, Nanda, Ananda, Rahula, Gavampati, Pindolabharadvaja, Kalodayin, Mahakapphina, Vakkula, and Aniruddha. There were also present Bodhisattvas of great stature like Manjushri, Ajita, Gandhahastin, Nityodyukta and many other great Bodhisattvas as well as countless heavenly beings including Indra. At that time the Buddha called Shariputra to him and said:     “If you go from here in the western direction and pass through hundreds of thousands

of millions of Buddha Worlds you will come to a world called Sukhavati (Great Happiness). In that world there is a Buddha whose name is Amitabha and who is at this very moment teaching the Dharma. Shariputra, why is that land called Great Happiness? Because the people who live there do not have to go through any suffering. They are always enjoying many kinds of happiness. And that is why that world is called Great Happiness. Shariputra, around Sukhavati there are seven rows of rails, seven rows of spread out netting and seven rows of trees. All are made of the four kinds of precious jewels. That is why the land is called Great Happiness. Furthermore Shariputra, in the land of Great Happiness there are many lakes of the seven precious stones, full of the water of the Eight Virtues. The bed of the lake is made wholly of pure golden sand and on the shores are paths of gold, silver, and crystal. Above these paths are countless pavilions which are built of and decorated with gold, silver, crystal, mother-of-pearl, red agate, and carnelians. The lotus flowers in these lakes are as large as cartwheels. The blue lotuses give out a halo of blue light, the golden lotuses a halo of golden light, the red lotuses a halo of red light and the white lotuses a halo of white light. The fragrance of the lotuses is subtle, wonderful, sweet, and pure.

“Shariputra, Sukhavati is adorned with such beauties as these. Furthermore Shariputra, in this Buddha Land people can always hear the sound of heavenly music. The earth is made of pure gold. During the six periods of the day, flowers rain down multitudes of mandarava from the sky. In the morning the people of this land like to take flower baskets made of cloth and fill them with these wonderful flowers in order to make offerings to the Buddhas who live in countless other Buddha Lands. When it is time for the midday meal, everyone returns to Sukhavati and after eating does walking meditation. Shariputra, that is how extraordinarily beautiful Sukhavati is.

“Furthermore Shariputra, in Sukhavati you can always see different species of birds of many wonderful colors, like white cranes, peacocks, orioles, egrets, avalinkara, and jivanjva birds. These birds sing with harmonious, sweet sounds throughout the six periods of the day. In the song of the birds people can hear teachings on different Dharma doors such as the Five Faculties, the Five Powers, the Seven Factors of Awakening, and the Noble Eightfold Path. When the people of this land hear the teachings in the form of bird songs, their minds are in perfect concentration and they come back to practicing mindfulness of Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.

“Shariputra, do not think that the birds in Sukhavati have been born as the result of past bad actions. Why? Because the three lower realms of hells, hungry ghosts, and animals do not exist in the land of Amitabha Buddha. Shariputra, in this land the names of the lower realms do not even exist, how much less their actuality! These birds are manifestations of the Buddha Amitabha so that the Dharma can be proclaimed widely in his land.

“Shariputra, in this Buddha Land, whenever a light breeze moves the rows of trees and the jeweled netting, people hear a wonderful sound as if a hundred thousand musical instruments are being played together at the same time. When the people hear this sound, they all naturally return to mindful recollection of the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. Shariputra, that is how beautiful Sukhavati is. {Bell}



“Shariputra, why do you think that Buddha is called Amitabha (Limitless Light)? Because he is infinite light which is able to illuminate all worlds in the Ten Directions and this light and radiance never comes to an end. That is why he is called Amitabha.

“What is more, Shariputra, the life span of Amitabha as well as the life span of everyone who lives in his Buddha Land is limitless. It lasts for innumerable kalpas, that is why he is called Amitabha.

“Shariputra, from the time when Amitabha Buddha realized enlightenment until now can be reckoned as ten kalpas. Moreover Shariputra, the number of his hearer disciples who have attained the fruit of arhatship is also limitless. It is not possible to calculate them, so great is their number. The number of bodhisattvas in that land is also limitless.

“Shariputra, the land of Amitabha is made out of such beautiful qualities as these.

