Thursday, January 14, 2010

Heart Sutra

Thus have I heard at one time. The Lord was dwelling at Rajagriha, on Vulture-peak mountain, together with a great host of monks and a great host of Bodhisattvas. At that time the Lord was composed in the concentration on the course of dharmas called 'Profound Illumination.' At that time also the noble Lord Avalokita, the Bodhisattva and Mahasattva, in the practice of the profound Perfection of Wisdom, looked down; he beheld but five skandhas and that in their own-being they were empty.

Then, through the inspiration of the Buddha, the Venerable Sariputra said to the noble Lord Avalokita, the Bodhisattva and Mahasattva: "How should any child of good family train, who wishes to engage in the practice of the profound Perfection of Wisdom?" And the noble Lord Avalokita, the Bodhisattva and Mahasattva, spoke to the venerable Sariputra as follows.

"Sariputra, any son or daughter of good family who wishes to engage in the practice of the profound Perfection of Wisdom should look upon it thus: he or she beholds but five skandhas and that in their own- being they are empty.

Form is Emptiness, Emptiness is form. Emptiness does not differ from form, and form does not differ from Emptiness.

Likewise feelings, recognitions, volitions and consciousnesses are empty.

So, Sariputra, all dharmas are Emptyness, without differentiating marks; they are not produced or stopped, not defiled and not immaculate, not deficient and not complete.

Therefore, Sariputra, in Emptyness there is no form, no feeling, no recognition, no volitions, no consciousness; no eye, no ear, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind; no visible form, no sound, no smell, no taste, no tangible, no mental object; no eye-element, and so forth, up to no mind-element and no mental-consciousness-element; no ignorance and no extinction of ignorance, and so forth, up to no aging and death and no extinction of aging and death; likewise there is no Suffering, Origin, Cessation or Path, no wisdom-knowledge, no attainment and non- attainment.

Therefore Sariputra, because there is no attainment, Bodhisattvas abide relying on the Perfection of Wisdom, without obscurations of thought, and so are unafraid.

Transcending perverted views, they attain the end, Nirvana. All Buddhas existing in the three times, relying on the Perfection of Wisdom, fully awaken to the highest, perfect Enlightenment. Therefore one should know that the mantra of the Perfection of Wisdom is the mantra of great knowledge, the highest mantra, the unequalled mantra, the mantra that allays all suffering, the Truth, since it has nothing wrong.

The mantra of the Perfection of Wisdom is proclaimed:


In this way, Sariputra, should a Bodhisattva and Mahasattva train in the profound Perfection of Wisdom."

Then the Lord rose from that concentration and commended the noble Lord Avalokita, the Bodhisattva and Mahasattva, saying: "Well said, well said, O son of good family!

So it is, O son of good family, so it is. Just as you have taught should the profound Perfection of Wisdom be practiced, and the Tathagatas will rejoice.

Thus spake the Lord.

The Venerable Sariputra, the noble Lord Avalokita, the Bodhisattva and Mahasattva, and the whole world, that assembly with devas, human beings, asuras and gandharvas, were delighted and applauded the Lord's speech.

For the full Tibetan interpretation of the Heart Sutra look for the Dalai Lama's book pictured above.

Monday, January 4, 2010

FAQ in Tibetan Buddhism

This was borrowed from Sacred Texts .com. I found it so worthwhile I wanted to share it on here.

The purpose of this FAQ list is to give a basic understanding of a few
key terms or concepts that may be a little confusing for someone new to
this realm. It is not an authoritative text on Tibetan Buddhism.

