Stuffed Tofu素釀豆腐


  1. Vegetarian ham
  2. Pickled vegetable
  3. Water chestnut
  4. Carrots
  5. Shiitake mushrooms
  6. Silken tofu
  7. Celery
  8. Ginger


Cut tofu in half then in thirds. Lay them flat. Scoop out the middle. Sprinkle salt and cornstarch.

Mince the vegetarian ham, water chestnut, pickled vegetable, carrots and shiitake mushrooms. Sautee the minced shiitake mushrooms with minced ginger first. Blend the ingredients together along with salt, sugar, mushroom seasoning, cornstarch, sesame oil and the scooped out tofu.


  1. 素火腿
  2. 榨菜
  3. 荸懠
  4. 紅蘿蔔
  5. 花菇
  6. 嫩豆腐
  7. 芹菜


先將豆腐對切,再切成三份,每片分開放平後,將中間挖孔,灑上鹽及太白粉。 將花菇泡軟與




The Heart of Prajna Paramita Sutra with Annotation般若波羅蜜多心經



Namo Fundamental Teacher Shakyamuni Buddha

Sutra Opening Gatha

The Dharma, infinitely profound and subtle,

Is rarely encountered even in a million kalpas.

Now we are able to hear, study, and follow it,

May we fully realize the Tathagata’s true meaning.

The Heart 1 of Prajna 3 Paramita 4 Sutra 2

Bodhisattva 5 Avalokiteshvara 6,

while deeply immersed 7 in prajna paramita,

clearly perceived the empty nature 8 of the five skandhas 9,

and transcended all suffering.

Shariputra 10! Form is not different from emptiness,

emptiness is not different from form.

Form is emptiness, emptiness is form.

So it is with feeling, conception, volition, and consciousness.

Shariputra! All dharmas 11 are empty in character;

neither arising nor ceasing 12,

neither impure nor pure,

neither increasing nor decreasing.

Therefore, in emptiness, there is no form;

there is no feeling, conception, volition, or consciousness 13;

no eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, or mind;

no form, sound, smell, taste, touch, or dharmas 14;

no realm of vision, and so forth,

up to no realm of mind-consciousness 15;

no ignorance or ending of ignorance, and so forth,

up to no aging and death or ending of aging and death 16.

There is no suffering, no cause, no extinction, no path 17.

There is no wisdom and no attainment 18.

There is nothing to be attained.

By way of prajna paramita 19,

the bodhisattva’s mind is free from hindrances.

With no hindrances, there is no fear 20;

freed from all distortion and delusion,

ultimate nirvana is reached.

By way of prajna paramita,

Buddhas 21 of the past, present, and future

attain anuttara-samyak-sambodhi 22.

Therefore, prajna paramita

is the great powerful mantra,

the great enlightening 23 mantra 24,

the supreme and peerless mantra.

It can remove all suffering.

This is the truth beyond all doubt.

And the prajna paramita mantra is spoken thus:

Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha 25.

1. Heart Sutra. The short title of this most popular and important sutra. It contains the very essence of the vast body of wisdom teachings (prajna-paramita sutras) in Buddhism.

2. sutra 佛經. A Buddhist scripture containing the dialogues or discourses of the Buddha.

3. prajna 般若. Great transcendental wisdom; wisdom from understanding the truth; wisdom of understanding the empty nature of the ‘self’ and all phenomena; wisdom that can overcome birth-and-death and all suffering, and enlighten all beings.

4. paramita 波羅蜜多. Perfection, the practice that can bring one to liberation. Literally, “to the other shore.” To become a buddha, the bodhisattva practices the six paramitas: perfection of charity (dana), moral conduct (sila), tolerance (ksanti), diligence (virya), meditation (dhyana), and, most important of all, wisdom (prajna).

5. bodhisattva 菩薩. One who, with infinite compassion, vows to become a buddha and to liberate countless sentient beings. A bodhisattva practices all six paramitas (perfections), but it is the prajna paramita that ultimately brings true liberation. Bodhi: enlightenment, to awaken. Sattva: sentient beings, beings with consciousness.

6. Avalokitesvara 觀自在,觀世音. This bodhisattva is considered the embodiment of the Buddhist virtue of compassion. Known as Guanyin in Chinese, this is the most beloved bodhisattva in Asia. The name means “perceiver of cries of the world” and “unhindered perceiver of the truth.” Thus this bodhisattva is able to help all sentient beings.

7. deeply immersed. Deep in the practice and understanding of the profound prajna paramita. It is not enough to understand prajna intellectually; one must practice it with the whole body and mind. Here ‘deeply’ means the understanding of not only the empty nature of the ‘self’ but also of all phenomena.

8. empty nature 空. Both the self and all phenomena are without independent existence or inherent, fixed characteristics. They are impermanent, mutable and mutually dependent; their individuality is in appearance only. Buddhism provides us with several classifications of phenomena to help us understand how ordinary people perceive the world. They are: the five skandhas, the twelve bases, and the eighteen spheres (see below). However, our perceptions of the world are founded on ignorance; therefore, these constructions are ultimately empty.

9. five skandhas 五蘊. Five aggregates—form, feeling, conception, volition, and consciousness (色受想行識). Form refers to our body or the physical world, the other four are of the mind. Ordinary beings see themselves as composed of these aggregates. When we analyze them deeper, we find no real substance.

10. Sariputra 舍利子,舍利弗. (Pronounced Shariputra). A senior disciple of the Buddha, known for his wisdom.

11. dharmas 法. “Dharma” (capitalized) means the Buddha’s teaching,the Law, the Truth; “dharmas” means things, phenomena.

12. neither arising … nor decreasing. By understanding the mutual dependencies and inter-connections of all things, one realizes that all creation and destruction, birth-and-death, good and bad, more and less, etc., exist in appearance only.

13. no form, feeling … This negation of the five skandhas is to point out that the superficial appearance and characters we are familiar with actually have no intrinsic substance. Form (physical matter) is energy, its appearance is an illusion of the perceiver; feelings are subjective; conceptions are mind-made; volition (will or intent which leads to action); and what we call consciousness are streams of thought based on deluded understanding of reality. There is no “self” to be found in form, feeling, conception, volition, or consciousness.

14. no eye, ear…or dharmas. Negation of the twelve bases (of consciousness) (十二處) which include six senses (六根) and six sense objects (六塵). The six senses are used to perceive the six sense objects and the result is our conception of the world. The six sense objects are also known as six dusts in Buddhism.

15. no realm of vision … no realm of mind-consciousness. Negation of the eighteen spheres (十八界), six senses, six sense objects, and six types of consciousness, that of vision, hearing, olfaction, taste, touch, and mind-consciousness. The eighteen spheres represent the way the deluded mind perceives and divides the world, and prevents us from seeing the unity and equality of all things.

16. no ignorance … no ending of aging and death. The twelve links of dependent origination (十二因緣) explain the process of the rebirth cycle. They are ignorance→ intentional action→ consciousness→ mind and form→ six senses→ contact→ feeling→ craving→ grasping→ being→ birth→ old age and death. However, from the view of absolute reality, the twelve links and their elimination (ending of …, which is needed to gain liberation from rebirth), are also empty. In fact, what we perceive as birth-and-deaths are actually delusions, so suffering is also empty.

