Blogger Recognition Award

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A day ago, I was nominated by a kind blogging friend, Ena of the prettyplusandproud blog for the Blogger Recognition Award. I feel extremely honored and I thank her very much! Moreover, I commend her dedicated social advocacy.

The Rules of the Award are as Follows:

  1. Thank the blog who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  2. Write a post to show the award.
  3. Share the experience that prompted you to start blogging.
  4. Give a piece of advice to new bloggers.
  5. Nominate 15 other blogs and personally inform them of their nomination.

How Pure Land Sutras started:

I started translating Chinese Mahayana Pure Land Buddhist sutras in 2014 after realizing that many important  sutras and scriptures that I had long taken for granted were mostly unavailable in the West. What had begun as a project for a short tractate turned into a delightful three year odyssey of translations, essays, poems, discussions  and correspondence with new friends. All of my posts, articles, translations, poems and essays are free and in the Public Domain, and I encourage other authors to donate their works into the Public Domain as well. In October of last year, a Dharma friend encouraged me to start a blog to serve as a doorway to my translations, and that is how this blog started.

Advice to New Bloggers:

My advice is that one should give voice to those who deserve it most: People in need, worthy causes, small non profits and so forth. It does not matter if you receive only 1 follower or 10,000 followers, as long as a worthy thing is being said, great merit will result.

I Nominate:

https://essenceofbuddhism.wordpress.com

https://dailyhealthpoints.wordpress.com

https://inavukic.com

https://rothpoetry.wordpress.com

https://herschelmann.wordpress.com

https://yassy66.wordpress.com

https://seenorway.wordpress.com

https://danielpaulmarshall.com

https://bitesizedhamma.com

https://kannonsmercy.wordpress.com

https://pnco.wordpress.com

https://afarminiceland.com

https://fauxcroft.wordpress.com

https://runningtozen.org

https://anonymouslyautistic.net

I would like to thank all the visitors and followers who have shown my blog so much support since its inception, I am truly touched by your kindness!

 

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

Upasaka An Shi’s Discourse on Humane Living

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“I pity the clams in the basket,
who desperately yearn for moisture.
I pity the fish in the pot,
who are on the verge of asphyxiation.
When fish are gutted, they suffer immensely.
How could I do such a thing? “

-Song Dynasty Statesmen Su Tung Po

“If man does not harm the fauna, they would be free from fear.
They could be together like the luminous moon and the stars.”

– Ven Master Hong Yi

In this post, I would like to recommend my free and Public Domain translation of the eminent Qing era Upasaka Zhou An Shi’s famous FAQ scroll that points out the flaws of common arguments used to justify eating meat, and warns that chaos and war karma follows the shedding of animal blood:

Please read my free and Public Domain translation of the full text and discourse here:

Archive.org version (Download in PDF, Kindle, Daisy, plain text etc.)

This post, translated quotes and all post text/linked material are in the Public Domain

The Importance of Yin Virtue

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A hundred types of fortune and thousands of blessings rain down and arrive by the cartloads to those who cultivate virtue and merit with sincerity, modesty and genuine selfless compassion!

 

In this post, I would like to recommend my free and Public Domain translation of the Taoist/Buddhist/Confucian scripture containing the teachings of the Lord Superior Wen Chang (Eastern Deity of Wisdom). It is a profound and short treatise that teaches important principles of cultivating good deeds and how to avoid common pitfalls such as generosity and narcissistic pride growing hand in hand. Apart from the translation, there are succinct commentary under relevant passages and edited historical accounts of these teachings in practice at the end. The text is below:

Archive.org Version (download pdf, kindle, daisy format etc.)

Moreover, here is a 2 page free and Public Domain pamphlet I wrote detailing passages from the Shurangama Sutra that address the importance of vegetarianism:

Archive.org Version

Animals are also sentient beings with profound spiritual potential, and even the Bible actually has strong arguments against eating meat (contrary to common thought), thus we should do our best to be humane whenever possible.

Lastly, as Lord Superior Wen Chang’s teachings stress interfaith harmony, I would like to recommend my free and Public Domain essay on the matter:

Archive.org Version

 

Post and poem released into Public Domain

 

Liao Fan’s Four Lessons: Changing Fate and Realizing Our Dreams

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Your fate is not sealed,
For the scale of karma 
That decides woe and weal,
Can be altered by Dharma.

Pious and good deeds,
Cause all woes to yield 
To joy and great weal,
‘Tis how fortune is healed!