1. What's 'Vajrayana'?
2. What's Tantra?
3. What are Lineages?
4. What does 'Taking Refuge' mean?
5. What is an 'Empowerment'?
6. What's a 'Root Lama'?
7. Aren't lamas pack animals?
8. What are Yidams?
9. What are those wrathful looking beings?
10. Book list

1. What's Vajrayana?/How is Tibetan Buddhism different?

Vajarayana is the most popular form of Buddhism in Tibet. Vajrayana
(also 'Mantrayana') is the third of the three vehicle of Buddhism. 'Yana'
means 'vehicle'. The teachings of the Buddha are divided into three yanas:
Hinayana, Mahayana, and Vajrayana. Theravada, the most popular school of
Hinayana ('Lesser Vehcile') concentrates on discipline and virtue. Mahayana
concentrates more on altruistic motivations (compassion) and wisdom. All
three incorporate discipline, compassion, and wisdom with different methods
and motivations toward the common aspiration for Enlightenment.
In Vajrayana ('Diamond Vehicle') the central Mahayana themes of
compassion and emptiness are dealt with using symbolic and practical systems
of technique and understanding. There is the belief that enlightenment can
be attained through the proper combination of wisdom and compassion. The
three vehicles should not be considered as in conflict with each other.
Hinaya is a foundation for Mahayana, just as Mahayana is for Vajrayana.

2. What are tantras?/What is Tantra?

The tantras are the root scriptures of Vajrayana. The tantras are
texts ascribed to the Buddha in various manifestations. They usually describe
the mandala, mantra, and practice associated with a particular
deity/enlightened being.
The sexual symbolism of tantric sacred art has led to some
misunderstandings. Tantric texts are not 'pillow books', and their practice
depends on discipline, not indulgence.

3. What are the Lineages?/What is a lineage?

Tibetan Buddhism focuses strongly on maintaining a continuity of
teaching traced back to the Buddha. The relationship of the student to the
teacher (lama or guru) is very important. This continuity is maintained
through practice lineages. The true teachings can only be passed from a
living teacher to a living student, and cannot be learned properly from
books. Sometimes the teachers are in supernatural form.
A lineage isn't exactly a 'school', but the analogy is helpful
for a basic discussion. Tibetan Buddhism has four main lineages:
Gelug(school of the Dalai Lama), Kagyu, Sakya, and Nyingma. Each of these
has further divisions as well (such as Karma Kagyu and Shangpa Kagyu).
Gelug is considered the 'newest', started in 1409 with the foundation of
Gaden Monastery. Popular thought is that Gelugpas emphasize monastic
discipline and intellectual acuity, Kagyupas meditation, Sakyapas scholarly
activity, and Nyingmapas guru devotion. These emphases should not be
exaggerated though; all the schools advocate all forms of dharma activity.

4. What is 'Taking Refuge'?

The Buddhist path begins with taking refuge. We take refuge in the
three jewels, Buddha, Dharma, and the Sangha. The Buddha serves as our
example, Dharma as our path, and the Sangha as our companions on the path.
Tibetan Buddhism adds three more refuges(The Three Roots): the
Lama(s), the assemblage of Yidams (meditational deities), and the assemblage
of Guardians (Herukas, Dakinis, Dharmapalas). On the physical level this is
just repeating the vow, but there is an inner level. We are surrendering to
forces within us that are more continuous than our transient ego, and
asserting our commitment to unfreezing these forces to let them work through

5. What is an 'Empowerment'?

Empowerments are further developments of what is started by taking
refuge. These are 'initiations' that help clear away obstacles to our seeing
things as they truly are. The Tibetan word is 'wangkur' (dbang-skur), 'wang'
is something like 'power'. The power is in the sense that the person is
allowing greater scope to more fundamentally wholesome aspects operating
within. Empowerments usually involve a ritual where the lama purifies the
aspirant and introduces him/her to a mandala, which is described fully and
the associated mantra (a chant). The aspirant is encouraged to consider the
mandala as a representation of his/her true nature. The Empowerment of a
deity helps to develop the particular psychological aspect s/he represents.

6. What's a 'Root Lama'?

'Root Lama' refers to a teacher from whom one had received the
empowerments, instructions, and precepts that form the center of one's own

7. Aren't lamas pack animals?

No, those are llamas. Lama is a title much like the Sanskrit 'Guru'.
Lamas are experienced and learned buddhist teachers. The term is often used
to refer to the members of the 'clergy' in general. The word comes from the
Tibetan 'la' (from 'la na me pa'), "insurpassable", plus 'ma', "mother". The
allusion is to the great compassion a mother has for her child. As sources
for refuge(see #4) they are the Root of Spiritual Blessing, which they bestow
on us in Empowerments(see #5).

