Clearing the Misconceptions By: Yun Xing (Lin Ai Wei)

Website Editor’s Note: I visited the website that was given as the author’s URI: www.freewebs.com/jingxinyuan/ You may like to take a look too. According to the web-site “Jing Xin Yuan is a school of Buddhist cultivation. We teach methods which are resonant with the minds of our students. Jing Xin Yuan is unique in that we do not take one place as our main center, but see the Earth and Universe as our cultivation ground. We hold a variety of expedients for cultivation and welcome all forms of religions to come and take part in making the world a more peaceful and compassionate realm to be in. Jing Xin Yuan is a home within the home of all living beings.

A place where all can come and realize that all places are no places, and no places are all places. That neither here nor there are either here or there. All are equal at Jing Xin Yuan, and all are held in proper respect, with Patience, Compassion and Wisdom as our guideline for morality”.

Needless to add, the opinions of the author are his own and the article is being reproduced here without any changes.

In this discussion we will look at the expedient of religion in the Buddhist school of cultivation. In doing so, we must keep in mind that each person has their own idea of what makes a practice a religion. What we will hold in mind as the basis of this discussion is that most of the world sees Bowing, Chanting, Praying, a leader of some sort guiding “followers” along the means of practice, a place of practice, and actions of practice to all be pieces which make up a religion.

Let’s look at the expedient of religion in Buddhist cultivation. Buddhism is only named Buddhism as a focal point of reference to practices which cause a living being to reveal the Complete and True mind. To attain AnutturaSamyaksambhodi. Attain is only a word used to point out what was not present in mind before revealing the true nature. One does not attain. One only lessens what is in the mind, thus revealing the true nature.

Now let’s look at some of the practices of the expedient of religion in Buddhism, and we will describe its functions in cultivating the mind. For starter, we can look at bowing, and the use of statues.

Bowing to anything is seen as a form of worship in the minds of today’s realm. But has anyone thought of it as a form of respect? In certain cultures around the world, nodding one’s head at an elder of the family, guest at the house, or even a manager or C.E.O. of a company is seen as a form of respect. Sometimes the lower the head is of the person bowing to is regarded as being very polite and respectful.

In Buddhism bowing is done in several regards. One, bowing to an elder of the Sangha (community of left home cultivators and lay cultivators of the Buddhist school), is regarded as respectful to one’s elder in cultivation. Bowing to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, which some would be in forms of statues and various images, is regarded as a manner of respect for one’s elder of cultivation, and is a bowing towards one’s original mind.

Bowing to one’s original mind is bowing to the Buddhas, which is basically dropping ego, personality, being and a life, and emptying all forms of discrimination and attachment. This is a cultivation of humility. There is no superiority in the Buddhist school, only recognition of one’s cultivation. Though there is no superiority, there is a manner in which cultivators know what they are not capable of. Those who have attained spiritual penetrations are more capable than one who hasn’t, and thus would be respected according to their cultivation.

So bowing isn’t a manner of worship, mindless worship, or hailing and praising in dependency of a higher being as in other religions. Bowing to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas is a cultivation method for developing a patient, compassionate, humble mind and character. Bowing to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas is simply bowing to one’s own original mind. Though many cultivators who use this expedient may seek to depend while making offerings, and bowing to show they are being humble and should be rewarded, they are missing the point and being an example of what one shouldn’t cultivate in Buddhism.

Buddhas and Bodhisattvas do offer their help, yet their help is to offer methods in which living beings can cultivate in order to live a more happier life and attain what they wish. This is not due to living being’s dependency, but it is due to patience, compassion and wisdom which is cultivated in its highest level through Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.

Offerings are another expedient practitioners cultivate. Offerings are in all manners of religions worldwide. Some offer money, food, clothing, housing, books, etc. The minds of people vary during these acts of offerings to whomever they offer up to. In Buddhism, offering food to the Sangha is to show respect for those who are cultivating ways one may not be cultivating. For example; the Sangha is made up of Left home people…monks and nuns. They have no money to buy things on their own, so they accept that living without the use of money is the biggest challenge for all humans, and so they do not work in society as lay people do.

