12 July 2007


I only managed to memorize a few of the texts we were supposed to try to memorize during the week. The slightly odd syntax that comes from direct translation was a mixed blessing; in some ways, it made them easier to remember. Here they are:

#1 Taking Refuge - the central Buddhist vows that most Buddhists recite in one form or another. The key idea that never changes is: the vow to take refuge in the Buddha (the historical teacher/the Nature that we all share), the Dharma (the teaching) and the Sangha (the community.)

Taking refuge in the Buddha, I wish every sentient being to understand the highest doctrine and make the greatest vow.

Taking refuge in the Dharma, I wish every sentient being to study deeply the sutra Pitaka and acquire an ocean of wisdom.

Taking refuge in the Sangha, I wish every sentient being to lead the congregation in harmony and without any obstruction.

#2 Transfer of Merits (what this means: wikipedia, Buddhanet)

May kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity pervade all Dharma realms.

May all people and heavenly beings benefit from our blessings and friendship.

May our ethical practice of Ch'an and Pure Land help us to realize equality and patience.

May we undertake the greatest vows with humility and gratitude.

#3 Humble Table, Wise Fare - written by Venerable Master Hsing Yun, founder of the Hsi Lai Temple's denomination, the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Order whose headquarters are in Taiwan.

With an open mind
Every road is wide
With a pure mind,
Everywhere is the pure land.

Know how to listen
- you will accept the Dharma
Know how to think
- you will benefit from the Dharma
Know how to cultivate
- you will apply the Dharma

Although being a leader is good
Because you can lead the community
Being second is also wonderful
Because you can complement and support others
A leader should take care of the weak

When working, there is no real difference
Between the important and the menial.
When serving, there is no real difference
Between the worthy and the undeserving.
When learning, there is no real difference
Between the young and the old.
When cultivating, there is no real difference
Between the sage and the ordinary.

#4 The Heart Sutra (Prajna Paramita) This one I worked on and almost got under my belt before the end of the retreat. This sutra is one of the most important teachings -- if not the most important - in all of Mahayana Buddhism. It's considered by many to be a concise summary of the central tenets of one of the two main schools of Buddhism. There are many many different translations of it. The non-English words in it are Sanskrit terms that largely remain no matter what version you read.

Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, while contemplating profoundly the Prajna Paramita, realized that the five skandhas are empty, and thus he was able to overcome all sufferings.

Sariputra, Form is not different than Emptiness, Emptiness is not different from Form.

Form is in fact Emptiness, and Emptiness is in fact Form.

This also applies to feeling, perception, volition, and consciousness. Sariputra, Emptiness is the nature of all the Dharmas. It can neither be created no annihilated, polluted nor cleansed, increased nor decreased, therefore, in Emptiness, there is no form, feeling, perception, volition, or consciousness. No eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body or mind. No form, sound, smell, taste, touch, or conception. No object of sight, and no consciousness; no ignorance nor its extinction; no aging and no death nor their cessation; no suffering, causes, cessation, nor the path; no wisdom nor attainment.

As there is nothing to attain, a Bodhisattva who relies on the Prajna Paramita has neither worry nor obstruction. Without worry and obstruction, there is no fear, away from confusion, daydreaming, and thus reaches Nirvana.

Buddhas of the past, present, and future also rely on the Prajna Paramita to attain Supreme Enlightenment. Thus one should know that the Prajna Paramita is the great mantra and the supreme of all mantras. It is unequalled and able to emancipate all sufferings.

This is true and not false. Thus proclaiming the Paramita Mantra, one says, "Ga-te, Ga-te, Paraga-te, Parasanga-te Bodhisattva."

11 July 2007

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