Saturday, August 30, 2008

Practising Meditation


Practice should not be separated from living, and living at all times should be one's practice.
Proper practice includes cultivating mindfulness, compassion, intuition, and wisdom. Think less about oneself and more about others. Be aware of your changing mental and physical conditions.

See how they affect your thoughts, words and actions. In all our actions, we should reflect on whether our intentions are beneficial to others. In this way, we will check ourselves before we act. If we put other sentient beings before ourselves, those selfish feelings will not arise as much.

Being considerate of others is as much a form of practice as meditation is.
However, sentient beings have their own karmic causes and conditions, their own merits and virtues, their own karma.

You cannot change them, nor can you take on other people's karma. Of key importance is one's intention. You should sincerely try to help others, whether or not you succeed. Do not do anything that will make you feel tense, tired, or miserable.

If you whip yourself all the time, you will be of no use to others or to yourself. Use meditation as a supporting discipline and the Buddhadharma as your guideline. Do the best you can, but don't push too hard.

In all situations, you must practice.
During your busy day, try to find little bits of time to sit, relax, and clear your mind. It is not always necessary to sit on a cushion to practice for thirty minutes. You can do your practice anywhere, at anytime, at your desk, in a car, bus, or train.

Relax your body and mind; breathe; settle your mind; let your mind and body refresh itself.

Zen Buddhism

What is Chan?

"Chan is the practise of liviing wisely and experiencing a blissful life."
"Chan is not the same as knowledge, yet knowledge is not completely apart from Chan. Chan is not just religion, yet the achievements of religion can be reached through Chan. Chan is not philosophy, yet philosophy can in no way exceed the scope of Chan. Chan is not science, yet spirit of emphasising reality and experience is also required in Chan."
- Ven Sheng Yen

Chan is everywhere, in space without limit and time without end.
Chan exists universally and eternally. There is no need for any teacher to transmit it; what is transmitted is just the method by which one can personally experience Chan. In China, the Chan school developed from Indian Dhyana Buddhism, which taught methods of meditative concentration aimed at the attainment of an absorbed, concentrated state of mind. This school later spread to other countries from China, and is called Zen in Japan, Son in Korea, and Thien in Vietnam.

Chan starts with gaining through knowledge of one's own self. Through letting go of all attachments and giving rise to wisdom, our mind can regain its luminosity. We call this knowledge of the notion of self "enlightenment" or "seeing one's self-nature." This is the beginning of helping yourself to thoroughly solve real problems. In the end, you will discover that you as an individual, together with whole of existence, are but one indivisible totality.

Chan encompasses four key elements: faith, understanding, practise, and realisation. Faith belongs to the realm of religion, understanding is philosophical, practise is belief put into action, and realisation is enlightenment. Without faith, we cannot understand; without understanding, we cannot practise; and without practise, we cannot realise enlightenment. Together, these four concepts create a doorway we enter to attain wisdom.

People interested in Chan practice often find it difficult to have religious faith. As faith is intrinsically emotional, and Chan practitioners emphasize personal cultivation to gain physical and mental benefits or the experience of Chan, they find it hard to accept religious faith. This is actually a great mistake.

Many people think that Chan practice depends solely on their own efforts, requiring self-reliance, while those who practice by reciting the Buddha’s name depend solely on external help. Both of these views are incorrect. In reality, Chan practice also requires external help, and the practice of reciting the Buddha’s name also requires one’s own effort. One can hardly become an accomplished Chan practitioner through one’s own efforts. In India, China and Tibet, all mediators need the support and the assistance of teachers, Dharma-protecting deities, and the Buddhas and bodhisattvas. That is why Chan monasteries in China erect and worship the status of Dharma-protecting deities such as the eight divisions of divinities and the four deva kings.

In the past, eminent masters often encouraged Chan practitioners to “entrust their bodies to the monastery and their lives to the Dharma-protecting deities” during Chan meditation. You do not need to be concerned about your body since it will be taken care of by the masters on duty. You simply follow the monastery’s routines. However, to achieve good results in your practice, you need the support of Dharma-protecting deities. Without such assistance, one may turn into demonic hindrances. Practicing Chan depending solely on one’s own efforts without believing in the power of the Buddhas, bodhisattvas, and Dharma-protecting deities can not be considered practicing Buddhism at all.

Chan practitioners should believe in that in addition to meditating diligently and working on Chan, they need to accumulate merit and cultivate virtue. The idea that one can attain enlightenment or liberation by meditating on one’s own is itself an obstacle that precludes real liberation. How can a self-seeking person become enlightened? Therefore, the Chan school also emphasizes practices such as giving and repentance. If one does not show concern for the benefit of all sentient beings, sincerely give of oneself for others, and devotedly practice giving and make offering, it will be quite difficult to succeed in spiritual practice.

In the past, many as-yet-unenlightened Chan masters at large monasteries engaged in “work cultivation”, performing all linds of manual labor for their masters and monasteries. Such work included carrying water, chopping wood, cooking and other kitchen chores, growing vegetables, as well as cleaning up and maintaining the monastery and grounds.

At traditional Buddhist monasteries, forty-eight types of work were performed by monastic practitioners. Even today, they are relieved of complex tasks only during seven-day Chan retreats to avoid distractions. Otherwise, every monastic is assigned long-term tasks. Therefore, during our seven-day Chan retreats, we make it a rule to ask every participant to do some simple chores.

Chan monasteries encourage monastics to give their spare cloths, money or other possessions to the needy, keeping only the most basic necessities. In the past, a typical monastic Chan practitioner’s belongings weighed just a little over one kilo, because they gave away whatever came into their possession.

From these examples, we can see that a Chan practitioner must be ready to make offerings and practice giving, as well as give away unnecessary personal belongings to those who need them. Unfortunately, many Chan practitioners today are presumptuous, arrogant, selfish and petty, and lack faith. This is pity and dangerous. How did this happen? It is because people who take up Chan practice hope to have physical and mental experiences such as stability, joy and health. However, once these objectives are achieved, they see those achievements as the product of their own efforts, rather than the result of a spiritual response from the Buddhas and bodhisattvas, or the support of Dharma-protecting deities in the monastery. Nor do they believe these effects are due to the skilful guidance of a venerable master or certain teacher. As a result, they become arrogant, conceited and complacent, lacking both belief and a sense of respect.

