"Why should one make offerings to the Three Jewels? It is because the Three Jewels provides a place for one to plant blessings. If you would like to seek blessings, you must perform meritorious acts before the Three Jewels." (DFS II 288)

"One might think, 'Why should one make offerings to the Three Jewels? Wouldn't it be better if the Three Jewels made offerings to me?'

"You may think it's a bargain, but you would really be getting the short end. Why now do you have such poor luck? It's because in the past you didn't make offerings to the Three Jewels. Why are you always short of money--no money for some nice clothes or a decent place to live? It's because you didn't make offerings to the Three Jewels. As a consequence , day by day your blessings grow thinner. If you make offerings to the Three Jewels, your blessings will grow day by day. The Three Jewels is the field ... where living beings can plant blessings." (DFS IX 1700-1701)

The Ten Kinds of Offerings

"1) Incense.The finest, most expensive incense should be offered to the Buddha. If you were to buy old incense which shopkeepers were about to discard and bring it as an offering to the Buddha, your heart would be lacking in sincerity. On the other hand, if you were to offer gosirsa-candana (ox-head sandalwood) incense, your gift, involving considerable sacrifice on your part, could be considered sincere. "Ox-head" incense is often mentioned in the Buddha's teachings. The Shurangama Sutra explains that this incense was so fragrant that it could be detected within a radius of thirteen miles when it was being burned in the city of Sravasti during the Buddha's Dharma-assemblies. The Brahman woman in the Sutra of the Past Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva sold her house and sacrificed her wealth in order to make a great offering to Enlightenment Flower Samadhi Self--Existent King Tathagata. Her sincerity was so great that she sold the very roof over her head in order to make the very best offerings to the Buddha.

"The reward for offering incense to the Buddha is that in the future your body will be fragrant. A rare scent constantly issued from Shakyamuni Buddha's mouth and from every pore on his body. An ordinary person's body has such a foul odor it can be detected for miles. If you don't believe that, just consider how a police dog is able to trace a human scent at a distance of three to five miles. However, if you make offerings of incense to the Buddha with the hope of gaining a fragrant body, then you have missed the point. You should not seek for it. When your merit and virtue are sufficient, you body will quite naturally be fragrant. The gods, for example, have fragrant bodies because they made offerings of incense to the Buddha in former lives. Until your merit and virtue are sufficient, you will continue to have a common stinking body no matter how much you strive to attain a fragrant odor.

2) Flowers. The finer the flowers that you offer to the Buddha, the greater the merit and virtue you receive from the offering. Do not spend all your money for good things to eat; save a little for an offering to the Buddha. The reward for offerings of flowers is that you will have perfect features and be very beautiful or extremely handsome in your next life. People will fall in love with you at first sight. Women will be strongly attracted to you if you are a man; and men will be unable to resist your beauty if you are a woman. 'That is too much trouble,' you may say. 'I don't want to get involved with that.'

"If you don't want that kind of trouble, so much the better. Shakyamuni Buddha had perfect features as a result of offering incense and flowers to Buddhas in former lives. If you fear the trouble a perfect appearance might bring, you can imitate Patriarch Bodhidharma who had a ragged beard and ugly features! It is up to you. However, you like it, you can have it that way.

3) Lamps. If you light lamps before the Buddha, next life your eyes will be bright. You will be able to see things other people cannot see and know things other people cannot know. You will be able to obtain the penetration of the Five Eyes: The heavenly eye, the Buddha eye, the Dharma eye, the wisdom eye, and the flesh eye. . . .

4) Necklaces. Rare jewels and gems may be placed before the Buddha as offerings.

5) Jeweled parasols. Items used to adorn the Buddha hall are also an acceptable offering.

6) Banners and canopies. Banner made of cloth which has been painted or stitched with adornments, or wooden plaques which have been carved with inscriptions, are offerings appropriate to place before the Buddha. You may also hang canopies like the Great Brahma Heaven King's net canopy, which is circular and adorned with jewels.

