Terza Rima Pure Land Poem

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We are mired in a dark quagmire
Of cruel and murky quicksand, 
We dance no more to Kama’s lyre,

And vow for the Western Pure Land,
The eternal dawn of blissful Bodhi!
Arising by Amida’s hand,

A place of serene Samadhi,
Mani Jewels and Way Places,
And the most soothing purity,

Golden roads and glowing palaces, 
Purple robes and rows of jade trees,
All wrought by His Great Promises!

Lotus ponds of lasting respite for you and me,
And for all who from sin and iniquity leave!

 

Poem and post released into Public Domain

Recommended Public Domain Resources:

Beagle Meets Amita

Archive.org Free Pdf version download

Last Rites of Amitabha

Archive.org Free Pdf version download

Twilight in Paradise: Eastern Version of the Inferno

Ode to Ven. Master Hai Xian (1901-2013)

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Ven. Master Hai Xian (1901-2013)

My riches are here: Old robes and alms bowl,
With these I free myself from worldly toil,
With these I sow and plough the Dharma field,
And shatter all that wicked Maras yield,

My will is here: In wisdom genuine,
With resolve to soar beyond the three realms,
And sail across the cruel seas of greed
To halcyon shores of blissful Bodhi,

My heart is here: Amongst Tathagatas,
Firm in the lotus pond of Amita,
Day and night, it is wise within the Way,
Never in dust nor adrift and away.

I strongly recommend everyone watch the following biographic documentary (English subtitles) of Master Hai Xian’s inspiring and amazing life of cultivation and Pure Land rebirth:

 

Recommended Resources:

Infinite Life Sutra Translation and Intro

Beagle Meets Amitabha

Poem, linked texts and post released into Public Domain

Epic Poem: The Odyssey of Dharmakara

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Calligraphy: Sincerity, Serenity, Fairness, Enlightenment and Benevolence 

This poem was inspired by the opening chapters of the Infinite Life Sutra, which outline Dharmakara’s (Amitabha) creation of the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss.

In a time before time began,
In a distant faraway land,
There reigned a wise sovereign
Most mighty and valiant,
Honored by many as the
World’s Bounty and Mercy.
Upon hearing the Dharma
Of Lokeshvararaja Buddha,
He melted into joyful repose
And cast aside desire’s shadow,
The fetters of the world’s cares,
And vowed to become the heir
Of the True and Utmost Way!
Thus, he abandoned his crown,
Robed himself a humble monk,
And marched forth upon the Way,
Cultivating through night and day
Until he became the renowned
Bodhisattva Dharmakara.
With profound wisdom peerless,
Faith and patience matchless,
He swiftly mastered the Dharma,
Rose far beyond the Samsara
And high above the snares of Mara.
In triumph, he sought the Buddha
And piously vowed and bowed before
Him, revering his great grandeur:

“The Buddha’s august demeanor
Is wondrous without compare,
His halo the ten quarters illume,
Bright beyond the luminous moon
And the lucent beams of high noon,
The World Honored One’s voice
Enlightens all beings to rejoice
Within the Dharma in native speech,
And he appears to all and each
In the body of their honored liege.
I yearn to emulate you and preach
Sermons of Dharma to everyone,
Without bounds like the shining sun,
To teach Sila, Samadhi and Viriya,
The profound and potent Dharma.
Wisdom as vast and deep as the sea,
Heart neither stained nor weary,
Gliding o’er oceans of sin and woe,
To the halcyon shores of Bodhi,
Untainted by gloomy wrath,
Unfettered by lustful avarice,
And blessed with serene Samadhi.
I shall follow the footsteps of the
Infinite Buddhas who precede me
And act as a great guiding light
For the masses, to be their sight,
Uprooting the temporal bequeath
Of birth, old age, illness and death,
Always generous and ever virtuous,
With diligence and eternal patience,
Forever within Samadhi and Prajna,
Faithfully abiding by the Six Paramitas,
Bestowing Bodhi upon the dull and lost,
And lifting Sages into the Buddha host!
As he who rains alms upon the Sangha
Is less than he who becomes a Buddha
Through single-minded faith,
I vow to in diligent Samadhi stay,
And glow brightly with everlasting light,
I shall build a splendrous paradise
Unrivaled across the universe entire,
To serve as a refuge of lasting respite
For those benighted in the Samsara!
With kindness I will shatter every klesha
Of every poor soul tortured by dukkha.
I shall not waver for I am determined
To shoulder every pain and burden,
So let the Buddha be my witness!”

After hearing Dharmakara’s great
And dauntless resolve and praise,
The Buddha arose from his Dais,
Gleaming with utmost admiration
For the one before him who is salvation
To the endless many lost in perdition.
He then declared:

“Your vows are not made in vain,
For even the oceans can be emptied
By but one who bails unceasingly,
And all its hidden pearls revealed,
What is there the sincere cannot attain?
I will show you the path and Way
To your glorious and imperious day!”

And so the Buddha parted the sky and
Revealed to Dharmakara every plane
Of rebirth, each and every Buddha Land,
All the galaxies, worlds and Sagely domains,
Revealing their cities, peaks, gorges and seas,
Their prairies, hills and fertile valleys,
The villas of devas dancing in divine weal,
The nature and condition of their peoples,
Unveiling their barren ghostly ruins, animal
Kingdoms and bleak narakas most infernal.
Uncovering all of their vices and virtues,
So that Dharmakara may with ease build
A pure and gilded land of wondrous bliss,
Free from evil and woe, a supreme harbor
Of every good found across the ten quarters.
The Buddha then said: “Pronounce your vows!”

