The Buddha’s Masterplan

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Beneath the sea of glistening stars,
Between the ethereal evening air,
Lies a forest of glowing dreams,
But as diverse and rich as they are,
None escape the same Moonbeam.

Under the lucent morning glow,
Roll waves of raving emotions,
Turbid fortunes and cruel woes,
The burning craving of billions,
Yet the same Sun illumes them all.

Princes, beggars and pretenders,
All dance their own tango with
Fortune’s jeering taunts and tantrums,
Each gambles to grapple with fate,
But upon the same soil they all tread.

The crown of a grand old oak
Casts a wide and mighty shadow,
Ruffling with a myriad of leaves,
Adorned by blooming blossoms
That sprout in spring and wither in winter,

With branches amber in autumn,
Green in summer, and lean and bare
In Saturn’s season of barren frost.
Yet for all its lush richness, it still rests
Upon one abiding unchanging trunk.

So even as human affairs steer here and there,
And wander and meander like wetland streams,
The timeless source remains the same,
For all ripe fruits return to Buddha’s root.

It is often asked why it is said that there are 84,000 different Dharma-doors (i.e. innumerable forms of Dharma). The answer is simple: Sentient beings are complex and have innumerable biases, different spiritual levels and varying aspirations.  Thus, it is not possible for one fixed form of teaching to suffice by itself. 

Therefore, the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas have not only spoken a rich collection of different Sutras, but have also manifested as the Sages and founders of different religions in order to teach those who could not yet accept the Buddha-dharma.

According to the Ven. Master Hsuan Hua:

“In Buddhism, he (Guanyin Bodhisattva) appears as a Bodhisattva; in other religions he often appears clad in white robes. In Christianity, he is the Holy Mother; he appears as the Holy Mother to teach and transform a certain category of beings. He appears in white robes and Christians call her Mother Mary, but actually she is Guanshiyin Bodhisattva manifesting in that form to inspire beings to bring forth a resolve that will lead them sooner or later to understand the Buddhadharma. Once they understand the Buddhadharma, they will bring forth the resolve for Bodhi. These are the endless miraculous functions and inconceivable states of Guanshiyin Bodhisattva.”

-Ven Master Hsuan Hua’s 1996 Lecture “Guanyin, Guanyin, Guanshiyin” (Translated by the BTTS).

Despite this rich varied diversity, the purpose is all the same: To promote virtue and eschew vice, which is the key (i.e. the Sila of the Threefold Training of Sila, Samadhi and Prajna) to eventually developing faith in the Buddha-dharma. For a more detailed analysis, please read my following Public Domain essay:

https://archive.org/details/ThePurposeOfMonotheismAndItsFuture

Thus, interfaith harmony is important, and no one should be caught up in conflict or strife over superficial differences, for all roads lead home.

However, even though all roads (religions) lead to the Buddha-dharma, all of the Buddha-dharma and every Sutra are united by Amita Buddha’s Pure Land School, the easiest and most wondrous Dharma door, cultivated by both the brilliant and base. The only practical way to Buddha-hood in our current Dharma-ending age.

For an introduction to Pure Land Buddhism, please read my Free and Public Domain translations of the The Buddha Speaks the Mahayana,Infinite Life, Adornment,Purity, Impartiality, and Enlightenment Sutra, and the Path to Pure Land prayer:

Public Domain PDF version of Prayer: path-to-pure-land

 

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Master Yin Guang, 13th Patriarch of the Pure Land School.

Lastly, as Sila (virtue) is the fertile soil that Samadhi and Wisdom spring from, the Great Master Yin Guang (1861-1940), the 13th Patriarch of the Pure Land School, strongly recommended the Taoist Treatise of the Illustrious Sage on Response and Retribution. It is a short and succinct moral tractate that details the workings of karma, and concurs fully with the Buddha’s teachings on the fruits of virtue and vice. In fact, Master Yin Guang printed more copies of this Treatise than all the Buddhist Sutras he printed combined. Thus, I entreat everyone to heed this Treatise. Daily recitation of it can eradicate evil karma, draw in blessings and create the foundational purity of heart needed to seek Pure Land rebirth.

Free and Public Domain translation available here:

Treatise of the Illustrious Sage on Response and Retribution (English Liturgy Version 2017 Edition)

Poem, all attached texts, and post released into Public Domain

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

The Mahayana Infinite Life Adornment Purity Impartiality and Enlightenment Sutra

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Caption: Venerable Master Hai Xian (1901-2013)

Lotus Lagoon Assembly Prayer (蓮池讚)  :

There upon the Lotus Lagoon Assembly, Amita Tathagata sits atop the lofty Lotus Dais—flanked by Avalokitesvara and Mahasthamaprapta—inviting you to ascend the golden steps while pronouncing great vows ; resolute in leaving all defilements and dusts forever behind.

The Buddha spoke the Infinite Life Sutra several times during the course of his 49 year ministry. Thus, there were several translations of the Infinite Life Sutra in existence at the time of the modern era, the most popular being the Three Kingdoms Era Cao Wei (220-265) translation. During the 20th century, the eminent Upasaka Xia Lian Ju compiled the five main extant versions into a grand consolidated edition: The Mahayana, Infinite Life, Adornment, Purity, Impartiality and Enlightenment Sutra.

He did it without changing or discarding a single character! The eloquence and beauty of the prose and poetry found within is simply peerless. Thus, this version is now the official and most popular in use. However, there existed no English translation of Upasaka Xia’s  magnum opus until very recently. Below are two available translations I know:

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My free and Public Domain translation of key chapters with case study:

Essence of the Infinite life Sutra (translation of Ven. Master Chin Kung’s profound commentary on the Sutra by the AMTB):

https://archive.org/details/essenceinfinitelifesutra

Moreover, Upasaka Xia’s magnum opus was further endorsed by the Venerable Master Hai Xian (1901-2013), who attained verified Pure Land rebirth during the wee hours of Jan 17 2013. His most significant act before his Pure Land rebirth was to be pictured with a copy of If Buddhism is to Prosper, Practitioners Must Praise Each Other by Master Hong Lin (pictured above). An excellent book that decisively neutralized recent libel against Upasaka Xia’s magnum opus by using time honored principles of the proper Dharma.

Master Hai Xian’s life of cultivation is extraordinary and I recommend everyone watch his biographic documentary:

English subtitled biographic documentary

He has also been nominated by the Venerable Master Chin Kung as the 14th Patriarch of the Pure Land School, who praised that the example he has set with his life will influence the world for thousands of years to come!

Lastly, I would like to recommend again the Path to Pure Land prayer compiled by Upasaka Xia:

Pdf download:

path-to-pure-land

Scribd:

This profound and poetic work is the final teaching of Upasaka Xia and is highly praised by many esteemed masters such as Upasaka Huang Nien Tsu and Master Chin kung. The above translation is also free and in the Public Domain.

Namo Amitabha

For more free and Public Domain resources