7) Clothes. When you make or buy fine clothes, you may place them on the altar before the Buddha prior to wearing them. Only upper garments should be offered. Although the Buddha cannot wear the clothes, the offering is a gesture to express the sincerity of your heart.

8) Fruit and food. Food should be placed before the Buddha prior to being eaten. This offering as well is a gesture of respect.

9) Music. Making temple music includes beating the wooden fish, playing the drum and bell, ringing the small bells, striking the gong, and singing praises. Music such as this is an offering to the Buddha.

10) Joined palms. The tenth kind of offering is simple and does not expend any energy. This is merely placing your palms together as an offering." (VS 105-107)

The merit or blessings derived from an offering depend on a number of factors, including: 1) the sincerity and intentions of the donor, 2) the kind of offering, 3) the recipient, and 4) the result of the offering. In the Sutra in Forty-Two Sections the Buddha discusses the recipient:

Giving food to a hundred bad people does not equal giving food to a single good person. Giving food to a thousand good people does not equal giving food to one person who holds the Five Precepts.

Giving food to ten thousand people who hold the Five Precepts does not equal giving food to a single srotaapanna [Streamwinner, or first stage Arhat]. Giving food to a million srotaapannas does not equal giving food to a single sakridagamin [Once-Returner, or second stage Arhat].

Giving food to ten million sakridagamins does not equal giving food to a single anagamin [Never-Returner, or third stage Arhat]. Giving food to a hundred million anagamins does not equal giving food to a single [fourth stage] Arhat.

Giving food to ten billion Arhats does not equal giving food to a single Pratyekabuddha. Giving food to a hundred billion Pratyekabuddhas does not equal giving food to a Buddha of the three periods of time.

Giving food to ten trillion Buddhas of the three periods of time does not equal giving food to a single one who is without thoughts, without dwelling, without cultivation, and without accomplishment.

(S42 25)


1) Ch. gung , gung yang ; Skt. puja, 3) Pali puja.

See also: merit, six paramitas--giving, Sangha--field of blessing.

BTTS References: DFS II 288-289; DFS IX 1700-1701; VS 105-107; S42 23-27; UW ; Nirvana Sutra lecture 10-27-85.

One Hundred Dharmas

The One Hundred Dharmas are a general categorization of all dharmas according to the Consciousness-Only School of the Mahayana. All lists of dharmas are distinction-making for the purpose of breaking attachment to harmful distinctions about our minds and the physical world that are based on attachment to self. Other general categorizations of all dharmas include the Five Skandhas and the Eighteen Realms. The One Hundred Dharmas make distinctions that are more specific and form the basis for a sophisticated and detailed Buddhist psychology of mind. They include:

11 Form Dharmas (see Five Skandhas--form)

8 Mind Dharmas (see Eight Consciousnesses)

51 Dharmas Interactive with the Mind

24 Dharmas Not Interactive with the Mind

6 Unconditioned Dharmas


100 Dharmas

The One Hundred Dharmas are listed individually and discussed in detail in the Shastra on the Door to Understanding the Hundred Dharmas (Bai-fa Ming-men Lun, T. 1614)


1) Ch. bai fa , 2) Skt. sata-dharmah, 3) Pali sata-dhammah.

See also: Consciousness-Only School.

BTTS References: HD, esp. 5, 26-29; HS 50; FAS-PII(3) 44ff.

One Thousand Hands and Eyes

The Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara (see entry) is often depicted with one thousand hands, each hand containing its own eye, to indicate the vows and powers of the Bodhisattva to see all those suffering in the world and to reach into the world and pull them out of their suffering.

"If you cultivate the Great Compassion Mantra (see entry), you can obtain a thousand hands and a thousand eyes.

"But you say, 'I have two hands to pick things up with and two eyes to see things with. This is the scientific age. What possible use would I have for a thousand hands and a thousand eyes?'

"If you don't want them, then don't cultivate the Great Compassion Mantra. However, with a thousand eyes, you can shut your two eyes and give them a rest, and still see things. Isn't that wonderful Dharma?