“Faith” means that, in spite of our own limited capacities and knowledge, we believe in the existence of certain realities. This can best be illustrated by the Chinese expression: “We look up to a sage’s noble behavior like looking up to a lofty mountain. Unattainable though it may seem, we yearn for it in our hearts.” When we see a lofty mountain, even though we are as yet unable to reach its peak, we still believe that there must be great masters residing yonder, and the scenery must be fantastic. The higher we climb, the more we discover things we have never seen before. This is belief based on admiration. Standing far below, we revere what is high above us, generating a belief that there must be some unknown power above that can help us. But if our faith is insufficient, we will not be able to believe in things that Buddhism talks about that are beyond our ken, and our spiritual practice will not be effective.

Chan Buddhism advocates belief in our own nature, that is, the belief that we ourselves can attain Buddhahood, and that we are originally the same as all Buddhas, not lacking in any single attribute of a Buddha. Chan Buddhism asserts that if only we let go of our self-centeredness, we will instantly see our “original face,” so we can all attain Buddhahood. Our original face is the Buddha in our own nature. The Buddha-nature is inherent in us, not acquired after cultivation. For this reason, many people misunderstand Chan Buddhism and neglect the importance of faith.

The basic theory that we are all intrinsically Buddhas is correct. But in practice, it does not quite work that way. As an illustration, everyone may become a parent, but does that mean a newborn baby is a parent? He has yet to grow up and reach adulthood. He is not a parent yet, and is still a baby. Will a baby become a parent in the future? Not necessarily. Those who take monastic vows at an early age and practice celibacy will not become parents, nor will those who are married but infertile. In theory, everyone can be a parent. But in actuality, it is not necessarily so.

Similarly, in a democratic society every citizen has the right to vote, and be elected to office. However, while the majority has the right to vote, few have the opportunity to be elected. Due to a lack of ability or causes and conditions, we can only vote, but can never be elected. There are, however, those who, upon hearing that in Chan teaching “everyone has the Buddha-nature,” fancy themselves as equivalent to Buddhas with perfect wisdom, though they are nothing but ignorant, mediocre people. Seeing Buddha images, they not only refuse to prostrate, but scoff, saying that as present Buddhas themselves, they do not prostrate to past Buddhas. They think, “I have a Buddha within. Why bother to worship clay or wooden statues of Buddhas, or their painted images!”

Such people believe that only their own mind is the Buddha and that there is no Buddha outside their mind. When they see other people making prostrations, they call it attachment. When people prostrate to a venerable master, these self-proclaimed Chan practitioners shake their heads and sign, “There is no need to prostrate to the Buddha, let alone a monastic.”

One time, while someone was prostrating to me, they were pulled up by a lay practitioner who said to them, “Do not prostrate! Do not harm the master!” I, to whom the followers made prostrations, was being harmed? I was puzzled, so I asked, “What do you mean? How is he harming me? He said, “If you are really an eminent monk of great attainment, do you still need to have people prostrate to you? If you do, that means there is attachment in your mind. The more people prostrate, the more you feel like an eminent monk. You will not attain liberation and enlightenment your whole life.”
I though to myself, “Well! He has a point.”

The lay practitioner continued, “If you really attained liberation, then when he prostrate to you, you should reproach him saying, ‘Don’t be attached to anything. Since one should have no notion of self, person sentient beings, or beings with a lifespan, naturally there should be no notion of master and disciple. Why bother to make prostrations!”

Oh! This layman has a really sharp tongue. I asked him, “Do you prostrate to the Buddha?” He said, “I prostrate to the Buddha within.” I asked, “How do you do that?” He replied, “I do not do it with my body, but with my mind.” I asked, “How do you do it with your mind?”

He said, “Achieving a free and easy state of mind is prostration. Having no obstructions in the mind is prostration.” What he meant is that there was no need to prostrate to Buddhas or bodhisattvas, and he believed in nothing but himself. Actually, this is neither Buddhism nor Chan, but a type of arrogant, demonic view that lacks faith. This kind of person may have had some minor experiences in meditation and developed a kind of overconfidence, which we call “pride of superior attainment.” After having read some specious Chan texts, they are caught up in erroneous views. While in this life, they think they have already attained liberation. Once they die, they may be reborn in the heavenly realm if they have great merit. However, because they do not have the right view and understanding or believe in the Three Jewels, they will fall into a miserable plane of existence once they have exhausted their karmic rewards in heaven. If they have an improper attitude, do not keep the precepts, and always do evil, they will fall into hell as fast as an arrow.

Therefore, Chan master believe in the existence of heaven, hell, Buddha land, and worlds of troubles. Only to highly advanced Chan practitioners who are practicing vigorously but still harbor some attachment in their minds would a Chan master say, “There is no Buddha, no Dharma, and no Sangha, There is no heaven and hell.” Chan masters say this because liberation can never be attained if one’s mind is attached to the Three Jewels, heaven, or hell. On the other hand, beginning Chan practitioners must be remained to make a clear distinction between cause and effect, and between ordinary people and sages. Otherwise, in speaking against attachment, they become trapped in inverted views, reversing cause and effect, and, as ordinary people, passing themselves off as sages. Ordinary people are just ordinary people. We should not facy ourselves as ancient Buddhas who reappear in this world, equal in all respects to the Buddhas of the past, present and future.

Chan practice is not just sitting meditation. Chan practice is not about just talking big, or solely seeking enlightenment and wanting to be equal to all past, present and future Buddhas. While promoting Chan teachings, we should also emphasize the importance of faith. By so doing, we can make it easier for people to practice successfully and help uplift their character.
Chan methods also require that we let go of our attachment to the self. This must start with having faith, practicing giving, and keeping the precepts. Eliminating this attachment requires a sense of shame, humility, gratitude, and repentance. We should also have faith in the Three Jewels, Buddhas and bodhisattvas, the various Dharma-protecting deities, and Chan patriarchs, as well as the teachers who guide us in our practice.

Contrarily, if you are so arrogant that, having barely embarked on the Chan path, you refuse to prostrate to the Buddhas, respect the Dharma and Sangha, or believe in the various Dharma-protecting deities, then do not even think about the possibility of attaining enlightenment or seeing your true nature.