The Sangha of Buddhism is viewed as a community of cultivators whom will be, and may have already, attained enlightenment and will teach these ways to the lay community. Because of the many mannerisms of cultivation, they do not spend time working for companies, or businesses of any sort. The lay people of the Buddhist school support them in faith that when the monks and nuns have reached a high level of wisdom, they will teach those who have not left the home life. Also, because giving is a good thing to do, they give to those who are doing what the majority of this world cannot do.

Cultivation towards awakening and teaching the cultivation of attaining enlightenment is not something which can be learned in an academic setting. Much of what cannot be left aside by the worldly mind must be left aside if high levels of cultivation are to be realized.

Offerings that are of food to the statues on the alter are not made to the statues, but to the minds of those doing the offerings. Offerings to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are offering up to one’s own original nature. It is further pushing the roots of the desire to attain enlightenment further down into the mind-ground, strengthening one’s faith in the teachings of that of Sakyamuni Buddha and the many Buddhas of the ten directions. Though living beings ask for things in return while making offerings, and sometimes receive them, it is not do to the offerings so much so as it is due to their proper time for receiving such things.

YET, making great offerings to cultivators of the way will add momentum to the great things one is to be receiving anyway. If their intention on receiving some particular outcome is strong enough, with great faith that it will thus be the way they intend for it to be, it will certainly be received the way one has intended it to be. This is due to the sincerity (constant one minded concentration ) of the mind during offering.

Things just do not turn around because of crying, bowing, and constantly asking for something. Things turn because of the sincerity of the mind, the momentum added to the karma during the concentration. Good things come from good causes, bad things come from bad causes. Giving always results in good effects, and not giving results in not receiving anything from others in times of need, or out of good gesture.

We have covered only two aspects of the mannerisms of Buddhist religious cultivation.
Next we will look at several methods of cultivation in the Buddhist school of the religious expedient. They are Recitation of the Buddha’s name and Sutras, Chanting Mantras, Utilizing Prayer, and Ceremonial rites.

We will begin with the recitation of the Buddha’s Name, for it is a quite lengthy explanation which will take eons to describe it in its full wonderful context, but here, we will just take a small look … which will be lengthy.

Reciting the Buddha’s name is an expedient of cultivation that has been utilized in a religious setting, as perceived of by non-Buddhists and some Buddhists alike. Firstly, some of the main reasons for reciting the Buddha’s name is to always keep the Buddhas on one’s mind. Constantly in a mind of remembrance, yet not of a past tense, but of a present one. Always having the Buddhas on one’s mind, one will speak with a mind of a Buddha, be compassionate with the mannerisms of a Buddha, always be in a state of Patience as a Buddha, and be “merged” in the sea of pure Wisdom as a Buddha. Recitation of Amitabha Buddha’s name in sincerity will also result in being born in his Land of Ultimate Bliss. More to be discussed on that later on.

These qualities are cultivated all within Buddha name recitation. How so? Because all Buddhas of the Ten directions are these qualities when being expressed through the minds of living beings. When the mind is of peace, one will radiate peace. When the mind is of anger, one will radiate anger, and all who come into their presence will inherently detect anger. What is of the mind will be that which is experienced. Since we can always experience what is of the mind, why not cultivate to experience that which is good?

There is more that comes with Buddha Name Recitation. Who’s name is being recited? Amitabha Buddha of the Western Pure Land. The next few lines will be taken from Xuan Hua Shangren’s commentary on the meaning of Amitabha Buddha’s name because it is only wise to utilize a higher understanding when speaking of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.

