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Buddhism A to Z: "F" Entries


Faith is one of the Eleven Wholesome Dharmas of the One Hundred Dharmas (see entry for latter); it is also one of the Five Faculties (faith, vigor, mindfulness, concentration, and wisdom).

"Faith is necessary in whatever it is one does. One needs to have a sense of belief, an attitude of faith. First, one needs to have faith in oneself. What kind of faith? One needs to have faith that one certainly can become a Buddha. One has to believe that there is no difference between the Buddha and oneself. Yet that lack of difference is in one's Buddha-nature. Cultivation is still required in order to actually become a Buddha. If one cultivates, one will become a Buddha. In order to do so, one must have an initial belief in this principle.

"Second, not only is it necessary to believe that one can become a Buddha oneself, but also to believe that all people can become Buddhas. Moreover, not only can all people become Buddhas, one should believe that all living beings have the Buddha-nature and are capable of becoming Buddhas. If one has that kind of faith, then one should begin by following the rules oneself. To follow the rules means to hold the moral precepts. First one holds the precepts, and then one can become a Buddha. One does it oneself and also encourages others to do so as well.

"Faith must be solid, like a rock, firm and sturdy. Faith shouldn't be like a pile of ashes which seems to have some substance to it but which crumbles at the slightest disturbance. Don't be too soft. One's faith must be strong and solid." (HD 44 45)


"Faith is the foundation of cultivation of the Way and the mother of merit and virtue, because it is capable of nourishing wholesome roots. The Buddhadharma is like a vast sea; only by faith can it be entered. Therefore, the single word 'faith' is the essence of escape from birth and death and is the wonderful means for returning to the source. It is a precious raft on the stream of affliction, a torch in the dark cave of ignorance, and a guide who leads us out of the path of confusion. It is a compass for those floundering in the waves on the sea of suffering, and a sagely teacher for those in the Three Paths (Arhat, Pratyekabuddha, and Bodhisattva) and Eight Difficulties ( ). It is the origin of awakening for the Four Kinds of Creatures born (from wombs, eggs, moisture, and transformation) within the Six Paths (see entry). Faith cannot be ignored. An author of ancient times said, 'If a man has no faith, I do not know what can be made of him.'

"Once two bhikshus were travelling to see Shakyamuni Buddha, the World-Honored One. As they travelled they became extremely thirsty but could not find any water. As they walked they happened upon a human skull containing water in which some small bugs were swimming, enjoying themselves tremendously. One of the bhikshus picked up the water and offered some to his companion. The companion replied, 'This water contains bugs, and the moral precepts do not permit drinking such water. I would rather die of thirst than to violate the precepts in order to stay alive.' After this incident he died of thirst.

"When the bhikshu who had drunk the water reached the place where the Buddha was residing, he bowed and said to the Lord, 'Your disciple was travelling in the company of another bhikshu who perished of thirst on the road. I hope the Buddha will be compassionate and rescue him.'

"The Buddha said to the bhikshu who had drunk the water, 'Because he stringently maintained the moral precepts and was so firm in his faith that he would not violate them even in the face of death, he received the awesome power of the Buddhas and arrived here before you. He has already seen the Buddha and heard the Dharma before you. He is a bhikshu who has true faith in the precepts." (WM 53-54; also S42 75-76)

Hymn of Faith

Faith is the source of the Way;

Faith is the mother of merit and virtue.

As they arise by faith,

All wholesome dharmas must by faith be nurtured.

Faith cuts the tangled web of doubt,

Escaping loves delusive flow,

And opens wide to reveal the true and unsurpassed Nirvana's road.

Faith has no stain or mar,

Bringing the turbid mind purification,

Eradicating pride,

Of all respect and reverence the foundation.

Within the Dharma Treasury

faith's jewel outshines the fairest gold;

Hence every conduct our hands by faith made pure receive and surely hold.

Faith is the healing source

By which our faculties are cleansed and quickened. Nothing can turn its force,

The solid power of faith cannot be broken.

And when by faith forever

From all affliction we depart,

The Buddha's merit will thus become the sole devotion of our hearts.

With faith the mind's unmoved,

Free from attachment to conditioned arising;

Disasters far removed,

In the tranquility of faith abiding.

The bliss of faith victorious!

Among the conducts of all worlds,

This faith alone is the one most rare and precious wish-fulfilling pearl.

Profoundly we believe:

Trusting the Buddhas and the Buddhas' Dharma,

Treading the Bodhi-Path,

Forever followed by all true disciples.

And to the Great Enlightenment

Our thoughts are joyfully inclined:

The Bodhisattvas with this deep heart of faith produce the Bodhi-Mind!

(RH 235)

1) Ch. syin , 2) Skt. sraddha, (prasada), 3) Pali saddha, 4) Alternate Translations: belief.

See also: One Hundred Dharmas, Five Types of Buddhist Study and Practice--Pure Land.

BTTS References: WM 53-54; FAS Ch10 ?; FAS-PI 184; FAS-PII(1) 139-140); FAS Ch11 184; FAS Ch22 4-6; AS 24; HD 44.

false thinking

See polluted thoughts.

filial piety (respect for all)

"Of the ten thousand evil acts, lust is the worst;

Of the one hundred wholesome deeds, (filial) piety is foremost.

"What makes people different from animals is that people understand how to be filial to their parents and respectful to their teachers and elders. People are different from animals, who do not understand filiality, yet even

The lamb kneels to nurse;

The crow returns to feed its parents...

Filial basic to being human. Those who are not filial to their parents do not have good roots, but one who is filial certainly does." (UW 115)

"To practice filial piety means to be filial to one's parents and thus to be a dazzling light over the entire world. Both heaven and earth are greatly pleased by filial piety, and so it is said, 'Heaven and earth deem filial piety essential; filial piety is foremost. With one filial son, an entire family is peaceful.' If you are filial to your parents, your children will be filial to you; if you are not filial to your parents, your children will treat you in the same manner.

"One may think, 'What is the point of being human? Isn't it merely to try to get by as well as possible?'

"It certainly is not! The first duty of human beings is to be filial to their parents. Father and mother are heaven and earth; father and mother are all the elders; and father and mother are all the Buddhas. If you had no parents, you would have no body, and if you had no body, you could not become a Buddha. If you want to become a Buddha, you must start out by being filial to your parents." (SPV 18)

The Buddha said, "Filial compliance is a Dharma of the ultimate Way." (BNS 60)

"If one is filial to his parents, he will naturally be pleasant in his voice and will not say crude and unreasonable things. This is the discipline for the mouth. He is forever solicitous and never disobeys: this is the discipline for the body. He is full of sincere love and his mind will not harbor disloyal thoughts: this is the discipline for the mind. Filial piety has the power to stop evil, for one fears to disgrace one's parents: this is the discipline for proper conduct. It can also induce the performance of good, for one wishes to glorify one's parents: this is the discipline for good dharma. Finally, filial piety also has the power to save others. Because of one's love for one's parents, other people can often be moved to follow one's example. Thus, this is also the discipline for saving sentient beings. To sum up, as long as one can be filial, his conduct will naturally be perfect. It is no wonder that the discipline is so interpreted. Aside from filial piety, is there any other discipline?" (Ven. Chu-hung, quoted in Renewal of Buddhism in China, p. 90)

If there were a person who carried his father on his left shoulder and his mother on his right shoulder until his bones were ground to powder by their weight as they bore through to the marrow, and if that person were to circumambulate Mount Sumeru for a hundred thousand kalpas until the blood that flowed out of his feet covered his ankles, that person would still not have repaid the deep kindness of his parents. . . .

If you wish to repay your parents' kindness . . . repent of transgressions and offenses on their behalf. For the sake of your parents, make offerings to the Triple Jewel. For the sake of your parents, hold the precept of pure eating. For the sake of your parents, practice giving and cultivate blessings. If you are able to do these things, you are being a filial child. . . ." (The Buddha Speaks the Sutra About the Deep Kindness of Parents and the Difficulty in Repaying It, FHS II, 103, 105

1) Ch. syau , syau dau , 2) Skt. , 3) Pali , 4) Alternate Translations: filial duty, respect for parents and elders.

See also:

BTTS References:FHS I 1, 8, 63, 65, 68; FHS II 17, 30, 81-109; SPV 9, 18-20, 22-23, 80, 88, 103-4; UW 115-116; BNS 60.

Five Contemplations When Eating

1) I think about where the food came from and the amount of work necessary to grow the food, transport it, prepare and cook it and bring it to the table.

2) I contemplate my own virtuous nature. Is it sufficient to merit receiving the food as offering.

3) I guard my mind against transgression, the principal ones being greed and so forth.

4) I realize that food is a wholesome medicine that heals the sufferings of the body.

5) I should receive the food offerings only for the sake of realizing the Way.

"I. Consider the amount of work involved to bring the food to where it is eaten.

"Think it over. How much human labor was necessary to bring even a single grain of rice to the table. It first had to be planted, then tended, then harvested and stored. And so the ancients had a poem which reads:

The farmer hoes in the midday sun;
His sweat falls on the soil.
Who can guess how much toil it took
To bring the food to the bowl?

"II. Consider whether one's own virtuous conduct is sufficient to enable one to accept the offering.