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What is Hell

All the hell are composed by our imaginations. If our mind is pure, there is no hell

True Wisdom

'I am not, I will not be.
I have not, I will not have.
This frightens all children,
And kills fear in the wise.'


Although Albert Einstein was certainly not a Buddhist, these statements sound much like it:

"A human being is part of a whole, called by us the 'universe', a part limited in time and space.
He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separate from the rest
- a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.
This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affectation for a few people near us.
Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion
to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty."

"Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one."

From Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thich Nhat Hanh:

"Enlightenment for a wave in the ocean is the moment the wave realises that it is water."

Wisdom in Buddhism can refer to two types of insight: conventional wisdom and ultimate wisdom:

Conventional wisdom relates to understanding the conventional world, or the world as we know it. Traditionally it refers to understanding the way in which karma functions; to understand which actions bring us happiness and which bring us suffering. Conventional wisdom covers all understanding of the world as it functions, including science, with the exception of ultimate wisdom.

Ultimate wisdom (jñana in Sanskrit) refers to a direct realisation which is non-dualistic, and contradicts the way in which we ordinarily perceive the world. The experience of ultimate truth or emptiness is beyond duality.
It is important to remember that emptiness here does not refer to nothingness or some kind of nihilistic view. Emptiness refers to the fact that ultimately, our day-to-day experience of reality is wrong, and is 'empty' of many qualities that we normally assign to it.
Describing this non-dual experience in words is not really possible, as language is based on duality and contrasts. Trying to explain this experience - which contradicts our normal perception - is a bit like explaining colours to someone who is born blind; difficult to say the least.


"...I believe all suffering is caused by ignorance. People inflict pain on others in the selfish pursuit of their happiness or satisfaction. Yet true happiness comes from a sense of peace and contentment, which in turn must be achieved through the cultivation of altruism, of love and compassion, and elimination of ignorance, selfishness, and greed..."
His Holiness the Dalai Lama

If it can not really be explained in words, why bother?
According to the Buddha, as long as we do not realise emptiness directly - especially of our idea of how our "I" or 'self' exists - we do not properly understand how the world functions and we will continue to create causes for our own misery.

"How much suffering and fear, and
How many harmful things are in existence?
If all arises from clinging to the "I",
What should I do with this great demon?"

Merely starting to doubt our perception of the world is invaluable if we ever hope to break the bondage to uncontrolled cyclic existence and suffering. In order to familiarise ourselves with this all-important experience, we can try to familiarise ourselves with it on an intellectual level. When we would experience emptiness, we would then be able to recognise it. Instead of believing we have suddenly gone mad, recognition would encourage us to enhance the experience and achieve liberation from suffering.

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The wisdom of emptiness refers to a lack of something: 'inherent existence'. 'Inherent existence' means that things appear to exist independently, in- and out of themselves, from the side of the object, by way of its' own character, self-powered, autonomous. Ultimately however, things exist in dependence upon causes and conditions. For example, a human being ceases to exist in a vacuum, we would instantly die when all conditions for life are suddenly gone. On another level, a human being needs to come into existence by the combination of a sperm from the father joining an egg from the mother and all the right conditions to grow into an embryo. So, considering ourselves as independently existing, fully autonomous is a mere illusion and does not accord with ultimate reality.

Ultimate wisdom can be compared to eco-thinking in biology: a century ago, biology focused mainly on categorising species of animals and plants and describing their specific aspects. Plants and animals were cut to ever smaller pieces to analyse how they function.
However, nature also functions at a completely different level; as relations and processes between living beings. Ecology appeared as a new branch of biology, more dealing with relations, cycles and interdependence of animals, plants and surroundings. This is somewhat similar to the view of emptiness. Instead of focusing on differences and individuality, the realisation of emptiness is about realising that nothing exists by itself alone, but depends on other things. Just as all living beings rely on other living beings - at least their ancestors, so do even inanimate objects depend on other objects, conditions, parts and processes to arise and disappear.

The fact that we normally do not realise emptiness and the relatedness of things is directly related to our perception. As soon as we perceive something in the outside world, it feels different from our own body or mind. We feel as if other things are "out there", separate from "my self", which is "in here".
But are they really separate? To begin with, if the outer object would not somehow "relate" to us in the form of sound, smell, light etc., we would be unable to perceive it. So our perception of objects depends on interaction, rather than the fact that we are separate. To put it simple, our perception of the world is only possible because of interaction, interrelation, dependence and exchange of information.

From the Avatamsaka Sutra:

"Far away, in the heavenly abode of the great god Indra, there is a wonderful net which has been hung by some cunning artificer in such a manner that it stretches out infinitely in all directions. In accordance with the extravagant tastes of deities, the artificer has hung a single glittering jewel in each eye of the net, and since the net itself is infinite in dimension, the jewels are infinite in number.
There hang the jewels, glittering like stars of the first magnitude, a wonderful sight to behold. If we now look closely at any one of the jewels for inspection, we will discover that in its polished surface are reflected all the other jewels in the net, infinite in number. Not only that, but each of the jewels reflected in this one jewel is reflecting all the other jewels, so that there is an infinite reflection process occuring.
This symbolises our world where every sentient being (and thing) is inter-related to one another."

His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, from The Compassionate Life:

"All events and incidents in life are so intimately linked with the fate of others that a single person on his or her own cannot even begin to act. Many ordinary human activities, both positive and negative, cannot even be conceived of apart from the existence of other people. Even the committing of harmful actions depends on the existence of others. Because of others, we have the opportunity to earn money if that is what we desire in life. Similarly, in reliance upon the existence of others it becomes possible for the media to create fame or disrepute for someone. On your own you cannot create any fame or disrepute no matter how loud you might shout. The closest you can get is to create an echo of your own voice.

Thus interdependence is a fundamental law of nature. Not only higher forms of life but also many of the smallest insects are social beings who, without any religion, law, or education, survive by mutual cooperation based on an innate recognition of their interconnectedness. The most subtle level of material phenomena is also governed by interdependence. All phenomena, from the planet we inhabit to the oceans, clouds, forests, and flowers that surround us, arise in dependence upon subtle patterns of energy. Without their proper interaction, they dissolve and decay."