17. no suffering, no cause, no extinction, no path. Since suffering is produced by ignorance and delusion, it is empty. The emptiness of suffering, cause of suffering, extinction of suffering, and the path is a higher understanding of the Four Noble Truths.

18. no wisdom and no attainment. Negation of the bodhisattva’s practice, in this specific case, wisdom. Wisdom overcomes ignorance and delusion. Since delusions are empty, so is wisdom. Nothing (which we do not already have) is gained by liberation. Buddha teaches that once we get to the other shore, there is no need to carry around the raft (the teaching) that got us there. The preceding three annotations are about letting go of the “rafts” of the “Three Vehicles”.

19. by way of prajna paramita… By the practice and profound understanding of the empty/interconnected/equal nature of all dharmas, which is prajna wisdom, one’s mind becomes freed from all delusions and abides in absolute peace and absolute bliss. This is called attaining nirvana.

20. there is no fear. Fear comes from misunderstanding and ignorance. With prajna wisdom, all fear is removed.

21. buddhas. “The enlightened one.” There are many buddhas in the past, present, and future; all sentient beings can become buddhas by practicing prajna paramita.

22. anuttara-samyak-sambodhi. Anuttara: unsurpassed. Samyak sambodhi: right and comprehensive understanding (complete enlightenment). Unsurpassed complete enlightenment is the state of a buddha.

23. powerful, enlightening…. True wisdom liberates and empowers us. There is no higher wisdom than prajna, nothing can compare to it. There is no higher bliss than what prajna can bring.

24. mantra. “True words”, also a short phrase that contains much meaning. Mantras are usually left untranslated.

25. gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha. This mantra basically means: go, go, go beyond, go completely beyond to complete enlightenment.觀自在菩薩。行深般若波羅蜜多時。照見五蘊皆空。度一切苦厄。舍利子。色不異空。空不異色。色即是空。空即是色。受想行識。亦復如是。舍利子。是諸法空相。不生不滅。不垢不淨。不增不減。是故空中無色。無受想行識。無眼耳鼻舌身意。無色聲香味觸法。無眼界。乃至無意識界。無無明。亦無無明盡。乃至無老死。亦無老死盡。無苦集滅道。無智亦無得。以無所得故。菩提薩埵。依般若波羅蜜多故。心無罣礙。無罣礙故。無有恐怖。遠離顛倒夢想。究竟涅槃。三世諸佛。依般若波羅蜜多故。得阿耨多羅三藐三菩提。故知般若波羅蜜多。是大神咒。是大明咒。是無上咒。是無等等咒。能除一切苦。真實不虛。故說般若波羅蜜多咒。即說咒曰。揭諦揭諦。波羅揭諦。波羅僧揭諦。菩提薩婆訶。

Tech notes

change font from css (to overwrite the chinese font from template)

body {
font-family: “HelveticaNeue-Light”, “Helvetica Neue Light”, “Helvetica Neue”, Helvetica, Arial, “Lucida Grande”, sans-serif;
font-weight: 300;

editor window size too small, use this method to fix.

If you are using the Qtranslate plugin I’ve used a quick and dirty solution through CSS.

In plugins Qtranslate click on Edit
select this file: qtranslate/qtranslate_hooks.php

scroll down until you find this line:
echo “#qtrans_textarea_content { padding:6px; border:0 none; line-height:150%; outline: none; margin:0pt; width:100%; -moz-box-sizing: border-box;”;

Inside this CSS I’ve added height:400px;

Looks like this:

echo “#qtrans_textarea_content { padding:6px; border:0 none; line-height:150%; height:400px; outline: none; margin:0pt; width:100%; -moz-box-sizing: border-box;”;

Hopes this helps some people for a while, you can set any height you wish it to be. It’s very quick and dirty at least it solves the annoyance of having to drag it all the time 😉

Not to get upgrade notice

Disable Updates Manager  plug in…

Disabling WordPress Automatic Updates

Disabling automatic updates in WordPress is easy. Simply add this line of code in your wp-config.php file:

1 define( 'WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE', false );

This will disable the WordPress automatic updater, and you will still get notified when there is a new version available, so you can update at your own convenience.

We hope that you found this tip useful. What are your thoughts automatic updates? Would you keep them enabled or use the above method to disable them? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

Soup of Bundles金針柴把湯


  • Pickled cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Bamboo shoots
  • Shiitake mushrooms
  • Vegetarian ham
  • Dried gourd strings
  • Lily buds
  • Vegetarian Shark Fin and Mushrooms Stir Fry


Cut pickled cabbage, carrots, bamboo shoots, shiitake mushrooms and vegetarian ham into same size sticks (1.5” to 2”). Tie the five ingredients securely into bundles using the dried gourd strings.

Bring a pot of water to boil, season with salt, pepper, mushroom seasoning and sugar.

Add the bundles.

Add the lilies.

Cook and serve.


  • 酸菜心
  • 紅蘿蔔
  • 花菇
  • 素火腿
  • 瓢乾
  • 金針結


將酸菜心,紅蘿蔔,筍,花菇(泡軟)和素火腿,切成1.5″ 至2″ 條狀。將上項切好之五種食材用瓢乾



Pilgrimage to Chung Tai Monastery中台禪寺朝聖之旅


My Pilgrimage Experience to Chung Tai Monastery
by Robert King

Following is the most important and vivid realizations I experience on my trip to Taiwan and Chung Tai Monastery.

As I undertake the process of writing my pilgrimage experience, I contemplate the time I spend in Taiwan viewing different monasteries, and meeting Dharma masters and lay Buddhist practitioners. The more I think of my trip, the more I find my thoughts gravitate towards a few specific experiences. Mostly I think of the few occasions that I am privileged enough to see the Grand Master Wei Chueh.

Grand Master Wei Chueh is a man who is small in physical stature, but his energy and charisma are larger than life. The instant I first see him, I know I am in the presence of a true Zen master.

Although my encounters with the Grand Master are few and relatively brief in duration, I learn a great deal about practicing Zen from him. By observing the Grand Master, I can see that his mind is completely calm and he is mindful and deliberate in taking every action. It strikes me that the Grand Master is constantly practicing Zen.

For me Zen Buddhism is about practicing, not about theorizing or philosophizing. Grand Master Wei Chueh practices the middle way every second. He directly expresses his true nature in every action.

As a result of observing the Grand Master, I am inspired to practice Zen diligently. The fact that he can practice with such vigor makes me realize I have no excuse not to practice with intensity.

There are instances that I feel unmotivated to practice. In those instances, I remind myself of how the Grand Master practices. By thinking of the Grand Master’s practice, I suddenly become motivated to act.

Partaking in the pilgrimage to Chung Tai monastery and meeting Grand Master Wei Chueh and the other Dharma practitioners revitalizes my goals and commitments pertaining to my Zen practice. I commit to calming my mind, being mindful in my actions, letting go of my egotistical notions, and practicing Zen with robust effort—in each moment of my life.


Lay Bodhisattva Precept Ceremony
by Darlene Cioffi-Pangilla (Chuan Ling)

As I write this, it has been just about one year (May 2005) since I had the privilege of going to Chung Tai Chan Monastery to take the Lay Bodhisattva precepts. Little did I know what I was getting into. I quickly realized that this event was no joke. It was going to be a serious and important step in my life.

Master Jian Pin, then abbess at Buddha Gate, prepared us well. Her steadfast support and faith in me, personally gave me the strength to face my doubts, my lack of faith in myself, my feeling of not being worthy enough to take such a big step in my spiritual practice.

