Tag Archives: Awakening of Faith

Karma’s Repository

The advent of Mahāyāna Buddhism that coincided with the beginning of the Christian-era gave birth to the most sublime innovations in Buddhist-thought that have not been surpassed even to this day. Colorful, dynamic and transcendent in scope, resplendent with rich metaphorical language founded in the rich soil of sūtra and śāstra laden literature, the Mahāyāna shaped a new and indefatigable-direction for the nature of the karma-effect. According to the Sarvāstivādin and Theravādin doctrine, one’s goal in unraveling the karmic-equation was to slowly and diligently eradicate it through determined demolition of its defilements, in essence, being empowered to save-oneself. In Mahāyāna doctrine the emphasis was not so much in eradicating its effects, but standing above and beyond it by not focusing so much on individual-salvation, but by the salvation of others by practicing the six perfections or pāramitās. This found its inestimable worth in the cult of the Bodhisattvas. Generally, the causes of birth for ordinary beings are past deeds (karman) and defilements (klesa). But the Bodhisattva’s birth is unique in that it is caused exclusively by his will and purpose. Thus, a Bodhisattva volunteers to be born (sacintyabhavopapatti—intentional birth) into a life of suffering for the precise purpose of alleviating the suffering of sentient beings. read more

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Awakening of Faith: Preliminaries



I take refuge in [the Buddha,] the greatly Compassionate One, the Savior of the world, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, of most excellent deeds in all the ten directions;
And in [the Dharma,] the manifestation of his Essence, the Reality, the sea of Suchness, the boundless storehouse of excellencies;
[And in the Sangha, whose members] truly devote themselves to the practice,
May all sentient beings be made to discard their doubts, to cast aside
their evil attachments, and to give rise to the correct faith in the Mahāyāna, that the lineage of the Buddhas may not be broken off. read more

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The Mahāyāna-shraddhotpāda-shāstra

We next will be exploring perhaps the most significant document, alongside the Lankavatara Sutra, for adherents of Unborn Mind Zen as well as the best concise-systematic treatment of the Mahayana as a whole. This ‘Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana’ is attributed to the great early Buddhist philosopher and poet, Aśvaghosha: read more

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The grand-finale of Tsung-mi’s Chan Prolegomenon is a testament to his analysis and paraxial methodology of laying side by side the modes of delusion and awakening within Mind’s Dynamic-Nature. Although there’s an apparent contradiction within Mind’s bifurcation between denizens of the six-realms of karmic-existence and the Noble One’s of the Blessed three-vehicles, in actuality both are part and parcel of the One Luminously-Pure Sphere of the Dharmakaya. Peter N. Gregory expounds: read more

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Conjoined Realities

To this very day there is little consensus as to the precise-relationship between tathagatā-garbha and alaya-vijñāna. Seong-Uk Kin, in his excellent extract, “Understanding Tsung-mi’s View on Buddha Nature”, nicely extrapolates on its evolving traits. The concept of alaya-vijñāna first appeared in the Samdhinirmocana-sūtra, circa early 4th century C.E. in India. This Sutra asserts that the alaya-vijñāna is a form of consciousness that exhibits particular modes of perception. It is here that it also takes on the familiar metaphorical-shape as a receptacle that house seeds of karma as well as the propensity for all future karma. It is essentially based on this understanding that Yogācāra Buddhists determine how all phenomenal-diversity develops; indeed, for them alaya-vijñāna is the hallmark for all conventional realities, and it is how subjective-agents interact in their environment. For Chinese Buddhists, their main concern was how tathagatāgarbha and alaya-vijñāna differed, especially pertaining as to whether alaya-vijñāna was pure or impure. The great Translator in China, Paramartha, asserted that it was defiled-garbha. As time progressed the Chinese developed their own unique Yogācāra schools that particularly focused on this concern. Fa-shang (495-580) represented one of these schools and expounded that tathagatāgarbha and alaya-vijñāna were exclusively separate from one another: alaya-vijñāna was totally impure and existed solely to house all karmic and phenomenal-based associations; whereas the tathagatāgarbha was solely “pure” and the ultimate source for all there is. This stood in stark contrast to other Yogācāra schools that asserted that alaya-vijñāna in-itself was pure and the sustainer of all phenomena—it was completely synonymous with the tathagatāgarbha . In a masterstroke of providing the middle-ground for all these opposing schools, the Awakening of Faith integrated both concepts: alaya-vijñāna was bifurcated as epistemologically a combination of both pure and impure aspects of consciousness, while ontologically it was not distinct from tathagatāgarbha. When in awakened-mode the alaya was pure; when in delusion, it was impure. The following diagram (from Seong-Uk Kin’s extract), depicts how the Awakening of Faith harmonized tathagatāgarbha and alaya-vijñāna as the “One Mind in Two Aspects”: read more

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The Samādhi of One-pointedness of Mind


“The samādhi of oneness is straightforward mind at all times, walking, staying, sitting, and lying. The Ching-ming ching says: ‘Straightforward mind is the place of practice; straightforward mind is the Pure Land.’ Do not with a dishonest mind speak of the straightforwardness of the Dharma. If while speaking of the samādhi of oneness, you fail to practice straightforward mind, you will not be disciples of the Buddha. Only practicing straightforward mind, and in all things having no attachments whatsoever, is called the samādhi of oneness.The deluded man clings to the characteristics of things, adheresto the samādhi of oneness, [thinks] that straightforward mind is sitting without moving and casting aside delusions without letting things arise in the mind. This he considers to be the samādhi of oneness. This kind of practice is the same as in insentiency the cause of an obstruction to the Tao. Tao must be something that circulates freely; why should he impede it? If the mind does not abide in things the Tao circulates freely; if the mind abides in things, it becomes entangled . If sitting in meditation without moving is good, why did Vimalakirti scold Śāriputra sitting in meditation in the forest? “Good friends, some people teach men to sit viewing the mind and viewing purity, not moving and not activating the mind, and to this they devote their efforts. Deluded people do not realize that this is wrong, cling to this doctrine, and become confused. There are many such people. Those who instruct in this way are, from the outset, greatly mistaken.” read more

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The Root of the Matter

Yesterday’s blog made reference to The Awakening of Faith Shastra and its revelation that all apparent interdependency is really a reflective reality and manifestation of the One Mind—Dharmadhatu. The hologram was also utilized as a metaphor of how the many becomes One and the One becomes many. This is a reflection of the Dharmakaya, whose Suchness “illuminates the entire Universe.” The following is a salient portion from the Shastra—it really pinpoints the root foundation from which many of the key terminologies utilized throughout this blog are derived; for instance, the numerous references to the Unmoving and Moving Principles are no arbitrary formulations—as you will see they are essentially procured from this seminal and foundational work within Mahayana thought. It’s interesting, no one really knows just who the original author of this work is…the main speculation is that it is most likely Paramartha—the ancient Indian translator and sage—although for those with little sand in their eyes it is without question, from the quill of a most advanced Black Dragon (one instilled with incomparable wisdom). read more

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The Universe Between

This seems to be the week for me reminiscing about all things ’60-ish. I recollect in the 5th grade awaiting anxiously to receive and read Alan E. Nourse’s marvelous sci-fi thriller—The Universe Between. As there was only one copy in the school library, it seemed an endless wait to finally be able to relish the feel of holding this little masterpiece (for the boys in the class this was, at the time, the piece de resistance). I’ve included here a little pic showing our class—I’m the one on the top, third from the left wearing my favorite “Barnabas Collins” (of Dark Shadows fame) suit and vest—something I was really into at the time to salvage my sanity from the real monsters in that class.:-) read more

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