"Again, think it over. Have you cultivated any virtuous conduct? Count it up. How much do you have? Is it sufficient? Is it lacking? Are you entitled to receive this offering of food?

"III. Take as one's guiding principle the guarding of the mind against transgressions such as greed.

"Take as your principle, as your doctrine, a mind free from greed, hatred, stupidity, pride, and doubt.

"IV. Properly taken, the food is like medicine, to keep the body from wasting away.

"If you don't eat, you body grows weak. Therefore, it is only to prevent weakness that you receive the food.

"V. This food is accepted only in order to accomplish the Way.

"think to yourself, 'I only take this food in order to cultivate and accomplish the karma of the Way.'" (SV 55-56)

1) Ch. wu gwan , 4) Alternate Translations: Five Contemplations Performed While Eating.

See also: vegetarianism.

BTTS References: SV 54-56.

Five Desires

1) wealth, 2) sex, 3) fame, 4) food, 5) sleep.

When I obtain the Five Desires,
I vow that living beings
Will pull out the arrow of desire,
And attain ultimate peace and security.

(FAS Ch11 99)

The Buddha said, "Those on the Way are like dry grass: it is essential to keep it away from an oncoming fire. People on the Way look upon desire as something they must keep at a distance." (S42 60)

The Buddha said, "People who cannot renounce wealth and sex are like small children who, not satisfied with one delicious helping, lick the honey off the blade of the knife and so cut their tongues." (S42 48)

The Buddha said, "There are people who follow emotion and desire and seek for fame. But by the time their reputation is established, they are already dead. Those who are greedy for worldly fame and do not study the Way wear themselves out with wasted effort. It is just like a stick of burning incense which, however, fragrant its scent, consumes itself. So, too, greed for fame brings the danger of a 'fire' which burns one up in its aftermath." (S42 47)

The Buddha said, "As to love and desire: no desire is as deep-rooted as sex. There is none greater than the desire for sex. Fortunately, it is one of a kind. If there were something else like it, no one in the entire world would be able to cultivate the Way." (S42 51)

There was once someone who, plagued by ceaseless sexual desire, wished to castrate himself. The Buddha said to him, "To cut off your sexual organs would not be as good as to 'cut off' your mind. Your mind is like a supervisor: if the supervisor stops, his employees will also quit. If the deviant mind is not stopped, what good does it do to cut off the organs?" The Buddha recited a verse for him:

"Desire is born from your will;
Your will is born from thought.
When both aspects of the mind are still,
There is neither form nor activity."
The Buddha said, "This verse was spoken by Kashyapa Buddha. (S42 63)

An alternate list of the Five Desires is comprised of: 1) forms, 2) sounds, 3) smells, 4) tastes, 5) tangible objects. See the entry Eighteen Realms.

1) Ch. wu yu , 2) Skt. panca-kama-guna, 3) Pali panca-kama guna, 4) Alternate Translations: Sense desires and enjoyments plus objects of the same.

See also: ignorance, love.

BTTS References: S42 47, 48-54, 57, 62-63, 61; FAS Ch11 99.

Five Eyes

1) heavenly eye, 2) flesh-eye, 3) Dharma-eye, 4) wisdom-eye, 5) Buddha-eye.

Those five non-corporeal 'eyes' are possessed by Buddhas and other enlightened beings. They can also begin to function to varying degrees in people who are not enlightened but are cultivating or who have cultivated in past lives.

The heavenly eye penetrates what is without obstruction;
The flesh-eye sees obstacles and does not penetrate.
The Dharma-eye can contemplate only the relative truth;
The wisdom-eye an contemplate and know true emptiness,
While the Buddha-eye blazes forth like a thousand suns.
Although the Five Eyes' functions differ, their substance is of one source. (SPV 69)

"Even though one may be able to use these powers, it is better not to do so; for whenever things are looked at, a thought is spent, and adding a thought is not as good as diminishing one. To use the Five Eyes is to indulge in thought, and although such thoughts differ from ordinary ones, they are still not beneficial. It is always better to have one false thought less than to have one more." (SPV 69)

I. Heavenly Eye

"With the Heavenly Eyes you see without obstruction. You can see the Buddhas, spirits, ghosts, and gods in the heavens. You can see everything that they are doing. That is even better than the closed circuit TV that the international spies use. It's not as much trouble either, and the best part is, it's all internal. You don't need any external help to know what's going on." (SM II 89)

A Bodhisattva wisely knows the Heavenly Eye of the gods, beginning with the Four Great Kings; but the gods do not wisely know a Bodhisattva's Heavenly Eye. With his perfectly pure Heavenly Eye he wisely knows, as it really is, the decease and rebirth of all beings in the world systems numerous as the sands of the river Ganges, in each of the ten directions... (Perfect Wisdom, p. 44)

II. Flesh-Eye

"The Flesh Eye sees obstructions and doesn't penetrate. The Flesh Eyes sees things that have form. The Heavenly Eye can't see things with form. The Flesh eye does not refer to the regular eyes in our physical body. It is another, different eye. The Heavenly Eye can't see physical things, but it can see ghosts, gods, and so forth. The Flesh Eye can see things with physical form and also things without physical form. If you open your Flesh Eye you can see the people in the room with you, and you can also see the people outside the room. Walls present no obstacle to your vision." (SM II 90)

There is the fleshly eye of a Bodhisattva which sees for one hundred miles, for two hundred miles, across Jambudvipa, a Four-Continent world-system, a world-system consisting of 1,000 worlds, world-system consisting of 1,000,000 worlds, a world system consisting of 1,000,000,000 worlds. (ibid., pp. 43-44)

III. Dharma-Eye

"The Dharma Eye contemplates the common truth, which is also called the conventional, relative truth, or wonderful existence. If this eye is opened, there is no need to use books in order to read sutras, since the entire extent of space is seen to be full of limitless Dharma treasures." (SPV 69)

Here a Bodhisattva knows, by means of the Dharma-eye, that "this person is a Faith-follower, that person a Dharma-follower. This person is a dweller in Emptiness, that person a dweller in the Signless, that person a dweller in the Wishless. The five cardinal virtues will arise in this person by means of the emptiness-door to deliverance, in that person by means of the signless door to deliverance, in that person by means of the wishless door to deliverance. By means of the five cardinal virtues this one gazes upon the unimpeded concentration. By means of the unimpeded concentration he will produce the vision and cognition of emancipation. By means of the vision and cognition of emancipation he will forsake three fetters, i.e., the view of individuality, the contagion of mere rule and ritual, and doubt. He then is a person who is called a Streamwinner. After he has acquired the path of development, he attenuates sensuous greed and ill-will. He is then the person who is called a Once-Returner. Through making just this path of development preponderant and developing it, he will come to the forsaking of sensuous greed and of ill-will. He is then the person who is called a Never-Returner. Through making just this path of development preponderant and developing it, he will forsake greed for the world of form, greed for the formless world, ignorance, conceit, and excitedness. He then is the person who is called an Arhat." This is the perfectly pure Dharma-Eye of the Bodhisattva, the great being. Moreover, a Bodhisattva knows wisely that "whatever is doomed to originate, all that is also doomed to stop." Coursing in perfect wisdom, he attains the five cardinal virtues... (ibid., pp. 44-45)

IV. Wisdom-Eye

"The Wisdom Eye contemplates true emptiness; one understands and certifies to the principle of true emptiness and is filled with the Dharma bliss of true emptiness." (SM II 90)

A Bodhisattva who is endowed with that Wisdom-Eye does not wisely know any Dharma--be it conditioned or unconditioned, wholesome or unwholesome, faulty or faultless, with or without outflows, defiled or undefiled, worldly or supramundane. With the Wisdom Eye he does not see any dharma, or hear, know or discern one. (ibid., p. 44)

V. Buddha-Eye

"The Buddha Eye is like a thousand suns, shining everywhere, illuminating the one substance underlying all diversity. It shines on different things, but underneath, they are all one substance. The Buddha Eye is the most perfect of the Five Eyes. It surpasses the other four. With it one can see people and ghosts, spirits, and everything else, both physical and non-physical." (SM II 90)

The Bodhisattva, when immediately after the thought of enlightenment he has, with a wisdom conjoined with one single thought-moment, entered on the adamantine concentration, reaches the knowledge of all modes. He is endowed with the ten powers of a Tathagata, the four grounds of self-confidence, the four analytical knowledges, the 18 special Buddhadharmas, the great friendliness, the great compassion, the great sympathetic joy, the great evenmindedness, and the unhindered deliverance of a Buddha. And that Eye of the Bodhisattva does not meet with anything that is not seen, heard, known or discerned--in all its modes. (ibid., p. 46)

1) Ch. wu yan , 2) Skt. panca-caksus, 3) Pali panca-cakkhuni, 4) Alternate Translations: five superior qualities of vision.

See also: Six Spiritual Powers.

BTTS References: SPV 69-70; SM II 89-90; SM III 35, 84-85; VS 106 107, 122-123; AS 6-7.

Five Moral Precepts

The Five Moral Precepts are prohibitions against 1) killing, 2) stealing, 3) sexual misconduct, 4) false speech, and 5) taking intoxicants.

"The Five Precepts prohibit killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, and taking intoxicants. Why should one keep the Five Precepts? In order to:

Do no evil, yet
Reverently practice good deeds.