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When we perceive an object, we automatically tend to label it (like nice, bad, wet, dry, light, dark, etc.). As soon as our mind puts a label on an object, the label takes the place of the actual object in our mental processes. As our mental image or label can never represent all the different qualities and characteristics of any object, it is always just a simplified, usually exaggerated, subjective snap shot. However, our mind reacts on the basis of our own mental label of an object. No wonder we tend to react simplistic, exaggerated and subjective situations. All perceived objects are conditioned by our senses and our own mind. This leads to the dramatic conclusion that we are not and by definition can never be objective!

Or, as the famous physicist Werner Heisenberg said,

"What we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning"....

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Our labelling leads to problems like anger and attachment, but also to the more basic problem that we think we are somehow separate from the outside world. But are we separate from the outside world?
When we see something - for example a table - it appears to be separate from the rest of the world, just standing there by itself, but is that correct? How could the table stand there without the ground supporting it? How could the table exist without a carpenter making it from pieces of wood? The pieces of wood come from a tree, which comes from a seed, water, soil, air, the sun and its nuclear fusion of hydrogen atoms etcetera.... Every object needs causes and conditions to exist, just like we need our parents, food, air, clothes and many more things to exist. Apart from that, our perception of an object is strongly coloured by our own senses, mental state and memories. In this way, it becomes impossible to maintain that 'I' am separate from the outside world, however much it feels that way.

"Monks, we who look at the whole and not just the part, know that we too are systems of interdependence, of feelings, perceptions, thoughts, and consciousness all interconnected. Investigating in this way, we come to realize that there is no me or mine in any one part, just as a sound does not belong to any one part of the lute."
-Samyutta Nikaya, from "Buddha Speaks"

"It is important to remember always that the principle of egolessness does not mean that there was an ego in the first place, and the Buddhists did away with it. On the contrary, it means there was never any ego at all to begin with. To realize that is called 'egolessness'."
Sogyal Rinpoche

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Buddhism teaches that things are:

1. Dependent on their parts
2. Interrelated, not isolated
3. Merely labelled

To prevent misunderstanding, we must avoid the "two extremes", that is, believing that:

1. Things are permanent, independent of their parts, and independent of our labelling
2. Things do not exist at all (nihilism).


This view has consequences when it is applied to whatever I call "I" and "mine":

* I am not isolated from my surroundings and other living beings.
* I "create" the world with my own concepts and ideas.
* The world is like an illusion: how I see the world depends on my own ideas/projections.
* This world is "my" film, "my" projection, I run the show, so I can change my experience of the world.
* I can change the world, if I start with my own mind.
* I can change, as "I" is only a concept, impermanent and dependent on causes and conditions, just like all phenomena (even emptiness itself).
* Although I can understand this intellectually, I don't perceive the world that way until I directly realise emptiness!

"It is important to remember always that the principle of egolessness does not mean that there was an ego in the first place, and the Buddhists did away with it. On the contrary, it means there was never any ego at all to begin with. To realize that is called 'egolessness'."
Sogyal Rinpoche

"Sometimes, the thought of "I" suddenly arises with great force....The situation is like that of a rock or a tree seen protruding up from the peak of a hill on the horizon: From afar it may be mistaken for a human being. Yet the existence of a human in that rock or tree is only an illusion. On deeper investigation, no human being can be found in any of the individual pieces of the protruding entity, nor in its collection of parts, nor in any other aspect of it. Nothing in the protrusion can be said to be a valid basis for the name "human being."
Likewise, the solid "I" which seems to exist somewhere within the body and mind is merely an imputation. The body and mind are no more represented by the sense of "I" than is the protruding rock represented by the word "human." This "I" cannot be located anywhere within any individual piece of the body and mind, nor is it found within the body and mind as a collection, nor is there a place outside of these that could be considered to be a substantial basis of the object referred to by the name "I"."
The Second Dalai Lama (1475-1542), in Samuel Bercholz's 'Entering the Stream'.

...when we talk about the notion of self in Buddhism, it is important to bear in mind that there are different degrees or types. There are some types of sense of self which are not only to be cultivated but also to be reinforced and enhanced. For instance, in order to have a strong determination to seek Buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings, one needs a very strong sense of confidence, which is based upon a sense of commitment and courage. This requires a strong sense of self. Unless one has that identity or sense of self, one will not be able to develop the confidence and courage to strongly seek this aim. In addition, the doctrine of Buddha-nature gives us a lot of encouragement and confidence because we realize that there is this potential within us which will allow us to attain the perfection that we are seeking. However, there are different types of sense of self which are rooted in a belief in a permanent, solid, indivisible entity called "self" or "I." There is the belief that there is something very concrete or objective about this entity. This is a false notion of self which must be overcome.
From Healing Anger by His Holiness the Dalai Lama