The five or so days of preparation at Chung Tai, before the precepts were finally given, were filled with frustration for me:

the weather – thunder, lightening, torrential rains that we had to navigate through.

the language – just being present to the liturgy while trying to keep the ear-piece in place to be able to catch the simultaneous translation and always feeling details were missing for knowing where to be and when.

the etiquette – seemingly always behind yet trying my best to catch the cues as to how and when to bow, kneel, stand up, and how to properly put on and take off our robes.

When the day came for taking the precepts, everything seemed to fall into place. Thanks to Master Jian Pin’s all night effort, we had the complete liturgy in our hands and we were able to follow the ceremony. The simultaneous translation was invaluable.

However, as the three Precept Masters, who presided over the ceremony, completed the transmission of the precepts, something transformed inside of me. The Truth within me had been touched. There was (and continues to be) a sense of inner calm and elation at the same time. I now have a deeper sense of commitment to the bodhisattva way; a deeper connection with Chung Tai, Buddha Gate, and to my dharma sisters and brothers, who were there for me in this very special experience. My life has been renewed.

Amitofo. In profound gratitude.

Reflection on the Chan Seven Retreat at Chung Tai Chan Monastery
by Peggy Bryant

“Have a cup of tea” said Abbot Jian Deng. So went the tea ceremony to open the Chan Seven Retreat a couple of weeks ago. This was my second Zen Seven at Chung Tai. The Abbot explained that the purpose of the Zen Seven is to realize our true awakened minds, to know WHO is drinking this tea. Do we know who we are? Are we the master of our minds? In what do we take refuge?

Taken from a well-known Zen koan, “Have a cup of tea” was to symbolize the theme of the retreat. As I sat there at the tea ceremony, I thought, oh I know what this means, we need to know ourselves. As the retreat got underway, however, and the busy everyday mind was tamed and made clearer by the rigorous schedule of meditation, dharma lectures, formal meals and chanting, I realized that my earlier thoughts about “have a cup of tea” were pretty superficial and that an important meaning and deeper lesson awaited me.

The dharma talks by the Grand Master and Abbot Jian Deng built on the theme of the mind ground dharma. Again and again we were asked “Where is your mind?”, “Who is it that is feeling this pain/discomfort?”, and remember always to “Dwell in your awakened mind”. During meditation, we were to “let go” of everything and focus on the clear mind. How do I let go, I asked myself. I worked very hard on this. After the retreat, we were told to “pick up” the activities of our conventional lives and still we need to dwell in our clear mind. “Don’t waste your time” the Grand Master admonished. I admit I grew restless and tired during some of these dharma lectures because they were too long, much longer than I was used to, and repetitive. Where was my mind?

The retreat and its message had quite an impact on me. When I arrive back at home in the San Francisco Bay Area I felt like a different, changed person. I found something. I now understand more deeply what it means to know where my mind is, how to dwell in my clear mind. I have a deeper sense of paying attention to what I am doing at the moment, to focus, to keep a clear mind, to avoid unnecessary and wandering thoughts. It’s hard to change habits in everyday life, but I feel inspired to work on mindfulness, to be aware of where my mind is. My true awakened mind, that is my refuge……Have a cup of tea!

Impressions and Reflections
by Tony Khoury

I remember very well the time I spent at Chung Tai in Puli, Taiwan. Chung Tai became a home to me for about six weeks between June and August 2007. I came to know several Masters, nuns as well as monks and I was fortunate enough to be the tutor to some. My students showed interest in learning about different subjects and expressed their gratitude for my contribution to their knowledge by presenting me with gifts. I learned the value of humility, generosity, and respect just by observing my students.

In order to make my stay at Chung Tai meaningful and productive Master Jian Zhong asked me to follow a schedule whereby I do sitting meditation for two hours every day. It seemed to me to be too excessive at the beginning, but by the end of the first week I was thirsty for more. If it was not for my other responsibilities during the afternoons I would have spent two more hours meditating. Meditation helped me see inwardly. It also helped me relax so that I was able to think more clearly and get rid of some of my mental anger. I also slept better.

Chung Tai houses some of the unique Buddhist art in the world. Its library contains some of the old and very valuable books on Buddhism. The Jade room is magnificent. The Pagoda is a masterpiece. I was impressed by the beauty of all the treasures around me. One drawing, though, impressed me so much that it became embedded in my mind. It was among several drawings hanging on the wall in the big hallway. It showed a monk with thick eyebrows facing a wall in meditation. I was fortunate enough to read this Monk’s book “The Zen teaching of Bodhidarma”. What Bodhidrama taught me is diligence. He is by far my favorite Buddhist Monk ever. The story of his travel to china to teach the Way is legendary, but then he is a legendary figure who walked in our lives with one shoe in the grave and the other on his shoulder.

Chung Tai’s hospitality, generosity, and kindness are LEGENDARY. There is truly nothing like it.



Robert King











Darlene Cioffi-Pangilla (Chuan Ling)


  執筆的一年前左右 (2005年5月),我有幸前往中台禪寺受在家菩薩戒。事前我不太清楚所要面對的事。但我很快地瞭解這不是開玩笑的。它是我人生中嚴肅且關鍵的一步。










Peggy Bryant








Tony Khoury

我對在台灣埔里中台禪寺度過的時光記憶猶新。2007年6月到8月約六周期間,中台禪寺就是我的家。我在這裏認識了許多法師,有比丘也有比丘尼,很榮幸地可以擔任其中一些法師的教師。我的學生們對各個科目都很有興趣,為了感謝我來此教書,他們還贈送了禮物給我。從我的學生身上,我學到了謙遜、寬容與尊重的可貴。為了讓我在中台禪寺停留期間更有意義、更有收獲,見中法師 要我每日在固定時間禪坐兩小時。起初我覺得負荷太重,但在第一周的最後幾天,我已渴望能有更多時間靜坐。要不是我有其他職責,我願意每天下午多花兩個小時靜坐。靜坐有助於向內觀察自心。靜坐也幫助我放鬆,讓我可以思考得更透徹,並放下我的瞋心。我也睡得更好了。

中台禪寺收藏了一些獨特的佛教文物。圖書館有許多佛教的珍貴古籍。十八羅漢殿宏偉莊嚴。藥師七佛塔乃經典傑作。身旁的珍貴寶藏令我印象深刻。然而其中一幅畫作深深烙印在我心底。那幅畫與其他幾幅畫一起掛在一個大穿堂的牆上。畫中一位濃眉的和尚面壁靜坐。我有幸讀到有關這位法師的著作«The Zen Teaching of Bodhidarma 。達摩祖師教給我的是精進。達摩祖師是我目前為止最景仰的法師。他長途跋涉到中國傳法的故事是個傳奇,後來他自己成為了一個傳奇人物,他留了一隻鞋子在墳墓裏,而將另一隻鞋掛在肩上離開中土。


Bodhi Seeds Class菩提子兒童禪修班


Empty Nature
by Tiffany Zheng (Chuan Ren)

In class today, we learned about the sage, Subuti. The abbess told us a story about how Subuti realized the truth of “Empty Nature.” The Buddha was returning from his recent trip to heaven, where he had been giving dharma talks to his mother and other heavenly beings. After three months, the Buddha decided it was time to go back. All the Buddha’s followers wanted to welcome the Buddha back to Earth. So they arranged a party. At that time, the wise sage, Subuti, was meditating in a cave on Ling Mountain. When he heard the news of the Buddha returning, he also wanted to welcome the Buddha. However, he suddenly realized that Buddha’s dharma body is everywhere and that all the followers were only welcoming Buddha’s physical body. Because of that, Subuti stayed on the mountain. When Buddha set foot on Earth, a nun ran up to him and exclaimed that she was the first one to welcome the World Honored One back to Earth. However, the Buddha told her that she was just the first one to welcome his physical body. The one who really welcomed him was Subuti because he realized the truth of empty nature.

