1) An indestuctible substance which is sometimes equated with emptiness; sometimes used as an adjective to indicate the quality of the substance.

2) A Dharma-implement.

"Vajra is a Sanskrit word which defies translation because of its numerous connotations, but essentially vajra is an indestructible substance, usually represented by diamond." (VS 3)

"Vajra has three meanings: durable; luminous; and able to cut. Vajra is so durable it cannot be destroyed by anything, but can itself destroy everything.

"'If vajra breaks up everything, then I won't have anything, and of what use will that be?' you may ask.

"The reason you don't realize Buddhahood is just because you 'have everything'. If you didn't have anything, you could realize Buddhahood. 'Everything' refers to your attachments--all those things you cannot put down. . . .

"Durable vajra breaks through thought, but not through no thought. The vajra of no thought is durable enough to smash all existing marks--all conditioned marks subject to outflows. No thought can destroy the spriitual penetrations of heavenly demons and those of external ways, because their spiritual penetrations have marks. . . .

"Vajra is luminous. Its light can break up all darkness. Vajra is able to cut. A sharp knife can sever something with a single slice, while a dull knife saws and saws and still cannot cut through. Vajra severs all the deviant knowledge and views of heavenly demons and those of exernal ways, chops through people's afflictions, and slices through ignorance." (VS 81)


1) Ch. jin gang ; 2) Skt. vajra.

See also: Vajra Prajna Paramita Sutra.

BTTS References: VS 3, 81.

Vajra (Diamond) Prajna Paramita Sutra

One of the most popular scriptures, the Vajra Sutra explains how the Bodhisattva relies on the perfection of wisdom to teach and transform beings.


1) Ch. jin gang bwo rwo bwo lwo mi dwo ching ;

2) Skt. vajra-prajna-paramita-sutra.

BTTS References: VS.

Vasubandhu (Bodhisattva) (fl. 4th cent. AD)

The second of three sons, born in Purusapura (Peshwar), India, into the Kausika family of Indian Brahmins. All three sons were called Vasubandhu and all three became Buddhist Bhikshus. His older brother was known as Asanga and his younger brother as Virincivatsa. He is known simply as Vasubandhu. In his youth he adhered to the Hinayana teachings of the Sautrantika School and wrote the Abhidharmakosa, perhaps the most well-known of all treatises on the Abhidharma. He was converted to the Mahayana by his older brother the Bodhisattva Asanga. After his conversion, he wrote many celebrated works on the Consciousness-Only School of the Mahayana, including the Twenty Verses on Consciousness-Only and the Thirty Verses on Consciousness-Only.


"Asanga, teacher of the Law [Dharma], saw that his younger brother was endowed with an intelligence surpassing that of others, his knowledge being deep and wide, and himself well-versed in esoteric and exoteric doctrines. He was afraid that the latter might compose a sastra and crush the Mahayana. He was living then in the land of the Hero (Purusa-pura) and sent a messenger to Vasubandhu in Ayodhya with the following message: "I am seriously ill at present. You had better attend to me quickly." Vasubandhu followed the messenger to his native land, saw his brother and inquired what was the cause of his illness. He answered: "I have now a serious disease of the heart, which arose on account of you." Vasubandhu again asked: "Why do you say on account of me?" He answered: "You dot no believe in the Mahayana and are always attacking and discrediting it. For this wickedness you will be sure to sink forever in a miserable Life. I am now grieved and troubled for your sake to such an extent that my life will no long survive. On hearing this Vasubandhu was surprised and alarmed and asked his brother to expound the Mahayana for him. He then gave him a concise explanation of the essential principles of the Mahayana. Thereupon the Teacher of the Law (Vasubandhu), who was possessed of clear intelligence and especially of deep insight, became at once convinced that the truth of the Mahayana excelled even that of the Hinayana.

"He then fully investigated, under his brother, the principles of the Mahayana. Soon after he became as thoroughly acquainted with the whole as his brother was. When its meaning was already clear to him, he would meditate on it. From the beginning to the end everything was perfectly in accordance with the truth, there being nothing contradictory to it. For the first time he realized that the Hinayana was wrong and the Mahayana right. If there were no Mahayana, then (he thought) there would be no path (marga) and no fruition (phala) of the Tri-yana [Three Vehicles]. Since he formerly did harm by speaking ill of the Mahayana, in which he then ----------------------------------------------------------------Ä