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By Lama Thubten Yeshe

What is emptiness? Emptiness (shunyata) is the reality of the existence of ourselves, and all the phenomena around us. According to the Buddhist point of view, seeking reality and seeking liberation amount to the same thing. The person who doesn't want to seek reality doesn't really want to seek liberation, and is just confused.
If you seek reality and you think that it has to be taught to you by a Tibetan Lama, that you have to look for it outside yourself, in another place - maybe Shangrila! - then you are mistaken. You cannot seek reality outside yourself because you are reality. Perhaps you think that your life, your reality was made by society, by your friends? If you think that way you are far from reality. if you think that your existence, your life was made by somebody else it means that you are not taking the responsibility to understand reality.
You have to see that your attitudes, your view of the world, of your experiences, of your girlfriend or boyfriend, of your own self, are all the interpretation of your own mind, your own imagination. They are your own projection, your mind literally made them up. If you don't understand this then you have very little chance of understanding emptiness.
This is not just the Buddhist view but also the experience of Western physicists and philosophers - they have researched into reality too. Physicists look and look and look and they simply cannot find one entity that exists in a permanent, stable way: this is the Western experience of emptiness.
If you can imagine that then you will not have any concrete concepts; if you understand this experience of physicists then you will let go of your worldly problems - but you don't want to understand.
It seems to me that we twentieth century people are against nature, against reality, the very opposite of reality. Each moment we build up our artificial, polluted ego; we cover ourselves with heavy ego blankets - one, two, ten, one hundred blankets against nature, against reality. Modern life is the product of the intellectual mind, and we create it. The intellectual mind is superstition. We don't understand reality, and the intellectual life that we lead keeps us far from reality.
So we don't accept who we are. We are always looking to cover ourselves with thick blankets and say "this is me". We hide our own reality and run away from natural beauty, completely neglecting it. By not touching our reality, our modern life becomes so complicated and we create problems with our superstition. We are like a spider spinning his web, climbing on his thread then falling down; climbing up again and falling down again. In the same way we build our own intellectual web, a way of life, that is so complicated, that doesn't touch reality, that is so difficult to live in. This construction arises from our own mind and does not arise from anything else.
If I told you that you are nothing, you are zero, that you are nothing that you think you are, then you would be shocked. "What is this monk saying?" But what if I say that it is the truth! In fact you are non duality, non self existence. You do not exist, relatively or absolutely, as you think you do. If you really understood this then you would become more realistic and you would really gain satisfaction and peace. But as long as you hold on to the fantasy, concrete conception of yourself and project this wrong conception onto your environment, then no way will you understand reality.
In Western cities nowadays, you can see, the older you are the more problems you have. When we are young, not so many problems, but then there are drugs and sex, and eventually they become dissatisfying, then more depression, more depression. So, as your body becomes bigger and your brain becomes wider, you have more and more problems and become more and more depressed. The more money you have the more problems come. You can see this.
You only take care of your body, you never take care of your mind, and the result of this imbalance is depression. For most western people this is the case: only the body is reality and they don't care about the existence of the mind, the soul, the consciousness. They don't believe they can change their minds. They can change their nose through an operation but they don't believe they can change thei And when you believe this then no way can you resolve your depression.
Our thoughts, our mind or consciousness are mental energy and cannot be localised in the body. It cannot be touched; it has no form and does not travel in time and space. We cannot touch it or grasp it.
What is important to understand is that the view you have of yourself and the view you have of your environment are based on your own mind; they are the projection of your mind and that is why they are not reality.
I will give you a good example. When a western man or woman looks for a girl or boyfriend, there is this research energy from both sides and when suddenly they see each other they make up an incredible story. "Oh, so beautiful! Nothing wrong inside or outside". They build up a perfect myth. They push and push., the mind makes it all up. If they are Christian they say, "Oh, he looks just like Jesus. She looks just like an angel. So nice, so pure". Actually, they are just projecting their own fantasies onto each other.
If she is Hindu, then he would say, "Oh, she looks like Kali, like Mother Earth, like my universal mother"...and if you are Buddhist you fold your hands and say, "Oh, she is a dakini and she is showing me the true nature of all things". You understand? "When I am near her she gives me energy, energy. Before, I was so lazy, I couldn't move, I was like a dead person. But now whenever I go near her I can't believe my energy!" I tell you all this is superstitious interpretation. You think that she is your spiritual friend and all she does is really perfect, even her kaka and pee pee are so pure! Excuse me, perhaps I shouldn't talk like this - I am a Buddhist monk! But when we speak about Buddhism, about reality then we have to speak practically, from daily life, about what is earthy, what we can touch and see, not just get caught up in concepts.
What I mean is this: you should recognise how every appearance in your daily lift is in fact a false projection of your own mind. Your own mind makes it up and becomes an obstacle to touching reality. This is why, our entire life, no matter what kind of life we have, it is a disaster. If you have a rich life, your life is a disaster. If you have a middle class life, your life is a disaster. If you have a poor life, your life is even more of a disaster! You become a monk and your life is a disaster. If you become a Christian your life is a disaster. A Buddhist, disaster... Be honest. Be honest with yourself.
In fact reality is very simple. The simplicity of the mind can touch reality, and meditation is something that goes beyond the intellect and brings the mind into its natural state. We have the pure nature already, this reality exists in us now, it is born with us... The essence of your consciousness, your truth, your soul is not absolutely negative, it does not have an essentially negative character. Our mind is like the sky and our problems of ego grasping and self pity are like clouds. Eventually they all pass and disappear. You should not believe, "I am my ego, I am my problems, therefore I cannot solve my problems". Wrong. You can see. Sometimes we are so clear in our life we are almost radiating. We can have this experience right now. Now!
So it is wrong to think that we are always a disaster. Sometimes we are clean clear, sometimes we are a disaster. So, stay in meditation, just keep in that clean clear state as much as possible. All of us can have that clean clear state of mind.
Actually, maybe this is the moment to meditate. My feeling is to meditate now. So, close your eyes, don't think, "I am meditating", just close your eyes and whatever view is there, whatever view is there in your mind, just be aware. Don't interpret good, bad. Just be like a light - light doesn't think "I like this, I like that". It is just a light. Whatever is in your consciousness, whatever experience, just be aware. That is all.
Whatever your experience at the moment, whatever your colour, whatever appearance is there, just stay aware. Be aware. If it's black energy, then that black energy is clean clear. If it's white energy, just feel that clean clear state. Be aware of whatever is happening. No interpretation ... Don't try to hold onto something or to reject something.
Excerpt from Lama Yeshe's talk at VajraYogini Institute, France, September 5, 1983.

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To realise emptiness, externally we need a qualified teacher, and internally we need enough merit (or karma), purification, practice of ethics, keeping our vows and generating single-pointed concentration.
In the Tibetan tradition: first one tries to intellectually understand it, then later the realisation can ripen in the well-prepared field of our mind.

It is advised to analyse the "I" first, and then later one analyses other phenomena in the same way, for example using the "fourfold analysis":

1. Identify object of negation: inherently existent "I"
2. Determine possibilities of how the "I" exists: is it the body, the mind, both or different? (We can say, "I have have a body and a mind", which would indicate that the "I" is something different from the body and the mind, but is that possible?)
3. Is the "I" same as body and/or mind?
4. Is the "I" other than body and mind?