Taken from a commentary on ‘The Buddha Speaks the Amitabha Sutra’ by Shifu Xuan Hua Shangren;

“Amitabha, the next word in the title, is a Sanskrit word which
means “limitless light.” Amitabha’s other name, Amitayus, means
“limitless life.”

“But,” you might ask, “the Sutra says that it has been ten kalpas
since Amitabha realized Buddhahood. Ten kalpas is a definite
length of time. Why do you speak of ‘limitless life’ and then
measure it out in time?”

Amitayus, “limitless life,” refers to his blessings and virtue
“Limitless light” refers to his wisdom. His wisdom light is limitless
and bright. Limitless life, limitless light. Not only are his blessings,
virtues, and wisdom limitless but so are his spiritual powers, his
eloquence, his attributes, and his teachings. There is no way to
count them because they are infinite, nowhere present and nowhere
absent.

Where did the limitless come from? Mathematicians should
know that the limitless comes from the one. One is many and many
are one. A scholar once wrote a book and said, “Large numbers are
written by starting with one and then employing many place
holding zeros. Keep adding zeros until the space between heaven
and earth is filled. When you have written all over your walls and
covered your floors, can you determine the total? Couldn’t you still
add another zero? Numbers are endless.”

Amitabha Buddha’s life, wisdom, merit, virtue, and Way-power
are all infinite and unbounded. If you want a big figure, go ahead
and write columns of zeros.

Knowing that there can be no definite total, the Buddha, who is
the perfection of intelligence, just said, “Limitless and uncountable.”

Mathematics can explain infinity, and scientists have sent
men into space to study it, but having arrived in empty space,
there’s still more empty space beyond. There’s no end to it.
Numbers go on infinitely and in this way we can understand the
vast expanse of Amitabha Buddha’s blessedness, his virtue, and his
wisdom. Therefore he is called Amita.

Both Amitabha and Shakyamuni Buddha were people who
became Buddhas. They did not descend from the heavens or ascend
from the depths of the earth. As people they cultivated the Dharma
and now they are sages, people who have realized the result.
According to the classification of Sutra titles, this Sutra is
established by reference to a person, but not a person like us. He is
a Buddha, one who has realized the result. We are living beings; we
have not realized the result, but are cultivating the cause of
Buddhahood. Once Buddhahood is realized, we will be sages. This
sage’s name, Amitabha, is used to classify the title of the Sutra.”

Recitation further deepens one’s roots of the Buddhist school of cultivation in their minds, and builds momentum for when their seed ripens into a plant, and the plant brings forth the fruit of Bodhi (enlightenment). You can’t eat it though! Recitation keeps the mind in a one pointed focus. As from the above excerpt on the commentary on the Amitabha sutra, Amitbaha is us and we are Amitabha. Therefore, we are reciting our own mind, pushing away the accumulated knowledge, and transforming it from mundane thoughts, to less attached ones which make the mind lighter, and more resonant with the Buddha mind.

We keep in mind that repeating a name over and over again brings the images and mind of such name. That is what happens in Buddha name recitation. Reciting one name over and over again reminds us of our true nature, and those qualities. The benefits are too vast to describe in full detail, and the mannerisms of doing so are not sufficient. But we can touch on the surface.

In this expedient, one is putting faith in Amitabha and his virtue and wisdom as well as in rebirth in Amitabha’s Buddha land called the Western Pure Land. A vow of Amitabha is that if someone sincerely recites his name 10 times, they will be reborn in his Western land of Ultimate Bliss. If you want to know more about the Western Pure Land, you can find it by google searching Amitabha Sutra with commentary by Xuan Hua Shangren, possibly spelled Hsuan Hua Shangren. It is too much to go into in such a manner as this one. Just keep in mind that all lands are not lands, but are called lands for the sake of saying so, and Buddha Lands are actual places. All is of mind, and of no mind, and neither of the two. Recitation also keeps one’s mind in a proper posture so as not to be taken by emotions, desires, demons, etc.