During class time, we all practiced meditation. For the activity, we made sculptures out of play-dough. Our topic was meditation. We had a great time in class today!

by Tiffany Zheng (Chuan Ren)

Last Saturday, at kids class, I learned that you can give away poverty and obtain wealth by performing charity. I also heard a story about an old lady that worked for a cruel master. One day, when she was filling a pitcher with water from the river, the sage, Katayana passed by and saw the old lady. He was compassionate and wanted to help her. So, he went up to the lady and asked her if she wanted to sell her poverty. She was deeply surprised, so the sage told her to fetch some water and offer it to him sincerely. The lady did as he said and that night, she passed away and was reborn in heaven. From this story, I can learn that you must be generous to obtain what you want.

A few days ago, I helped some friends by giving them band-aids when they hurt themselves. I also always give my friends at school a share of my cookie or dessert (if I have any). Sometimes I buy my friends cookies from the school cafeteria. Another thing is that, every day, after school, I clean my lunch thermos by myself, which saves my mom from more work. Sometimes I also do my own laundry and wipe the tables by myself.

Today, at kids class, I learned the importance of moral conduct. The precepts include, no killing, stealing, or lying. I promote these precepts by being a vegetarian and by taking things only if I have permission. I am also honest.

Another important thing I learned is the proper way to eat. I practiced this lesson at lunch and dinner. Over the week, I look forward to using the lessons I learned today in my daily.

A Mother’s Day Poem 
by Milan (Chuan Qien)

My Mom
You are nice as a leaf.
I love you more than a diamond ring.
Your heart is as pure as a lotus flower.
I love you so much.



Tiffany Zheng(Chuan Ren)







Tiffany Zheng (Chuan Ren)

幾天前,我的朋友們受傷了,我就把 OK繃給他們。我在學校常常跟朋友分享餅乾或甜點(如果我有的話)。有時候我在學校餐廳買餅乾請同學吃。還有一件事,我每天放學會自己把中餐的保溫餐盒洗好,減少媽媽的工作。我時候我會自己洗衣服、擦桌子。
今天我在兒童禪修班學到了戒行的重要。我們應該守的戒包括不殺生、不偷盜、不說謊。我守戒的方法是: 我吃素食,而且只在得到允許後才拿別人的東西。我也很誠實。
我還學到另一個重要的事情, 就是適當用餐的方法,我在中餐和晚餐時練習這門課。這個星期,我希望把今天學到的事用在日常生活中。




Milan(Chuan Qien)







Six Paramitas Mountain Pilgrimage

Mountain pilgrimage is a diligent practice of body and mind; with the head and four limbs touching the ground, one prostrates every three steps. The mouth recites the Buddha’s name; the mind also recites the Buddha’s name. By being diligent in body, speech, and mind, we eradicate karmic obstacles and transform karma; then blessings and wisdom will increase and everything will be auspicious.

Most people think that Buddhism is just a spiritual reliance and do not know that the foundation of Buddhism is this very mind. The most important thing in practicing Buddhism is to have the right resolve, give rise to a mind of compassion, a bodhi mind, a diligent mind, a mind of great vow. Conventional truth also needs resolve, but its aim is no less than to become rich, to obtain fame, wealth, and sex. Practicing Buddhism is completely different as its aim is to attain the fruit of buddhahood and the merits of the bodhisattva. When the resolve is great, merits are naturally inconceivable.

Mountain pilgrimage is a very meaningful practice; it is a practice that fulfills the six paramitas—charity, precepts, tolerance, diligence, meditation (samadhi), and prajna wisdom. The bodhisattva cultivates the six paramitas and myriad conducts; therefore, cultivating the six paramitas is the bodhisattva way. The meaning of practicing mountain pilgrimage is profound and far reaching; it benefits self and others, helps to extinguish vexations, to attain enlightenment, and resolves to attain nirvana. If we do not know to make a good resolve in our mountain pilgrimage, it is just like doing routine tasks, exercising, having fun with others, or sightseeing. That is not true and proper mountain pilgrimage and does not have great merits.

Charity (Dana) Overcomes Vexations

The first of the six paramitas is charity. Why must we practice charity? Charity is to “give”(renounce). Our mind is filled with vexations and attachments, like carrying some baggage; if we have a mind of giving, we can overcome these vexations and attachments. There is “supreme giving” “middle giving” and “small giving.” Their merits and retributions are different. It is not easy to give up things, therefore we must begin by
fulfilling the practice of “charity.”

“Supreme giving” is to give up all our possessions on earth such as our spouses, children, parents, land, and dwelling. In the past, when Shakyamuni Buddha cultivated the bodhisattva way in order to attain enlightenment and liberate sentient beings, he gave of his skin as paper, his bones as pen, his blood as ink, and even his head, eyes, and brain. Only those who have truly given rise to the supreme bodhi mind can practice such “supreme giving.” Most people cannot achieve this.

If we can give up everything, our karmic obstacles will be eradicated, because karmic obstacles generate from our physical body; our physical body is created from our attachments, and these attachments are the result of our mind’s creation and discriminations. Therefore, if we have a mind of “supreme giving,” of relinquishing our body, naturally, we will not have any attachments. With no attachments, we will have no delusive thoughts. With no delusive thoughts, we will not have karmic obstacles. If we can relinquish everything, we will realize the unconditioned dharma. This is the aim of practicing Buddhism. “Supreme giving is like having a torch before us.” If we can relinquish all our vexations and attachments, see everything with total clarity, it is like having a torch in front of us, illuminating all things, then we can see all things clearly and will certainly not lose our way.

What is “middle giving”? For example, if we have ten million dollars in the bank and took out one or two million, or half of it and donated it to others, that is not “complete” giving. We should practice the Way, meditate, listen to the Dharma as well as practice charity; cultivating these virtues and merits will increase our blessings and wisdom. When our blessings and virtues increase, we should also do some work for society. Because of blessings and merits, our path becomes brighter and brighter, and blessings will increase more and more. After earning money we should continue to practice charity, make offerings, and cultivate all kinds of good deeds. This is “middle giving.” Therefore, “middle giving is like having a torch next to us.” If we give one measure we will reap one measure; if we given ten measures we will reap ten measures, and gradually relinquish our greed and attachments. Yet, we still have many ingrained bad habits and have not totally renounced our attachments. But our wisdom gradually unfolds. It is like having a torch next to us, but it is not as bright as having a torch in front of us.

“Small giving” is when we have ten million dollars, only give ten thousand dollars and ask the Buddha and bodhisattvas to bless us and our family, hoping for response and psychic powers, for our luck to turn around, for our studies, career, and finances to be favorable. This is like doing business with the Buddha and bodhisattvas and setting conditions. This is “small giving” The aim of this type of resolve is not to cultivate the Way or benefit sentient beings; it is only done for the self. The charitable mind is not sincere or generous enough, giving only because of greed and attachment. This type of giving lacks wisdom. Therefore, “Small giving is like having a torch behind us.” It lacks the light of wisdom, with only darkness before us; we cannot see the bodhi mind, nirvana mind, and the truth of causality and birth and death. When the original mind is deluded, it
is like having a torch behind us.