"While you are meditating there is an "I" (representing the Self) which appears to exist from its own side. Right on top of that think, 'the I is merely labelled'. Just meditate on the meaning of the I being merely labelled. I is a name; a name does not exist from its own side, a name is given, imputed by the mind. We can completely agree with that. This I is merely labelled; concentrate on just that. Try to feel that. This automatically eliminates eternalism, the view of a truly existent I."
Lama Zopa Rinpoche

"The real glory of meditation lies not in any method but in its continual living experience of presence, in its bliss, clarity, peace, and most important of all, complete absence of grasping. The diminishing of grasping in yourself is a sign that you are becoming freer of yourself. And the more you experience this freedom, the clearer the sign that the ego and the hopes and fears that keep it alive are dissolving, and the closer you will come to the infinitely generous "wisdom of egolessness." When you live in the wisdom home, you'll no longer find a barrier between "I" and "you," "this" and "that," "inside" and "outside;" you'll have come, finally, to your true home, the state of non-duality."
Sogyal Rinpoche

"Intelligent Practice always deals with just one thing: the fear at the base of human existence, the fear that I am not. And of course I am not, but the last thing I want to know is that. I am impermanence itself in a rapidly changing human form that appears solid. I fear to see what I am: an ever-changing energy field. I don't want to be that. So good practice is about fear. Fear takes the form of constantly thinking, speculating, analyzing, fantasizing. With all that activity we create a cloud to keep ourselves safe in make-believe practice. True practice is not safe; it's anything but safe. But we don't like that, so we obsess with our feverish efforts to achieve our version of the personal dream. Such obsessive practice is itself just another cloud between ourselves and reality. The only thing that matters is seeing with an impersonal spotlight: seeing things as they really are. When the personal barrier drops away, why do we have to call it anything? We just live our lives. And when we die, we just die. No problem anywhere."
Charlotte Joko Beck, in 'Everyday Zen'

"Our exaggerated sense of self and our compulsion to find happiness for this larger-than-life self we have fabricated cause us to ignore, neglect and harm others. Of course, it is our right to love and take care of ourselves, but not at the expense of others. While "As long as I'm alright" is our motto, we have no hesitation in acting with total disregard for others."
From: The Three Principal Aspects of the Path: An Oral Teaching by Geshe Sonam Rinchen

For a funny practical teaching; click on the Snowman to download this self-extracting Flash file (it is 256kB, so may take a couple of minutes to download).

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One issue which can create much confusion is about our dualistic mind. Normally, our mind functions on a very dualistic level, which means that we continuously make distinctions, like black and white, good and bad, hard and soft. This level of mind reasons and is the basis for our ability to think logical using concepts. However, the goal of the teachings on emptiness is to lead to a non-dualistic experience (realisation) of emptiness. Different schools may approach this problem differently; for example, the Zen schools tend to emphasise first achieving a non-dualistic state of mind in meditation, the Tibetan schools first emphasise proper dualistic, inferential, logical understanding of the subject, and then meditating on it to achieve the direct realisation.

A question was put to to His Holiness Dalai Lama:

"How does one go from inferential knowledge to nonconceptual knowledge? Since analysis is used to arrive at total inferential knowledge any more analysis would still be inferential."

His Holiness' answer:

"Among meditations there are many different types and in special situations such as certain levels of Highest Yoga Tantra for example, analysis is discouraged. The general mode of procedure on the Buddhist path is that through constant reflection on the knowledge which is initially inferential, through various stages of familiarisation, reflection and contemplation, that knowledge which is initially inferential could eventually become nonconceptual. The engagement of that knowledge in relation to the object becomes subtler and subtler, eventually the knowledge becomes direct and unveiled.
Generally speaking it is very true that there must be a correlation between cause and its effects. Any cause can not give rise to any effect. There must be some causal relationship and connection but that does not mean that every effect must have completely similar causes. Take for instance the omnisicent mind of the Buddha; if we insist that its cause must be completely similar in characteristics with its effect which is omniscient mind, then we will have to maintain that within us we possess the seed for attaining Buddha's omniscient mind and wisdom. Then we must possess within us, even to a slight degree some form of Buddha's omniscient mind which cannot be maintained. As far as non-conceptual awareness or wisdom of Arya beings is concerned, the causes need not be such high states of realisation. Therefore regarding the non-dualistic awareness or wisdom of Arya beings, their causes can be said to exist even within ordinary beings.
If we examine our mind, as long as we remain in an ordinary state of existence, our mind is characterized by dualistic perceptions, dualistic experiences. Within this dualistic experience and perception we must be able to seek some kind of seed which would give rise to non-dual wisdom and awareness. Therefore in the initial stage of knowledge, it is inferential, dualistic and characterized by duality between subject and object. As you train your mind and constantly reflect and cultivate your familiarity with that object, then that subject and object duality will gradually diminish in its intensity. Gradually it will lead you to realization. Your knowledge of the object becomes direct, intuitive and non-conceptual.
When we talk of non-dual awareness in the context of dualistic appearances or dualism, one must bear in mind that there are many different meanings of the term. Dualistic experience could be understood in terms of a multitude of ways: conventional appearance as dualistic appearance, subject and object duality or separateness as being dualistic appearance; or as a generated image through which we can conceive as object, that image can be seen as dualistic appearance. Similarly when we come across the term non-conceptuality we do not have the notion that there is only a single meaning which is universal in every single context. Non-conceptuality will have different meanings in different contexts."

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With this explanation, you may be tempted to think that emptiness is all about playing with words and doing complicated mind games. However, it is said that realising emptiness directly can solve all our problems, as all our problems are caused by our misunderstanding of the world. As all our communication is based on words which cannot express the ultimate truth, please try to discover the real meaning behind the words for yourself!

Another thing that should be kept in mind is that when one directly experiences emptiness, the mind cannot perceive anything dualistic, meaning it cannot perceive anything of the "normal" world. This is why discussions on emptiness often tend to go astray and may have an "otherworldly" feel to them. It is said that only a fully realised Buddha can experience emptiness and ordinary existence simultaneously.

Now a few words on the combination of wisdom and compassion. In Tibetan Buddhism, these are considered the two most important aspects of practice. Just like a bird needs two wings to fly; a very compassionate person without wisdom is only a likeable fool, and a person with wisdom and no compassion is like a lonely hermit in an ivory tower... Both will reinforce each other: once we realise how interrelated we all are, it is hard not to feel some level of compassion, and once we feel compassionate to others we realise our interrelatedness.