“For the relief of all sentient beings,
Including those mired in the suffering
Of hellish, ghostly and beastly rebirth,
I have built a Pure Land of true mirth,
Open to all who are willing to share my
Merits and forfeit darkness for light!
I have paved for you fine gilded roads
Of precious stones, purple and gold,
For you I have filled rivers and lakes
With cool azure waters of soft ripples,
Swirling with fragrant flowers most graceful,
With beds of aurulent sand, and laid
Before you villas, pavilions and canopies,
Groves of beryl, emerald and agate trees
That ruffle and sway in the blissful breeze,
Adorned by jade leaves and scented petals,
Berries of Mani-jewels and crystal.
I give you clear skies and peerless paradise,
A glorious afterlife of endless delight,
With singing songbirds perched on amber arbors,
Humming hymns with lyrical harmony
And the most soothing of melodies!
I bless all who arrive in my land with
August, aurulent and ethereal bodies
Untainted by the greed, fear and foul odors
That flesh, desire and delusion harbors,
I bless thee with all the powers of Bodhi,
Its wisdom, eminence, bliss and glory,
Its serene Samadhi and tranquil purity!
Divine provision shall appear on demand
And so too the finery and robes of my land.
Any being who chants my Buddha-name,
Wholeheartedly abandons evil and repents
With faithful resolve, shall enter my domain
And rise to Sagehood upon the Lotus Lagoon.
I am Amitabha and my vows have come to pass!”

Upon hearing Amitabha’s august vows,
The entire assembly before him bowed,
Moved to joyous tears by his great resolve!
They beheld his unsurpassed compassion,
His merciful uprooting of all evil passions,
Granting each the chance to taste the Samadhi
Of the highest, most true and utmost Bodhi!
On this glorious and regal Dharma day,
The Earth shook in the six auspicious ways,
Gleaming gods and goddesses were seen
Gliding over the stars stroking harp-strings,
The ethereal heavens soon resounded with
Gilded notes of splendid divine bliss,
And the courts of the heavenly lords feted,
Raining down golden lilies like confetti!

Poem released into Public Domain

PDF download: the-odyssey-of-dharmakara

Archive.org Interactive Version

 

Ode to the Sages of Pure Land

 

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The following poem is a slightly abridged and liberal translation of the poetic opening verses from Ch.31 of Upasaka Xia Lian Ju’s Infinite Life Sutra:

Wisdom as vast as the boundless sea,
Bodhi as high and wide as Meru peak,
Their halos bright beyond sunbeam,
Surpassing the moon’s luminous gleam.
Their hearts white and serene like snowy hills,
Their patience as enduring as the fields,
Their calm minds like pristine waters
That wash away the defiling dusts,
Their profound insight as keen as fire,
Burning away all worry and fraught,
Non abiding and breezing o’er any mire,  
Sounds of Dharma: striking lightning,
Warning the deluded to wisdom ripen, 
Pouring forth truth like soothing sweet dew,
Their grace like canopies of Linden trees, 
Cool shades of respite for you and for me.   

Poem released into Public Domain.

If you would like this Ode and my other Pure Land and religious poems in print, here is the free and Public Domain pdf file:   poems-of-pure-land

Simplicity is Bliss- A Takeaway Formula

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Buddhism is really very simple, if only we could let it be. The Dharma is not so much about studying volumes of texts and scriptures, but of skillfully adapting and implementing the essence and formula into our small daily routines. Sila (virtue) leads to Samadhi (meditation and mental tranquility) which will eventually allow our innate Buddha-nature to shine forth (i.e. Prajna). This simple Threefold Training was taught by the Buddha as the underlying formula behind the entirety of his teachings.

The easiest way to accrue merits and cultivate is through sutra recitation. Once in the morning and once in the evening. By reciting sutras, we are practicing virtue as our mind, speech and body would be in accord with propriety. By reciting sutras, we are practicing Samadhi as our concentration is focused upon each single word, one after another. By reciting sutras, our minds are in accordance with profound wisdom. Thus, by sincerely cultivating sutra recitation, we are rectifying our minds, bodies and speech through the Threefold Training.

We can regularly recite any sutra, mantra or scripture we like. However, once we pick one, we should focus exclusively and unceasingly on it. I would personally recommend the eminent Upasaka Xia Lian Ju’s Path to Pure Land prayer. It is a simple, succinct and poetic text  filled with the most important and profound  passages from the  Larger Infinite Life Sutra, and combines prostration, recitation and Buddha-name chanting into one easy prayer that could be done in half an hour. The Venerable Master Chin Kung has even said that this consolidated prayer is the hope of humanity for thousands of years to come.

Here is my free and Public Domain translation:

PDF File Download:   path-to-pure-land

Scribe Version:

Moreover, I would like to recommend my three following Public Domain articles. The first one details how Confucius’ Eight Steps in the Great Learning is similar to the Buddha’s Threefold Training, and is not obscure like how many translations make it out to be but easily implemented by all.

Translation of a profound article outlining the secret meaning of Confucius’ Great Learning:

https://archive.org/details/TheSecretOfConfuciusGreatLearning

Essay on the profound connection between Buddhism and other religions:

https://archive.org/details/ThePurposeOfMonotheismAndItsFuture

Article showing how astute statecraft can help us live wiser and manage our karma:

https://archive.org/details/THEBODYISNOTYOUBUTYOUAREITSKINGTHEPARABLEOFLIFEANDKARMAASSTATECRAFT

Poem and post released into Public Domain