Do not kill; do not steal; do not commit sexual misconduct; do not engage in false speech; do not take intoxicants. If you observe the Five precepts, you do not do these five kinds of evil deeds and you instead practice good acts.

"Why should one refrain from killing? It is because all living beings have a life; they love their life and do not wish to die. Even one of the smallest creatures, the mosquito, when it approaches to bite you, will fly away if you make the slightest motion. Why does it fly away? Because it fears death. It figures that if it drinks your blood you will take its life. From this you can see that all living beings love life and do not wish to die. Especially people. Everyone wants to live and no one wants to die. Although people sometimes commit suicide, ordinarily people do not seek death. Suicide is a special exception to the principle. That is why we should nurture compassionate thought. Since we wish to live, we should not kill any other living beings. That explains the precept against killing.

"Stealing. If you don't steal, no one will steal from you. Many of you have heard this verse I wrote:

If in this life you don't cage birds,
in future lives you will not sit in jail.
If in this life you do not fish,
in future lives you will not beg for food.
If in this life you do not kill,
in future lives you'll suffer no disasters.
If in this life you do not steal,
in future lives you won't be robbed.
If in this life you commit no sexual misconduct,
in future lives you will not be divorced.
If in this life you do not lie,
in future lives you will not be deceived.
If in this life you do not take intoxicants, in future lives you will not go insane . . . .

"Some people say, 'Of the Five Precepts, the four which prohibit killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, and lying are very important. But taking intoxicants is a very commonplace thing. Why prohibit that?' When you consume intoxicants, it becomes very easy to break the other precepts. Thus, we ban such things as drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco, and taking any kind of intoxicating drugs.

"Some people say, 'The Five Precepts don't specifically prohibit smoking tobacco or taking drugs. Doing those things is not in violation of the precepts.' Those people are wrong. The precept against intoxicants also prohibits smoking tobacco, taking drugs, and using all intoxicating substances--including marijuana and opium." (BRF 59-60)

"The Five Precepts are extremely important. Strict adherence to them will insure rebirth in the realm of humans. If you cultivate the Five Precepts, you won't lose the opportunity to be born a person.

"Someone may say, however, 'I understand why one should not kill. After all, all living beings have the Buddha-nature,all can become Buddhas, and so every living being's life should be spared. I also understand why stealing is not good and that it is important to refrain from indulging in sexual misconduct and lying, but why are intoxicants included within the Five Precepts? I always enjoyed drinking and smoking. Everybody drinks. Everybody smokes. What's wrong with it? In fact I'm seriously considering dropping my study of the Buddhadharma just because of this prohibition against intoxicants.'

"You should stop and think about it, instead of just following the crowd. Others enjoy smoking, and so you join them; others enjoy drinking , and so you drink too. You get caught up in such company and do the things they do until eventually you get the habit as well. Most people don't have grave illnesses, rather merely slight sicknesses and little problems. But just on account of those slight problems you would consider cutting short your study of the Buddhadharma. How stupid that would be! Do you want to know why there is a prohibition against alcohol? I'll tell you a true story which should clarify this point.

"There once was a man who liked to drink. He took the Five Precepts, but afterwards he didn't keep them . . . . One day he thought, 'Perhaps I'll have a little drink of wine' He took out a bottle and had a few swallows. He was accustomed to having something to eat with his drink, so he set the bottle down and went outside to look for something to eat. He noticed that his neighbor's chicken had strayed over into his yard. 'Good,' he thought, 'it will make a good chaser,' and he snatched up the pullet. At that point he broke the precept against stealing. Once he'd stolen it, he had to kill it before he could eat it, and so he broke the precept against killing. Once the chicken was cooked, he used it to chase down his wine, and soon he was roaring drunk, thus braking once again the precept against the use of intoxicants. About that time there was a knock at his door. It was the neighbor lady in search of her chicken. 'I haven't seen it, he blurted out, thereby breaking the precept against lying.

A second glance at the neighbor lady revealed her beauty to him and, aroused by an overpowering sexual desire, he raped her.

Afterwards he was met with litigation. All that came about because he wanted to drink. Just because he had a few drinks, he broke the other four precepts and got into a lot of trouble. Intoxicants cause one to become confused and scattered, and so they re the object of one of the Buddhist prohibitions. A person who is drunk lacks self-control.

With no forewarning he can find himself suddenly in the heavens, suddenly on earth. He mounts the clouds and drives the fog--he'll do anything . . . .

"If you receive the Five Precepts and do not violate them, then you are protected by good Dharma-protecting spirits, who are connected with each precept. If you break the precepts, the good spirits leave and no longer protect you. That is why receiving the precepts is extremely important in Buddhism." (SS I 46-47)

1) Ch. wu jye , 2) Skt. panca-sila; 3) Pali panca-sila, sikkhapada; Alternate Translations: Five Items of Good Behavior.

See also: moral precepts, Ten Wholesome Deeds.

BTTS References: BRF 59-61; DFS II 211; DFS V 902-3; S42 75-76 (precepts); TT 58; SV 14-29; BNS I 73-97; FAS Ch26(2) 4, 10,17,20, 25-26, 28.

Five Skandhas

1) form, 2) feeling, 3) cognition, 4) formations, 5) consciousness.

The mind is like a master painter

Who can paint all worlds.

From it are produced the five skandhas

As well as all Dharmas.

(FAS, HYSC 30:54-70))

When the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara was practicing the profound prajna-paramita, he illuminated the five skandhas and saw that they are all empty.

(HS 1)

Meaning of "Skandhas"

Skandha is a Sanskrit word meaning heap, pile, or aggregate.The Buddha illustrated his teaching about the skandhas by using five small piles--heaps--of different grains. The skandhas are general divisions for categorizing all phenomena in the conditioned world. Because they include within them all transitory, impermanent phenomena, they are an important tool for understanding the Buddhist doctrine of no-self. If one analyzes all aspects of what one feels to be one's "self", one finds that all fall within the scope of the Five Skandhas.

"The Five Skandhas as they are found in your body:

1) The body is the form skandha.

2) Once you have the form skandha, you then have feelings of enjoyment and pleasure.

3) You want pleasure, and so you give rise to polluted thinking, which is cognition. How can I get what I want? How can I actually indulge in pleasure?

4) You have to go and do it. That is formations.

5) Acting requires a certain amount of wisdom, a consciousness which is a kind of small intelligence, a minute amount . . . .

"Your body achieves its aims. 'Oh, enjoyment! Ahhh!' The enjoyment lasts about five minutes. Because of the excessive exertion, your blood vessels rupture and then death comes. . . . What was it all about? It was just the Five Skandhas.

"The Five Skandhas are just five ways of uniting, of working together to open a company. The company, once opened, opens again and again... The skandha-company grows everywhere like a wild vine which is never cut. Once opened, the Five Skandhas, Inc. always stays open, always feeling that there is hope. What hope? 'Ah! This life I didn't make money, but wait until next life and I will be able to make some.' Who can know whether there will be even less capital in the next life?" (HS 46-47)

"When you break through all five skandhas, and are no longer deluded by them, you can 'cross beyond all suffering'. You can then put an end to all bitterness. Seeing that the Five Skandhas are all empty is getting rid of the attachment to self." (LY II 104)


And why, brethren, do ye say body (i.e., form)? One is affected , brethren. That is why the word "body" is used. Affected by what? Affected by touch of cold and heat, of hungerSand thirst, of gnats, mosquitos, wind and sun and snakes. One is affected, brethren. That is why we say "body". (Kindred Sayings III 72-73)

"What is FORM? The body is included among the form-dharmas; since it is form, it is called the "form-body". Your form-body has an appearance, but when you seek for its origin you will find that it is empty... When the Four Great Elements, namely earth, water, fire, and wind, unite, the body comes into being.

This is what is meant by having a form. Working together the elements establish a corporation. The corporation comes into being from the four conditioned causes: earth, which is characterized by solidity and durability; water, which is characterized by moisture; fire, which is characterized by warmth; wind, which is characterized by movement. When the four conditioned causes disperse, each has a place to which it returns; therefore, the body becomes empty." (HS 44-45)

"Once you break through the Form Skandha, 'all the mountains, rivers, and great earth are seen as empty.'" (LY II 103)

Form includes the Four Great Elements and the eleven derived types of form known as the Eleven Form Dharmas.


Name State Activity

1) earth solidity produced by repulsion

2) water liquidity or produced by attraction


3) fire temperature produced by heat

4) air/wind expansion, light- produced by motionless, mobility

When they are in equilibrium, the Four Great Elements together produce a pure form which is not detectible by the ordinary senses. That pure form is the inner substance of the five perceptual organs and the medium of their actual functioning. When the Four Great Elements are out of equilibrium, different combinations of them produce both the coarse material aspect, or "sheaths", of the perceptual organs and also their objects (what they perceive).


Organs Objects

1) eyes 6) sights
2) ears 7) sounds
3) nose 8) smells
4) tongue 9) tastes
5) body 10) tangible objects
11) subtle traces

The subtle traces are mental residue of verbal and physical action. They can be understood as the "seeds" of future retribution.