“Shariputra, everyone who is born in Sukhavati naturally has the capacity of non-regression. Among the people living there, many will attain Buddhahood in one more lifetime. The number of these bodhisattvas is infinite, and there is no method of calculation to number them. It may only be expressed by the term limitless.

“Shariputra, when living beings everywhere hear Sukhavati spoken about, they should bring forth the great wish to be born in such a land. Why? Because having been born in that land they will be able to live with and be very close to so many noble practitioners.

“Shariputra, one cannot be born in this land with a lack of merit or wholesome roots. Therefore, Shariputra, whenever men or women of good families hear the name of Amitabha Buddha, they should mindfully repeat that name and wholeheartedly practice visualization with a mind that is one pointed and not dispersed for one, two, three, four, five, six, or seven days.

When that person passes from this life, they will see Amitabha Buddha and the Holy Ones of that land right before their eyes. At the time of their passing, their mind will abide in meditative concentration and will not be deluded or dispersed. That is why they can be born in the Land of Great Happiness.

“Shariputra, it is because I have seen the enormous benefit of this land that I want to tell all who are listening now to bring forth the great wish to be born there.

“Shariputra, as I am now commending the inestimably great benefits and virtues of Buddha Amitabha, there are in the east, in the south, in the west, in the north, above and below, Buddhas as numberless as the sands of the Ganges, each one seated in his own Buddha Field, each one with the long tongue of a Buddha which is able to embrace the three chiliocosms, announcing with all sincerity, ‘Living beings in all worlds, you should have confidence in this sutra, which all the Buddhas in the entire cosmos wholeheartedly commend and protect by recollection.’

“Shariputra, why do you think this sutra is wholeheartedly commended and protected by the recitation of all Buddhas? The reason is that when sons or daughters of good families hear this sutra or hear the name of the Buddha Amitabha and wholly put it into practice and maintain mindful recitation of Buddha Amitabha’s name, they will be protected by the recollection of all the Buddhas, and they will attain the highest fruit of awakening from which they will never regress. So you should have faith in what I am saying and what all other Buddhas are also saying.

“Shariputra, if there is anyone who has already brought forth the great aspiration, is aspiring now or will aspire in the future to be born in Amitabha’s land, at the very moment when that person makes the aspiration, they already attain the fruit of the highest awakening from which they will never regress, and they are dwelling already in the Buddha Field of Amitabha. It is not necessary that they have been born or are being born or will be born there in order to be present within the Buddha Field of Amitabha.

“Shariputra, while I am praising the unimaginably great qualities of the Buddhas, the Buddhas are also praising my unimaginably great qualities saying, ‘Buddha Shakyamuni is very rare. In the Saha world which is full of the five impurities — the cloudiness of time, the cloudiness of views, the cloudiness of unwholesome mental states, the cloudiness of the idea of living being and life span — he is able to realize the fruit of the highest awakening and is able to communicate to living beings the Dharma doors, which people will find hard to believe if they have had no preparation.’

“Shariputra, understand that to stay in a world which is full of the five kinds of impurity and to be able to attain the fruit of the highest awakening and also to be able to transmit to all beings Dharma doors which people find hard to believe, like this Dharma door of being born in Sukhavati, is something extremely difficult.”

When Shariputra as well as all the bhikshus, heavenly beings, bodhisattvas, warrior gods, and others heard the Buddha deliver this sutra, they all had faith in it, joyously accepted the teaching and paid respect to the Buddha before returning to their dwelling places.

{Bell, Bell}

Sukhavati-Vyuha Sutra,

Taisho Revised Tripitaka 366*



Discourse on the Lotus of the Wonderful Dharma:

Universal Door Chapter-The Power of Avalokita


Introductory Gatha

Chanting the Lotus Sutra by night,

the sound shook the galaxies.

The next morning when planet Earth woke up,

her lap was full of flowers. {Bell}


Buddha of ten thousand beautiful aspects,

may I ask you this question:

“Why did they give that bodhisattva

the name Avalokita?”


The World-Honored One, beautifully adorned,

offered this reply to Akshayamati:

“Because actions founded on her deep aspiration

can respond to the needs of any being in any circumstance.


“Aspirations as wide as the oceans

were made for countless lifetimes.