There are three types of giving: material giving, Dharma giving, and giving of solace and courage.

“Material giving” is the giving of money or possessions. For example, when others have difficulties, based on the mind of compassion, we help them with monetary or material goods. However, when we donate money to the Three Jewels, because it is given with a mind of respect, it is called an “offering,” [and is different from material giving.] “Dharma giving” is to spread the wonderful truth of Buddhism to the multitude so that everyone can hear the Buddha Dharma, be freed from suffering, and attain happiness.

“Giving of solace and courage” is when we see others undergoing difficulties and give them spiritual help and encouragement; or, if we see many forms of injustice, we bravely give assistance so that others will be free from fear and attain peace and joy.

Mountain pilgrimage is also a practice of charity—“offering our sincere heart to all the world is to repay the Buddha’s kindness.” In making the mountain pilgrimage by paying homage and by our repentance, we eradicate all our past karmic obstacles and even make a vow to take on the infinite sufferings of sentient beings. While making our prostrations, we completely ignore any sorrow or joy. Every prostration shows the empty quiescent
nature our ability to worship and what is worshipped; subject and object are both empty as we forget both body and mind.

Furthermore, to participate in the pilgrimage, we may take a day off from work and that could incur a loss in pay. We cultivate with the hope of eradicating karmic obstacles and attaining enlightenment and liberation. We use the time of earning money to make the mountain pilgrimage. By offering our time, body, and money, we not only benefit ourselves but also the Buddha Dharma and sentient beings. Therefore, mountain pilgrimage is a practice of charity.

Purifying the Three Karmas is to Uphold the Precepts

The aim of upholding the precepts is to purify the three karmas of body speech and mind. This involves both practice and principle. The layperson should take the five precepts of no killing, no stealing, no sexual misconduct, no lying, and no intoxicants. When making a mountain pilgrimage, the mouth recites the Buddha’s name, the ear listens to the Buddha’s name, the body prostrates after every three steps. During this time we do not smoke, drink alcoholic beverages, kill, steal, lie, commit sexual misconduct or other offences. Therefore, making a mountain pilgrimage is to uphold the precepts. The precepts have form and essence; the essence is this very mind. Yet practicing mountain pilgrimage is not just to uphold the precepts; the mind is devout and concentrated. When the mind is pure, body speech and mind karma are pure. This is to truly uphold the precepts.

In Practicing Tolerance, Motion and Stillness Complement Each Other

Making a mountain pilgrimage is a practice of tolerance. The Chinese character for “tolerance” (忍 ) is composed of a knife (刀 ) on top of a heart (心 ), meaning that even when a knife is placed above our heart, we are not the least bit disturbed. That is “tolerance.” Mountain pilgrimage involves prostrating—the head and four limbs touch the ground that is made of cement or stones; it is painful and exhausting. If the mind that seeks the Way is not firm in its resolve, we will not be able to tolerate the practice, or we may quit half way and lose our aspiration to continue this pilgrimage. Therefore, mountain pilgrimage is a practice of tolerance. Whether it is windy, rainy, or hot, whether we are thirsty, cold, or hungry, we must be tolerant.

Tolerance is very important in Buddhism. There are five levels of tolerance: First, tolerance of restraint; second, tolerance of faith; third, tolerance of compliance; fourth, tolerance of non-origination (uncreation) of dharmas, and fifth, tolerance of extinction.

First, “tolerance of restraint.” “Restrain” is to “subdue.” Whether we encounter good or bad situations, we must subdue our vexations, anger, and even our pride. For example, the first time we make a mountain pilgrimage, our legs are painful and numb; it is true suffering. Some people may even mock us by saying, “This is really boring; wouldn’t you rather sit at home to watch television and enjoy the air conditioning? Why do you want to make this pilgrimage?” When facing such situations, if we find it difficult to practice tolerance, and give rise to vexations, ignorance, and regression of our bodhi mind, then our skill in practicing “tolerance of restraint” is not sufficient. Or, if someone praises us by saying, “You are very diligent; you have truly given rise to the bodhi mind,” we should also be tolerant so that we do not give way to pride. Therefore in cultivating the Way, we must be tolerant both in practice and in principle. In practice, we must tolerate all external obstacles. In principle, we must subdue the mind’s vexations and continue on our prostrations.

Second, “tolerance of faith.” From our mountain pilgrimage we gradually give rise to the joy of the Dharma, the mind is refreshed and happy, we are able to face difficulties with tolerance, our faith in the Buddha Dharma is firm, and we no longer have any doubts. This is “tolerance of faith.”

Third, “tolerance of compliance.” From practicing repeated mountain pilgrimages, we cultivate the patient acceptance of all hardships with an unmoving mind. In times of either good or ill fortune, we can naturally comply with the principle with a peaceful and tolerant mind.

Fourth, “tolerance of non-origination of dharmas” By unceasingly practicing this Dharma method, the level of our tolerance increases. Tolerance of non-origination of dharmas includes tolerance of sentient beings and tolerance of dharmas. Tolerance of dharmas is not to be affected by external circumstances such as natural disasters, earthquakes, wind, rain and snowstorms, and to be able to face difficulties and irritations with tolerance. Tolerance of sentient beings is to bear all the mind’s vexations, or all external states brought about by all sentient beings and remain content. Therefore, tolerance of nonorigination of dharmas is to realize that external circumstances and the mind’s vexations arise and cease and are illusory,… understand that all dharmas fundamentally neither arise nor cease. Therefore, our mind of tolerance is always unmoving and we truly achieve the tranquil state.

Tolerance of non-origination of dharmas is to reach the principle through practice, transcend from the mundane to the divine, and attain buddhahood. From tolerance of restraint, tolerance of faith, and tolerance of compliance through our mountain pilgrimage, we gradually subdue our pride, sloth, karmic obstacles, and other bad habits, constantly move forward without retrogression so that the mind is free from grasping and rejecting and from deluded thoughts,… until there is not even the thought of tolerance, and we reach a perfectly calm and peaceful state. The pure and lucid mind will then manifest and we arrive at the tolerance of non-origination of dharmas. Although this is the highest stage in our practice, we still need to advance further on the principle, continue to study diligently so that we finally arrive at the tolerance of extinction—then this mind will completely enter the unconditioned. This is the supreme stage in cultivation. Therefore mountain pilgrimage is one of the best Dharma methods for cultivating the Way.

Tolerance Brings Peace of Mind

Meditation is also a cultivation of tolerance. It is not easy for us to maintain a tranquil mind and body. If we have not practiced deeply or disciplined ourselves, body and mind cannot become calm during meditation; we cannot be free from all kinds of delusive thoughts, confusion, and drowsiness. Therefore, we must penetrate mountain pilgrimage, going from practice to principle, and practice meditation, then we will be free of delusive thoughts or confusion. Furthermore, if we can make a great vow to take on the sufferings of sentient beings, our merits will be inconceivable because our mind is boundless, with no concept of self or others, right or wrong; then we will extinguish greater vexations.