One can recite Amitabha Buddha’s name, Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva’s name, or any of the endless amounts of Buddhas and Bodhisattva’s names as well. This will also create affinities with them.

Reciting sutras have a similar function as reciting the Buddha’s name. Reciting Sutras is to plant the tools of attaining enlightenment deep into the mind-ground, to always remember the teachings, and set forth towards teaching others about them. Sutras are keys to awakening to our causes and conditions, to attain complete pure enlightenment. Constantly reciting them keeps the doors of Patience, Wisdom and Compassion wide open, and results in illuminating the mind. Remembering Sutras creates affinities with the Buddhas who spoke them, and the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas the Sutras are concerned with. This results in various outcomes which are too numerous to list, but assist one greatly in their cultivation of the Buddha Dharma.

Here we will discuss Mantra cultivation. We must first understand the function of a Mantra, what it is, generally, and why it is cultivated. When we speak, we use sounds, words to match the quality of the sound, and then there comes an understanding from the phrase, sentence spoken. Before there is a sound from the body, there is a sound from the mind. We hear the sound of the word we wish to say in the mind, then the word comes which matches the quality of the sound.

What is before the sound in the mind? A desire to express, a feeling to express, and then it becomes the object of what is expressed, and thus it becomes something that must be expressed. Let’s say it is love. We feel love, hear the sound in which we wish to say the word, or perform the actions associated with it (which has become a culture of expression) and then we find the words which correlate to the feeling and sound in our mind. We then say the words, “I love …” and we get a response

A mantra works in the same manner, and goes a bit deeper. Yet it’s function is unlike the prayers of other religions. A mantra is a sound which correlates to the realm, mind, and situation either at hand, or in future moments, as well as past ones. Where does a mantra come from? It comes from everywhere, and it originates from nowhere. That means, though I can make a mantra right here, it will be based on my conditions, and be used to either strengthen my conditions, or transform them. Thus it is only existent when there are conditions in which it is utilized for. This is why it originates from nowhere, but since conditions are numerous, and everywhere, a mantra comes from everywhere.

But it isn’t that simple either. The functions of different mantras vary. Just like the meanings of the words in the dictionary. Some definitions are similar, but overall have a different context when the word is used. A mantra has many functions, and is used according to the situations, conditions at hand. Now that there is a good distinction between the similarities of Mantras and language, let us go into a little bit more deeply, the realm of mantra.

A mantra is a key, and its sounds resonate to the numerous realms. This means it influences the most subtle of all conscious reality. When a mantra is spoken, generally, it is for the transforming of the conditions at hand which a person may be experiencing or witnessing. Each mantra has a purpose and specific function, but they are not fixed, which means the context in which they are utilized is numerous. The sounds of a mantra resonate with the conditions present, and work to transform them to a more “lighter” vibration. If there is a heavy presence of anger, there are mantras which can transform the anger into a more stable energy, thus influencing the situation.

In the Buddhist school, chanting a mantra, or many of them, is for eradicating heavy obstacles in one’s path, and making way for clearer understanding, wisdom, compassion, and patience. It is not limited to just these few uses. When a monk/nun or layperson-cultivator chants a mantra, it is for many reasons; Personal cultivation for revealing the pure mind, healing oneself or others, extending the function, of the mantra, to the environment around them (planet, universe, other worlds, and realms) for the uplifting of the energy/mind towards peace, harmony, wisdom, patience, compassion, and thus revealing the pure mind.

When we say “Environment” in Buddhism, we do not mean only the trees, and lakes, mountains, Nature, or even only one’s immediate surroundings. We actually mean the immediate surroundings and all those included such as peoples, animals, trees, insects, birds, buildings, and the whole country, other countries, islands, oceans, lakes, rivers, the living beings there, other world systems, realms and the universe. The environment is much bigger than many of us living beings have even imagined.