And why, brethren, do ye say "feeling"? One feels, brethren. That is why the word "feeling" is used. Feels what? Feels pleasure and pain; feels neutral feelings. One feels, brethren. That is why the word "feeling" is used. (Kindred Sayings III 73)

"Once the body manifests, it likes pleasurable FEELINGS. There are three kinds of feelings, which correspond to the three kinds of suffering:

Feelings of suffering;
Feelings of happiness;
Feelings which are characterized by neither suffering
nor happiness." (HS 45)

"A state arises and you perceive it; you feel it is pleasurable. Eating good things, putting on a fine garment, feeling warm and being greatly delighted--these feelings of contentment, as well as feelings of displeasure and pain, are all grouped under the Feeling Skandha." (LY II 103)

Feelings are pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. They arise from contact of organ, object, and consciousness. Feeling includes both the primary sensation and the primary affective categorization of it.


And why, brethren, do ye say "perception"? One perceives, brethren. That is why the word "perception" is used. Perceives what? Perceives blue-green, perceives yellow, or red, or white. One perceives, brethren. That is why the word "perceptions" is used. (Kindred Sayings III 73)

When you are awake, your mind thinks. When you are asleep, you dream. Thus your thinking moves false emotions through interaction. (SS VIII 276)

"As for COGNITION, you certainly must have (the need for) false thoughts if you want enjoyment. You can't be without it. 'How can I think of a way to buy a car? How can I buy a beautiful home? How can I think of a way to buy a yacht? an airplane?' Your false thoughts fly back and forth and your hair turns white. Why? It turns white from false thinking." (HS 46)

Cognition is the differentiation and identification of objects both physical and mental. Therefore, it includes both higher perceptual functions and thinking processes, including those of language.


In many of the passages below the alternate translation 'activities' is used.

And why, brethren, do ye say "the activities-compound"?

Because they compose a compound. That is why, brethren, the word "activities-compound" is used. And what compound do they compose?

It is the body that they compose into a compound of body. It is feeling that they compose into a feeling-compound. It is perception that they compose into a perception compound; the activities into an activities-compound; consciousness into a consciousness-compound. They compose a compound, brethren. Therefore, the word (activities)-compound is used. (Kindred Sayings III 73)

"These activities never stop. They progress and shift through subtle changes. Your nails grow long, your hair grows, your energy wanes, and your face becomes wrinkled. The processes continue and yet you never wake up." (SS VIII 277)

"When you lie in bed at night, you have a thousand plans...Sometimes you get up early and act on them. Sometimes sleeping seems nice, and you just sleep. FORMATIONS are basically the acting out of karma, that is, really acting upon your false thinking." (HS 46)

"Activities mean movement. They are ceaseless. People are first young, and they become middle-aged, and then old, and then they die. Thought after thought arises and is extinguished, thought after thought without cease. This is the skandha of activities." (SS III 22)

Formations refer to both conscious and non-conscious volitional forces, including:

a) conscious intentions or acts of will, the most important category of this skandha;

b) innate predispositions (karma from past lives);

c) unconscious forces having to do with basic life functions, nourishment, and growth.


And why, brethren, do ye say consciousness?

One is conscious, brethren. Therefore, the word "consciousness" is used. Conscious of what? Of (flavours) sour or bitter; acrid or sweet; alkaline or non-alkaline; saline or non-saline. One is conscious, brethren. That is why the word "consciousness" is used. (Kindred Sayings III 74)

It is like rapidly flowing water which appears to be still on the surface. You don't detect the flow, but it is, nevertheless, not flowing." (SS VIII 280)

"The skandha of consciousness involves the making of distinctions. It discriminates, considers, and seeks advantages from circumstances." (SS III 22)

Consciousness is the subtle basis of feeling, cognition, and formations. It consists of a subtle distinction-making awareness that distinguishes awareness from the objects of awareness. It is a flux of constantly changing knowing activity.


Body (i.e., form), brethren, is impermanent. What is impermanent, that is suffering. What is suffering, that is not the Self.

What is not the Self, "that is not mine, that am not I, that is not the Self of me." This is the way one should regard things as they really are, by right insight.

So likewise with regard to feeling, perception, the activities, consciousness.

So seeing, brethren, the well-taught Ariyan [i.e., noble] disciple feels disgust at body, at feeling, perception, the activities and consciousness.

Feeling disgust he is repelled: by repulsion he is released; by that release set free, knowledge arises: "in the freed man is the free thing," and he knows: 'destroyed is rebirth; lived is the righteous life; done is the task; for life in these conditions there is no hereafter." (Kindred Sayings III 68-69)

The skandha of form is like a mass of foam, because, when taken hold of, it cannot be kept together (in the hand); feeling is like a bubble because, as lasting only for a moment, it is impermanent; perception (cognition) is like a mirage, because it is misled by the thirst of craving; the impulses (formation) are like a plantain tree because, when (the leaf-sheaths) are taken away, no core remains; consciousness is like a dream, because it takes hold of what deceives. Therefore, the five skandhas have no self, (and they contain) no person (pudgala), no living being, no living soul, no personality and no manhood (purusa). . . . (Conze, tr. Arya-prajnaparamita-hrdaya-tika 54)

FIVE SKANDHAS: 1) Ch. wu yun , 2) Skt. skandha, pancopandana- skandhah, 3) Pali khandha, 4) Alternate Translations: heaps, aggregates, agglomerations.

See also: Dharma/dharma.

BTTS References: HS 24-28, 41-48; LY II 103-104, 223-225; SS III 4-24; SS VIII.

Five Turbidities

1) turbidity of kalpa, 2) turbidity of views, 3) turbidity of afflictions, 4) turbidity of beings, 5) turbidity of lifespan.

"What are the Five Turbidities? The first is the turbidity of the kalpa. Kalpa is a Sanskrit word that is interpreted as a 'division of time.' How does the kalpa become turbid? At the time of the five evil realms, the evil karma of living beings makes the kalpa turbid.

"The second turbidity is views. In the past, people saw everything as clean. But when the turbid kalpa arrives, people see things as unclean. The turbidity of views is composed of the Five Quick Servants: A view of the body, prejudiced views, views of prohibitions, views of views, and deviant views.

"The view of a body: all living beings are attached to having bodies. They love their bodies. 'I certainly have to take care of myself. I can't let anything happen to me.' They look upon their own bodies as extremely important. They want to wear good clothes, eat good food, live in a good place. They always look upon their bodies as priceless gems. Right, your body is a priceless gem, but if you misuse it, your priceless gem turns into something not even as good as excrement. Why? Because you tend only to its superficial aspects, and don't discover the true gem of you self-nature. All you know is that your body is yours, and you can't put it down. From morning to night you are busy on behalf of your body. That's the view of a body.

"Prejudiced views for one side or the other. If you don't favor emptiness, then you favor existence. In general, it means not being in accord with the Middle Way.

"The third 'quick servant' is the view of prohibitions. Precepts an turn into something bad when they are based on mistaking for a cause something that is not a cause. Such a mistake leads to the cultivation of unbeneficial ascetic practices. I explained earlier how some people imitate the habits of cows or dogs, or sleep on beds of nails, or undertake other unbeneficial ascetic practices. People who do this have a view of prohibitions. 'See me,' they think, 'I hold precepts.l None of you can do what I do; you can't compare to me.' They always have this arrogance in their minds.

"The fourth is the 'view of views', or 'grasping at views'. This is to mistake for an effect something that is not an effect. People with this problem think that they have obtained effects which they have not obtained.

"The fifth is deviant views. People with deviant knowledge and views are always thinking about things in an improper way. These are the Five Quick Servants, which comprise the turbidity of views.

"The third turbidity is the turbidity of the afflictions, which is composed of the Five Slow Servants: greed, hatred, stupidity, arrogance, and doubt. 'Greed' refers to an insatiable greed for pleasant experiences. You are greedy for the things you like. 'Hatred' is the dislike of unpleasant situations. 'Stupidity' means stupid false thoughts. 'Arrogance' refers to pride and self-satisfaction--the feeling that 'I am the greatest' and 'no one is equal to me'. Arrogant people have no courtesy towards others.

"'Doubt' refers to doubt of the genuine Dharma and preference for improper dharmas instead. Such people doubt the true and rely on the false. They doubt the proper Dharma and believe deviant dharmas.

"These are the Five Slow Servants, which comprise the third turbidity, that of afflictions. The existence of these five dull servants creates a lot of affliction.

"The fourth turbidity is that of living beings--let's not even try to express it. Why? Living beings are just too filthy, too unclean, too impure. You shouldn't think of yourself as being so terrific. Living beings are murky and turbid; there's nothing so good about them. But living beings think of themselves as something really special, despite the fact that hey comprise the fourth kind of turbidity.

"The fifth turbidity is the turbidity of a lifespan. Our mundane lives, our destinies, are impure." (SS III 205-207)

1) Ch. wu jwo , wu jwo e shr , 2) Skt. panca-kasaya, 3) Pali panca-kasaya, 4) Alternate Translations: five turbid realms, evil world of the five turbidities, five periods of turbidity, impurity or chaos of decay.

See also: time, Five Skandhas.

BTTS References: DFS III 425; SPV 32-3; SS III 205-207; SS IV 144-151, 256-257; AS 149-150.

Five Types of Buddhist Study and Practice

1) Study and Practice of the Teachings, 2) Study and Practice of the Moral Regulations (Vinaya), 3) Study and Practice of the Mysteries (Tantra) , 4) Study and Practice of Meditation (Chan), 5) Study and Practice for Rebirth in the Pure Land.