We can see that mountain pilgrimage and tolerance paramita are in accord with each other. Practicing Buddhism is to be tolerant. Whether we are laypersons or monastics, if we are skillful in practicing tolerance, we can be successful in everything that we do. If we can face all discords in the family, the workplace, or society with tolerance, that is cultivating the Way. People with deeply ingrained (bad) habits always find fault in everyone and everything, creating vexations everywhere; naturally their minds cannot calm down and they cannot practice the Way with a peaceful mind. Therefore the Paranibbana Sutra (the Sutra of Bequeathing the Teaching) says, “Tolerance is a virtue; the precepts and asceticism cannot surpass it. One who can practice tolerance can be called a “powerful great being.” Mountain pilgrimage is an ascetic practice; it is also a practice of tolerance. If we can be tolerant, and our mind has no vexations, it is extremely meritorious. Therefore, we must be diligent and never regress, make great vow, practice the great Way, then we will attain supreme bodhi and nirvana.

Achieving Merits Through Diligence

In practicing Buddhism, we must be diligent. Cultivating charity, precepts, tolerance, meditation and prajna, and even the 84,000 Dharma methods, all need a mind of diligence. Otherwise, if we are not steadfast in our practice, neither our studies nor our career and cultivation will be successful.

Mountain pilgrimage is also a practice of diligence. From our initial resolve to enroll in the mountain pilgrimage, there may be certain obstacles to overcome—we may have business to attend to, or have to attend social events with friends; these can extinguish our resolve to participate in the pilgrimage, making us miss a good cause/opportunity. Therefore, we must let go of all things and make a firm resolve to practice mountain pilgrimage; this is a kind of diligence.

We must not only be diligent, but must have “right diligence.” If the direction of our practice is wrong, not only will there be no benefits, but we will incur bad secondary effects. For example, some people go dancing or play video games all night, or even play mahjong continuously for three days and three nights—this may seem very diligent, but it is not right diligence; therefore, there will not be any good retribution. Even though people pursue these pleasures untiringly without sleep, their karmic obstacles will increase more and more, until they finally plunge into the evil realms.

In Buddhism, the “Four Right Efforts” is similar to “right” diligence. “Let good thoughts that have arisen increase; let good thoughts that have not arisen quickly arise; let bad thoughts that have arisen be eradicated; let bad thoughts that have not arisen never arise.” Mountain pilgrimage is to give rise to the bodhi mind, repent, and eradicate karmic obstacles. Prostrating every three steps overcomes our own vexations. We must also make great vow to take on the sufferings of all sentient beings. After perfecting our merits, we should dedicate them to our parents, teachers, dear ones, and enemies in the Dharma realm. This is the great mind of compassion and right diligence.

If we wish to achieve success in our cultivation, we must abide by what the Buddhist sutra says: “Not interrupting our practice at all hours of the night ( day and night?)” With this mind of diligence, we are mindful of the Buddha, the Dharma, the sangha, the precepts, charity, cultivate the six paramitas, not only constantly think of the Dharma, but truly put it into practice. As the ancients say, “Reciting with the mouth; thinking with the mind; practicing with the body.”

Therefore, we should have right diligence in everything that we do. Mountain pilgrimage is a method of diligent practice. We must also make a long term resolve. If we regress and regret after we encounter even small difficulties, and no longer dare to go on a mountain pilgrimage, that is not being diligent. Not only should we be diligent now, but in life after life we should make great vow, give rise to the mind that seeks the Way, the mind of great resolve that never regresses. That is true diligence. Just as Shakyamuni Buddha, who perfected the Buddha’s wisdom and merits after three asamkheya kalpas; that is the greatest diligence.

There are innumerable stories of the Buddha’s diligent cultivation. According to the Buddhist sutra, in Shakyamuni Buddha’s past life, when he was the Immortal Lo Ji, he diligently meditated unceasingly night and day until “a bird built its nest on his head and the grass grew above his knees.” The bird laid eggs in the nest on top of his head and flew back and forth, but he paid no attention to it. The grass encircled his knees, yet his mind did not move a single bit. He let go of body and mind, remained tranquil and unmoving, without a single thought. That is right diligence, great diligence. Therefore, the Buddha had infinite samdahi power. This is the result of daily diligence and effort.

The Sincerity of the Charitable Prince Moves the Heavens

In another lifetime, when Shakyamuni Buddha was the great charitable prince, he wanted to give away everything in the palace. His father, the king, thought, “This is disastrous! If you give away all the treasures of the palace, how can I remain king?” Therefore he expelled the prince from the palace. The prince had practiced the bodhisattva way, the six paramitas and myriad conducts life after life. He saw that people were suffering from hunger because of the drought, and many had starved to death, but because he was exiled from the palace, he had nothing to give these people. What could he do? He suddenly remembered that the Dragon King had a mani pearl that could grant all of one’s wishes. He vowed to get this pearl from the Dragon King so that he could deliver the people from their suffering and cultivate the bodhisattva way.

Although the prince did not have the miraculous powers of the deva eye or the deva foot, his sincerity moved the King of the Ocean, who stole the mani pearl from the Dragon King and offered it to him, but the Dragon King immediately discovered this and used his miraculous powers to regain the mani pearl. Without the mani pearl, the prince could not save the people who were starving to death, so he decided to empty the ocean and go to the Dragon King’s palace to ask for the mani pearl. He hauled the ocean water away pail by pail; it was more difficult than moving a mountain; one cannot accomplish that in one lifetime because the mountain cannot change. It would need several lifetimes to finally remove a mountain. But how could the ocean be emptied? Each time it rained, the waters would increase again. But the prince did not fear the hardships. Day and night, he continued to haul the water away until he became exhausted and emaciated, but he did not rest and finally collapsed. This moved the four Heavenly Kings, who came to help him. The Heavenly Kings had great miraculous powers; within a few minutes, they had emptied half of the ocean’s water. This worried the Dragon King, because if the ocean dried up, all his family would die; so he offered the mani pearl to the prince. This diligent act of charity is right diligence, great diligence.

Therefore, no matter what we do, if we are diligent, we will be successful. The great successes achieved in society by industrialists and businessmen are all the result of diligent effort and hard work. Even when starting from nothing, one can gradually achieve success. Cultivating the Way is just like that. Mountain pilgrimage involves diligence of both body and mind. The body prostrates every three steps, the mouth recites the Buddha’s name, the mind also recites the Buddha’s name. The three karmas of body speech and mind are all diligent. When the three karmas are pure, we can eradicate karma, transform karma; blessings and wisdom will increase, and everything will be auspicious. Therefore, we must continue to make unceasing effort, make a great resolve, and cultivate the great Way. That is right diligence.

Concentrate the Mind, Attain Samadhi

Meditation (samadhi) is one of the six paramitas. The “Three Liberating Doctrines” are: precepts, samadhi, and prajna—Mahayana, Theravada, and other schools of Buddhism all stress the importance of samadhi. The practitioner of the Pure Land school also practices reciting the Buddha’s name and prostrating to the Buddha. What is important is to concentrate the mind. “Every thought arises from the mind; every thought is not apart from this mind; every thought reverts to our self nature.” This is cultivating samadhi.