"A thousand eyes can not only see, but illuminate. Your ordinary eyes can see ten or twenty miles, or with binoculars, perhaps a hundred miles. With a thousand eyes, you can see for a million miles, to the end of empty space and the Dharma realm. You don't even need a television to watch the astronauts walking on the moon. It's so much less expensive than buying a television or photographs, or magazines. Now don't do you think a thousand eyes are useful?

"Not only that, but with a thousand eyes, you can look out from the back of your head and see what is in front of you. Looking out in front of you, you can see what is behind you. And so the Venerable Syu-Yun wrote:

From behind your brains you can see your face:

You've caught the sparrow hawk;

A full set of eyes at the gate of the crown:

You've seized a flying bear.



Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara with One Thousand Hands and One Thousand Eyes

Most people can't see their own faces, but with a thousand eyes, you can see your own face and you can see behind you. You can even see what's inside your stomach. You can know how many little bugs, lazy bugs, gluttonous bugs, and dead bugs there are in your stomach. From the outside, you can see inside, and from the inside, you can see outside, just as if you were looking through a pane of glass. You can see it all: what your heart looks like and what your stomach is about to say, every movement of those machines inside you. Do you want a thousand eyes or not? Do you still think your two eyes are sufficient? Such is the miraculous function of a thousand eyes.

"What about a thousand hands? If you have only two hands, then when you pick something up in each of them, you can't pick up anything else. With one hand, you can take the thousand dollars; with a thousand hands, you can take a hundred million.

"Now let's divide some apples. You may take as many as you want. Of course, if you only have two hands, you can take only two. If you have a thousand, you can take a thousand. Isn't that useful? But a thousand hands are not for child's play. The reason to have a thousand hands is to save other people. If a thousand people are drowning and you have only two hands, you will only be able to rescue two of them. If you have a thousand hands, you will be able to reach into the water and pull them all out. Is that useful or not?

A thousand eyes observe,
A thousand ears hear all;
A thousand hands help and support
Living beings everywhere.

"Regardless of what trouble living beings find themselves in, you can save them with your thousand hands and pull them out of the sea of suffering. Without a thousand hands, you can't rescue so many people.

"The Bodhisattva Who Regards the Sounds of the World has a thousand hands, not for stealing things, but for rescuing people. They are not for the purpose of surreptitiously picking a thousand apples. You should be clear about this point.

"Where do the thousand hands and eyes come from? They are born from the Great Compassion Mantra. You must recite the Great Compassion Mantra and cultivate the Great Compassion Dharma of the Forty-Two Hands. The last of the forty-two hands is called the "Uniting and Holding, the Thousand Arms Hand." Every time you recite this mantra, your hands increase by forty-two. Recite it once and you have forty-two more hands; recite it again and they increase by forty-two. Recite it a hundred times and you will have 4,200, a thousand times, 42,000, and so forth. It's simply a matter of whether or not you cultivate. But the thousand hands and eyes are not obtained in a day and a night. You must cultivate with effort every single day, never missing a day. If you cultivate daily according to Dharma, you will perfect the inconceivably wonderful function of enlightenment, but if you cultivate today and quit tomorrow, it is of no use at all. In the world, if you want a Ph.D., you have to study for fourteen or fifteen years. How much more effort is needed to study the Buddhadharma! Unless you continually use true, genuine effort, you will have no success. . . ." (DS 2-4)

In the Shurangama Sutra, the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara states:

For example, I may make appear one head, three heads, five heads, seven heads, nine heads, eleven heads, and so forth, until there may be one hundred eight heads, a thousand heads, ten thousand heads, or eighty-four thousand vajra heads; two arms, four arms, six arms, eight arms, ten arms, twelve arms, fourteen, sixteen, eighteen arms, or twenty arms, twenty-four arms, and so forth until there may be one hundred eight arms, a thousand arms, or eighty-four thousand mudra arms; two eyes, three eyes, four eyes, nine eyes, and so forth until there may be one hundred eight eyes, a thousand eyes, ten thousand eyes, or eighty four thousand pure and precious eyes, sometimes compassionate, sometimes awesome, sometimes displaying wisdom to rescue and protect living beings so that they may attain great self-mastery. (SS V 178-179)


1) Ch. chyan shou chyan yan , 2) Skt. .