She has attended to billions of Buddhas,

her great aspiration purified by mindfulness.


“Whoever calls her name or sees her image,

if their mind be perfectly collected and pure,

they will then be able to overcome

the suffering of all the worlds.


“When those with cruel intent

push us into a pit of fire,

invoking the strength of Avalokita,

the fire becomes a refreshing lake.


“Adrift on the waters of the great ocean,

threatened by monsters of the deep,

invoking the strength of Avalokita,

we are saved from the storm waves.


“Standing atop Mount Meru,

should someone desire to push us down,

invoking the strength of Avalokita,

we dwell unharmed like the sun hanging in space.



“Chased by a cruel person

down the Diamond Mountain,

invoking the strength of Avalokita,

not even a hair of our body will be in danger.


“Encircled and assaulted by bandits

holding swords to wound and to kill,

invoking the strength of Avalokita,

sword blades shatter into millions of pieces.


“Imprisoned or bound in iron chains,

with hands and feet placed in a yoke,

invoking the strength of Avalokita,

we are released into freedom.


“Poisons, curses, and bewitchings,

putting us into danger,

invoking the strength of Avalokita,

harmful things return to their source.


Attacked by a fierce and cruel yaksha,

a poisonous naga, or unkind spirit,

invoking the strength of Avalokita,

they will do us no harm.


“With wild animals all around

baring their teeth, tusks, and claws,

invoking the strength of Avalokita

will cause them to run far away.


“Confronted with scorpions and poisonous snakes,

breathing fire and smoke of poisonous gas,

invoking the strength of Avalokita,

they depart, the air clears.


“Caught beneath lightning, thunder, and clouds,

with hail pouring down in torrents,

invoking the strength of Avalokita,

the storm ends, the sunlight appears.


“All living beings caught in distress,

oppressed by immeasurable suffering,

are rescued in ten thousand ways

by the wonderful power of her understanding.


“Miraculous power with no shortcoming,

wisdom and skillful means so vast –

in the Ten Directions of all the worlds,

there is no place she does not appear.


“The paths to realms of suffering,

the pain of birth, old age, sickness, and death,

hells, hungry spirits, or animals

are all purified, brought to an end.


“Look of truth, look of purity,

look of boundless understanding,

look of love, look of compassion –

the look to be always honored and practiced.


“Look of immaculate light and purity,

the Sun of Wisdom destroying darkness,

master of fire, wind, and disaster

illuminating the whole world.


“Heart of compassion like rolling thunder,

heart of love like gentle clouds,

water of Dharma nectar raining upon us,

extinguishing the fire of afflictions.


“In the courtroom, the place of lawsuits,

on the fields in the midst of war,

invoking the strength of Avalokita,

our enemies become our friends.


“Sound of wonder, noble sound,

sound of one looking deeply into the world,

extraordinary sound, sound of the rising tide,

the sound to which we will always listen.


“With mindfulness, free from doubts,

in moments of danger and affliction,

our faith in the purity of Avalokita

is where we go for refuge.


“We bow in gratitude to the one

who has all the virtues,

regarding the world with compassionate eyes,

an Ocean of Well-Being beyond measure.” {Bel Bell}


Saddharmapundarika Sutra, Chapter 25

Taisho Revised Tripitaka 262

The Sutra On The Four Kinds Of Nutriments

This is what I heard one time when the Buddha was in Anathapindika’s monastery in the Jeta Grove, near the town of Sravasti. That day, the Buddha told the monks: “There are four kinds of nutriments which enable living beings to grow and maintain life. What are these four nutriments? The first is edible food, the second is the food of sense impressions, the third is the food of volition, and the fourth is the food of consciousness.”

“Bhikkhus, how should a practitioner regard edible food? Imagine a young couple with a baby boy whom they look after and raise with all their love. One day they decide to bring their son to another country to make their living. They have to go through the difficulties and dangers of a desert. During the journey, they run out of provisions and fall extremely hungry. There is no way out for them and they discuss the following plan: ‘We only have one son whom we love with all our heart. If we eat his flesh, we shall survive and manage to overcome this dangerous situation. If we do not eat his flesh, all three of us will die.’ After this discussion, they kill their son. Shedding tears of pain and gritting their teeth, they eat the flesh of their son, just so as to be able to live and come out of the desert.