----------------------------------------------------------------Ä Bodhisattva Vasubandhu

had no faith, he was now afraid that he might fall into a miserable life on account of that wickedness. He deeply reproached himself and earnestly repented of his previous fault. He approached his brother and confessed his error, saying: 'I now desire to make a confession. I do not know by what means I can be pardoned for my former slander.' He said (further): 'I formerly did harm speaking ill (of the truth) by means of my tongue. I will now cut out my tongue in order to atone for my crime.' His brother answered: 'Even if you cut out your tongue a thousand times, you cannot wipe out your crime. If you really want to wipe out your crime, you must find some other means.' Thereupon he asked his brother to explain the means of wiping out the offence. The latter said: 'Your tongue was able to speak very skillfully and effectively against the Mahayana, and thus discredit it. If you want to wipe out your offence, you must now propound the Mahayana equally skillfully and effectively.'" (The Life of Vasubandhu, J. Takakusu, tr., pp. 290-292)

A eulogy says:

It is difficult to practice two teachings at once.

He brought forth the secret meanings of the Compassion ate Sage.

In awesome Shastras like piled up clouds,

Explaining the untransmitted doctrine,

Revealing the Consciousness-Only,

complete in both the Nature and Appearance Schools.

An eternal Dharma lamp,

He lights a million generations.

(VBS #20, p. 2)


1) Ch.shr chin , tyan chin ; 2) Skt. vasubandhu.

See also: Asanga (Bodhisattva), Consciousness-Only School.

BTTS References: HD 9-12; UW 1-3; VBS #20, 1-2.


All beings--human or beast--

Love life and hate to die.

They fear most the butcher's knife

Which slices and chops them piece-by-piece.

Instead of being cruel and mean,

Why not stop killing and cherish life?

(CL I 83)

In Buddhism adhering to a completely vegetarian diet is a natural and logical ramification of the moral precept against the taking of life (see Five Moral Precepts). The Bodhisattva Precepts (see Brahma Net Sutra) also explicitly forbid the eating of nonÄ vegetarian food and also the eating of garlic, onions, and other related plants.

In the Shurangama Sutra the Buddha states:

After my extinction, in the Dharma-Ending Age, these hordes of ghosts and spirits will abound, spreading like wildfire as they argue that eating meat will bring one to the Bodhi Way. . . .

You should know that these people who eat meat may gain some awareness and may seem to be in samadhi, but they are all great rakshasas. When their retribution ends, they are bound to sink into the bitter sea of birth and death. They are not disciples of the Buddha. Such people as these kill and eat one another in a neverÄ ending cycle. How can such people transcend the triple realm? (SS VI 20-22)

Question: "When you eat one bowl of rice, you take the life of all the grains of rice, whereas eating meat you take only one animal's life.

The Master: On the body of one single animal are a hundred thousand, in fact, sever million little organisms. These organisms are fragments of what was once an animal. The soul of a human being at death may split up to become many animals. One person can become about ten animals. That's why animals are so stupid. The soul of an animal can split up and become, in its smallest division, an organism or plant. The feelings which plants have, then, are what separated from the animals's soul when it split up at death. Although the life force of a large number of plants may appear sizeable, it is not as great as that of a single animal or a single mouthful of meat. Take, for example, rice: tens of billions of grains of rice do not contain as much life force as a single piece of meat. If you open your Five Eyes you can know this at a glance. If you haven't opened your eyes, no matter how one tries to explain it to you, you won't understand. No matter how it's explained, you won't believe it, because you haven't been a plant!

"Another example is the mosquitoes. The millions of mosquitoes on this mountain may be simply the soul of one person who has been transformed into all those bugs. It is not the case that a single human soul turns into a single mosquito. One person can turn into countless numbers of mosquitos.

"At death the nature changes, the soul scatters, and its smallest fragments become plants. Thus, there is a difference between eating plants and eating animals. What is more, plants have very short lifespans. The grass, for example, is born in the spring and dies within months. Animals live a long time. If you don't kill them, they will live for many years. Rice, regardless of conditions, will only live a short time. And so, if you really look into it, there are many factors to consider, and even science hasn't got it all straight." (BRF 64)

Mahakashyapa asked the Buddha, "Why is it that the Thus Come One does not allow eating meat?'

The Buddha replied, "It is because meat-eating cuts off the seeds of great compassion."

(CL II 5)


1) Ch. shr jai ju yi .

See also: Five Contemplations, Five Precepts--no killing; liberating living beings.

BTTS References: FAS-PII 29-31; FAS Ch11 214-224; FAS Ch22 59-63; DFS 789-791; BNS ?; LY I 112-114, 116-118; *BRF 63-65; CL I 1-4,83; CL II 1-3, 5, 7, 9, 63 (= BNS third minor), 142-144; SS III 78-79; SS IV 40-42; SS VI 20-23; SS VII 4-8; BNS I 120-122 (5 allium); DFS IV 790-792; PDS Dec. 1984, p. 2 "Verses on a Simple and Practical Way to be Kind to Other Living Beings."