See also: Bodhisattva, Avalokiteshvara (Bodhisattva), Dharani Sutra.

BTTS References: SS IV; Great Compassion Dharma Transmission Verses; DS 2-5; SS V 178-179; VBS #197, p. 3.


Ordination as a Buddhist Bhikshu (monk) or Bhikshuni (nun) can be seen both as the culmination of a period of intense preparatory cultivation and as the beginning of a new and fuller life in the Dharma.

The preparatory period begins with Taking Refuge with the Three Jewels (see entry), that is, formally becoming a Buddhist and bowing to a teacher. It is followed by stages of learning to live in accord with progressively higher standards of purity and morality as represented by adherence to moral precepts (see entry). The taking of the Five Precepts (see entry) is followed by the Eight Precepts and then often the Bodhisattva Precepts (see BNS). The taking of the novice (sramanera) precepts (see SV) ushers in a period of a minimum of three years formal training for becoming a fully-ordained Bhikshu or Bhikshuni.

Ordination itself takes place in a ceremony open only to the Sangha that is presided over by ten elder Bhikshus of high virtue. During the ceremony the 250 Bhikshu precepts (or 348 Bhikshuni precepts) are transmitted.


1) Ch. shou jyu dzu jye , 2) Skt. .

See also: Three Jewels, Sangha, Bhikshu, Bhikshuni, moral precepts.

BTTS References: FAS Ch16 36-37.


"There are many kinds of outflows. Anger is an outflow, and so is greed. To be stupid is also to have outflows. Having a temper, one has outflows; and if one is a glutton, one has another kind of outflow. Greed for wealth is an outflow. as is greed for forms. Anything which is not proper that you like out of habit is called an outflow.

"Outflows are the root of birth and death. Why can't you end birth and death? Because you have outflows. To be without outflows is to be like a bottle that does not leak--one has to be devoid of all bad habits and faults... Then you are not greedy for wealth or sex or fame or profit. You are not greedy for food or sleep. When you are not greedy for anything, you have penetrated to the state of no outflows.

"Having no outflows is true comfort. When you reach the state of no outflows, then you are genuinely there--you have not run away. You do not run to and from as if engaged in guerrilla warfare. Right now, in a state of outflows, your false thinking is like guerrilla troops. If it isn't going this direction, it is headed in that direction. One knows not how far you might go! The question always hangs in the air:

Will the hero be victorious or defeated?

Tune in for the next episode.

If you have no outflows, then your basic nature of true suchness is there--self-present. If you have outflows, then the truth runs away. What is the truth in people? It is the most valuable thing within your possession. If you let that most valuable thing flow away, if you lose it then you turn into something completely worthless. What is this most valuable thing? It is the collateral for becoming a Buddha, the foundation of becoming a Buddha. If you lose this most valuable thing, then you'll never be able to end birth and death. If you ask how you can stay around and be of worth, how you can be a jewel more valuable than a diamond, you must be without outflows. You have to cut off desire and get rid of emotional love. Although this topic looks really simple, if you have outflows, then what you have that is true has left you and run away." (SM IV 44-45)

"What are outflows? They're just people's bad habits and faults that they've amassed from beginningless time, life after life. That is what is meant by 'all outflows'.

"If you like to drink wine, that's a wine outflow. If you smoke dope, then you have an outflow of smoking dope. People who are greedy for wealth have the outflow of wealth. And those who are greedy for beautiful form have the outflow of beautiful form. Outflows are insatiable. For example, eating is an outflow and wearing clothes is an outflow. When you like to sleep, that's an outflow. Any state that you go along with and end up getting afflicted by is an outflow. If you have thoughts of desire, then you will have a lot of outflows. Outflows are just all our various bad habits and faults. This includes continually breaking the rules and doing things that are not in accord with the Dharma. That's what is meant by outflows.