"Recently I am emphasizing that due to the modern economy, and also due to information and education, the world is now heavily interdependent, interconnected. Under such circumstances, the concept of 'we' and 'they' is gone: harming your neighbor is actually harming yourself. If you do negative things towards your neighbor, that is actually creating your own suffering. And helping them, showing concern about others' welfare -- actually these are the major factors of your own happiness. If you want a community full of joy, full of friendship, you should create that possibility. If you remain negative, and meantime want more smiles and friendship from your neighbors, that's illogical. If you want a more friendly neighbor, you must create the atmosphere. They they will respond."
His Holiness the Dalai Lama (from an interview in the November issue of the Shambala Sun)

"The one thing to be attained is essentially void and compassionate. Let me explain.
The realisation of voidness is the absolute spirit of enlightenment; it is seeing that all things are unborn.
Compassion is the relative spirit of enlightenment; it is reaching out in love to all beings who have yet to realise that they are unborn.
Those who follow the Mahayana path should develop these two forms of the spirit of enlightenment."
Drom Tonpa

"The supreme goal of the teachings is the emptiness whose nature is compassion."

"Know emptiness, be compassionate."

Samadhi Raja Sutra

Know all things to be like this:
A mirage, a cloud castle,
A dream, an apparition,
Without essence, but with qualities that can be seen.

Know all things to be like this:
As the moon in a bright sky
In some clear lake reflected,
Though to that lake the moon has never moved.

Know all things to be like this:
As an echo that derives
From music, sounds, and weeping,
Yet in that echo is no melody.

Know all things to be like this:
As a magician makes illusions
Of horses, oxen, carts and other things,
Nothing is as it appears.

The Buddha


Heart Sutra

Heart Sutra
Click for heart sutra

The Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom

In Sanskrit: Bhagavati prajnaparamitahrdaya
In Tibetan: Bcom Idan 'das ma shes rab kyi pha rol tu phyin pa'I snying po
In English: The Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom, the Bhagavati

Thus have I once heard:

The Blessed One was staying in Rajagrha at Vulture Peak along with a great community of monks and great community of bodhisattvas, and at that time, the Blessed One fully entered the meditative concentration on the varieties of phenomena called the Appearance of the Profound. At that very time as well, holy Avalokitsevara, the bodhisattva, the great being, beheld the practice itself of the profound perfection of wisdom, and he even saw the five aggregates as empty of inherent nature. Thereupon, through the Buddha's inspiration, the venerable Sariputra spoke to holy Avalokitsevara, the bodhisattva, the great being, and said, "Any noble son who wishes to engage in the practice of the profound perfection of wisdom should train in what way?"

When this had been said, holy Avalokitsevara, the bodhisattva, the great being, spoke to venerable Sariputra and said, "Sariputra, any noble sons or daughters who wish to practice the perfection of wisdom should see this way: they should see insightfully, correctly, and repeatedly that even the five aggregates are empty of inherent nature. Form is empty, emptiness is form, Emptiness is not other than form, form is also not other than emptiness. Likewise, sensation, discrimination, conditioning, and awareness are empty. In this way, Sariputra, all things are emptiness; they are without defining characteristics; they are not born, they do not cease, they are not defiled, they are not undefiled. They have no increase, they have no decrease.

"Therefore, Sariputra, in emptiness there is no form, no sensation, no discrimination, no conditioning, and no awareness. There is no eye, no ear, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind. There is no form, no sound, no smell, no taste, no texture, no phenomenon. There is no eye-element and so on up to no mind-element and also up to no element of mental awareness. There is no ignorance and no elimination of ignorance and so on up to no aging and death and no elimination of aging and death. Likewise, there is no suffering, origin, cessation, or path; there is no wisdom, no attainment, and even no non-attainment.

"Therefore, Sariputra, since the bodhisattvas have no obtainments, they abide relying on the perfection of wisdom. Having no defilements in their minds, they have no fear, and passing completely beyond error, they reach nirvana. Likewise, all the Buddhas abiding in the three times clearly and completely awaken to unexcelled, authentic, and complete awakening in dependence upon the perfection of wisdom.

"Therefore, one should know that the mantra of the perfection of wisdom - the mantra of great knowledge, the precious mantra, the unexcelled mantra, the mantra equal to the unequalled, the mantra that quells all suffering - is true because it is not deceptive. The mantra of the perfection of wisdom is proclaimed:

tadyatha - gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha!

Sariputra, a bodhisattva, a great being, should train in the profound perfection of wisdom in that way."

Thereupon, the Blessed One arose for that meditative concentration, and he commended holy Avalokitsevara, the bodhisattva, the great being. "Excellent!" he said. "Excellent! Excellent! Noble child, it is just so. Noble child, it is just so. One should practice the profound perfection of wisdom in the manner that you have revealed - the Tathagatas rejoice!" This is what the Blessed One said.

Thereupon, the venerable Sariputra, the holy Avalokitsevara, the bodhisattva, the great being, and that entire assembly along with the world of gods, humans, asuras, and gandharvas, all rejoiced and highly praised what the Blessed One had said.

Quoted from HERE

觀自在菩薩,行深般若波羅蜜多時,照見五蘊皆空,渡 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,依般若波羅密多故,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 若波羅密多故,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。」
















坊間有傳,觀自在菩薩即觀世音菩薩。可能是因為兩者梵文讀音差異不大。觀自在菩薩的梵文全名是(Aryavalokitesvara Bodhisattva),而心經的另一早期版本中,鳩摩羅什便將此段梵文譯為觀世音菩薩(Avalokita svara)。事實上觀世音菩薩與觀自在菩薩,應是有不同的德性。由觀世間之苦而尋聲救度稱為觀世音,從自己修養上得到大自在則稱為觀自在。







一. 壽命自在

二. 心自在

三. 色自在

四. 業自在

五. 受生自在

六. 勝解自在

七. 願自在

八. 如意自在

九. 法自在

十. 智自在


經云﹕「復次,舍利弗﹗菩薩摩訶薩,行般若波羅蜜(時),色不與薩婆若合 (藏譯﹕不以薩婆若合色),色(性)不可見故﹔受、想、行識亦如是。眼不與薩婆若合,眼(性)不可見故﹔耳、鼻、舌、身、意亦如是。色不與薩婆若合,色 (性)不可見故﹔香、味、觸、法亦如是。舍利弗﹗菩薩摩訶薩,如是習相應者,是名與般若波羅蜜相應。」將心經與般若經比較,便可發覺,觀自在菩薩應是指修為極深的菩薩,即菩薩摩訶薩。