Mountain pilgrimage is also a method of cultivating samadhi. Some people may doubt this by saying “Prostrating every three steps, the body is moving, how can there be stillness/samadhi?” Actually, in all our actions, and at all times and places, we can cultivate samadhi. When making a mountain pilgrimage, we let go of self and others, of right and wrong, gain and loss, grasping and rejecting, kindness and enmity, see through all things and let go of them, single-mindedly reciting the Buddha’s name, hearing the Buddha’s name, without a single deluded thought. The mind that is reciting and what is recited are totally clear. Even though we prostrate every three steps, the mind is free from the concept of prostrating. Body and mind are one, thus arriving at the state of stillness. If we are thinking of this and that, or if our body is making the pilgrimage but our mind is trading stocks, visiting friends, taking care of household chores, there will be no merit. It is the same with meditation: if only our body is making effort but the mind is not, even if we sit for a thousand or ten thousand years, it will be futile.

The merits in making a mountain pilgrimage are great. Because we have made a great resolve and great vow, which embody charity, upholding the precepts, tolerance, diligence, and single-mindedness, we are free from deluded thoughts or confusion; we are immediately cultivating samadhi. With samadhi we will obtain response. In the past when Master Xu Yun made the vow to practice mountain pilgrimage, due to his samadhi and sincerity, he moved Bodhisattva Manjushri to come and protect the Dharma, obtained response and communicated with him. Therefore, where there is samadhi, there is response. The Confucians call this “sincerity.” Buddhism calls it “samadhi.” It can truly produce response. Response can be deep or shallow. The shallow is called “responsiveness.” When we reach the state of obtaining a deeper response, that is to attain miraculous powers. Therefore, making a mountain pilgrimage is also cultivating samadhi.

When the Mind is Empty and the Environment is Still, Prajna Arises

In the six paramitas, prajna is the wisdom of emptiness. It is different from conventional intelligence and knowledge. It is to realize that all dharmas are conditionally arising and empty in nature, to realize triple emptiness. When we prostrate during the mountain pilgrimage, there is no worshipper and no worshipped one. Body and mind are empty and cannot be grasped. That is prajna. Therefore, in making a mountain pilgrimage we must first understand prajna, then we can advance from practice to principle. The mind is empty and the environment is quiescent; absolute reality will then manifest and we can truly attain liberation.

Mountain pilgrimage is the coming together of causes and conditions. If we cling to the thought that it has great merit, with the notion of a self, a person, or of sentient beings, then there is no prajna. Therefore, in mountain pilgrimage we must not be attached to form, know that all dharmas conditionally arise and are empty in nature, and not crave the merits of mountain pilgrimage; our empty nature will then manifest.

Therefore, in practicing charity, precepts, tolerance, diligence, and meditation/samadhi, there must be prajna/wisdom. When practicing “charity” we do not cling to merits, achieve “triple emptiness”—without the notion of the giver, the receiver, and the gift. When upholding the precepts, there should no thought of the one who upholds and that which is upheld. Diligence means that we should never cease to pay homage to the Buddha and should unceasingly recite the Buddha’s name. In our practice, we should be diligent. In principle, this mind is empty of subject and object, with neither the concept of the one who recites nor that which is recited, with neither the one who honors nor that which is honored, without a single thought, and arriving at no thought. That is true diligence, great diligence. It is the same in practicing “samadhi”—not clinging to stillness or samadhi joy, not clinging to any states, maintaining one thought until the end and continuing our efforts. Without prajna wisdom—when there is only samadhi and no wisdom, it is very difficult to attain liberation and to realize the true reality.

Practicing mountain pilgrimage, we obtain blessings, wisdom, and a great compassionate mind; we are in harmony with the bodhisattva’s “compassion, wisdom, great vow and conduct.” Making a resolve to practice mountain pilgrimage is not to benefit ourselves; it is to wish for all merits to be dedicated to all our dear ones and enemies, to our teachers, superiors, and sentient beings in the Dharma realm. This is the mind of “great compassion.” This is to be in accord with the Bodhisattva Guanyin. We must have “great vow;” it must be perfected in all kinds of weather; we must vow that “If the hells are not emptied, I vow not attain buddhahood.” We must pay homage until the end—not only now but continue to practice this dharma method unceasingly, accumulate merits to dedicate to all sentient beings. Furthermore, encourage others to join in this practice; this is to be in accord with Bodhisattva Kisitigabra’s great vows. Mountain pilgrimage is a great practice. One prostration every three steps, body, speech, and mind karma are pure, eradicating the mind’s vexations. This is “practice.”

After accomplishing all of the above, the mind is free from obstacles; we act without acting, think without thinking, universally liberating all sentient beings, yet without the notion of liberating any sentient beings—that is wisdom. Practicing mountain pilgrimage and cultivating the Way with this viewpoint, we will truly obtain the benefits of the Dharma in this life.

Going from “language prajna” to “meditation prajna,” and from “meditation prajna” to “reality prajna,”—that is wisdom. Therefore, in mountain pilgrimage, we go from practice to principle; it is replete with the six paramitas, compassion, wisdom, great vow and great conduct. One dharma is replete with all dharmas—one in all and all in one—this is the mind of all of you listening to Shifu teaching the Dharma. All wisdom, merits, and six paramitas are generated from this mind. If this mind does not adhere to the practice, the mind of stillness and wu wei will not easily manifest. Going from practice to principle, and then practicing meditation, the mind of wu wei will promptly manifest.

If everyone understands the principle of the six paramitas mountain pilgrimage, they can obtain the benefits of the Dharma and realize practice and principle without obstacles. If we only know practice and not the principle, we can only increase a few blessings. If we cling to blessings, we will delude our original mind. If we do not understand that practice and principle do not obstruct each other, if we have mistaken views, we may feel that “meditation is enough,” that “single mindedness is everything, that there is no need to do anything more—we can hold this view only if we have truly achieved supreme samadhi. If we do not have samadhi skills, we must make preliminary efforts. Mountain pilgrimage is the best preliminary practice in cultivating the Way. When we have made this preliminary effort, we will gradually achieve success in our cultivation.

Sutra of the Eight Realizations of Great Beings佛說八大人覺經

Sutra of the Eight Realizations of Great Beings (with Annotations)

(translated from Chinese by Buddha Gate Monastery)

Day and night, at all times,
Buddha’s disciples should
Mindfully recite and contemplate
The eight realizations of Great Beings.

The First Realization:
All the world is impermanent.
The earth is fragile and perilous.
The four great elements inhere in suffering and emptiness.
In the five skandhas there is no self.
All that arise, change, and perish,
Are illusive, unreal, and without a master.
Mind is the root of evil;
Body a reservoir of sin.
Thus observing and contemplating,
One gradually breaks free from birth and death.

The Second Realization:
Excessive desire is suffering.
Birth, death, and weariness in life
All originate from greed and desires.
Desiring less, being wu-wei,
Body and mind are at ease and free.

The Third Realization:
The mind is insatiable,
Always seeking, thirsty for more,
Thus increasing our sins.
Bodhisattvas renounce such conduct.
Always remember to follow the way,
Be content and at peace with poverty,
With wisdom as the sole vocation.

The Fourth Realization:
Indolence leads to degradation.
Always practice with diligence,
Vanquish all vexations,
Subdue the four maras,
And escape the prison of the skandhas.

The Fifth Realization:
Ignorance leads to birth and death.
Bodhisattvas are always mindful
To study and learn extensively,
To increase their wisdom
And perfect their eloquence,
So they can teach and enlighten all beings,
And impart great joy to all.