"Some people hear this explanation of Dharma and give rise to false thinking. What kind of false thinking? They are opposed to what has just been expressed. They think, 'You say that eating is an outflow, and that wearing clothes is an outflow, and that sleeping is an outflow. then tell me, what isn't an outflow? Eating is an outflow, but everybody has to eat. Nobody can go without eating. How can we eliminate that outflow? Nobody can go without wearing clothes, so, how can we get rid of that outflow. Nobody can go without sleep. How can we dispense with that outflow. If all those things are outflows, then how can anyone be without outflows? If one doesn't eat, one dies. If one doesn't wear clothes, one won't get away with it. If one doesn't sleep, one will soon find it's just as important as eating and wearing clothes. If the outflows we must get rid of are those essential parts of our life, then I definitely object!'

"I agree. There isn't anyone who doesn't need to eat, sleep, and wear clothes! Outflows means overindulgence in these things. For instance, if when you eat, you just eat your fill, then that's okay. You shouldn't pay attention to whether the food is good or bad. The important thing is not to have a lot of false thinking about what you eat, and then you won't have any outflows.

"If, on the other hand, you eat something and then give rise to a lot of false thinking, then you will have an outflow. You think, 'I wonder if what I ate today had any food value. I don't know if I've had enough nourishment or not. Will the things that I've eaten help out my body or not?' On the one hand you eat, and on the other hand you have so much false thinking about it that even if you did eat something nourishing, you'd waste it all by false thinking. You may have put the food in your stomach, but it all flows back out in your false thinking. If, when you eat, you stop when you're full and you don't have any false thinking about whether the food is good or bad, then you're a person of the Way without any thoughts. 'No thoughts' means that you eat and don't have any false thinking. And if you do it in this way, then the nourishment will be endless and boundless. It's just because of your false thinking that all the proteins and vitamins disappear.

"This can be likened to a bowl with water in it. If there aren't any cracks in the bowl then when you put water in it, the water won't run out. It doesn't have any outflows. But if there are cracks, then the water is going to leak out. People's false thoughts are just like cracks in a bowl. If you don't have any false thinking, then you don't leave any cracks for outflows.

"Originally you didn't have any of these false thoughts. Why do you want to create some and start speculating about what the food tastes like and analyzing every bit of it for its vitamin content? No matter how much false thinking you have about what you ate today, by this time tomorrow when it has passed through your body, you certainly won't want to eat it, no matter how good it was before.

"If you don't have any false thinking, then the nourishment will stay in your body and will not flow out. But the more false thinking you have about it, the more of its energy-value you lose in outflows.

If you wear clothes in order to keep warm, that's okay. But if your objective in wearing clothes isn't to keep warm, but rather to look good and cause others to notice you, then that's an outflow. As soon as someone pays attention to you, an outflow takes place. If you worry about whether your clothes are good or not, and keep wanting to change outfits, then there is an outflow. When you wear clothes you should only wear them to keep warm. Don't have false thinking about them.

"What is the outflow of sleeping like? When it's time to go to sleep, you lie there but you can't go to sleep. Once you start false thinking, sleep runs off and you don't know where to find it. You toss and turn and still you can't go to sleep. Would you call this an outflow or not? It the outflow of sleep. And if you don't get enough sleep, then the next day you won't have enough energy, because you used it all up false thinking all night.

"Not getting enough sleep is an outflow and getting too much sleep is also an outflow. If you get just the right amount of sleep, then there is no outflow. And so, tell me now, which isn't an outflow? Eating? Sleeping? Wearing clothes? What were you opposing? . . .

"Not only are eating, wearing, clothes, and sleeping outflows, but whatever you like is an outflow. Your temper is also an outflow. Worry, hate, and desire are also outflows. The seven emotions of happiness, anger, grief, fear, love, hate, and desire are all outflows. But these outflows can be stopped. If you get to the place where you can flow and yet not flow, then you can be said to have no outflows. . . ." (FAS Ch9 10-13)


1) Ch. lou ; 2) Skt. asrava; 3) Pali asava; 4) Alternate translations: contaminations, impurities, influxes, taints, biases.

See also: ignorance.

BTTS References: AS 125; SM IV 44-45; FAS Ch9 10-15.