(一)歡善地:捨異生性(眾生性)得聖種性,證二空之理, 利益自他生大歡喜。


(四)發光地:成就勝定大法(三摩缽底等),發生無邊妙慧 (聞思修三慧)。



(六)現前地:觀十二緣起,善能得染淨無分別。現前即此無 分別之最勝般若現前之義。

(七)遠行地:住於無相,遠離世間與二乘之有相行。此地有 「七地沈空難」之危險,易落入「木頭空」,此乃渡生與菩提 均無功用之偏見。

(八)不動地:無漏之無分別智不用加行自行現前,不為一切 煩惱與有相功用所動。


(十)法雲地:大法智遮一切惑障,如空中現出大雲作大法雨 之義。








舍利子有兩個解釋。其一是靈骨,是由修戒定慧之功德結晶而成。其一是釋迦牟尼的弟子,即舍利弗。舍利是鶖鷺,舍利子的母親眼似鶖鷺,固名為舍利弗。為佛的十大弟子之一,以智慧第一著稱,梵文 Sariputra 的音譯。或譯作鶖鷺子、舍利子。初從六師外道的刪闍那毗羅胝子出家,後因聽到馬勝比丘說因緣所生法的偈頌,改學佛法。由於他持戒多聞,敏捷智慧,善講佛法,因此很快成為佛陀的十大弟子之一。










一. 無明,即過去迷惑。

二. 行,即過去造業。


一. 識


三. 六入

四. 觸

五. 受


一. 愛

二. 取


一. 生

二. 老死  十二因緣就是因為有無明,所以有“行”之造作﹔因為造業而入胎,故有入胎之識﹔因為入胎,名色就展開活動,它擴展、擴大,就產生了六入﹔胎兒的六根圓滿后就出世,然后與外面的境界接觸﹔根、塵、識和合產生觸的心理,有了觸就產生受,過去我們貪愛的業習就會引發出來,愛即生﹔愛加深就有取,使我們希求它再來、再有,就形成了有﹔有將來的業,促使我們再來生,再來死。這十二因緣就是有情眾生的流轉生死的前因后果,它的流轉并不是直線式,而是一個輪轉。既是過去的無明,造成現在的受﹔現在的無明,就是愛、取﹔現在的愛、取,就是下一世的無明,它一直循環不息,周而復始。在十二因緣中,我們要知道有迷惑,因迷惑而造業﹔造業后我們就要受業的果報--苦果。在受苦果的當中,我們繼續迷惑,繼續造業,造業后又再受報,這樣的循環作用,稱為十二因緣的流轉。。

如果我們把小乘佛教的三法印包括在苦諦之中,則可以說,由於世間凡夫未能了透「諸行無常」與「諸法無我」的真諦,因此才會產生「一切皆苦」。這裡所說的「苦」,不但指謂八苦 (即生、老、病、死等四苦,另加愛別離苦、怨憎會苦、求不得苦與五陰熾盛苦)。

苦諦不必限於苦的現實,一般指謂事物缺失理想的無自覺狀態的現實(世界),因此不必限於苦。然從宗教的立場,尤其從佛教的立場去看,世俗世間無有理想的無自覺狀態即是苦。」。集諦則說明「一切皆苦」的原因或理由,苦、集二諦合起來說構成流轉緣起,即以十二因緣 (無明→行→識→名色→六處→觸→受→愛→取→有→生→老死及憂悲苦愁惱)。十二因緣之中,「(貪)愛」是當前容易辨認的生死流轉主因,但最根本的原因是在「無明」,又稱「根本無明」。

滅諦指謂「涅槃寂靜」,最早的原義很可能是「貪欲的壞滅,瞋恚的壞滅,愚痴的壞滅」,亦即貪瞋痴三毒的消除滅盡(nirodha),此一解脫境界亦稱「不死」(amata)、「彼岸」(para) 或「無為」(asankhata)。涅槃即不外是滅盡(一切有)漏、自知、自證、體得心解脫與慧解脫於現法。滅諦(及與其他三諦所成的四聖諦)並不是所謂「永恒不變的理法」,而不許多元開放的種種可能詮釋。






問曰﹕何等名菩提,何等名薩埵。答曰﹕菩提名諸佛道,薩埵名成眾生或大心。是人諸佛道功德盡欲得,其心不可斷不可破,如金剛山,是名大心。如偈說﹕ 一切諸佛法,智慧及戒定,能利益一切,是名為菩提。其心不可動,能忍成道事,不斷亦不破,是心名薩埵。復次稱讚好法名為薩,好法體相名為埵。菩薩心自利利他故,度一切眾生故,知一法實性故,行阿耨多羅三藐三菩提道故,為一切賢聖之所稱讚故,是名菩提薩埵。所以者何﹖一切諸法中,佛法第一。是人欲取是法故,為賢聖所讚嘆。復次,如是人為一切眾生,脫生死者,故索佛道。是名菩提薩埵。……




一. 不活畏,即生活不安的恐懼

二. 惡名畏,即害怕得到壞名聲的恐懼

三. 死畏,即害怕死亡

四. 惡趣畏,即死後墮生惡趣的恐懼

五. 怯眾畏,即自卑



一. 想顛倒,即對境象產生錯誤的認知

二. 見顛倒,即對所知產生錯誤的見解

三. 心顛倒,即產生前兩者的心識,即是虛妄





能除一切苦﹐真實不虛 用白話文重寫,便是;它能此息一切苦痛,因為它是真實及不虛妄。


一. 祕密

二. 多重意義

三. 無意義

四. 古時已有意義

五. 咒語











Gold Sutra




姚秦 三藏法師 鳩摩羅什 譯












































































































「若以色見我 以音聲求我 是人行邪道 不能見如來














「一切有為法 如夢幻泡影 如露亦如電 應作如是觀」


See here the original

See here for explanation