So, the function of a mantra is sent out in sincere concentration to everywhere. Some functions of mantras are for calling on Buddhas and Bodhisatvas to come and assist in cultivation, protection, defeating demons both in the mind and external ones, the list can go on. The mantras are not something to depend on when in fear of situations and conditions, but something that is cultivated to strengthen one’s mind, revealing one’s inherent wisdom so as to eradicate negative and positive karma and anchor positive karma.

Confused? One who has karma of any sort will constantly be on the wheel of birth and death. Coming and going, whether it is good or bad that they have done, they are in the cycle of receiving and giving, cause and effect. We say bad and good karma only as a manner of distinguishing that which is pleasing to living beings, and that which isn’t. Having bad karma results in one being more and more upset, angry and that just causes more bad, unless one is wise and learns how to stop adding on more situations which result in unpleasantness.

Good karma results in living beings wanting to feel more of the good they receive. That wanting results in more wanting…greed, and that just brings on karma of being greedy and experiencing a reality of wanting and needing. Those who are wise can tell the difference between needing, wanting and a choice of having. Regardless of the karma they create and experience, they are unmoved, neither going with the good or bad, but utilizing the good for more good. Isn’t such a contradiction a wonderful expedient? To utilize the good in order to keep the good steady, this results in neither wanting, nor needing, and diminishes the bad. Because it is all mind anyway.

Here is a basic idea, a general meaning of mantras and their functions. The benefits and functions of mantra cultivation are endless. I can never label them all even in millions of years. Living beings are numerous; therefore fixed teaching will never serve them properly. I hope this short explanation of the expedient of mantra cultivation serves its purpose. The purpose of this writing is to shed light on the misconceptions that mantra recitation/chanting is similar to other religious prayer work.

Though it serves similar purposes as other religious prayer work, similar in a small percentage, it is not limited to those functions, depend on the same realm of origin, and it does not depend. Remember, mantra cultivation is also a personal cultivation. Therefore this expedient assists one in transforming the mind, turning the mind inward from the external focuses which exhaust one’s energy and deteriorate one’s wisdom and virtue. Some call on the power of other beings, yet still all mantras assist one in cultivating their own mind, own abilities, which can never hold too much strength when borrowed, but do good anyway.

The Buddhist school always cultivates one’s own abilities, even when borrowing from other beings. It is this way because in the Buddhist school, The Buddha is the main teacher, the principle of the university, and the Bodhisattvas are equivalent to seniors, deans and caretakers of the university. They are our elders in cultivation, and teachers as well. Though there have been numerous Buddhas in the past, in our world system, the being who has taught such teaching is named Sakyamuni Buddha. Therefore we take this Buddha as our original teacher of the methods towards attaining pure complete enlightenment, and take his disciples, the numerous Bodhisattvas, as our elders whom we can look to for guidance along our path of the cultivation of the Buddha Dharma which are the teachings which lead one to attain complete pure enlightenment=Buddha hood.

That ends the discussion on mantra cultivation. Next we will begin ceremony and prayer.

Ceremony has many doorways within its cultivation. We must first begin to look at the difference between Buddhist ceremony, and the current general idea of ceremony. Ceremony in general is seen as a worship, a giving of one’s mind and self, to an idea of a higher being, mainly a god. Bowing, which we covered and cleared earlier, is one manner seen as a form of worship, kneeling, cleaning statues and or regarding statues to have some type of importance, faith in who is believed to be worshiped is also considered to be a manner of worship in the current general idea of religion and worship within it.

There are also temples which are seen as a place of worship. Because a manner of practice has a place of practice, it is considered a temple, and therefore seen as a religion, and thus seen as worship in the general sense. In Buddhism, the places that are considered places of worship, are actually called Way Places. Way means the cultivation of the Way, the way to end Birth and Death, the Way to achieve complete and pure enlightenment. Place means the actual place where this cultivation is happening.