"The Buddha's teachings are taught in Five Schools: the Teachings School, the Vinaya School, the Esoteric School, the Chan School, and the Pure Land School. There are many who like to say that these are five sects, or types of Buddhism, which leads to all kinds of doctrinal squabbling. It is not accurate; the schools might better be called five basic approaches to cultivation. Each of these Dharma-doors has special appeal to certain types of people, but only one can be said to be equally easy for all to cultivate, and that is the Pure Land Door." (WM 17-18)

I. Teachings.

The Teachings includes the Buddhist doctrinal schools, such as the eighteen Hinayana schools, the Madhyamaka and Yogacara schools of the Mahayana, and sutra-based Mahayana schools such as Tyan-tai and Hwa-yan.

"The Teachings School emphasizes using skillful expedients, and therefore capitalizes on beautiful expression and elegant phraseology. Adherents to this school are well-versed in terminology and characteristics. They determine the different periods of the teachings and divide them into categories. Thus, the sea of meanings billows, and the Dharma's principles run deep. They serve to focus the audience's rambling thoughts, and to gather in stray mental activities that leak out through seeing and listening. When this occurs, it's as if one has entered the hall of samadhi, and ascended the heavens of the six desires. Layer upon layer one bores in; step by step one ascends. Even if one wanted to stop, it would be nearly impossible, and it's hard to fathom the very source.

"Regarding the teachings of the Teachings School--such as the Four Teachings of Tyan Tai, the Five Esoteric Meanings of Syan Shou (i.e., Hwa Yan), the Dharma-mark propagated by Consciousness Only--each has its strengths. Although each of these schools may not be extremely biased; nevertheless, on occasion they extol themselves at others' expense.

"Whenever clear-eyed Good and Wise Advisors see such incidents, they feel greatly pained at heart. Since the foundation of the Teachings has not flourished, and true talent is scarce, these good advisors are willing to act personally as models, practice ascetic discipline, and cultivate the door of the Six Paramitas. In the face of a hundred oppositions they do not bend, and they are glad to undergo ten thousand vicissitudes, to the point that even if their bodies had to be smashed to pieces and their bones pulverized, they would not begrudge such a sacrifice. Supported by magnanimous vows, they are courageous and vigorous. Renouncing themselves for others, they take across everyone with whom they have causal connections. Observing the opportunities, they entice with the teachings and dispense medicine according to the illness. Not avoiding weariness or toil, they would offer up their heads, eyes, brains and marrow, give away their bodies and minds, all with the sole intention of causing living beings to turn away from confusion and return to enlightenment, to cast out the deviant and come back to what is proper. They want living beings to quickly attain Bodhi and perfect the sagely fruition. Therefore, they employ both provisional and actual means, and bestow both sudden and gradual teachings. With kindness they draw in those with whom they have no affinities; with compassion they embrace all things and become one with them. Revealing a vast and long tongue, they take great pains to exhort with earnest words, sparing no efforts. They teach and admonish without tiring, while always conducting themselves in accord with strict discipline. In such ways they act as the 'dragons and elephants' at the Dharma's entrance, also as teachers of gods and people. Throughout long kalpas they practice the Bodhisattva Way and never rest." (WM 74-75)

"The cultivation of the Teaching School, while serving as an excellent cure for the disease of stupidity, does demand certain qualifications. It cannot, for example, be cultivated by the illiterate, by those who do not know the languages in which the teachings are written, or by the very stupid. And so, although the teachings are universal and there is not a single being who cannot benefit from them, in their literary form there is a definite group of people to whom they are best suited." (WM 18)

II. Moral Regulations

"The Vinaya School stresses the study of precepts, the rules and regulations. In the four comportments of walking, standing, sitting, and lying down, one has to be stern and dignified, and the three karmas of body, mouth and mind have to be pure. Upasakas and upasikas (laymen and laywomen), the two lay assemblies, may maintain the five precepts and the eight precepts, as well as the Ten Major and Forty-Eight Minor Bodhisattva Precepts. Shramanas and Shramanerikas take the Ten Novice Precepts. Bhikshus have 250 precepts, and bhikshunis have 348 precepts. One should maintain each and every one of those precepts without every violating them and believe in them, accept them, and offer up one's conduct. One should be mindful of the agony of revolving in birth and death. If we lose this human body, it will be hard to recover it in ten thousand aeons. Therefore, at all times, we should strictly cultivate the Vinaya and never be lax." (WM 75-76)

"The Vinaya, or 'Rules and Regulations' School, requires not only that one be literate, but also that one be living a monastic life. There is no way for the worldly man to perfect cultivation of the Vinaya. Pure maintenance of this Dharma-door serves as a supremely efficacious cure for greed, desire, and arrogance. Much of it, however, can be practiced by men and women in the world, and it can be an immense help in cultivation. All real practicers of Buddhadharma, Sangha-members or lay people, formally maintain precepts, ranging from the five for lay people to the more than three hundred for bhikshunis. There are few more awesome people in the world than the masters of Vinaya, perfect in the three thousand rules of deportment." (WM 18)

III. Mysteries (Tantra)

"The School of the Mysteries specializes in the holding of mantras and maintains that one can realize Buddhahood in this very life. And yet, if practitioners are the slightest bit reckless, they can easily fall into the Dharma Realm of the asuras. That is because the majority of those in these practices have not subdued the hatred in their minds, and their tendency to seek revenge is extremely strong. They lack thoughts of kindness and compassion, and rarely practice the art of patience. Many of them are prone to be arrogant, and their pride and conceit are deeply rooted. In holding secret mantras they dare to slight others, and wielding their vajras they are not afraid of bullying people. However, if one can be rid of the bad habits described above, then one's practice of samadhi can become successful, and one can go on to achieve the fruition that is Bodhi. In that case, this Dharma-door is also a skillful expedient for cultivators of the Way." (WM 76)

"The School of the Mysteries requires among other things both a good memory to hold its many mantras and dharanis, plus a good deal of money to carry out its elaborate and splendid rituals. A fully adorned temple and bodhimanda are required as well as a profusion of images and various Dharma instruments. Also essential are numbers of Dharma Masters well-trained and conversant with the esoteric lore of this school. They are hard to find. Without them and without special instruction, it is not possible to be successful with the teachings of the School of the Mysteries." (WM 19)

I have preached the truth without making any distinction exoteric and esoteric doctrine; for in respect of the truths, Ananda, the Tathagata has no such thing as the closed fist of a teacher who keeps some things back. (Dialogues of the Buddha II 107)

IV. Meditation (Chan)

"The Chan (Zen) or Dhyana-meditation School stresses the practice of meditation, and its cultivation requires a special set of circumstances. First, it is essential to have an advisor, one of great wisdom and skill, who can teach the student by all manner of expedient means. Without such a teacher, there is no way for ordinary people to have any success in Chan meditation. They may achieve some measure of attainment, but due to lack of wise counsel, they will be turned by their experience; thinking that they are like the great Chan Masters of old, they will go around committing all sorts of stupid and even dangerous or immoral acts. Such so-called 'enlightened masters' and 'patriarchs' are too often well-meaning practicers of Chan who have either not met or not submitted to the teaching of a Good and Wise Advisor. Too many of them have entered into the various demonic states that the Buddha discussed in the Shurangama Sutra. Anyone who professes to be a follower of the Buddha should act in accordance with his teachings and find a capable advisor, one whose experience and lineage are unquestioned.

"In addition to the above qualifications, Chan cultivation requires a certain temperament which is rarely found. While some immediately get a response in Chan cultivation, there are many for whom it represents unbearable difficulty. If this is the only means of cultivation presented to them, many people will flee from the Buddhadharma as a small child screams upon seeing a tame but incredibly fierce-looking tiger on a leash. " (WM 18-19)

See also Chan School.

V. Pure Land

"The Pure Land School Dharma is the most perfect and the most instantaneous, the simplest and the easiest. It is a Dharma that everyone can cultivate; one and all can practice it. Hence it is described as 'universally including the three types of faculties (superior, average, and inferior capabilities), and gathering in both the keen and the dull.' One only has to singlemindedly uphold the great name 'Namo Amita Buddha', that of the teaching host of the Land of Ultimate Bliss of the West. When one recites this name and arrives at the point of singleminded concentration, then one will definitely be reborn in the West from a lotus flower. When that lotus blooms, one will see the Buddha, awaken to a forbearance with the not coming into being of dharmas, and attain irreversible anuttara- samyaksambodhi. Therefore, if all cultivators only become replete with deep faith and earnest vows, and actually realize the three requisites--faith, vows, and practice, they all will most certainly reach their destination. It is my hope that all of you good people will exhort each other onwards." (WM 76-77)

"Recitation is the central practice of the Pure Land Dharma-door. 'Namo Amita Buddha'. 'Namo' means 'to return in reliance', 'to take refuge'. 'Amita' means 'limitless' and refers to the fact that this Buddha has both 'Limitless Light' (Amitabha) and 'Limitless Life' (Amitayus). 'Buddha' means 'Enlightened One'. And so 'Namo Amita Buddha' means 'I take refuge with and return my life in worship to the Buddha of Limitless Light and Life.' The constant repetition of this Buddha's name is the core of the Pure Land Dharma-door. . . .