8. What are Yidams?

(See #4 on Taking Refuge) Yidams are meditational deities that
symbolize various aspects Enlightenment. As sources for refuge they are the
Root of Accomplishments. Accomplishments refers to the Supreme Accomplishment
of Buddhahood, and ordinary accomplishments of long life, wealth, etc.

9. What are those wrathful looking beings?

Dharma Protectors and Guardians, they are embodiments of Wisdom.
They are usually represented having a terrifying appearance; they are
invoked to eliminate obstacles to the path toward Enlightenment. As sources
of refuge they (along with Dakas and Dakinis) are the Root of All Buddha

10. Book List

"Freedom in Exile"
The Dalai Lama's autobiography.

"The Tibetan Book of the Dead"
Various editions/translations are out there of this classic.

"Tantric Mysticism of Tibet"
by John Blofield. Assumes the reader has a bit of background
knowledge of Buddhism. Deals with Tantric Meditation.

"Open Heart, Clear Mind"
by Thubten Chodron, excellent easy-to-read and practical intro
to Tibetan Buddhism.

Some of the information in this faq comes without permission from the
"Tibetan-English Dharma Vocabulary" prepared by Kagyu Thubten Choling,
127 Wappingers Falls, NY.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Words of Truth ~Dalai Lama~

Words of Truth
A Prayer Composed by:
His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso The Fourteenth Dalai Lama of Tibet

Honoring and Invoking the Great Compassion
of the Three Jewels; the Buddha, the Teachings,
and the Spiritual Community

O Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and disciples
of the past, present, and future:
Having remarkable qualities
Immeasurably vast as the ocean,
Who regard all helpless sentient beings
as your only child;
Please consider the truth of my anguished pleas.

Buddha's full teachings dispel the pain of worldly
existence and self-oriented peace;
May they flourish, spreading prosperity and happiness through-
out this spacious world.
O holders of the Dharma: scholars
and realized practitioners;
May your ten fold virtuous practice prevail.

Humble sentient beings, tormented
by sufferings without cease,
Completely suppressed by seemingly endless
and terribly intense, negative deeds,
May all their fears from unbearable war, famine,
and disease be pacified,
To freely breathe an ocean of happiness and well-being.
And particularly the pious people
of the Land of Snows who, through various means,
Are mercilessly destroyed by barbaric hordes
on the side of darkness,
Kindly let the power of your compassion arise,
To quickly stem the flow of blood and tears.

Those unrelentingly cruel ones, objects of compassion,
Maddened by delusion's evils,
wantonly destroy themselves and others;
May they achieve the eye of wisdom,
knowing what must be done and undone,
And abide in the glory of friendship and love.

May this heartfelt wish of total freedom for all Tibet,
Which has been awaited for a long time,
be spontaneously fulfilled;
Please grant soon the good fortune to enjoy
The happy celebration of spiritual with temporal rule.

O protector Chenrezig, compassionately care for
Those who have undergone myriad hardships,
Completely sacrificing their most cherished lives,
bodies, and wealth,
For the sake of the teachings, practitioners,
people, and nation.

Thus, the protector Chenrezig made vast prayers
Before the Buddhas and Bodhisativas
To fully embrace the Land of Snows;
May the good results of these prayers now quickly appear.
By the profound interdependence of emptiness
and relative forms,
Together with the force of great compassion
in the Three Jewels and their Words of Truth,
And through the power
of the infallible law of actions and their fruits,
May this truthful prayer be unhindered
and quickly fulfilled.

This prayer, Words of Truth, was composed by His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama of Tibet, on 29 September 1960 at his temporary headquarters in the Swarg Ashram at Dharamsala, Kangra District, Himachal State, India. This prayer for restoring peace, the Buddhist teachings, and the culture and self-determina-tion of the Tibetan people in their homeland was written after repeated requests by Tibetan government officials along with the unanimous consensus of the monastic and lay communities.