As you can see, though such a place is called a temple, even by Buddhists, the word temple is really referring to a Way Place, and in Chinese it is called Dao Chang, Way Place, A Place to Cultivate the Way. Where does the general manner of worship come into it? Well, it really doesn’t. To worship in Buddhism, in the general idea of what worship means; totally depend without the cultivation of one’s own virtue, responsibility, mind, is opposite of what Buddhism is founded on. In the Buddhist school, dependency is what we do not look to cultivate. Though everyone has a dependency of some sort no matter who they are, the heaviness of that attachment is very light in the mind of a Buddhist cultivator, even though there is dependency, and that dependency is based on one looking to a Buddha or Bodhisattvas because of their high wisdom, which the cultivator has not attained, or they too would be a Buddha or Bodhisattva.

What does that mean? If a person of another religion looks to their priest or head of the temple or church in search of help, they usually do so looking for the divine to spare them from their sufferings, sins, or ignorance, to have mercy on them.. These people pray deeply and emotionally in fear that they may be going to eternal damnation because of their ignorance, so they devote out of fear, and wish to place their responsibility on the shoulders of their god, or goddess, whomever they have faith in.

Though in the Buddhist school, lay cultivators, and even monks may do it also, do cry at the feet of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and not out of practice, butout of personal conditions, it isn’t out of wanting to not take the responsibility of their own actions, and fear of eternal damnation, or of a vengeful god or goddess. It is because they know they have done things which bring upon themselves more problems, and so they need a way in order to relieve themselves from their suffering. Look at that sentence: They need a way in order to relieve THEMSELVES from their suffering.

Though there is a dependency, it is because the person needing help is too ignorant to see the path to freedom from their suffering, so they call upon those who are more wiser and enlightened then they are to help them find the proper way. Doesn’t that sound like students in school, who ask questions to their teachers in faith that they will be told a correct answer? Isn’t it the goal of the teachers to teach their students methods on how to figure out the answers for themselves? This is exactly what Buddhas and Bodhisattvas do. This is why we say Buddhism is an education.

One may argue, “Well, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are no longer in the world. The people are only bowing to statues, and the statues are not alive, they have no mind. They are just porcelain, clay, dirt, rock, nothing more.”

This would be a general response of one, and the many, who misunderstand the USE of images in the Buddhist school. Remember, Buddhism is a school of cultivation to attain enlightenment. It isn’t a religion that needs followers to always give money and depend, have faith through fear, and always commit what is considered to be sins, and repent, and commit more sins and repent. Buddhism teaches living beings how to be good people, how to care for each other, the environment, how to become wiser, more patient and more compassionate, and greatly, but not lastly, how to achieve enlightenment, end the cycle of birth and death. What other practices do that? This tells you there is something different about Buddhism, and that there were things not properly explained to the mass public.

Buddhism is not a typical religion, and is not totally a religion. Buddhism is not a typical religion because it is certainly not dependant on living being’s ignorance, fear and vengefulness. When I say it is not totally a religion, I mean in the whole scope of the Buddhist school of cultivation, the mannerism of religion is a small percent, a small portion of the pie, a small grain of sand in the great Ganges river. This world has only tasted a small percent of Buddhism. How ignorant we all are to say we know what Buddhism is. We must learn to look at what Buddhism isn’t. By learning to look in this manner, we must understand what everything that we see in the percentage of the Buddhism in this world really means. Let us look at this point now.

I will be taking an excerpt out of a book called; To Understand Buddhism pgs 31-36. It is of the collected works of Jing Kong Fashi (Master Chin Kung) of the Pure Land School.
“Usually in the center of a main hall or a temple, there are statues of one Buddha and two Bodhisattvas, which represent our self-nature and original entity. The two Bodhisattvas represent our virtuous abilities within our self nature; one is understanding and the other is practice. If the Buddha in the middle is Sakyamuni, then the two figures on either side of him will be Manjusri (Wen Shu Pusa), and Universal Worthy (Pu Xian Pusa) Bodhisattvas representing wisdom and application respectfully. Thus understanding and practice are combined into one.