"The Pure Land Dharma-door requires no great learning. Many illiterates attain inconceivable spiritual benefit through it. Many, too, are the high and learned masters who praise this door. The Pure Land Dharma-door shows us how to purify our minds, and as such it is identical with the Teaching School, whose complex and learned systems serve to keep the mind from wandering off on useless excursions. To be able to hold (in one's mind) the elaborate systems of the Teaching School requires prolonged concentration on the Buddhadharma. Concentrating on what is pure is fundamentally identical with recollection of the Buddha. The Pure Land Dharma does not require that one lead a monastic life and perfect the three thousand awesome deportments. This Dharma-door can be cultivated right in the midst of the most ordinary life. Lay people and Vinaya specialists alike can cultivate this Dharma. Nor does it require elaborate rituals and expensive ceremonies, or secret, esoteric lore to be learned from specialized teachers. The secret of the Pure land School--and there is indeed a great secret to it--lies in the response. It is a secret clothed not in elaborate ritual and ceremony but in the simplicity of faith and sincerity. Its secret, which is right out in the open, is in fact the highest secret." (WM 19)

"The Five Schools were created by Buddhists who had nothing to do and wanted to find something with which to occupy their time. The Five Schools all issued from Buddhism. Since they came forth from Buddhism, they can return to Buddhism as well. Although the Five Schools serve different purposes, their ultimate destination is the same. It is said:

There is only one road back to the source.

But here are many expedient ways to reach it."

(Shambala Review, v.5, nos.1&2, Winter, 1976, p. 26)

1) Ch. wu jyau , wu da dzung , 2) Skt. -----, 3) Pali -----, 4) Alternate Translations: five basic approaches to cultivation, five schools, five great schools. Teachings: 1) Ch. jyau. Moral Regulations: 1) Ch. jye, 2) Skt. vinaya, 3) Pali vinaya, 4) Alternate Translations: discipline. Mysteries: 1) Ch. mi dzung, 2) Skt. tantra, mantrayana, vajrayana. 4) Alternate Translations: esoteric, secret, tantric. Meditation: 1) Ch. chan, 2) Skt. dhyana, 3) Pali -----, 4) Alternate Translations: Zen (Japanese pronunciation of chan). PURE LAND: 1) Ch. jing du.

See also: Consciousness-Only School, Tyan Tai School, Hwa Yan School, Chan School, Buddha-recitation.

BTTS References: FAS Ch26 II 113-114; WM 16-19, 70-77; RH 230-231; VBS #12 (March, 1971) 32ff; VBS #185, 186 "Pure Land Dharma Door," Oct.-Nov. 1985.

Flower Adornment Sutra

The complete title of the Sutra is the Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra. Known as the 'King of Kings' of all Buddhist scriptures because of its profundity and great length (eighty-one rolls containing more than 200,000 characters), this Sutra contains the most complete explanation of the Buddha's state and the Bodhisattva's quest for awakening.

"The Flower Adornment Sutra is the sutra of the Dharma-realm and the sutra of empty space. To the exhaustion of the Dharma-realm and empty space there is no place where the Flower Adornment Sutra is not present. Wherever the Flower Adornment Sutra is found, the Buddha is to be found, and also the Dharma and the Sangha of Worthy sages. That is why when the Buddha realized proper enlightenment, he wished to speak the Great Flower Adornment Sutra, to teach and transform the great masters of the Dharma-body. Since this sutra was a sutra of inconceivable wonder, it was then concealed within the dragon's palace for the dragon king to protect. Afterwards Nagarjuna ('dragon-tree') Bodhisattva went to the dragon's palace, memorized it, and brought it back.

"The Flower Adornment Sutra is like an auspicious cloud in empty space, which extends throughout the Three Thousand Great Thousand World-System, raining down the sweet dew of Dharma rain to moisten all living beings. The Flower Adornment Sutra is also like the sun, which everywhere illumines the Three Thousand World-REalm, bringing warmth to every single living being. The Flower Adornment Sutra is also like the great earth, which can produce and grow the myriad existing things. Therefore, it can be said that any period in which the Flower Adornment Sutra exists is a period in which the proper Dharma long remains.

"Consequently, in our daily investigation and lecturing of the Flower Adornment Sutra, the essential is to rely upon the Sutra's principles to cultivate to use the Sutra as a cure for our own personal faults. Those who are greedy, after hearing the Flower Adornment Sutra, should rid themselves of greed. People who have hatred, upon hearing the Sutra, should give up their hatred; and those who are stupid should stop being stupid. The principles discussed in the Sutra are designed to correct our faults and bad habits. It is absolutely not the case that the Sutra was Dharma spoken for Bodhisattvas with no relation to us, or that it was Dharma spoken for Arhats with no relevance for us. Don't think, 'All I, as an ordinary person, can do is listen to the Sutra. I could never aspire to the states of a sage.' To think that way is to throw yourself away, to separate yourself from the sages.

"From the beginning to the end of the Flower Adornment Sutra, every phrase of the Sutra is an unsurpassed Dharma jewel. If we are able actually to apply the principles and cultivate according to the principles of the Sutra, then we are certain to become Buddhas. For that reason the Flower Adornment Sutra can be called the mother of all Buddhas. The Flower Adornment Sutra is the Dharma-body of all Buddhas. The Buddha praised the Vajra Sutra saying:

In any place where the Sutra text is found, there is the Buddha.

Wherever the Flower Adornment Sutra is, there is the Buddha. The Buddha is right there. It is just that your karmic obstacles are so deep and heavy, so although you are face to face, you do not see the Buddha. . . .

"We sramanas should diligently cultivate precepts, samadhi, and wisdom, and put to rest greed, anger, and stupidity. In every move we make, we should return the light and look within. If you cultivate that way, you will make progress. If we listen to the Flower Adornment Sutra, lecture on the Flower Adornment Sutra, and recite the Flower Adornment Sutra, but fail to practice according to the principles of the Flower Adornment Sutra, the Sutra remains the Sutra, you remain you, I remain myself, and others remain themselves, and we cannot unite as one. If we ourselves can become one with the Sutra by acting according to its principles, that is actual union with the Sutra. If you are unable truly to practice in accord with the Sutra, but instead are deficient in kindness and compassion with a dearth of joy and giving, having ignorance and afflictions as your only companions, the you have failed to understand the Sutra and lack the ability too listen to the Sutra.

"Upon hearing one phrase of the Sutra, we should ask ourselves, 'HOw should I act? Should I run after my faults and bad habits, or should I rely upon the principles of the Sutra and cultivate?' If you can constantly ask yourself that question, you will certainly obtain great benefit. The reason you have not obtained great benefit is simply that you look upon the Sutra as the Sutra, having no connection with yourself. Actually, when the Buddha spoke the Flower Adornment Sutra, it was spoken for all living beings including you, me, and everyone else present. The Buddha is speaking it for us in person from his golden mouth. When we listen to the Sutra, it is the same as having the Buddha take us by the ear and speak the principles right to our faces, telling us to use the Sutra's Dharma doors to cultivate.

"When the Sutra discusses the ten kinds of Dharma-doors or ten samadhis, none of the Dharma-doors or samadhis goes beyond the self-nature of each one of us. Our self-nature, too, exhausts empty space and the Dharma Realm. Therefore, it you can expand and enlarge the measure of your mind, you will unite with the Flower Adornment Sutra, being two and yet not two. If all people can make the states of the Flower Adornment Sutra their own states, and receive the Flower Adornment Sutra's limitless principles and infinite wisdom as their own, how vast and great that will be! As it is said:

Roll it up, it secretly hides away.

Let it go, it fills the whole universe.

That is ineffably wonderful!" (FAS-VP xv-xvii)

1) Ch. hwa yan jing , ta fang gwang fwo hwa yan jing , 2) Skt. avatamsaka-sutra, mahavaipulyabuddhavatamsaka-sutra, gandhavyuha-sutra, 3) Pali-----, 4) Alternate Transaltions: flower ornament, flower garland, flowering-adornment.

See also: Hwa-yan School, Ching-Lyang (National Master).

BTTS References: The BTTS has published the FAS in four different series: 1) VP and FAS-VP, 2) FAS, 3) EDR, 4) UW. For general comments, see EDR VII 13-14, FAS-VP xv-xvi.

Four Applications of Mindfulness

1) contemplation of the body as impure, 2) contemplation of feeling as suffering, 3) contemplation of thoughts as impermanent, 4) contemplation of dharmas as devoid of self.

The Four Applications of Mindfulness are part of the Thirty-Seven Wings of Enlightenment (i.e., Seven Wings of Bodhi, Eightfold Path, Five Faculties, Five Powers, Four Bases of Psychic Power, Four Applications of Mindfulness, Four Types of Upright Diligence) that comprise the traditional description of Path, the last of the Four Holy Truths (see entry).

"The Four Applications of Mindfulness, (also called the Four Dwellings in Mindfulness) were given by the Buddha as a dwelling place for the Bhikshus after his departure into nirvana." (DFS IV 760)

Contemplation of the Body as Impure

"Our bodies are unclean things. . . . Perspiration flows from the entire body, and once you perspire, you smell. Tears and matter flow from the eyes. Wax oozes from the ears, and mucus flows from the nose. Saliva and phlegm flow from the mouth. These seven orifices are always leaking unclean substances. Then, add the eliminatory orifices and you have nine which continually ooze with impurities. Everyone is familiar with them. In our flesh and blood there are many kinds of impure bacteria as well. Someone may not believe this at all, but in the future advances in science will without a doubt prove that the flesh and blood are unclean. It's all very complex, especially when people eat a lot of strange things which get into their systems and do strange things. The matter in the digestive system is also unclean. Therefore, why should you be so caught up in working for your body? First of all, contemplate the body as impure.