The collected moral regulations governing the life of the Buddhist monastic community, one of the three divisions of the Buddhist canon.

'The Vinaya includes all the precept-regulations, methods we use to keep watch over ourselves so that it is not necessary for anyone else to keep an eye on us.' (SV 10)

According to Buddhist teachings, the monastic regulations contained in the Vinaya should be read only by fully ordained monks (bhikshus) and nuns (bhkshunis).

See also the story illustrating pure adherence to the Vinaya under faith.


1) Ch. pi nai (ye) , jye ; 2) Skt. vinaya; 3) Pali vinaya.

See also: moral precepts, Sangha, Tripitaka.

BTTS References: FAS-PII(1) 77-78, 86-96; SV 10.

Vinaya School

The Vinaya School in China was founded by Vinaya Master DauÄ Sywan (596-667). Its roots go back to the time of the Buddha and the Venerable Upali, who was foremost among the Buddha's disciples in the the regulations for personal conduct laid down by the Buddha.


1) Ch. lyu dzung , 2) Skt. .

See also: moral precepts, Five Types of Buddhist Study and Practice--moral regulations.


"The power of vows eradicates heavy karma, wipes away all illnesses of mind and body at their karmic source, subdues demons, and can move gods and humans to respect....

'One must make great vows. A cultivator is like a person who wants to cross the sea. The great vows of a cultivator are like a boat which can carry him or her from birth and death across the sea of suffering to the other shore of nirvana. The mind which makes great vows must be solid and durable. It must be permanent and unchanging. It must be indestructible. It must be like vajra." (UW 153-154)

"Vows are very important. But you can't make someone else's vows. You can't say, "I will make Avalokitesharava Bodhisattva's ten vows,or Universal Worthy Bodhisattva's ten vows, Amitabha's forty-eight vows, or Medicine Master's twelve vows. Those are their vows. You can't just copy them. You must make your own vows. You could make vows even greater than those of Amitabha Buddha or Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva, but they must be your own. You aren't them!

"'Well,' you might argue, 'suppose I am a transformation of Amitabha Buddha? What is wrong with making his vows then?'

"Even if you are, you are still just a transformation; you aren't the original. You have to make new vows. It is like metal which was one thing and then got melted down into something else. Perhaps you were a metal sculpture of a turtle, and now you've turned into a train. You can't be a turtle again, not even if you want to. I won't argue with you about whether or not you are Amitabha's transformation-body, but you still need to make brand new vows, no old ones.

"There are some old vows which everyone can make; they are standard vows that every Bodhisattva makes, and that's all right:

I vow to save the boundless numbers of beings.
I vow to cut off the inexhaustible afflictions.
I vow to study the endless Dharma doors.
I vow to realize the supreme Buddha Way.

"When Amitabha Buddha was on the causal ground, he was a Bhikshu by the name of Fa-Dzang (Skt. Dharmakara). He made fortyÄ eight vows which he used to cultivate in every lifetime. He made those vows in every life for who knows how many great aeons before he became a Buddha and created the Land of Ultimate Bliss. One should make vows right at the beginning when you start cultivating. Even if you are an old-timer and have been cultivating for quite a while, you should make solid vows. Perhaps some of you have been planting Buddha-seeds throughout many lifetimes, many aeons. And now as a result you have encountered this opportunity. You are able to put all of your energy into practicing the Buddhadharma.

"Write out your vows. You can write them just how you want them. Perhaps: #1 I vow to save all ants. #2 I vow to save all mosquitos. #3 I vow to save all hopeless cases. Of course, I'm joking. But one of my disciples did make a vow to become a Buddha in the northern continent of Uttarakuru. Why did he do that? Because right now there is no Buddha there. When he gets there, because there are no Buddhas there, he will be worshipped exclusively for sure! Not much competition! I was quite pleased with that vow; it is very special, and so I made a vow that I would guarantee that he fulfills that vow. Everything in the world can change. There's nothing fixed. If someone makes a vow to go somewhere and become a Buddha, a Buddha will, in the future, appear in that place. No one ever made a vow to become a Buddha in Uttarakuru before, and so there is no Buddhadharma there right now.

"Once you have made your vows, even if you would like to slack off in your cultivation, you won't dare, because you made the vows to cultivate! Vows are extremely important." (DFS VII 1195-1197)


1) Ch. ywan , 2) Skt. pranidhana, 3) Pali panidhana.

See also: Earth Store (Bodhisattva).

BTTS References: DFS VII 1195-1197; UW xiii; FAS Ch22 154.