The Sixth Realization:
Poverty and hardship breed resentment,
Creating harm and discord.
Bodhisattvas practice dana,
Beholding the friendly and hostile equally;
They neither harbor grudges
Nor despise malicious people.

The Seventh Realization:
The five desires are perilous.
Even as laity, be not sullied by worldly pleasures;
Think frequently of the three robes,
The tiled bowl, and instruments of Dharma;
Aspire to the monastic life
And cultivate the Way with purity;
Let your actions be noble and sublime,
Showering compassion on all.

The Eighth Realization:
Birth and death are like a blazing fire
Plagued with endless afflictions and suffering.
Vow to cultivate the Mahayana mind,
To bring relief to all;
To take on infinite sufferings for sentient beings,
And lead all to supreme joy.

These are the eight realizations of Great Beings,
Buddhas and bodhisattvas.
They practice the Way with diligence,
Develop compassion, and cultivate wisdom.
They sail the ship of dharmakaya
To the shore of nirvana,
Returning again to samsara to liberate sentient beings.
With these eight principles,
They point out the Way,
So that all beings may awaken
To the sufferings of life and death,
Relinquish the five desires, and
Cultivate the mind on the noble path.
If Buddha’s disciples recite these eight realizations,
In thought after thought,
They will eradicate countless sins,
Advance on the bodhi path,
Promptly attain enlightenment,
Be forever freed from birth and death,
And always abide in joy.

Sutra of the Eight Realizations of Great Beings – Annotations


A Buddhist scripture containing the dialogues or discourses of the Buddha.

Great Beings

Highly enlightened beings; beings with great virtue and deeds; bodhisattvas and buddhas.


Sincerely, with great concentration; whole-heartedly.

eight realizations

What one must understand and strive to become a Great Being such as the Buddha.

first realization

The foundation of the eight realizations; the teaching of impermanence, suffering, emptiness, and no-self.

four great elements 四大

Earth (solid or dry matter), water (liquid or wet matter), wind (air or motion), and fire (heat or energy). They comprise all matter.

inhere in suffering

All worldly things are impermanent, and prone to bring suffering.


Both the self and all phenomena are without independent existence or inherent, fixed characteristics. They are impermanent, mutable, and mutually dependent; their individuality is in appearance only.

five skandhas五蘊

Five aggregates—form, feeling, conception, volition, and consciousness (色受想行識). Form refers to our body or the physical world, the other four are of the mind. Ordinary beings see themselves as composed of these aggregates.  When we analyze them deeper, we find no real substance.

no self 無我

Emptiness of an independent, consistent self or self-identity. What we perceive as “self” is actually an illusive ego.

all that arise

All composite things are conditional, always changing, and perishable. One should see beyond their appearance. There is not a master-controller.

root of evil

All harmful actions come from deluded thoughts.

reservoir of sin

The body is both an instrument of sin and the outcome of past transgressions prone to suffering.

free from birth and death

To escape the endless rebirth cycle and attain nirvana.

birth, death

Where there is birth there is death, which is full of suffering.  The endless rebirth cycle, known as samsara, is a result of desires arising from delusion.

empty of effort (wu-wei) 無為

Free from contrived effort; free from clinging and attachments; unconditioned; absolute. Being wu-wei also means inner peace obtained by having no desires. Also translated as “unconditioned Dharma” where appropriate.


Misdeeds, actions that lead to harm and suffering.


One who, with infinite compassion, vows to become a buddha and to liberate countless sentient beings. A bodhisattva practices all six paramitas (perfections), but it is the prajna paramita that ultimately brings true liberation.


enlightenment, to awaken.


sentient beings, beings with consciousness.

at peace with poverty

The bodhisattva is not distressed by physical hardship; true poverty is poverty of virtue, not material comfort.

wisdom as sole vocation

“Wisdom” means the understanding of the truth. To acquire such wisdom is essential for the bodhisattva.


Sloth or laziness easily leads to moral misconducts.

practice with diligence

To attain the Way requires diligent effort.

Vexations. Klesas煩惱 (pronounced “kleshas”)

Greed, anger, and ignorance; causes of suffering; defilement of the mind; the chronic mental states that vex the mind and distress the body.

four maras

Maras are obstacles to cultivation. 1. Kleshas 煩惱魔, 2. skandhas 陰魔, 3. death 死魔, and 4. deva-mara 天魔, the celestial evil tempter.


The skandhas and realms are like a prison. The “realms” refer to the 18 spheres 十八界: six senses 六根 (eye, ear, etc.), six sense objects 六塵 (form, sound, etc.), and six consciousnesses 六識.


Ignorance of the true nature of the “self” and life. From ignorance comes desires and hatred, which in turn lead to samsara.

study and learn

Bodhisattvas need to learn many ways of liberation in order to help wide groups of people.


Ability to convey the teaching well and to answer difficult questions.

poverty and hardship

Easily lead to resentment, which in turn may produce otherwise undue and uncalled-for bad karma with many people.

dana 布施(檀那)

Charity.  The first of the six paramitas (perfections) practiced by a bodhisattva.  There are 3 types of generosity: giving of material, giving of solace (comfort, protection, removal of fear, etc.), and giving of Dharma.


Bodhisattva understands all beings are fundamentally equal; they have no hatred towards evil or malicious people.

five desires

Desire for sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touch. Alternatively, desire for wealth, lust, fame, food, and sleep. They are harmful, not pleasurable.

These three are symbols of monastic life:

three robes

Traditionally Buddhist monks wear only three robes.

tiled bowl

Monk’s begging bowl can be tiled or metal.


Implements that are used in Buddhist services or daily life of a Buddhist monk.

Mahayana 大乘

The great (maha) vehicle (yana). It is the bodhisattva path which leads to Buddhahood. This involves devotion to the liberation of all beings and the perfection of wisdom. Mahayana mind: the bodhi mind, the enlightened mind, the buddha nature within all of us.  To cultivate the Mahayana mind means to commit to the buddha path.

take on sufferings

A bodhisattva is willing to self-sacrifice for others. But a true sacrifice is to eliminate the ego and help others to eliminate the ego and attain enlightenment.

sentient beings

All living beings with sentience; beings that have awareness. They include devas (gods or heavenly beings 天人), asuras (demi-gods 阿修羅), human beings, animals, hungry-ghosts, and hell-beings. Unlike buddhas and bodhisattvas, they are all trapped in samsara, but have the potential to become buddhas.

supreme joy

The joy of perfect enlightenment; the joy of nirvana.


“The enlightened one.”  There are many buddhas in the past, present, and future; all sentient beings can become buddhas by practicing prajna paramita.

dharmakaya 法身

The Buddha has three bodies (kaya): dharma-kaya, the truth body, which is formless, unborn, our original nature; sambhogha-kāya 報身, the bliss body, which can only be seen by great bodhisattvas; and nirmana-kaya 化身, the transformation body, which is the historical Buddha seen by ordinary beings.

nirvana 涅槃

The state free from all desires and suffering; ultimate bliss and tranquility.

samsara 生死、輪迴

The relentless cycle of birth and death in which unenlightened beings are deeply entangled. By extension it means this world of afflictions and suffering.

thought after thought

One deviant thought can lead to grave peril; one pure thought can eliminate great sin.

bodhi path 菩提道

The path to awakening, to becoming a buddha. Therein lies lasting joy.為佛弟子,常於晝夜,至心誦念,八大人覺。