Contemplation of Feeling as Suffering

"Secondly, contemplate feelings as suffering. Pleasurable sensations are enjoyable at first, but one soon grows tired of them, and they become disagreeable. It's a very obvious principle that there is nothing much to pleasure in itself.

Contemplation of Thoughts as Impermanent

"Thirdly, contemplate thoughts as impermanent. Thought after thought changes and moves on. Thoughts are like waves on the sea. When one thought passes, another takes its place. Coming into being and ceasing to be, coming into being and ceasing to be, thoughts do not stop. . . . Past, present, and future--none of the three phases of thought can be got at. Therefore, contemplate thought as impermanent.

"We are never aware of where our thoughts have gone off to. Mencius said, 'If people's chickens and dogs run off, they go after them. But if their thoughts run off, they don't know to go after them. . . .' When you have polluted thinking that is just your mind running off. . . ."

Contemplation of Dharmas as Devoid of Self

"Not only is there no self, there are no dharmas either! Make empty both people and dharmas. Empty emptiness as well." (DFS IV 608-610)

1) Ch. sz nyan chu , 2) Skt. smrty-upasthana/catvari smrtyupasthanani, 3) Pali satipatthana, anussati, 4) Alternate Translations: Dwellings in Mindfulness, Applications of Mentality/ Awareness.

See also: Four Holy Truths--Path, mindfulness.

BTTS References: HS 88, VBS No. 11; DFS IV 608, 760ff; DFS V 940-943; FAS-PII(1) 59-65; AS 56-59.

Four Dhyanas

1) First Dhyana: Bliss Born of Separation

2) Second Dhyana: Bliss Born of Samadhi

3) Third Dhyana: Wonderful Happiness of Being Apart from


4) Fourth Dhyana: Clear Purity of Casting Away Thought

The Four Dhyanas are higher states or realms of consciousness (levels of samadhi--see samadhi) reached in two ways: a) temporarily, through correct meditation, and b) on a lifetime basis through rebirth as a god in the dhyana-heavens (see gods).

One enters the First Dhyana by abandoning vitarka ("examination"), which refers to coarse polluted thinking. One is thus separated from one's afflictions. In the First Dhyana a more subtle kind of polluted thinking called vicara ("investigation") still remains, as do priti ("bliss") and sukha ("happiness"). Priti is a type of blissful light ease associated with the body, and sukha is a more subtle and pure happiness or joy. When one enters the Second Dhyana vicara is eliminated, and a finer experience of bliss from one's meditational state remains. In the Third Dhyana priti is eliminated, so that only the pure happiness of sukha remains. And in the Fourth Dhyana sukha, a very subtle cognitive function of the mind, is also eliminated to lead to an even purer state of mind.

"Dhyana is a Sanskrit word meaning 'meditation', . . . the purifying and quieting of cognitive considerations. . . . "When you reach the First Dhyana, your pulse stops, and you can sit for seven days at a time without getting up from your seat, eating or drinking. . . . There is no happier experience in the world--it is the happiness of the heavens, not that of the human realm. When you reach the Second Dhyana, you can sit for forty-nine days at a time without getting up, eating or drinking. While in that samadhi , the joy is far greater than that of the First Dhyana. When you reach the Third Dhyana, you have no thought, and can sit for three years at a sitting. And so you claim that you've . . . become enlightened? Can you even sit for three days at a time? . . . When one reaches the state of the Fourth Dhyana, one can sit for nine years without getting up, eating or drinking. At that time, one doesn't merely stop having thoughts; the thought process stops altogether, and one's consciousness is unmoving. Although without movement, consciousness still exists. . . ." (FAS-PII(1) 35-39)

"In the First Dhyana (The Ground of Bliss Born of Separation), one's pulse stops, but this doesn't mean one is dead. This brings a particular happiness which is unknown to those in the world.

"The Second Dhyana is called the Ground of Bliss Born of Samadhi. . . . In the Second Dhyana, one's breath stops. There is no detectible breathing in and out, but at that time an inner breathing takes over.

"The Third Dhyana is the Ground of the Wonderful Happiness of Being Apart from Bliss. One renounces the dhyana-bliss as food and the happiness of the Dharma that occurs in initial samadhi. One goes beyond that kind of happiness and reaches a sense of wonderful joy. It is something that one has never known before, that is inexpressible in its subtlety, and that is inconceivable.

"At the level of the Third Dhyana, thoughts also stop. There is no active thought process--not a single thought arises.

When not a single thought arises,
The entire substance manifests.
When the six organs suddenly move,
There is a covering of clouds.

At the point when not one thought arises, the entire substance and great function (of your Buddha-nature) are in evidence. But once your six organs suddenly move, then it is obscured. It just takes a slight movement by the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, or mind to cause this to happen. Then one is covered over by the clouds of the Five Skandhas.

"The Fourth Dhyana is called the Ground of the Clear Purity of Casting Away Thought. In the Third Dhyana thoughts were stopped--held at bay--but they still had not been renounced altogether. In the heavens of the Fourth Dhyana, not only are thoughts stopped, they are done away with completely. There basically are no more cognitive considerations. This state is extremely pure, subtly wonderful, and particularly blissful.

"However, reaching the Fourth Dhyana is simply a preliminary, expedient state of meditational inquiry reached by beginners. Having reached this state is of no use at all in itself. It is not certification of sagehood. You shouldn't make the mistake of thinking that reaching these four levels makes you somehow very special. . . . You've only experienced a bit of the flavor of Ch'an." (LY II 75-76)

1) Ch. sz chan , sz jing chu , 2) Skt. dhyana, catvari dhyanani, 3) Pali jhana, 4) Alternate translations: trances; initial levels of correct meditation; concentrations.

See also: samadhi, meditation.

BTTS References: LY II 75-6; DFS IV 706ff; SPV 55-60; DFS Ch 12

(dhyana); TT 104-107; EDR I 225; EDR VIII 13-14; FAS-PII 31-39; FAS Ch26(2) 109-112; SS I 15.

Four Formless Realms

1) Realm of Infinite Space, 2) Realm of Infinite Consciousness, 3) Realm of Nothing Whatsoever, 4) Realm of Neither Cognition Nor Non-Cognition.

The Four Formless Realms are states which are experienced temporarily in meditation. They lie beyond the Four Dhyanas (see entry), and are so subtle, they are difficult to talk about using ordinary language and even defficult to conceptualize.

They also correspond to the Four Formless Heavens, the homes of the formless gods (see gods). In other words the states can be experienced for a relatively short time by humans who have reached them in the course of their meditation, or they can be experienced as states of rebirth for those reborn as gods in the formless heavens.

Although the experiences of these realms are of rare and subtle states of bliss, none is considered enlightenment.

I. Infinite Space

Those who dwell in the thought of renunciation and who succeed in renunciation and rejection realize that their bodies are an obstacle. If they thereby obliterate the obstacle and enter empty space, they are among those in the realm of (infinite) space. (SS VII 230-231)

"These gods accomplish renunciation of bliss and rejection of suffering. They know that physical bodies are an obstruction. . . . They don't want to be hindered by anything, and so they contemplate their bodies as being just like empty space. . . ." (SS VII 231)

. . . having surpassed all notion of materiality, neglecting all cognition of resistance, one penetrates the realm of endless space. (Dhyana-sutra, quoted in DJDL (Lamotte, tr.) II 1032)

II. Infinite Consciousness

For those who have eradicated all obstacles, there is neither obstruction nor extinction. Then there remains only the alaya consciousness (i.e., eighth consciousness) and half of the subtle functions of the manas (i.e., seventh consciousness). these beings are among those in the realm of infinite consciousness." (SS VII 231)

"The manas is functioning at only half its capacity, and so the defilement that remains is extremely subtle." (SS VII 232)

At this stage one abandons empty space as an object and also abandons the feelings, cognitions, formations, and consciousness that are associated with it. The only attachment that remains is to a consciousness that is immense and infinite.

III. Nothing Whatsoever

Those who have already done away with empty space and form eradicate the conscious mind as well. In the extensive tranquility of the ten directions there is nowhere to go at all. These beings are among those in the realm of nothing whatsoever. (SS VII 232)

"All the worlds of the ten directions throughout the entire Dharma Realm have disappeared. A stillness pervades. There is nowhere to go. Nor is there anywhere to come to. . . . Although there is nothing whatsoever; nonetheless, the nature of these beings still remains. Their nature is the same as empty space." (SS VII 233)

One contemplates nothing whatever in order to break one's attachment to and to abandon the state of infinite consciousness.

IV. Neither Cognition Nor Non-Cognition

When the nature of consciousness does not move, within cessation they exhaustively investigate. Within the endless they discern the end of the nature. It is as if it were there and yet not there, as if it were ended and yet not ended. They are among those in the realm of neither cognition nor non-cognition. (SS VII 233-234)

This is the highest state or heaven within the conditioned world. At this stage, although there is still very subtle cognition, it does not function.