The Buddha asked: “Do you think that couple ate their son’s flesh because they wanted to enjoy its taste and because they wanted their bodies to have the nutriment that would make them more beautiful?”

The monks replied: “No, Venerable Lord.”

The Buddha asked: “Were the couple forced to eat their son’s flesh in order to survive and escape from the dangers of the desert?”

The monks replied: “Yes, Venerable Lord.”

The Buddha taught: “Monks, every time we ingest edible food, we should train ourselves to look at it as our son’s flesh. If we meditate on it in this way, we shall have clear insight and understanding which puts an end to misperceptions about edible food, and our attachment to sensual pleasures will dissolve. Once the attachment to sensual pleasures is transformed, there are no longer any internal formations concerning the five objects of sensual pleasure in the noble disciple who applies himself to the training and the practice. When the internal formations still bind us, we have to keep returning to this world. {Bell}


“How should the practitioner meditate on the food of sense impressions? Imagine a cow which has lost its skin. Wherever it goes, the insects and maggots that live in the earth, in the dust, and on the vegetation attach themselves to the cow and suck its blood. If the cow lies on the earth, the maggots in the earth will attach themselves to it and feed off of it. Whether lying down or standing up, the cow will be irritated and suffer pain. When you ingest the food of sense impressions, you should practice to see it in this light. You will have insight and understanding which puts an end to misperceptions concerning the food of sense impressions. When you have this insight, you will no longer be attached to the three kinds of feeling. When he or she is no longer attached to the three kinds of feeling, the noble disciple does not need to strive anymore because whatever needs to be done has already been done. {Bell}


“How should the practitioner meditate on the food of volition? Imagine there is a village or a large town situated near a pit of burning charcoal. There are only the smokeless, glowing embers left. Now there is an intelligent man with enough wisdom who does not want to suffer and only wants happiness and peace. He does not want to die; he only wants to live. He thinks: “Over there, the heat is very great. Although there is no smoke and there are no flames, still, if I have to go into that pit, there is no doubt that I shall die.” Knowing this, he is determined to leave that large town or that village and go somewhere else. The practitioner should meditate like this on the food of volition. Meditating like this, he will have insight and understanding which puts an end to misperceptions about the food of volition. When he arrives at that understanding, the three kinds of craving will be ended. When these three cravings are ended, the noble disciple who trains and practices will have no more work to do, because whatever needs to be done has already been done. {Bell}

“How should the practitioner meditate on the food of consciousness? Imagine that the soldiers of the king have arrested a criminal. They bind him and bring him to the king. Because he has committed theft, he is punished by people piercing his body with three hundred knives. He is assailed by fear and pain all day and all night. The practitioner should regard the food of consciousness in this light. If he does, he will have insight and understanding which puts an end to misperceptions concerning the food of consciousness. When he has this understanding regarding the food of consciousness, the noble disciple who trains and practices will not need to strive anymore because whatever needs to be done has been done.”

When the Buddha had spoken, the monks were very happy to put the teachings into practice. {Bell, Bell}

Samyukta Agama, Sutra 373


Discourse on the Eight Realizations of the Great Beings

Wholeheartedly, day and night, disciples of the Awakened One should recite and meditate on the Eight Realizations discovered by the Great Beings.

The First Realization is the awareness that the world is impermanent. Political regimes are subject to fall. Things composed of the four elements are empty, containing within them the seeds of suffering. Human beings are composed of Five Aggregates and are without a separate self. They are always in the process of change — constantly being born and constantly dying. They are empty of self and without a separate existence. The mind is the source of all confusion, and the body the forest of all unwholesome actions. Meditating on this, you can be released from the round of birth and death. {Bell}

The Second Realization is the awareness that more desire brings more suffering. All hardships in daily life arise from greed and desire. Those with little desire and ambition are able to relax, their body and mind free from entanglement. {Bell}

The Third Realization is the awareness that the human mind is always searching outside itself and never feels fulfilled. This brings about unwholesome activity. Bodhisattvas, on the other hand, know the value of having few desires. They live simply and peacefully, so they can devote themselves to practicing the Way. They regard the realization of perfect understanding to be their only career. {Bell}