If the hall has the three sages of Western Pure Land, with Buddha Amitabha (Amituofo), in the middle, representing self-nature, then the two figures on either side of him will be Avalokiteshvara (Guan Yin Pusa) and Great Strength (Da Shi Zhi Pusa) Bodhisattvas. They respectfully represent compassion and wisdom, completely symbolizing the infinite wisdom and virtuous capabilities.

There are profound teachings within the names of the Buddhas and Bodhisatvas, for example the name of Buddha Sakyamuni tells us the principles of the Buddha’s education. “Sakya” means humanity and kindness. “Muni” means purity of mind. The teachings of these two qualities are advocated because people in our world lack compassion and kindness and are often selfish. Moreover, all sentient beings lack purity of mind, constantly dwelling in wandering thoughts, greed, anger, ignorance ad arrogance.

Any Bodhisattva that becomes a Buddha in this world will be named Sakyamuni to teach us the remedy for our problems. Once the representation of Buddha and Bodhisattva statues are understood intuitively just by looking at them, one will perfectly comprehend the goal of the Buddha’s teachings. When we enter the first hall of a way place, that Hall of Heavenly Guardians, we will see the statue of Maitreya Bodhisattva (Mi Le Fo) surrounded by the four Heavenly Guardians in the middle of the hall. Maitreya Bodhisattva, known in the west as the Happy Buddha, has a huge smile representing joyfulness. His great stomach represents enormous tolerance and broad-mindedness, teaching us to interact with others and matters with joy, to be non-discriminating and tolerant. Next to him are four Heavenly Guardians or Dharma Protectors who teach us how to protect ourselves.

The Eastern Dharma Protector, symbolizes fulfilling one’s duty and responsibility, teaching us that regardless of position, one needs to fulfill one’s duties. He is holding a lute in his hand. The strings of the instrument should not be too tight, or else they will break; nor should they be too loose or they will not play well. When properly adjusted and balanced, the instrument will play beautifully, clearly symbolizing that we need to take the middle path when interacting with matters, people and objects. When each of us fulfills our responsibilities and obligations, how could the nation not prosper?

The Southern Dharma Protector symbolizes improvement and daily advancement. Not only do matters need to betaken care of appropriately; continuous improvement also needs to be sought. In his right hand, the Southern Dharma Protector holds the sword of wisdom and in his left hand a ring symbolizing the perfection of wisdom, showing us that one needs to use wisdom in seeking improvement. The sword symbolizes how one needs to sever afflictions before they are out of control.

The third and fourth Heavenly Guardians are the Western and the Northern Dharma Protectors, representing comprehensive vision and listening respectively. Both teach us to observe and listen more carefully as well as to read numerous books and travel to many places for comprehensive learning. They teach us to do well in our job, to adopt the good qualities as wellas to disregard the shortcomings of others.

The western Dharma Protector represents far-sighted observation and holds a dragon or snake. The dragon or snake symbolizes constant change. In his other hand he holds a bead, symbolizing principles. People, matters and objects in society undergo changes constantly. One needs to observe very carefully and thoroughly, to have a firm grasp on the principles within in order to be able to control the “dragon or snake”. The Northern Dharma Protector holds an umbrella to prevent one from being contaminated. This reminds us that within a complex society, one needs to know how to protect one’s body and mind from pollution and corruption. From these examples, we can see that the artistic aspects of the Buddha’s education are truly beautiful. Unfortunately, many people disregard these Dharma Protectors as gods to be worshipped, which is totally wrong.” —- end quote