"Consciousness is practically non-existent, and so it is said that there is no thought. However, a very fine trace of thought still exists and so it is called neither cognition nor non-cognition." (SPV 60)

Because this cognition is subtle and difficult to be aware of, it is called non-cognition. But because it is cognition, it is called not non-cognition. (cf. DJDL (Lamotte, tr.) II 1034)

1) Ch. sz kung chu , sz wu sz/shai jye , sz wu sz/shai ding (chu) ; 2) Skt. arupya-samapatti, arupya-dhatu; 3) Pali aruppa-samapatti/dhatu; 4) Alternate Translations: stations of emptiness, formless samadhis, samapattis, formless absorptions.

See also: Four Dhyanas, meditation.

BTTS References: SS VII; LY II 75-6; DFS IV 706ff; SPV 55-60; DFS Ch 12 (dhyana); TT 104-107; EDR I 225; EDR VIII 13-14; FAS- PII 31-39; FAS Ch26(2) 109-112; SS I 15.

Fourfold Assembly

The fourfold assembly originally refered to those who gathered to hear the Buddha teach the Dharma: bhikshus, bhikshunis, upasakas, and upasikas, in other words, monks and nuns and laymen and laywomen. It now also refers in general to those four categories of Buddhists.

1) Ch. sz jung , sz jung di dz , 2) Skt. catur-parsad/parisad, 3) Pali catu-parisa.

See also: bhikshu, bhikshuni, upasaka, upasika.

Four Great Elements

1) earth, 2) water, 3) fire, 4) wind.

While you are in your body, what is solid is of earth, what is moist is of water, what is warm is of fire, and what moves is of wind. (SS IV 144)

For additional discussion of the Four Great Elements, see the section on the form skandha under the listing for Five Skandhas.

1) Ch. sz da , 2) Skt. mahabhuta, 3) Pali cattaro/catta-maha-bhuta(ni), 4) Alternate Translations: four primary elements.

See also: Five Skandhas--form skandha.

BTTS References: HD 64; SS IV 22-25, 144, 148.

Four Great Vows

1) Living beings are countless; I vow to take them all across.

2) Afflictions are inexhaustible; I vow to eliminate them all.

3) Dharma-doors are innumerable; I vow to learn to enter them all.

4) The Way of the Buddhas is unsurpassed; I vow to realize it.

The Four Great Vows are basically a Mahayana reinterpretation of the Four Holy Truths (see entry). In addition to ending one's own suffering, one vows to end the suffering of all living beings. In addition to eliminating one's own afflictions, one vows to end the inexhaustible afflictions of all living beings. In addition to learning only the single Dharma-door necessary for one's own enlightenment, one vows to learn all the Dharma-doors, so that one can teach all living beings appropriately. Rather than being satisfied with reaching the stage of the Arhat, one vows to become a Buddha.

"It is not enough just to recite [the vows]. You have to return the light and think them over: The vow says that I will save a countless number of beings. Have I done so? If I have, it should still be the same as if I had not saved them. Why? It is said that the Thus Come One saves all living beings, and yet not a single living being has been saved.

"'Well,' you say, 'if my saving them is the same as not saving them, then is my not saving them the same as saving them?'

"No. YOu can say that you save them, and yet are not attached to them; not attached means that you are not attached to the mark of saving living beings. But you can't fail to save them and claim to have saved them. It doesn't work that way. You can say that you save them without saving them because you are not attached to them. But you can't say that you have saved them when you have not saved them.

"The Buddha leads all beings to Nirvana, and yet not a single being is led to Nirvana. We have not yet become Buddhas or saved living beings, and so it is not all right for us to say that we have done so." (DFS IV 788-789)

"I vow to take across the limitless living beings of my own mind.
I vow to cut off the inexhaustible afflictions of my own mind.
I vow to study the immeasurable Dharma-doors of my own mind.
I vow to realize the supreme Buddha Way of my own nature.

"Good Knowing Advisors, did all of you not just say, 'I vow to take across [to the other shore of nirvana] the limitless living beings'? What does it mean? You should remember that it is not Hui Neng [see Hwei-Neng (Sixth Patriarch)] who takes them across. Good Knowing Advisors, the 'living beings' within your minds are deviant and confused thoughts, deceitful and false thoughts, unwholesome thoughts, jealous thoughts, vicious thoughts: all these thoughts are 'living beings'. The self-nature of each one of them must take itself across. That is the true crossing over. . . ." (PS 178)

1) Ch. sz hung shr ywan , 2) Skt. cattari mahapranidhanani, 3) Pali-----, 4) Alternate Translations: Four Vast Vows, Four Universal Vows.

See also: Bodhi-resolve, Bodhisattva, living beings.

BTTS References: DFS IV 788-795; LY I 17; PS 178-182.

Four Holy Truths

Soon after the Buddha's enlightenment he taught the doctrine of the Four Holy Truths--suffering, affliction, enlightenment, and Path. The Truth of Suffering has to do with understanding that all of human experience is suffering because it is inextricably tied up with the notion of self and because of impermanence. Birth, old age, sickness, and death all involve suffering. Even happiness is seen as suffering, the suffering of decay, because it is impermanent and inevitably leads to a less happy state. In the Truth of Afflictions (lit. origination or accumulation) the Buddha taught that basic ignorance leads to desire and other afflictions which are the cause of suffering. In the Truth of Enlightenment (lit. cessation, meaning the elimination of the afflictions) we are given an alternative to suffering as our fundamental mode of being. The Truth of the Path indicates how to get to enlightenment.

I. Suffering

This, O Bhikkhus, is the Noble Truth of Suffering: Birth is suffering; decay is suffering; illness is suffering; death is suffering. Presence of objects we hate is suffering; Separation from objects we love is suffering. Briefly, the fivefold clinging to existence is suffering. (Vinaya Texts I, 95)

. . . The Holy Truth of Suffering is either called offenses, or called oppression, or called flux and change, or called grabbing onto conditions, or called conglomeration, or called horns, or called relying on the root, or called vain and deceptive, or called carbuncles and sores, or called the conduct of stupid people. (FAS Ch8 14)

See also suffering.

II. Accumulation

This, O Bhikkhus, is the Noble Truth of the Cause of suffering: Thirst, that leads to rebirth, accompanied by pleasure and lust, finding its delight here and there. (This thirst is threefold), namely, thirst for pleasure, thirst for existence, thirst for prosperity. (Vinaya Texts I, 95) [Note: The usual list has non-existence, referring to non-existence after death, instead of prosperity.]

. . . The Holy Truth of the accumulation of suffering is either called being bound up, or called decay and ruin, or called the meaning of love and attachment, or called false awareness and thoughts, or called tending toward and entering, or called definiteness, or called a net, or called idle speculation, or called following along, or called the root of inversion. (FAS Ch8 17)

See also causation.

III. Cessation

This, O Bhikkhus, is the Noble Truth of the Cessation of suffering: (it ceases with) the complete cessation of this thirst--a cessation which consists in the absence of every passion--with the abandoning of this thirst, with the doing away with it, with the deliverance from it, with the destruction of desire. (Vinaya Texts I, 95)

See also enlightenment.

IV. Path

This, O Bhikkhus, is the Noble Truth of the Path which leads to the cessation of suffering: that holy eightfold Path, that is to say, Right Belief, Right Aspiration, Right Speech, Right Conduct, Right Means of Livelihood, Right Endeavor, Right Memory, Right Meditation. (Vinaya Texts I, 95-96) [For an alternate translation and explanation see Eightfold Path.]

. . .The Holy Truth of the Way leading to the Extinction of Suffering is perhaps called the one vehicle, or called tending toward stillness, or called instructing and guiding, or called ultimately without difference, or called equality, or called setting down one's burden, or called without tendencies, or called according with the sagely intent, or called the conduct of the immortals, or called the ten treasuries. (FAS Ch8 19)

1) Ch. sz di , sz sheng di , 2) Skt. cattari arya satyani, 3) Pali ariya saccani, 4) Alternate Translations: Four Truths, Four Noble Truths, Fourfold Truth of Sages.

See also: suffering, causation, enlightenment, Eightfold Path, Eighty-Eight Deluded Viewpoints.

BTTS References: DFS III 504; HS 68-70, 78-84; FAS-PII(2) 45-47; FAS Ch8 (esp pp 1-3--Four Holy Truths Chapter); 10DR 13-14; VBS #206, p. 6.

Four Stations of Emptiness

See Four Formless Realms.

Four Unlimited Aspects of Mind

1) kindness, 2) compassion/sympathy, 3) joy, 4) equanimity/ renunciation.

Herein a monk lets his mind pervade one quarter of the world with thoughts of benevolence, compassion, sympathetic joy and poise . . . and so the second, the third and fourth quarter; and thus the whole world, above, below, around and everywhere does he continue to pervade with heart free from anger and ill-will. (quoted from EB "Brahmavihara", 333)

1) Ch. sz wu lyang syin 2) Skt. catur-appramana, brahmavihara, 3) Pali appamana, appamanna, brahmavihara, 4) Alternate translations: infinitudes, divine states. INDIVIDUAL: benevolence, compassion, sympathetic joy, poise.

See also: Bodhisattva, compassion.

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