The Fourth Realization is the awareness that indolence is an obstacle to practice. You must practice diligently to transform unwholesome mental states that bind you, and you must conquer the four kinds of Mara in order to free yourself from the prisons of the Five Aggregates and the Three Worlds. {Bell}

The Fifth Realization is the awareness that ignorance is the cause of the endless round of birth and death. Bodhisattvas always listen to and learn from others so their understanding and skillful means can develop, and so they can teach living beings and bring them great joy. {Bell}

The Sixth Realization is the awareness that poverty creates hatred and anger, which creates a vicious cycle of negative thoughts and actions. When practicing generosity, bodhisattvas consider everyone — friends and enemies alike — to be equal. They do not condemn anyone’s past wrongdoings or hate even those presently causing harm. {Bell}

The Seventh Realization is the awareness that the five categories of sensual desire — money, sex, fame, overeating, and oversleeping — lead to problems. Although you are in the world, try not to be caught in worldly matters. A monk, for example, has in his possession only three robes and one bowl. He lives simply in order to practice the Way. His precepts keep him free of attachment to worldly things, and he treats everyone equally and with compassion. {Bell}

The Eighth Realization is the awareness that the fire of birth and death is raging, causing endless suffering everywhere. Take the Great Vow to help all beings, to suffer with all beings, and to guide all beings to the Realm of Great Joy. {Bell}

These Eight Realizations are the discoveries of great beings, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas who have practiced diligently the way of understanding and love. They have sailed the Dharmakaya boat to the shore of nirvana, and have then returned to the ordinary world, free of the five sensual desires, their minds and hearts directed toward the Noble Way. Using these Eight Realizations, they help all beings recognize the suffering in the world. If disciples of the Buddha recite and meditate on these Eight Realizations, they will put an end to countless misunderstandings and difficulties and progress toward enlightenment, leaving behind the world of birth and death, dwelling forever in peace. {Bell, Bell}

Taisho Revised Tripitaka 779

Discourse on the Middle Way

I heard these words of the Buddha one time when the Lord was staying at the guest house in a forest of the district of Nala. At that time, the Venerable Kacchayana came to visit him and asked, “The Tathagata has spoken of Right View. How would the Tathagata describe Right View?”

The Buddha told the venerable monk, “People in the world tend to believe in one of two views: the view of being or the view of nonbeing. That is because they are bound to wrong perception. It is wrong perception that leads to the concepts of being and nonbeing. Kaccayana, most people are bound to the internal formations of discrimination and preference, grasping and attachment. Those who are not bound to the internal knots of grasping and attachment no longer imagine and cling to the idea of a self. They understand, for example, that suffering comes to be when conditions are favorable, and that it fades away when conditions are no longer favorable. They no longer have any doubts. Their understanding has not come to them through others; it is their own insight. This insight is called Right View, and this is the way the Tathagata would describe Right View. “How is this so? When a person who has correct insight observes the coming to be of the world, the idea of nonbeing does not arise in her, and when she observes the fading away of the world, the idea of being does not arise in her mind. Kaccayana, viewing the world as being is an extreme; viewing it as nonbeing is another extreme. The Tathagata avoids these two extremes and teaches the Dharma dwelling in the Middle Way.

“The Middle Way says that this is, because that is; this is not, because that is not. Because there is ignorance, there are impulses; because there are impulses, there is consciousness; because there is consciousness, there is the psyche-soma; because there is the psyche-soma, there are the six senses; because there are the six senses, there is contact; because there is contact, there is feeling; because there is feeling, there is craving; because there is craving, there is grasping; because there is grasping, there is becoming; because there is becoming, there is birth; because there is birth, there are old age, death, grief, and sorrow. That is how this entire mass of suffering arises. But with the fading away of ignorance, impulses cease; with the fading away of impulses, consciousness ceases; …and finally birth, old age, death, grief, and sorrow will fade away. That is how this entire mass of suffering ceases.”

After listening to the Buddha, the Venerable Kaccayana was enlightened and liberated from sorrow. He was able to untie all of his internal knots and attain arhatship.

{Bell, Bell}

Samyukta Agama 3