After this very detailed explanation of what the statues mean in the Buddhist school, we can come to understand that Buddhism utilizes worship in the manner of respecting one who has greater cultivation than we do. Worship in Buddhism equals respect. That worship is not seeing the various gods and such as beings we must hail to and kiss the floor they walk on, but we say if that way helps make you a better person, then by all means do what makes you do good. It is not a requirement. People have the mind where they can, usually, do all that they feel on the spur of a whim. This is irresponsible. Looking at the causes of our “whims” we will be able to see the outcomes and decide wisely what outcome we wish to have.
Ceremonies are actions in a manner where the mind is totally focused on the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, on their virtues, merit, wisdom, compassion, patience. This leaves an imprint in our minds. It waters our own seeds of wisdom, compassion and patience. It creates the causes in which we will be able to cultivate and achieve enlightenment. Keeping the mind on proper views, proper thoughts will give rises to proper outcomes which will not cause us to sway back and forth, to go up and down on our spurts of happiness, anger, etc. These spurts will cease and we will be unmoved.

The expedient of ceremonies are, in a whole, practices/actions which cultivate, water, the seed of enlightenment within our mind. When that seed sprouts, we must nurture it further so it is properly developed, and thus we can attain complete pure enlightenment.

The prayers within ceremonies are more than just thoughts of hope for the world and such, as other prayers in other religions; they are more than hopes for goodness for oneself, and hopes for getting into the heavens and out of the hells. The prayers are affirmations, intentions with proper concentration of mind so will power is properly cultivated to actually have the thoughts, images of the prayer, come to fruition. Basically so one will attain what they wish. Seem selfish? It depends on what one wishes for and what their intentions for what they are wishing for are. The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas do not hand anything such as riches, or jobs or good things to anyone. They simply help you clear the way for you to cultivate it properly so you can be clear on what you wish for and attain it.
You may say, “Those who are corrupt, and murderous have so much money, and they pay no respect to anything. How come they have it, and now I am poor and do nothing wrong to people and have nothing like them, or no money, or not enough money, no new house, no car, clothes, etc.?”

That is simply because you are over looking one thing. Karma. This life (body) is not the only one that your mind has manifested out of karma, whether good or bad. The world did not begin 3,000-6,000yrs ago when somewhere in between history was recorded. This world is vast, our world system is even vaster, and our universe is so many times greater. How can one possibly believe that this time around is all there is? How ignorant and pitiful indeed. There are so many forms and life forms out here, and in so many other realms, and planets. We have acquired them all, will acquire them all, and will attain liberation from them all. Liberation from birth and death depends on the manner of cultivation one takes. Not every school of cultivation has the direct path, and even the direct path must change according to conditions of the mind cultivating.

In closing, keep in mind that the name Buddha is not a name of a god, and not a name of a single being. Buddha means awakened, enlightened, completely and purely enlightened. All Buddhas have attained Buddha hood through a human form. That means they were all human before attaining complete and pure enlightenment. They can still be human now, or anyother life form if they choose. Bodhisattvas were human as well, and still can be human or any other form as they wish in order to teach all living beings the teachings of enlightenment, the teachings of Buddha.

There is so much more to write, but to do so would keep us writing and reading for eons, I would never finish in either case. We can only touch the surface and cut through the defilements that people hold perception with. I do hope this writing serves as a good resource to clear the misconceptions of Buddhism in the world. There will be more like it, and hopefully the avenues they are published in serve all living beings with Wisdom, Compassion and Patience.

May all living beings of the ten directions in all Dharma realms receive the merit attained by this work. May they all certify to Bodhi, may they never fall back on the cycle of birth and death and may they all vow to be born in the Pure Lands of those Buddhas they have affinities with.

NAMO ORIGINAL TEACHER SAKYAMUNI BUDDHA
NAMO AMITABHA BUDDHA
NAMO VAIDURYA LIGHT BUDDHA (Medicine Master Buddha)
NAMO ALL BUDDHAS, BODHISATTVAS, PRATEKYA BUDDHAS and ARHATS of the TEN DIRECTIONS

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