In this life we strive to realize our dreams and visions. However, more often than not, we are left disappointed or wanting. In many ways, most of us are just like Ming dynasty scholar Yuan Liao Fan (1533-1606). Born to a middle class family, he was originally set to become a physician. However, when he was young, he encountered a Taoist master (Mr. Kong) who read his fortune  and informed him that he had the past merit to become a scholar bureaucrat. Thus, he studied for the imperial civil service examinations. Below is an excerpt from his famous autobiography (Liao Fan’s Four Lessons) that covers the part of the unfailing accuracy of the predictions:

“Mr. Kong: As a student, you will place fourteenth in the county examination, seventy-first in the regional examination and ninth in the provincial examination.

Liao-Fan: The following year, at the three places of examination, I placed exactly as he had predicted. Then Mr. Kong calculated the predictions for my entire life.

Mr. Kong: You will pass such and such a test in such and such a year, you will become a civil servant in such a year and in such a year you will receive a promotion. Finally, you will be appointed as a magistrate in Szechwan Province. After holding that office for three and a half years, you will resign and return home. At the age of fifty-three, you will die around one o’clock in the morning on August 14th. It is a pity that you will not have a son.

Liao-Fan: I recorded and remembered all that he said. From then on, the outcome of every examination I took turned out exactly as Mr. Kong had predicted….

Thus, afterwards, Liao Fan became apathetic towards life as he then falsely believed that everything  (be it marriage, children, wealth and honors) were intricately fixed to his original fate. However, he later encountered Zen Master Yun Gu who enlightened him to the fact that:

Master Yun-Gu: The merits accrued can actually change their destiny from suffering to happiness, poverty to prosperity and short lives to longevity. Similarly, fate cannot bind those who commit great evils (wrongdoing).

Narrator: When a person’s (bad) evil deeds are so great and powerful, they will cancel out the good fortune and prosperity predetermined in his original fate and his or her life can be transformed from good to bad.

Master Yun-Gu: For the past twenty years, you have lived your life according to Mr. Kong’s predictions and did not do a thing to change it. Instead, you became bound by your own fate. If you are not considered a mundane mortal, then who is?”

Thereafter, Liao Fan strove single-mindedly to eschew vice and embrace virtue, leading to several profound and far reaching improvements in his life ; extending his blessings and lifespan far above the original predicted by Mr. Kong. 

I feel that Yuan Liao Fan’s life story is very important nowadays as we often seek from the external instead of rectifying the root causes. Very often, this leads us to only flutter along life’s foggy path and create more volatile karma in the process as emotions tempt and provoke. For instance, Master Yun also noted:

“Narrator: If wealth, fame and prestige are embodied in one’s fate, then one will attain them even without having to pursue them. If they are not, then one cannot attain them even through plotting and scheming.

Master Yun-Gu: Therefore, if one cannot reflect within one’s own heart but instead blindly seeks fame, fortune and long life from external sources, then this seeking will be in vain. Just as Mencius once said…”

Doesn’t this remind us of a lot of people?

Thus, if we want to increase our blessings and pursue our dreams, we ought to make sure that we have the stock of merit to back us up. Therefore, I strongly recommend everyone read Liao Fan’s Four Lessons:

Online Text Version with Audiobook:

https://liaofan4lessons.wordpress.com/lesson-1-creating-destiny/

Extended Commentary of Book:

https://archive.org/details/ChangingDestiny

The 3000 Good Deed Goal

Lastly, in both Liao Fan’s Four Lessons and the Treatise on Response and Retribution, the 3000 good deed mark is important:

“Then I made my second wish and that was for a son. I vowed to complete another three thousand good deeds. A few years later, your mother gave birth to you and named you Tian-Chi.”

-Liao Fan

故吉人語善 視善 行善 一日有三善 三年天必降之福。凶人語惡 視惡
行惡 一日有三惡 三年天必降之禍。胡不勉而行之?

A virtuous man speaks only good, does only good and sees only good. Hence,
he does at least three good deeds everyday. After 3 years (1000 days), karmic
rewards are guaranteed to manifest. The evil man does the opposite and amasses
evil deeds daily. Therefore, disasters and misfortunes will
certainly befall upon him after three years

– Treatise on Response & Retribution

Thus, I would like to recommend my free and Public Domain Merit Ledger that I created as a simple merit accumulation guideline and tracking system:

 

Note: All poems ,words and material of mine in this post are released into the Public Domain